The following program originates from the University of Miami . . . with locations in Coral Gables, Virginia Key, and the Health District in downtown Miami. The University of Miami Libraries acknowledges that we stand on the ancestral territory of the Tequesta and that the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the Council of the Original Miccosukee and Simanolee Nation Aboriginal Peoples, and the Miccosukee Tribe of the Indians of Florida are now its Native American custodians. This acknowledgment is one of the ways in which we work to educate ourselves about this land, its history, and our relationships with each other.
This library research guide supports the spring 2022 exhibition From Pre-Contact to Shatter Zone and the symposium La Florida Missions: Spaces of Globalization, Resistance, and Transformation. The symposium retraces the mission activities of the Spanish in La Florida from 1565 and documents the stories of indigenous peoples in Florida.
At the time of contact with Europeans in the 16th century, the Guale, the Timucua, and the Apalachee peoples in Florida formed part of the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex, a rich Native American exchange network with identifiable motifs and sophisticated patterns of symbolic and artistic expression. This Complex flourished in the Mississippi Valley from 900 C.E. until 1500 C.E. and extended north and east into vast regions of the land.
For the Spanish intruders stationed at the garrison of St. Augustine founded in 1565, “La Florida” was a harsh frontier that did not yield returns other than holding on to a strategic location. Its failure as a profitable colonial economic enterprise notwithstanding, a vigorous missionary effort was launched in the land, with the Franciscan order at its helm. Not without great toil and setbacks, the Friars Minor established mission systems that lasted almost two centuries and extended from the mid-Georgia coastline, south to St. Augustine, and westwards, reaching Tallahassee.
Tragically, due to epidemics, colonial exploitation by the Spaniards, and the ravages of commodified slavery introduced by the English, the missionized Guale, Apalachee, and Timucua almost disappeared as a people by 1763. And yet, the legacy of their transcultural competence as they negotiated the globalizing epistemology of Christianity while preserving core aspects of their indigenous identity deserves to be explored, better known, and remembered.
This exhibition was curated by Viviana Díaz Balsera, Professor of Spanish for the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Miami, and Arthur Dunkelman, Curator of the Jay I. Kislak Collection for Special Collections at the University of Miami Libraries.
Hieroglyph from Tercero Cathecismo by Fr. Gregorio de Movilla, 1635 from the NY Historical Society interspersed with a map of La Florida from Theodor De Bry
The Mississippian period dates from approximately 900 CE until the 1500s. Based on a vigorous agricultural economy in the Mississippi Valley, this period was characterized by highly complex, stratified societies with earthen mounds and ample plazas. The legitimation of elites fostered the production of sophisticated art objects circulating in a vast exchange network that extended to major sites such as Cahokia in Illinois, Spiro in Oklahoma, Moundville in Alabama, Etowah in Georgia, Lake Jackson in northwest Florida, and also touched Key Marco in the Gulf coast. Some classes of objects evincing intense trade in the Mississippian geocultural region are engraved gorgets, repoussé copper plates and headdresses, sophisticated ceramics with totemic animals, effigy platform pipes, shell masks, symbolic weaponry, stone plaques, and others. These art objects share a constellation of cosmographic motifs and themes that have been coined, not without controversy, as Southeastern Ceremonial Complex symbols (SECC).
Below are examples of these objects from the exhibition“From Precontact to Shatter Zone: Exploring Florida Legacies” at Richter Library (April 7-September 30, 2022).
Nodena Red and White Human Head Ceramic Vessel, Provenance: Arkansas. 1350-1600 CE. Dimensions: 18.5 x 15.6 cm.
This is a fine example of a unique SECC ceramic tradition. Believed to be a portraiture modality, head vessels are thought to represent lifeless warriors, venerated ancestors, or leaders. The tattoos on the face may suggest ritual personification of a mythical being by the portrayed individual when he was alive.
Image courtesy of the National Museum of the American Indian
Whelk Gorget with Decorations
Whelk Gorget with Incised Decorations,1100-1350, CE. Provenance: Castalian Springs, TN.
