Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Truth of India Catalina


According to an early account written by Juan de Castellanos, Catalina was a young girl, and daughter of a cacique, or native chief, when she was taken prisoner by Spanish Captain Diego de Nicuesa, in Galerazamba,some people said Mahates or turbaco, not far from Cartagena. Nicuesa took her to Santo Domingo where she was sold as an orphan to a high ranking Spanish official. He baptised and educated her, raising her as if she was his own. When her adoptive mother died, and her only sister was about to marry, she fell in love with a Captain who promised to bring her to her homeland again. Heredia took her aboard in Santa Marta with the knowledge that she was fluent in both Spanish and the native tongue,(for that reason she was taken in between two loyalties) when he came to found the city of Cartagena, and conquer and plunder the tribes living nearby. Catalina was 26 years old when she arrived. Although Heredia used her as an interpreter with Corinche and others Indiens, because as princess she has the ability to spoke all the differents dialects Caribe and Calamary also Quetchua in his successful campaigns to subjugate the natives, the death toll probably would have been higher had Catalina not been present. A rumour persists to this day that she and Heredia were lovers.what I think highly improbably. Whatever relationship she had would have came to an end when she married Heredia's nephew, Alonso Montañés. Later, as chronicled in the writing of Maria Del Carmen Gomez, she testified against Heredia when he faced charges including theft of gold and mistreatment of Indians. Catalina moved to Seville in Spain where she disappears from the historical record. Today, her 190 kg, 2.95m tall bronze statue sculpted by Eladio Gil Zambrana, (father of one of my classmates from secundary) is synonymous with Cartagena and its annual International Film Festival. It stands just outside the city wall, on Avenida Venezuela, near the bridge over Laguna de Chambacú, Cartagena.
Inspired by Glen David Short


  1. MariCarmen,me ha costado un poco,pero he entendido la historia de la india Cartalina,que vino a España.
    Gracias por tus visitas y tus amables palabras.Te dejo mi gratitud por compartir.He visto anteriores posts,amiga.
    Mi abrazo inmenso.Feliz semana que comienza.

  2. Querida Maria de J. La India Catalina representa para nosotros la bella princesa Caribe, raptada por Diego de Nicuesa en su tierna infancia, llevada a Santo Domingo y luego a Espana en donde fue adoptada y criada por una buena y prominente familia, en donde crecio con otra hermana. Al crecer se casa con un capitán, sobrino de Pedro de Heredia, quien le promete llevarla a su tierra natal, al regresar sirve de traductora, pues como princesa habla varios dialectos indigenas además del Espanol. Queda inmersa entre dos lealtades, por algunos tildada como traicionera. Lo que definitivamente no es para mi. Si entendemos el contexto de esos tiempos de conquista, ambición y asimilación a la fe Católica. Defendió a su gente, intercediendo por ellos a no ser esclavisados y concilió por los conquistadores como una buena cristiana.
    Una muy buena semana tambien para tí, querida amiga!