Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Laboring in the Fields of the Lord: Spanish Missions and Southeastern Indians

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Laboring in the Fields of the Lord: Spanish Missions and Southeastern Indians

Article excerpt

Laboring in the Fields of the Lord: Spanish Missions and Southeastern Indians. By Jerald T. Milanich. (Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press, c. 1999. Pp. xiv, 210. $26.95, ISBN 1-56098-940-8.)

Laboring in the Fields of the Lord is an important addition to the literature on Spanish Florida. Jerald Milanich has studied Indian cultures in the southeastern United States for many years and concentrates in the present volume on the system of missions Spain established in coastal Georgia and northern Florida. Several sites have been excavated--at least partially, and the work continues--and the author used a host of primary and secondary sources in his study. He has done a great job blending historical and archaeological knowledge about the missions.

Spanish governors utilized Franciscan missions to provide food, bolster defenses, and control Indian populations in the colony. The friars sought to convert chiefs who would facilitate the process of converting their subjects. The church sought also to provide a special education for the chiefs' children. Church fathers tended over time to replace ritual leaders in the villages, and the Spaniards utilized the authority of the chiefs to obtain food and workers. For example, Indians transported corn to St. Augustine, cultivated fields there, and labored on the presidio's defensive structures. …

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