El Turco (unknown–1541)

By: Donald E. Chipman

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: September 1, 1995

El Turco (The Turk), so named by Spaniards because of his appearance, was a captive of Indians at Cicúique, an Indian town near the site of contemporary Pecos, New Mexico. He was presented to Capt. Hernando de Alvarado, an officer of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, in 1540. In Spanish hands, the Turk described a region toward the east known as Quivira, which possessed much gold, silver, and rich fabrics. Coronado employed the Turk as a guide on his trek in 1541 from New Mexico into the Texas Panhandle and beyond to the area of present-day Kansas. Quivira, however, contained only buffaloes and the grass huts and cornfields of the Wichita Indians-not golden cities. Because the Turk had lied about the wealth of the land and conspired with the Quivirans to kill the Spaniards and their horses, Coronado reluctantly ordered him garroted prior to the return march to New Mexico.

Herbert Eugene Bolton, Coronado: Knight of Pueblos and Plains (New York: Whittlesey; Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1949). Donald E. Chipman, Spanish Texas, 1519–1821 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992).


  • Exploration
  • Explorers (Indian)
  • Peoples
  • Native American
  • Guides, Scouts, and Interpreters

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Donald E. Chipman, “El Turco,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed November 27, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/el-turco.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 1, 1995