Is the Mala Cosa an evil being, a disguised human, a Bigfoot-type, or something else?
I’ve run all of these questions through my mind more than once, but in the end, I’ve decided not to dissect all the intricacies of the event to define whether it’s fact or fiction. This is one of those legendary stories to appreciate at face value around a campfire, realizing no one will know the true extent of what happened to the Coahuiltican people of eastern Texas in the 1520s.
I first read about the Mala Cosa on a couple different websites while researching Bigfoot history in the deep south. Digging deeper, I found the complete story as it was first recorded by Spanish explorer, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca’s, in his journals. I learned so much more than I expected about Cabeza de Vaca’s journey before he was shipwrecked on what some speculate was Galveston Island. Below is the story of Mala Cosa. For the full account of Cabeza de Vaca’s epic journey, check out our book. You can preorder here if you want.
The Mala Cosa or “Bad Thing”
According to the tribe, about fifteen years before Cabeza de Vaca’s arrival, a hairy, man-like beast attacked their village at night. The creature would sometimes come during dances, sneaking his way into their village unnoticed. The tribe once offered Mala Cosa food if he’d leave them alone, but he always refused.
Smaller than the average human, Mala Cosa was strong enough to lift an Indian dwelling into the air and toss it to the ground. He disguised himself in animal skins like an Indian man. Other times he dressed like a female. Just before the Mala Cosa entered a home, a red glow would appear around the doorway. Once inside, he would choose a victim. With a sharp, stone knife the length of two palms, he would slice open the Indian’s side and remove a small section of intestine, toss it on the fire, and then close the wound by placing his hands over the cut. He would then make three cuts across the victim’s wrist, causing them to bleed, but then he would use his power to seal up the cuts. When asked where he came from, Mala Cosa pointed to a “rent” in the earth. After torturing the Indians for some time, Mala Cosa wandered off and never returned.
Cabeza de Vaca refused to believe in a magic hairy beast who did bad things. Until several of the tribal men lined up, and one-by-one, showed him their scars as they talked about their encounters with the Mala Cosa. This physical evidence—and the level of detail in the stories—convinced Cabeza de Vaca and his companions that Mala Cosa was more than a phantom. There was no way these people would or could make up such an extensive lie.
Bigfoot or Not?
I’ll be the first to admit this probably wasn’t a Bigfoot in the traditional sense, but stories like this one planted seeds of legend that grew as they were told over and over. They laid an acceptable foundation for later stories to build upon. And in these detailed accounts existed enough truth that one could feel justified thinking twice about the howl that didn’t exactly sound like a coyote or the movement in the brush where shadows loomed larger than life. In the darkness, beyond human reach, we know there’s something out there. We’re just not sure what it is.
Have you heard of the Mala Cosa? If so, where did you learn about it?
There’s also still time to enter the coloring contest/drawing. You can find details and instructions here.
To stay up to date on our latest news, consider subscribing to our newsletter. We never spam or abuse the privilege of appearing in your inbox, but it is the best way to find out exactly what is going on. You can also follow us on Instagram and Twitter.
Thanks for tuning in. Have a great rest of your day!!