Flag of the Apalachee Nation
|Regions with significant populations|
|United States Florida; subsequently Louisiana|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Apalachicola, other Muskogean peoples|
The Apalachee are a Native American people who historically lived in the Florida Panhandle. They lived between the Aucilla River and Ochlockonee River, at the head of Apalachee Bay, an area known to Europeans as the Apalachee Province. They spoke a Muskogean language called Apalachee, which is now extinct.
The Apalachee occupied the site of Velda Mound starting about 1450 CE, but had mostly abandoned it when Spanish started settlements in the 17th century. They first encountered Spanish explorers in 1528, when the Narváez expedition arrived. Traditional tribal enemies, European diseases, and European encroachment severely reduced their population. The survivors dispersed, and over time many Apalachee integrated with other groups, particularly the Creek Confederacy, while others relocated to other Spanish territories, and some remained in what is now Louisiana. About 300 descendants in Rapides and Natchitoches parishes assert an Apalachee identity today.
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The Apalachee spoke the Apalachee language, a Muskogean language which became extinct. It was documented by Spanish settlers in letters written during the Spanish Colonial period.
Around 1100 indigenous peoples began to cultivate crops. Agriculture was important in the area that became the Apalachee domain. It was part of the Fort Walton Culture, a Florida culture influenced by the Mississippian culture. With agriculture, the people could grow surplus crops, which enabled them to settle in larger groups, increase their trading for raw materials and finished goods, and specialize in production of artisan goods.
At the time of Hernando de Soto's visit in 1539–1540, the Apalachee capital was Anhaica (present-day Tallahassee, Florida). The Apalachee lived in villages of various size, or on individual farmsteads of .5 acres (0.20 ha) or so. Smaller settlements might have a single earthwork mound and a few houses. Larger towns (50 to 100 houses) were chiefdoms. They were organized around earthwork mounds built over decades for ceremonial, religious and burial purposes.
Villages and towns were often situated by lakes, as the natives hunted fish and used the water for domestic needs and transport. The largest Apalachee community was at Lake Jackson, just north of present-day Tallahassee. This regional center had several mounds and 200 or more houses. Some of the surviving mounds are protected in Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park,
The Apalachee grew numerous varieties of corn, pumpkins and sunflowers. They gathered wild strawberries, the roots and shoots of the greenbrier vine, greens such as lambsquarters, the roots of one or more unidentified aquatic plants used to make flour, hickory nuts, acorns, saw palmetto berries and persimmons. They caught fish and turtles in the lakes and rivers, and oysters and fish on the Gulf Coast. They hunted deer, black bears, rabbits, and ducks.
The Apalachee were part of an expansive trade network that extended from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes, and westward to what is now Oklahoma. The Apalachee acquired copper artifacts, sheets of mica, greenstone, and galena from distant locations through this trade. The Apalachee probably paid for such imports with shells, pearls, shark teeth, preserved fish and sea turtle meat, salt, and cassina leaves and twigs (used to make the black drink).
The Apalachee made tools from stone, bone and shell. They made pottery, wove cloth and cured buckskin. They built houses covered with palm leaves or the bark of cypress or poplar trees. They stored food in pits in the ground lined with matting, and smoked or dried food on racks over fires. (When Hernando de Soto seized the Apalachee town of Anhaico in 1539, he found enough stored food to feed his 600 men and 220 horses for five months.)
The Apalachee men wore a deerskin loincloth. The women wore a skirt made of Spanish moss or other plant fibers. The men painted their bodies with red ochre and placed feathers in their hair when they prepared for battle. The men smoked tobacco in ceremonial rituals, including ones for healing.
The Apalachee scalped opponents whom they killed, exhibiting the scalps as signs of warrior ability. Taking a scalp was a means of entering the warrior class, and was celebrated with a scalp dance. The warriors wore headdresses made of bird beaks and animal fur. The village or clan of a slain warrior was expected to avenge his death.