This masterfully incised gorget is believed to be a cosmogram. The cross has been interpreted to represent the four logs feeding the sacred fire, the circle to refer to the sun in the Above World, and the crested birds, other-than-human beings, are associated with weather powers and the four cardinal directions
Text and image courtesy of the National Museum of the American Indian
Pre-Contact Florida: Lake Jackson and Key Marco Sites
Located near Tallahassee in Leon County and flourishing between 1100 and 1400ce, Lake Jackson was an important Mississippian ceremonial center boasting mound construction, elaborate maize agriculture, and sustaining the most politically complex culture in precontact Florida. Sophisticated burial art objects such as repoussé copper breastplates, engraved shell gorgets, pendants, and hair ornaments are found in its mounds. They show style similarities with comparable objects in major sites in the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex (SECC) network such as Spiro, Moundville, and Etowah, evincing a dynamic exchange activity, especially with Etowah.
Southwards along the Florida Gulf Coast is the Key Marco site. Its excavation by Frank Hamilton Cushing in 1896 is one of the major events in North American archaeology. Conducted in a muck pond of less than one acre of extension Cushing called “Court of Pile Dwellers,” the excavation yielded more than 1000 wooden and cord artifacts, as well as hundreds of objects in shell and bone. The artifacts were deposited anywhere from the 700’s CE to the contact period in the 1500s.
Below are examples of these objects from the exhibition “From Precontact to Shatter Zone: Exploring Florida Legacies” at Richter Library (April 7-September 30, 2022).
Kneeling Key Marco Cat
Kneeling Key Marco Cat, 1400-1500 CE. Key Marco site.
Masterfully carved in dark-colored hardwood, the best-known figure of the Key Marco site and one of the finest pre-contact Native American ceremonial art objects in North America, is only six inches tall. It has been pointed out that the statuette is carved in the likeness of Florida panthers and that in Native American Southeast cosmography, panthers were associated with the watery Underworld. Because the artist of the statuette was most likely a Calusa, the association of this humanoid panther-god figure with the powers of coastal waters, is plausible.
Image courtesy of the National Museum of Natural History, Department of Anthropology
Sea-Turtle Carved figurehead, 1400CE. Key Marco site. Originally painted in black, white, blue, and red.
When the object was removed from the muck pond, the colors soon began to vanish. To preserve a record of designs and pigmentation, expedition artist and photographer Wells M. Sawyer painted on-site a series of watercolors of masks and figureheads before all colors and painted lines faded. This is the only extant visual documentary evidence of these aspects of the figure.
Image courtesy of Penn Museum
La Florida Missions
The first permanent Spanish settlement in La Florida was established in St. Augustine in 1565 by the frightening Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, sent by Philip II to clear the land from the French Huguenots. The garrison of St. Augustine would be a harsh, costly coastal frontier that would yield no returns other than its strategic location to keep European powers away. Its failure as a profitable colonial economic enterprise notwithstanding, a vigorous missionary effort was launched in the land with the Franciscan order at its helm. With significant toil and setbacks like the indigenous uprisings of 1574, 1597, 1647, and 1656 against Spanish oppressive treatment, the friars’ constant quarrels with Crown officials, and the dire living conditions of La Florida, the Franciscans established missions among the Guale, the Timucua, and the Apalachee peoples.
At the time of contact, the Guale lived along the Georgia coast and the barrier islands. They were organized in approximately six chiefdoms, were mound builders, and spoke a distinctive Muskogean language. The Timucua had flourished in southeast coastal Georgia and northeast coastal and northern inland Florida. There were approximately 35 simple Timucua chiefdoms when the Europeans arrived. The third group of people missionized by the Franciscans was the Apalachee, who inhabited northwestern Florida in the area of present-day Tallahassee. They were horticulturalists and had shared various aspects of the rich Mississippian culture such as ceremonial mound-building, and participation in exchange networks of highly crafted goods. The Franciscan missions among the Guale, the Timucua, and the Apalachee lasted almost two hundred years.
