Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Apalachee Indians and Mission San Luis

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Apalachee Indians and Mission San Luis

Article excerpt

The Apalachee Indians and Mission San Luis. By John H. Hann and Bonnie G. McEwan. [Native Peoples, Cultures, and Places of the Southeastern United States.] (Gainesville: University Press of Florida. 1998. Pp. xiv, 193; 120 color illustrations. $49.95 clothbound; $19.95 paperback.)

The only true Mississippian culture in Florida, with a ceremonial mound center at Lake Jackson, Apalachee occupied an area ideal for agriculture between the Ochlockonee and Aucilla Rivers. When visited by explorers Panfilo de Narvaez in 1528 and Hernando de Soto in 1539, the chiefdom had two paramount villages, Anhaica and Ivitachuco, and a population of 50,000 to 60,000, who spoke a Muskhogean language. The founding of St. Augustine in 1565 did not immediately lead to missions in Apalachee. By the time Franciscans commenced conversions in the province in 1633, epidemic disease had reduced the population by half. Not all the Apalachee were in accord about the Spanish presence, especially after a band of soldiers arrived to act as middlemen for the governor's trade with the nations to their north. In the Apalachee Revolt of 1647 the non-Christians burned seven missions and killed the deputy governor with his family. The whole province was punished with a labor draft for service in St. Augustine. By 1675 epidemics of yellow fever and measles had reduced their numbers to 10,000, in thirteen missions. South Carolinians and Creeks combined to raid the province for slaves in 1704 during Queen Anne's War. The refugees dispersed in all directions, and the province became a "despoblado.'

In 1983 the State of Florida acquired fifty acres on a hill in Tallahassee and launched an ambitious program of archaeological and historical research and museum interpretation, for the hilltop was the site of the Spanish-period mission of San Luis, religious and military center of long-lost Apalachee province and at one time the only Spanish settlement outside St. …

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