The Apalachee played a ball game, sometimes known as the "Apalachee ball game", described in detail by Spaniards in the 17th century. The fullest description,however, was written as part of a campaign by Father Juan de Paiva, priest at the mission of San Luis de Talimali, to have the game banned, and some of the practices described may have been exaggerated. The game was embedded in ritual practices which Father Paiva regarded as heathen superstitions. He was also concerned about the effect of community involvement in the games on the welfare of the villages and Spanish missions. In particular, he worried about towns being left defenseless against raiders when inhabitants left for a game, and that field work was being neglected during game season. Other missionaries (and the visiting Bishop of Cuba) had complained about the game, but most of the Spanish (including, initially, Father Pavia) liked it (and, most likely, the associated gambling). At least, they defended it as a custom that should not be disturbed, and that helped keep the Apalachee happy and willing to work in the fields. The Apalachee themselves said that the game was "as ancient as memory", and that they had "no other entertainment ... or relief from ... misery".
No indigenous name for the game has been preserved. The Spanish referred to it as el juego de la pelota, "the ballgame." The game involved kicking a small, hard ball against a single goalpost. The same game was also played by the western Timucua, and was as significant among them as it was among the Apalachee.A related but distinct game was played by the eastern Timucua; René Goulaine de Laudonnière recorded seeing this played by the Saturiwa of what is now Jacksonville, Florida in 1564. Goalposts similar to those used by the Apalachee were also seen in the Coosa chiefdom of present-day in Alabama during the 16th century, suggesting that similar ball games were played across much of the region.
A village would challenge another village to a game, and the two villages would then negotiate a day and place for the match. After the Spanish missions were established, the games usually took place on a Sunday afternoon, from about noon until dark. The two teams kicked a small ball (not much bigger than a musket ball), made by wrapping buckskin around dried mud, trying to hit the goalpost. The single goalpost was triangular, flat, and taller than it was wide, on a long post (Bushnell described it, based on a drawing in a Spanish manuscript, as "like a tall, flat Christmas tree with a long trunk"). There were snail shells, a nest and a stuffed eagle on top of the goalpost. Benches, and sometimes arbors to shade them, were placed at the edges of the field for the two teams. Spectators gambled heavily on the games. As the Apalachee did not normally use money, their bets were made with personal goods.
Each team consisted of 40 to 50 men. The best players were highly prized, and villages gave them houses, planted their fields for them, and overlooked their misdeeds in an effort to keep such players on their teams. Players scored one point if they hit the goalpost with the ball, and two points if the ball landed in the nest. Eleven points won the game. Play was rough: players would pile on fallen players, walk on them, kick them, including in the face, pull on arms and legs and stuff dirt in each other's mouths. Players were told to die before letting go of the ball. They would try to hide the ball in their mouths; other players would choke them or kick them in the stomach to force the ball out. Arms and legs were broken. Players laid out on the ground would be revived by a bucket of cold water. There were occasional deaths. According to Father Paiva, five games in a row had ended in riots.
The origin of the games was the subject of an elaborate mythology. The giving of challenges for a game and the erection of goalposts and players' benches involved rituals and ceremonies, "superstitions" and "sorceries," in the view of Father Pavia. The Apalachee expanded the superstitions to include Christian elements; after losing two games in a row, one village decided that was because their mission church was closed during the games. Players also asked priests to make the sign of the cross over pileups during a game.
The Apalachee had a relatively dense population and a complex, highly stratified society and regional chiefdom.They were part of the Mississippian culture and an expansive regional trade network reaching to the Great Lakes. Their reputation was such that when tribes in southern Florida first encountered the Pánfilo de Narváez expedition, they said the riches which the Spanish sought could be found in Apalachee country.