With the assistance of native speaker intellectuals, the friars learned the indigenous languages and set them down to writing. There are nine extant imprints in Spanish and Timucua produced during the first three decades of the seventeenth century, making it the first recorded indigenous language in the present-day United States. These bilingual imprints amount to a robust body of work that tells us important stories about cultural exchanges between the friars and the Timucua during the mission period. An extant letter in Apalachee written to Charles II in 1688 by Apalachee chiefs requesting a fort to protect the missions in the region evidence that the Apalachee language was also set down to writing. However, no other documents in Apalachee or Guale have been recovered. Some of the Timucua-Spanish bilingual imprints as well as the letter from the Apalachee chiefs are highlighted in this exhibition.
Tragically, due to epidemics, colonial exploitation by the Spaniards, and the ravages of slave raids by the English and their indigenous allies, the missions had disappeared by 1763 when the Spanish swapped Florida for Cuba with the English. But the transcultural competence of the Guale, Timucua, and Apalachee as they negotiated the globalizing epistemology of Christianity while preserving core aspects of their indigenous identity is a significant element in Florida’s early modern legacy that deserves to be explored, better known, and remembered.
Below are examples from the exhibition, “From Precontact to Shatter Zone: Exploring Florida Legacies” at Richter Library (April 7-September 30, 2022).
Front Page of the Catecismo en Lengua Timuquana
Front Page of the Catecismo en Lengua Timuquana
This is one of seven bilingual imprints co-authored by Fr. Francisco Pareja and unacknowledged Timucua intellectuals. All these imprints were published in Mexico City between 1612 and 1628.
Image courtesy of the Library of Congress
Hieroglyph with Inscriptions in the Tercero Cathecismo
Hieroglyph with Inscriptions in the Tercero Cathecismo
This hieroglyph with inscriptions in Timucua, Latin, and Spanish encoding Christian doctrine appears in the Tercero Cathecismo by Fr. Gregorio de Movilla, published in 1635 in Mexico City as part of his larger volume Explicacion de la Doctrina.
Friday, April 8: University of Miami Kislak Center
Opening and Welcome Remarks: Dr. Yolanda Martínez San-Miguel
Session 1Indigenous Political Formations and Identities in Pre-contact and Contact Florida: The Archaeological Evidence Moderator: Dr. Will Pestle
Complicating the Indigenous Landscape of South Florida Prior to Spanish Contact: Tequesta and the Matecumbe Materialities Dr. Traci Ardren, University of Miami
Centering Mocama Communities and Indigenous Landscapes in a Time of Spanish Missions Dr. Keith Ashley, University of North Florida
Session 2 Globalizing La Florida: Rough Beginnings and Failures. The Literary Record Moderator:Dr. Pamela Hammons
Translator, Perpetrator: Unpacking the Difficult Cargo of Florida's Franciscan Verse Dr. Thomas Hallock, University of South Florida.
A Franciscan Tells his Tale of Captivity in Oré’s Account of the Martyrs of La Florida(pre-recorded) Dr. Raquel Chang-Rodríguez, City University of New York Graduate Center
Lunch break: 11:45am-12:45pm
Session 3: Timucua Transcultural Competence and the Polyglot Address of Christianity Moderator: Dr. Susanna Allés-Torrent
A Que vamos à la Yglesia?Liturgical Performance and Franciscan Identity in Fr. Francisco Pareja’s 1628 Catecismo Dr. Timothy Johnson, Flagler College.
Performing a Hieroglyph in La Florida: Gregorio de Movilla’s Tercero Cathecismo for the Timucua Dr. George Aaron Broadwell, University of Florida at Gainesville. Dr. Viviana Díaz Balsera, University of Miami
Session 4 Indigenous Appropriations of Franciscan Missionization, Shatter Zones, and Beyond Moderator: Dr. Logan Connors
Decolonizing “Conversion:” Indigenous Constructions of Spanish Catholicism in the Native South Dr. Denise Bossy, University of North Florida.
