Mocama Life at Santa Cruz
Persistence and Accommodation
under the Mission Bell
Spanish colonization of La Florida during the late sixteenth through early
eighteenth centuries was designed in part to draw indigenous popula-
tions into Spain’s expanding imperial empire through the establishment
of mission communities at extant Native villages. Although early attempts at
religious conversion were made by Jesuits, greater success in instructing indige-
nous Southeast populations in the Catholic religion and introducing aspects
of Hispanic culture to them was achieved by Franciscan missionaries under the
protection of the colonial government.1From the colony’s perspective, the
intent of the mission system extended well beyond religious conversion. It was
part of a “highly structured economic enterprise” in which mission Indians
labored to outfit the La Florida colony with food and a much-needed work
force for defense, construction, and other infrastructural support, thereby
weaving Natives into the political and commercial fabric of the colony.2Under
the mission bell, some Native cultural practices persisted, others were modified,
1. Michael V. Gannon, The Cross in the Sand: The Early Catholic Church in Florida
1513−1870 (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1965), 20–35; Bonnie G. McEwan,
“The Spiritual Conquest of La Florida,” American Anthropologist 103 (2001); Jerald
Milanich, Laboring in the Fields of the Lord: Spanish Missions and Southeastern Indians
(Washington, DC: Smithsonian Press, 1999).
2. Kathleen A. Deagan, “Transformation of Empire: The Spanish Colonial Project in
America, Historical Archaeology 37 (2003), 3; John E. Worth, “Spanish Missions and the
Persistence of Chiefly Power,” in The Transformation of the Southeastern Indians, 1540–
1760, ed. Robbie Ethridge and Charles Hudson (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi,
2002), 54; Tamara Spike, “St. Augustine’s Stomach: Corn and Indian Tribute Labor in
Spanish Florida,” in Florida’s Working-Class Past: Current Perspectives on Labor, Race, and
Gender from Spanish Florida to the New Immigration, ed. Robert Cassanello and Melanie
Shell Weis (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2009).
and new ones took root, making daily life a hybrid of indigenous and Spanish
practices tailored to local ecological and social conditions.3
This chapter discusses the Mocama mission of Santa Cruz y San Bue-
naventura de Guadalquini, focusing primarily on its twelve-year existence
(1684–1696) as a distinct mission community in northeastern Florida.
Emphasis is placed on its history and on results of archaeological excavations
at the mission site, known archaeologically as the Cedar Point site, by the
University of North Florida (UNF) between 2005 and 2012. I conclude with
some general statements on Mocama politics and identity during the late sev-
Mocama was the maritime dialect of the Timucua language spoken by
groups in extreme northeastern Florida and southeastern Georgia at the
moment of European arrival.4The Mocama-speaking Timucua were among
the first Native peoples of mainland North America encountered and
described by sixteenth-century Europeans. In fact, the southeastern Atlantic
coast was ground zero for early French and Spanish colonization efforts in
North America, meaning the Mocama and other lower Atlantic tidewater
groups bore the initial brunt of sustained European Contact and entangle-
ment beginning in 1562. Franciscan missionization among the Mocama com-
menced in 1587 and continued in their homeland until around 1705 and after
relocation in the vicinity of St. Augustine until 1763.
The founding of San Agustín (St. Augustine) in 1565 set in motion a
chain of events that forever transformed the lives of southeastern Native Amer-
icans. But Spanish colonization of La Florida (1565–1763) entailed far more
than the oversimplified and deterministic sequence of Contact, population
loss, missionization, subjugation, and demise in which Natives are portrayed
as passive pawns in an arena of world politics. To the contrary, while change
was inevitable, the Mocama mediated the winds of Spanish missionization
through choices and actions that redefined their culture and helped distin-
guish themselves from their Native neighbors as they negotiated what it meant
to be Mocama in a world that was both indigenous and Spanish.
