Sunday, March 27

The King's Fifth & Coronado's Search for Cibola

The earliest exploration of the Southwest occurred as a result of the accident that left Cabeza de Vaca and his companions shipwrecked along the Gulf Coast.  Cabeza de Vaca was one of the first non-Native Americans to travel through Texas, and he published a narrative of his adventures that would inspire the expeditions of de Soto and Coronado...

During his journey, Cabeza de Vaca had heard repeatedly of the Seven Cities of Cíbola, which were supposedly so wealthy that their streets were paved with gold. In 1539, his travel partner, Estevanico, and Fray Marcos de Niza returned to the Southwest with soldiers to find the Seven Cities.  They explored Arizona and western New Mexico but found nothing.  Estevanico was killed, and Fray Marcos de Niza returned to Mexico, more certain than ever that the cities existed.  

Native Americans always agreed with the Spanish that the cities existed—just a little farther north, “over there” somewhere—probably in an effort to get the soldiers to leave.  A number of other Spanish explorers went looking for the Seven Cities of Cíbola.  The last major expedition was that of Francisco Vásquez de Coronado.  He set out in 1540 to explore north of Mexico with about 300 Spaniards, hundreds of Native Americans and slaves, and many horses, sheep, pigs, and cattle.  For two years Coronado’s expedition traveled through what are today New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. 

Coronado and his men endured great hardship, traveling over deserts and mountains. He lost men to Native American attacks, and many horses, along with cattle that he took along for food, perished from lack of food and water.  His party split up; one group became the first Europeans to gaze upon the Grand Canyon, and another group traveled as far as the upper Rio Grande.  Coronado himself came upon the villages of the Zuni, which he called pueblos, but he found no gold.  

The Spanish soon discovered rich copper and turquoise mines in the Pueblo country which made the region famous for its mineral wealth even in recent times. The Pueblo Indians including the Zuñi are still well known for their Turquoise and silver work.  The lack of treasure, along with the opening of Mexican silver mines, ended Spanish interest in the borderlands for almost 60 years.

Although Francisco Coronado’s journey was seen as a failure in his lifetime, he is recognized today for many achievements.  He and his men were the first Europeans to live among the Pueblo Indians, explore the Great Plains, and see the Grand Canyon.  His description of the areas he explored helped create updated maps of the lands.  

Our spine novel for this unit is:

  • The King's Fifth (Scott O'Dell)
    • While awaiting trial for murder and withholding from the king the obligatory fifth of the gold found in Cibola, Esteban, a seventeen-year-old cartographer, recalls his adventures with a band of conquistadors.

Get the ENTIRE UNIT in Beautiful Book Studies!

Each unit addresses a new topic, including science, history, and geography.  Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand.

  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including a featured novel that the unit builds upon.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the topic to life.

Table of Contents

  • The King’s Fifth
  • Red Falcons of Tremoine
  • Golden Hawks of Genghis Khan
  • Red Hugh of Ireland
  • Calico Captive
  • The Story of Eli Whitney
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins
  • The Lost Kingdom
  • The Secret Garden
  • Heidi
  • Girl of the Limberlost
  • The Winged Watchman
  • When the Dikes Broke
  • Using the Good & the Beautiful in High School

The books selected for these unit studies can be found in the upper grades areas of The Good and the Beautiful Book List.  However, Homeschool On the Range and Sparks Academy are not employed by or affiliated with, nor do they receive any compensation from, The Good and the Beautiful.  It has simply been their curriculum of choice for many years.  These unit studies are not endorsed by The Good and the Beautiful or Jenny Phillips.

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