The "Appalachian" place-name is derived from the Narváez Expedition's encounter in 1528 with the Tocobaga, who spoke of a country named Apalachen far to the north.Several weeks later the expedition entered the territory of Apalachee north of the Aucilla River. Eleven years later the Hernando de Soto expedition reached the main Apalachee town of Anhaica, somewhere in the area of present-day Tallahassee, Florida, probably near Lake Miccosukee. The Spanish subsequently adapted the Native American name as Apalachee and applied it to the coastal region bordering Apalachee Bay, as well as to the tribe which lived in it. Narváez's expedition first entered Apalachee territory on June 15, 1528. "Appalachian" is the fourth-oldest surviving European place-name in the U.S. The name and term Appalachia is also linked to the tribe. The Yamasee Tribe had links into the mountain South. It also appears the Apalachee also had such trade and family links farther north, likely linked to Cherokee, Catawba, and other tribes.
Two Spanish expeditions encountered the Apalachee in the first half of the 16th century. The expedition of Pánfilo de Narváez entered the Apalachee domain in 1528, and arrived at a village, which Narváez believed was the main settlement in Apalachee.Spanish attempts to overpower the Apalachee were met with resistance. The Narváez expedition turned to the coast on Apalachee Bay, where it built five boats and attempted to sail to Mexico. Only four men survived their ordeal.
In 1539, Hernando de Soto landed on the west coast of the peninsula of Florida with a large contingent of men and horses, to search for gold. The natives told him that gold could be found in Apalachee. Historians have not determined if the natives meant the mountains of northern Georgia, an actual source of gold, or to valuable copper artifacts which the Apalachee were known to have acquired through trade. In any case, de Soto and his men went north to Apalachee territory in pursuit of the precious metal.
Because of their prior experience with the Narváez expedition and reports of fighting between the de Soto expedition and tribes along the way, the Apalachee feared and hated the Spanish. When the de Soto expedition entered the Apalachee domain, the Spanish soldiers were described as "lancing every Indian encountered on both sides of the road."De Soto and his men seized the Apalachee town of Anhaica, where they spent the winter of 1539–1540.
Apalachee fought back with quick raiding parties and ambushes. Their arrows could penetrate two layers of chain mail. They quickly learned to target the Spaniards' horses, which otherwise gave the Spanish an advantage against the unmounted Apalachee. The Apalachee were described as "being more pleased in killing one of these animals than they were in killing four Christians."In the spring of 1540, de Soto and his men left the Apalachee domain and headed north into what is now the state of Georgia.
About 1600, the Spanish Franciscan priests founded a successful mission among the Apalachee, adding several settlements over the next century. Apalachee acceptance of the priests may have related to social stresses, as they had lost population to infectious diseases brought unwittingly by the Europeans, to which they had no natural immunity. Many Apalachee converted to Catholicism, in the process creating a syncretic fashioning of their traditions and Christianity. In February 1647, the Apalachee revolted against the Spanish near a mission named San Antonio de Bacuqua in present-day Leon County, Florida. The revolt changed the relationship between Spanish authorities and the Apalachee. Following the revolt, Apalachee men were forced to work on public projects in St. Augustine or on Spanish-owned ranches.
San Luis de Talimali, the western capital of Spanish Florida from 1656 to 1704, is a National Historic Landmark in Tallahassee, Florida. The historic site is being operated as a living history museum by the Florida Department of Archeology.Including an indigenous council house, it re-creates one of the Spanish missions and Apalachee culture, showing the closely related lives of Apalachee and Spanish in these settlements. The historic site received the "Preserve America" Presidential Award in 2006.
Starting in the 1670s, tribes to the north and west of Apalachee (including Chiscas, Apalachicolas, Yamasees and other groups that became known as Creeks) began raiding the Apalachee missions, taking captives who could be traded as slaves to the English in the Province of Carolina. Seeing that the Spanish could not fully protect them, some Apalachees joined their enemies. Apalachee reprisal raids, made in part to try to capture Carolinian traders, pushed the base camps of the raiders eastward, from which they continued to raid Apalachee missions as well as missions in Timucua Province. Efforts were also made to establish missions along the Apalachicola River to create a buffer zone. In particular, several missions were established among the Chatot tribe. In 1702, a few Spanish soldiers and nearly 800 Apalachee, Chatot and Timucuan warriors, on a reprisal raid after several Apalachee and Timucuan missions had been raided, were ambushed by Apalachicolas. Only 300 warriors escaped the ambush.