Apalachee Resistance and Resilience in Colonial Sources Dr. Alejandra Dubcovsky, University of California at Riverside.
The Apalachee in West Florida, 1704-1763 Dr. John E Worth, University of West Florida.
5:00-6:00pm Closing Remarks by Chief Arthur Bennett of the Talimali Band Apalachee Indians of Louisiana Presenting Chief Arthur Bennett: Dr. John E. Worth
Selected Bibliography: Pre-Contact Florida & Mississippian Arts and Cultures
Brain, Jeffrey P., Philip Phillips, and Susan P. Sheldon. 1996. Shell Gorgets: Styles of the Late Prehistoric and Protohistoric Southeast. Cambridge: Harvard UP and Peabody Museum Press.
Cushing, James Hamilton. 2000. Exploration of Ancient Key-Dweller Remains on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.
Dye, David. 2004. “Art, Ritual, and Chiefly Warfare in the Mississippian World.” In Hero,Hawk, and Open Hand. 191-206.
Ethridge, Robbie and Charles Hudson Jackson. 2002. The Transformation of Southeastern Indians, 1540-1700. UP of Mississippi.
Ethridge, Robbie and Sheri M. Huck-Hall. 2009. Mapping the Mississippi Shatter Zone. The Colonial Indian Slave Trade and Regional Instability in the American South. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
Galloway, Patricia, ed. 1984. The Southeastern Ceremonial Complex: Artifacts and Analysis. The Cottonland Conference. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
Gilligand, Marion S. 1975. The Material Culture of Key Marco Florida. Gainesville: The University Presses of Florida.
Hudson, Charles. 1976. The Southeastern Indians. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press.
King, Adam. 2020. “Craig Mound Connections to the South Appalachian Region.” In Recovering Ancient Spiro. 56-73.
Lankford, Geroge E., F. Kent Reilly, and James F. Garber. 2011. Visualizing the Sacred : Cosmic Visions, Regionalism, and the Art of the Mississippian World. Austin: U of Texas Press. 201-39.
Lankford, Geroge E. 2007. “Some Cosmological Motifs in the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex,” in Ancient Objects, eds. Reilly and Garber, 8-38.
Mackenthun, Gesa and Christen Mucher, eds. 2021. Decolonizing “Prehistory.” Deep Time and Indigenous Knowledges in North America. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press.
Milanich, Jerald T. 1994. Archaeology from Pre-Columbian Florida. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.
Milanich, Jerald T. 1996. The Timucua. Cambridge: Blackwell Press.
Nassaney, Michael S. and Kenneth E. Sassaman. 1995. Native American Interactions. Multiscalar Analyses and Interpretations in the Eastern Woodlands. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press.
Phillips, Philip, and James A. Brown. 1978. Pre-Columbian Shell Engravings. From the Craig Mound at Spiro, Oklahoma. 2 volumes. Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. Cambridge: Harvard UP.
Power, Susan C. 2004. Early Art of the Southeastern Indians. Feathered Serpents and Winged Beings. Athens: The University of Georgia Press.
Shapeshifting. Transformations in Native American Art. 2012. Catalog for exhibition of the same name organized by the Peabody Essex Museum. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Reilly III, F. Kent, and James F. Garber, eds. 2007. Ancient Objects and Sacred Realms. Interpretations of Mississippian Iconography. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Singleton, Eric D., and F. Kent Reilly III. 2020. Recovering Ancient Spiro. Native American Art, Ritual, and Cosmic Renewal. Oklahoma City: National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
Smith, Theresa S. 1995. The Island of the Anishaabeg. Thunderers and Water Monsters in the Traditional Ojibwe Life-World. Moscow: University of Idaho Press.
