Research Guides

From Pre-Contact to Shatter Zone: Exploring Florida Cultural Legacies (Exhibition Guide)

Land Acknowledgement
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. 
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
Site Curator & Author
Subject Specialist

Shatha Baydoun

Arthur Dunkelman

Mississippian Arts and Cultures
Ceramic Vessel
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
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 Figurehead

Sea-Turtle Carved figurehead, 1400CEKey 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
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.
Image courtesy of the New York Historical Society   

About the Symposium
Thursday, April 7, 2022: University of Miami Kislak Center
Friday, April 8: University of Miami Kislak Center
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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
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