When Queen Anne's War (the North American part of the War of Spanish Succession) started in 1702, England and Spain were officially at war, and attacks by the English and their Indian allies against the Spanish and the Mission Indians in Florida and southeastern Georgia accelerated. In early 1704 Colonel James Moore of Carolina led 50 Englishmen and 1,000 Apalachicolas and other Creeks in an attack on the Apalachee missions. Some villages surrendered without a fight, while others were destroyed. Moore returned to Carolina with 1,300 Apalachees who had surrendered and another 1,000 taken as slaves. In mid-1704 another large Creek raid captured more missions and large numbers of Apalachees. In both raids missionaries and Christian Indians were tortured and murdered, sometimes by skinning them alive. These raids became known as the Apalachee Massacre. When rumors of a third raid reached the Spanish in San Luis de Talimali, they decided to abandon the province.About 600 Apalachee survivors of Moore's raids were settled near New Windsor, South Carolina. Following the Yamasee War the New Windsor band joined the Lower Creek, and many returned to Florida.
When the Spanish abandoned Apalachee province in 1704, some 800 surviving Indians, including Apalachees, Chatots and Yemasee, fled westward to Pensacola, along with many of the Spanish in the province. Unhappy with conditions in Pensacola, most of the Apalachees moved further west to French-controlled Mobile. They encountered a yellow-fever epidemic in the town and lost more people. Later, some Apalachees moved on to the Red River in present-day Louisiana, while others returned to the Pensacola area, to a village called Nuestra Señora de la Soledad y San Luís. A few Apalachees from the Pensacola area returned to Apalachee province around 1718, settling near a fort that the Spanish had just built at St. Marks, Florida. Many Apalachees from the village of Ivitachuco moved to a site called Abosaya near a fortified Spanish ranch in what is today Alachua County, Florida. In late 1705 the remaining missions and ranches in the area were attacked, and Abosaya was under siege for 20 days. The Apalachees of Abosaya moved to a new location south of St. Augustine, but within a year most of them had been killed in raids. The Red River band integrated with other Indian groups, and many eventually went west with the Creeks, though others remained, and their descendants still live in Rapides Parish, Louisiana. When Florida was transferred to Britain in 1763, several Apalachee families from mission San Joseph de Escambe, then living adjacent to the Spanish presidio of Pensacola in a community consisting of 120 Apalachee and Yamasee Indians, were moved to Veracruz, Mexico. Eighty-seven Indians living near St. Augustine, some of whom may have been descended from Apalachees, were taken to Guanabacoa, Cuba.
In the years after the United States' Louisiana Purchase, the Apalachees in Louisiana faced encroachment by settlers, and discrimination as a non-white minority, particularly severe after the end of the American Civil War. Under the state's binary racial segregation laws passed at the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, they were classified as "colored" or "black".
The tribe's descendants in Louisiana, known as the "Talimali Band of Apalachee", still live in Rapides Parish under the guidance of Chief Gilmer Bennett. Some still live in Chopin, Louisiana, in the hills of the Kisatchie National Forest. Popular music agent "Tammy Taylor" is the granddaughter of Pleasant and Lizzie Kerry, who are direct descendants. In 1997 they started the process of seeking federal recognition. Since they have become more public, they have been invited to consult with Florida on the reconstruction at Mission San Luis, invited to pow-wows, and invited to recount Apalachee history at special events.
Tocobaga was the name of a chiefdom, its chief, and its principal town during the 16th century. The chiefdom was centered around the northern end of Old Tampa Bay, the arm of Tampa Bay that extends between the present-day city of Tampa and northern Pinellas County. The exact location of the principal town is believed to be the archeological Safety Harbor Site, which gives its name to the Safety Harbor culture, of which the Tocobaga are the most well-known group.
