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Indians


While there were several Native American tribes and sub-tribes in the Spanish La Florida I venture to give a brief description of only those whose lives were affected by the Missionary presence.

In the territories of the Apalachee, Guale and the Timucuas the Spanish succeeded in establishing the most missions; many were in operation for the longest time, some for over 100 years. Other tribes came in contact with the missionaries too: the Tequesta from the Miami area; the Calusa of southwest Florida; the Chacato and Chine in the Florida panhandle; the Savacola who resided around the Chattahoochee river; the interior of Georgia was home to the Tama; Yamasee and Oconee; the Escamacu resided in Port Royal Sound area of South Carolina and natives of the Chesapeake Bay region.

The Apalachee natives inhabited an area that extends from the Aucilla River to the Ochlochonee River and from the Georgia line to the coast. Apalachee was home to several missions that were established by the Franciscans. Many natives embraced the faith and were active within the Church. It was only the English advance and destruction of these missions that erased the tribe from the area. Captured natives were hauled off and forced into slavery.

Guale territory extended along coastal Georgia from St. Andrews Sound to the Savannah River. Here, the missions experienced both success and failure. In 1597 an Indian revolt started at a mission on Cumberland Island. Five friars were killed in the uprising and Spanish retaliation resulted in the deaths of the Guale insurgents.

St. Augustine, where the missionary effort started, was the home to the Timucuas. They were distributed along coastal North Florida, Southern Georgia and the interior of both states. This tribe was separated into salt water Timucuas and fresh water Timucuas. Fresh water Timucuas were a group of sub-tribes: the Yustaga lived immediately east of the Apallachee between the Aucilla and Suwannee Rivers; the Untina resided between the Suwannee and St. John's Rivers from north of the Santa Fe River to the southern drainage of the Altamaha; the Potamo lived around present-day Gainesville, Florida. The Saltwater Timucuas also had sub-tribes: the Mocama of Cumberland and Jekyll Islands in Georgia; the Ibi and Cascanque inhabited Georgia coastal and hinterland opposite those islands. Also there was a sub-group of Timucua who were both salt and fresh water: the Acuera lived from mid to upper St. John's River and the coastal zone south of St. Augustine. Early conversion efforts were limited in success, with many Indians going through the motions of Christianity and not abandoning tribal ways. Only through the determination of the Franciscans were the hearts and mind of the Timucuans and the other Indian tribes won.

Today these tribes are virtually extinct as a result of epidemic disease contracted from Europeans. Those that survived the outbreaks later blended with other tribes to form the Seminole.

REFERENCES Dr. John H. Hann
"Summary Guide to Spanish Florida Missions and Vistas with Churches in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries"


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© Copyright. John P. Walsh. April 22, 2002
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