A History of the Timucua Indians and Missions

A History of the Timucua Indians and Missions

A History of the Timucua Indians and Missions

A History of the Timucua Indians and Missions


When Spanish and French explorers first landed in Florida early in the 16th century, Timucua speakers occupied more land area and were more numerous than any other aboriginal group. This is their first detailed history, a major study that places its author in the forefront of Spanish colonial historians working in the United States. The Timucua are the only native people of Florida whose language survives in literature in sufficient quality and quantity to permit significant study. Relying on previously unused documents, this account of the Timucua traces their experience from first contact with Europeans to their exile to Cuba in 1763 and their final eradication. Beginning with the question of their number and their locations in northern Florida and southern Georgia, John Hann examines the Timucua's contacts with various European groups, starting with Ponce de Leon's expedition. He includes a detailed presentation of their experience under the mission regimes and covers such topics as the Europeans' descriptions of the people, their language, culture, and political structures, the derivation of their language, and the meanings of their place-names and titles. He also resolves confusion over the extent of the territory of a Timucua subgroup known as the Mocama and discusses other Florida native peoples who moved into Timucua territory as refugees during the first half of the 18th century.


The Timucua Indians were among the native American groups who lived in Florida during the period of European colonization. Beginning in the 1580s the Timucua were organized into mission villages by Spanish Franciscan priests who brought Catholicism to the native people. Over the ensuing decades several generations of the Timucua were integrated into Spain's La Florida colony.

In this scholarly study John Hann of the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research recounts the history of the Timucua and the mission system. Using archival materials from the colonial period he traces the interactions between native villagers and Spaniards well into the eighteenth century, documenting the demographic catastrophe that befell the Timucua, the result of disease epidemics, warfare, and a life of servitude. By the mid- 1700s literally only a few handfuls of Timucua survived in Florida.

During the past decade Hann has written voluminously on the colonial period native populations of Florida. His translations and interpretations of many previously little known or little used documents have opened new vistas on the history of those people. This volume joins his previous books on the Florida Indians -- the award-winning Apalachee: The Land between the Rivers and Missions to the Calusa, both published by the University Press of Florida (1988, 1991). Together the three establish Hann as one of the premier historians of colonial period native peoples in the Americas.

Thanks to John Hann the histories of the Apalachee, Calusa, Timucua, and other Indians of Spanish Florida now can be read by other scholars and by an interested public. As never before, we can understand the tremendous impact of the European presence on the native societies of Florida. Hann's scholarship is a legacy that will lead future generations to view our past in a new light.

Jerald T. Milanich General Editor, Bullen Series 4 . . .

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