Friday, August 7, 2009
Part II Nava de Soto? NABASOTO!
First of all, we have to ditch the “De Soto” theories. You see, we Anglos have forced an improper name structure on many of the European men in our history. A Spanish man with the name Jose Sanchez de Teruel would not refer to himself as “De Teruel. This is merely the name of his hometown. When we remember “La Salle,” we make the same mistake. If “De Soto” had crossed the Navasota and wanted to put his brand on it, it would be called Hernando, or according to the theory, something like Navi Hernando. The same kinds of misguided assumptions have been made trying to interpret other town names, like Sarasota. But ironically, explorers like Rene Robert Cavalier (Sieur de La Salle) may have had a great deal to do with the name of the place we call home. As it turned out, men we know as “de Leon” and “de La Salle” did cross the Navasota, and their story is worth recounting, as somewhere in their saga I believe, may be the origin of the name.
In 1685 Rene Robert Cavalier Sieur de La Salle stumbled into a deadly mutiny described in an earlier blog. Over seventy years ago historians suggested that according to the accounts of his survivors, La Salle must have been killed somewhere in the southern end of the Navasota Valley. The Daughters of the American Revolution commissioned and erected a bronze statue of La Salle in Navasota during the Texas Centennial in 1936. Since then, Navasota has been associated with the ill-fated Frenchman. Others have since insisted that the event took place somewhere else.
But the French government is satisfied with our claim, and in much the same spirit as giving the Statue of Liberty, they sent a bust of La Salle to us as a token of their esteem. Nana- nana, poo- poo. That’s probably Cherokee for “we have it and you don’t.” If, in some great historic travesty, we were not the final resting place of Robert Cavalier, we are certainly the only place in the world with two statues depicting this world famous explorer. So there.