Catalina was abducted in 1509 by Spanish conqueror Diego de Nicuesa from an indigenous settlement known as Zamba o Galerazamba, where she was the daughter of the local chief. She was sent to Santo Domingo, where she learned the Spanish language and adopted the Catholic religion. Pedro de Heredia required her to serve as an interpreter to the Native Americans. Afterwards, she married Alonso Montañez, Pedro de Heredia's nephew.
The events of the Spanish conquest in the area of modern Cartagena ended with the complete annihilation of the Calamari people, which happened while she was enslaved and abducted by the Spaniards.
The name of Catalina India appeared in a letter sent for Pedro de Heredia to King Carlos V in 1533. No one knew what her real name was because he began calling her 'Catalina' from 1509 when the Diego de Nicuesa expedition kidnapped and took her to Santo Domingo where was educated as a Spaniard. From that time she would use Spanish dress only but was still considered a slave.
When they returned to Cartagena twenty years after, she was changed. She made the first contact with Corinche Indians after her arrival with Heredia, on the 14 January 1533. She translated for Heredia in the pacification of the many Indian towns as turbacos that he eliminated in combat to Juan de La Cosa many years ago.