The Yamasee were a multiethnic confederation of Native Americans who lived in the coastal region of present-day northern coastal Georgia near the Savannah River and later in northeastern Florida.
Spanish Florida was the first major European land claim and attempted settlement in North America during the European Age of Discovery. La Florida formed part of the Captaincy General of Cuba, the Viceroyalty of New Spain, and the Spanish Empire during Spanish colonization of the Americas. While its boundaries were never clearly or formally defined, the territory was much larger than the present-day state of Florida, extending over much of what is now the southeastern United States, including all of present-day Florida plus portions of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and southeastern Louisiana. Spain's claim to this vast area was based on several wide-ranging expeditions mounted during the 16th century. A number of missions, settlements, and small forts existed in the 16th and to a lesser extent in the 17th century; eventually they were abandoned due to pressure from the expanding English and French colonial projects, the collapse of the native populations, and the general difficulty in becoming agriculturally or economically self-sufficient. By the 18th century, Spain's control over La Florida did not extend much beyond its forts, all located in present-day Florida: near St. Augustine, St. Marks, and Pensacola.
The Alachua culture is a Late Woodland Southeast period archaeological culture in north-central Florida, dating from around 600 to 1700. It is found in an area roughly corresponding to present-day Alachua County, the northern half of Marion County and the western part of Putnam County. It was preceded by the Cades Pond culture, which inhabited approximately the same area.
The Potano tribe lived in north-central Florida at the time of first European contact. Their territory included what is now Alachua County, the northern half of Marion County and the western part of Putnam County. This territory corresponds to that of the Alachua culture, which lasted from about 700 until 1700. The Potano were among the many tribes of the Timucua people, and spoke a dialect of the Timucua language.
Anhaica was the principal town of the Apalachee people, located in what is now Tallahassee, Florida. In the early period of Spanish colonization, it was the capital of the Apalachee Province. The site, now known as Martin Archaeological Site, was rediscovered in 1988.
Apalachee Province was the area in the Panhandle of the present-day U.S. state of Florida inhabited by the Native American peoples known as the Apalachee at the time of European contact. The southernmost extent of the Mississippian culture, the Apalachee lived in what is now Leon County, Wakulla County and Jefferson County. The name was in use during the early period of European exploration. During Spanish colonization, the Apalachee Province became one of the four major provinces in the Spanish mission system, the others being the Timucua Province,, the Mocama Province and the Guale Province.
Mission San Luis de Apalachee was a Spanish Franciscan mission built in 1633 in the Florida Panhandle, two miles west of the present-day Florida Capitol Building in Tallahassee, Florida. It was located in the descendent settlement of Anhaica capital of Apalachee Province. The mission was part of Spain's effort to colonize the Florida Peninsula and to convert the Timucuan and Apalachee Indians to Christianity. The mission lasted until 1704 when it was evacuated and destroyed to prevent its use by an approaching militia of Creek Indians and South Carolinians.
The Apalachee massacre was a series of raids by English colonists from the Province of Carolina and their Indian allies against a largely peaceful population of Apalachee Indians in northern Spanish Florida that took place in 1704, during Queen Anne's War. Against limited Spanish and Indian resistance, a network of missions was destroyed; most of the population either was killed or captured, fled to larger Spanish and French outposts, or voluntarily joined the English.
The Timucua were a Native American people who lived in Northeast and North Central Florida and southeast Georgia. They were the largest indigenous group in that area and consisted of about 35 chiefdoms, many leading thousands of people. The various groups of Timucua spoke several dialects of the Timucua language. At the time of European contact, Timucuan speakers occupied about 19,200 square miles (50,000 km2) in the present-day states of Florida and Georgia, with an estimated population of 200,000. Milanich notes that the population density calculated from those figures, 10.4 per square mile (4.0/km2) is close to the population densities calculated by other authors for the Bahamas and for Hispaniola at the time of first European contact. The territory occupied by Timucua speakers stretched from the Altamaha River and Cumberland Island in present-day Georgia as far south as Lake George in central Florida, and from the Atlantic Ocean west to the Aucilla River in the Florida Panhandle, though it reached the Gulf of Mexico at no more than a couple of points.
