- Who Are Arab Americans?
- Popular Perceptions
- Why The Stereotypes?
- About & Credits
The first recorded Arabic speaker to come to North America was called Zammouri, which in Arabic means someone from Al-Zammour, Morocco. Zammouri was probably captured in 1511 by the Portuguese. He was then sold into slavery and his captors renamed him Estebanico. After 16 years of captivity, Zammouri was taken to Florida as part of a Spanish expeditionary force. In 1528, Zammouri marched inland with 300 other men, almost all of whom died.
Zammouri journeyed over 6,000 miles between 1528 and 1536, trekking across the American Southwest. He and his companions spent the first four years as prisoners of Native Americans until they were able to escape. Other Native Americans took them in and they acted as medicine men. From this work Zammouri learned six local dialects and was sought after as a translator.
After experiencing slavery, the difficult passage to the Americas, and an eight-year trek across the country, Zammouri met an untimely death. In 1539, Zammouri was asked to be the chief guide for a Spanish expedition to explore new territory. Zammouri was killed by Zunis in what is present-day New Mexico. Zammouri's contributions to the exploration of the Southwest are widely recognized. The city of El Paso, Texas has a statue honoring him.