Townsend, Richard F. and Robert Sharp, eds. 2004. Hero, Hawk, and Open Hand. American Indian Art of the Ancient Midwest and South. The Art Institute of Chicago, Yale University Press.
Walker, Chester. 2004. “Prehistoric Art of Central Mississippi Valley.” In Hero, Hawk, and Open Hand. 219-230.
Waring, Antonio J. 1968. “The Southern Cult and Muskhogean Ceremonial.” In The Waring Papers. 30-69.
Williams, Stephen, ed. 1968. The Waring Papers of the Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Selected Bibliography: Florida Missions
Broadwell, George A.,2018. Timucua-English Dictionary. Gainesville: University of Florida Press.
Broadwell, George A., and Alexandra Dubkovsky. 2017. “Writing Timucua: Recovering and Interrogating Indigenous Authorship.” Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal. 15.3: 409-41.
Bushnell, Amy. 1994. Situado and Sabana, Situado and Sabana. Spain’s Support for the Presidio and Mission Provinces of Florida (New York: The American Museum of Natural History).
Burns Jeffrey M. and Timothy Johnson, eds. 2018. Franciscans and American Indians in Pan-Borderland Perspective. Adaptation, Negotiation, and Resistance. Oceanside, CA: The Academy of American Franciscan History.
Chang-Rodríguez, Raquel and Nancy Vogeley, ed. and trans. 2017. Jerónimo de Oré: Account of the Martyrs in the Provinces of La Florida. Alburquerque: University of Mexico Press.
Cordell, Ann S., and Jeffrey Mithem, eds. 2021. Methods, Mounds, and Missions: New Contributions to Florida Archaeology. Gainesville: University of Florida Press.
Cushner, Nicholas P. 2006. Why Have You Come Here? The Jesuits and the First Evangelization of Native America. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Francis, Michael, and Kathleen Kole. 2011. Murder and Martyrdom in Spanish Florida: Don Juan and the Guale Uprising of 1597, Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History 95 (New York: American Museum of Natural History).
Gannon, Michael. 1983. The Cross in the Sand: the Early Catholic Church in Florida, 1513- 1870. Gainesville: University Presses of Florida.
Geiger, Maynard. 1940. Biographical Dictionary of the Franciscans in Spanish Florida and Cuba (1528-1841). New Jersey: St. Anthony Guild Press.
Hann, John H. A History of the Timucua Indians and Missions. 1996. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.
Hann, John H. 1991. Missions to the Calusa. Gainesville: University of Florida Press.
Hann, John H. 1988. The Apalachee Indians and the Mission San Luis. Gainesville. University Press of Florida.
Johnson Timothy J. and Jeffrey Burns, eds. 2021. Facing Florida. Essays on Culture and Religion in Early Modern Southeastern America. Oceanside, CA: The Academy of American Franciscan History.
McEwan, Bonnie G., ed. 1993. The Spanish Missions of La Florida. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.
Milanich, Jerald T. 1999. Laboring in the Fields of the Lord. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.
Milanich, Jerald T., William C. Sturtevant, and Emilio F. Moran. 1972. Francisco Pareja’s 1613 Confessionario: A Documentary Source for Timucuan Ethnography. Tallahassee: Florida Dept. of State.
Peres, Tanya M. Rochelle A. Marrinan. 2021. Unearthing the Missions of Spanish Florida. University Press of Florida.
Worth, John. E. 2014. The Struggle for the Georgia Coast. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press.
Worth, John. E. 1998. The Timucuan Chiefdoms of Spanish Florida. 2 vols. Gainesville: UP of Florida
Home to more than 180,000 unique artifacts and archival items. Come and learn about the Seminole people and experience their rich cultural and historical ties to the Southeast and Florida, as they have made Big Cypress their home since creation.
Native Americans in Florida
A bibliography that lists some of the published works in the State Library on Native American history in Florida.
Aucilla River Prehistory Project
An archaeological and paleontological project excavating a particularly rich series of deposits that yielded ancient megafaunal remains in association with Paleoindian artifacts.
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