The indigenous peoples of Florida lived in what is now known as Florida for more than 12,000 years before the time of first contact with Europeans. However, the indigenous Floridians have largely died out with some completely by the early 18th century. Some Apalachees migrated to Louisiana, where their descendants now live, some were taken to Cuba and Mexico by the Spanish in the 18th century, and a few may have been absorbed into the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes.
Mocoso was the name of a 16th-century chiefdom located on the east side of Tampa Bay, Florida near the mouth of the Alafia River, of its chief town and of its chief. Mocoso was also the name of a 17th-century village in the province of Acuera, a branch of the Timucua. The people of both villages are believed to have been speakers of the Timucua language.
The Northern Utina, also known as the Timucua or simply Utina, were a Timucua people of northern Florida. They lived north of the Santa Fe River and east of the Suwannee River, and spoke a dialect of the Timucua language known as "Timucua proper". They appear to have been closely associated with the Yustaga people, who lived on the other side of the Suwannee. The Northern Utina represented one of the most powerful tribal units in the region in the 16th and 17th centuries, and may have been organized as a loose chiefdom or confederation of smaller chiefdoms. The Fig Springs archaeological site may be the remains of their principal village, Ayacuto, and the later Spanish mission of San Martín de Timucua.
The Yustaga were a Timucua people of what is now northwestern Florida during the 16th and 17th centuries. The westernmost Timucua group, they lived between the Aucilla and Suwannee Rivers in the Florida Panhandle, just east of the Apalachee people. A dominant force in regional tribal politics, they may have been organized as a loose regional chiefdom consisting of up to eight smaller local chiefdoms.
Luis Benedit y Horruytiner was a Spanish colonial administrator who held office as governor of Spanish Florida, and viceroy of Sardinia. He was the uncle of Pedro Benedit Horruytiner, who succeeded him as governor of Florida.
The Pensacola were a Native American people who lived in the western part of what is now the Florida Panhandle and eastern Alabama for centuries before first contact with Europeans until early in the 18th century. They spoke a Muskogean language. They are the source of the name of Pensacola Bay and the city of Pensacola. They lived in the area until the mid-18th century, but were thereafter assimilated into other groups.
Pohoy was a chiefdom on the shores of Tampa Bay in present-day Florida in the late sixteenth century and all of the seventeenth century. Following slave-taking raids by Hichiti language-speaking Muscogee people at the beginning of the eighteenth century, the surviving Pohoy people lived in several locations in peninsular Florida. The Pohoy disappeared from historical accounts after 1739.
Luis de Rojas y Borja was the governor of Spanish Florida from October 28, 1624 to June 23, 1630.
San Joseph de Escambe was an Apalachee mission community established in 1741 at the present-day community of Molino, Florida along the Escambia River north of Pensacola, lending its name both to the river and later to Escambia County, Florida. Taking its name from an earlier Apalachee mission community named San Cosme y San Damián de Escambe located far to the east in Leon County, Florida, this later Escambe mission was inhabited by refugee Apalachee Indians, including chief Juan Marcos Isfani, who had previously settled near the mouth of the river in 1718, having gathered a group of Apalachee refugees who had lived among the Creek Indians since the 1704 English-Creek raids that destroyed the Apalachee Province. After twenty years along the northern Spanish frontier, the mission was burned in a Creek Indian raid on April 9, 1761, and its inhabitants resettled with the Yamasee Indian residents of San Antonio de Punta Rasa adjacent to modern Pensacola before relocating to Veracruz, Mexico along with the Spanish residents of Pensacola in 1763. The Apalachee and Yamasee were assisted in forming a new town north of Veracruz called San Carlos de Chachalacas along the river of the same name, and this town still exists today, though there is no documentation to demonstrate whether any of the Florida Indians who started the town still have any living descendants there.
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