Flagler College to Lead Study on Fort History; Focus on Captivity of Native Americans

By Jones, Colleen Michele | The Florida Times Union, December 13, 2017 | Go to article overview

Flagler College to Lead Study on Fort History; Focus on Captivity of Native Americans


Jones, Colleen Michele, The Florida Times Union


Byline: Colleen Michele Jones

Mention the Castillo de San Marcos and most probably think of the fort as the backdrop to battling European nations or raids by marauding pirates.

Lesser known is another chapter in the history of the coquina-built stronghold: the imprisonment of Native Americans throughout the 19th century.

Thanks to funding from the U.S. Department of Interior, more light will be shed on that period of time. The National Park Service, in cooperation with Flagler College, has been allotted $50,000 to study the tribal heritage of the Castillo.

The fort (then called Fort Marion) was used as a prison for Native Americans rounded up by the Army in the aftermath of the Indian Wars in the west. Drawings on several walls, which can still be seen today, testify to the time the tribes, from the Apaches to the Plains Indians, spent inside the fort's barriers from the 1830s through the 1880s.

According to a news release from the Department of Interior, the NPS, along with Flagler College professors and students, will conduct "much needed research on tribal perspectives of the imprisonments, develop collaborative interpretive and scholarly programs for the general public, and develop opportunities to use Native American art as a way to present these tribal perspectives."

Steven Roberts, chief of interpretation and education for the Castillo de San Marcos, said much of what we do know about this part of the fort's history is from journals kept by Army soldiers at the time.

"So it is not a complete story," said Roberts. "And it's not a story that many people are familiar with. …

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