108 Franciscans and American Indians in Pan-Borderlands Perspective
3. Milanich, Laboring in the Fields of the Lord, 130–156.
4. Jerald Milanich and William Sturtevant, Francisco Pareja’s 1613 Confessionario: A
Documentary Source for Timucuan Ethnography (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Press,
1972), 1; Kathleen Deagan, “Cultures in Transition: Fusion and Assimilation among the
Eastern Timucua,” in Tacachale: Essays on the Indians of Florida and Southeastern Georgia
during the Historic Period, ed. Jerald T. Milanich and Samuel Proctor (Gainesville: Univer-
sity Press of Florida, 1978), 91; Julian Granberry, A Grammar and Dictionary of the Timu-
cua Language (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1993), 6.
San Buenaventura y Santa Cruz de Guadalquini
and Other Mocama Missions
Around 1607, the Franciscan order founded the Mission San Buenaven-
tura de Guadalquini at the southern end of St. Simons Island, Georgia, making
it the northernmost Mocama mission along the Atlantic coast of La Florida
(Figure 1). Although southern St. Simons Island has been considered tradi-
tional Mocama territory by some mission researchers,5my colleagues and I
contend that in pre-Columbian times the entire island was within the spatial
MOCAMA LIFE AT SANTA CRUZ DE GUADALQUINI 109
5. John H. Hann, A History of the Timucua Indians and Missions (Gainesville: Uni-
versity Press of Florida, 1996), 18; Jerald T. Milanich, The Timucua (Cambridge, MA:
Blackwell Publishers, 1996), 98; Milanich, Laboring in the Fields of the Lord, 47; John E.
Worth, The Struggle for the Georgia Coast: An Eighteenth-Century Spanish Retrospective on
Guale and Mocama (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2007), 12.
FIGURE 1. Mocama mission locations.
domain of the Muskogee-speaking Guale Indians.6According to our argu-
ment, Mocama speakers from the mainland and/or barrier islands south of the
Satilla River (Georgia) were relocated north to the upstart mission of San Bue-
naventura as part of a Spanish-led effort to reconfigure the social landscape of
coastal Georgia in the years following the 1597 Guale Rebellion. In effect, an
indigenous Guale island became the home of a transplanted Mocama commu-
nity during the first decade of the seventeenth century. Regardless of who con-
trolled the island prior to Europeans, the Guadalquini mission was undoubt-
edly a Mocama affiliate throughout its nearly century-long existence in three
different locations along the Atlantic coast of Georgia and Florida.
During the early seventeenth century, three other Mocama missions
existed below St. Simons Island, including San Pedro de Mocama on Cum-
berland Island, Georgia, San Juan del Puerto on Fort George Island, Florida,
and Santa Maria de Sena on Amelia Island, Florida. These friar-occupied mis-
sions or doctrinas were surrounded by smaller Native communities or visitas
under the ecclesiastical tutelage of a nearby mission priest.7As the seventeenth
century wore on and the indigenous populations dwindled as a result of the
cumulative effects of disease, changes in diet and living conditions, and out-
migration, a concerted effort (congregación) was made to draw the once dis-
persed scattering of Mocama communities into the doctrinas. The directed
aggregation (reducción) of Mocama missions themselves began in the mid-
1650s with the abandonment of San Pedro, and the relocation of its resident
population to Santa María, who in turn all moved to San Juan in 1665. By
1696, the surviving Mocama population from all missions had been moved
to San Juan del Puerto.
Relocation to Florida
The retreat of Spanish mission communities from the present-day Georgia
coast to northeastern Florida was less out of desire and more out of necessity.
The seventeenth century was an age of rampant colonial and imperial expan-
sion in the Americas. While Spain believed it held unassailable rights to La
Florida, France and England thought otherwise. With the establishment of
110 Franciscans and American Indians in Pan-Borderlands Perspective
6. A discussion on the cultural affiliation of St. Simons Island can be found in Keith
H. Ashley, Vicki L. Rolland, and Robert L. Thunen, “Missions San Buenaventura and Santa
Cruz de Guadalquini: Retreat from the Georgia Coast,” in Life Among the Tides: Recent
Archaeology on the Georgia Bight, Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Nat-
ural History, no. 98 (New York: American Museum of Natural History, 2013), 397–400.
7. For more information on the Mocama mission system, see Keith Ashley, “Grafting
onto the Native Landscape: The Franciscan Mission System in Northeastern Florida,” in
From La Florida to La California: Franciscan Evangelization in the Spanish Borderlands,
ed. Timothy J. Johnson and Gert Melville (Berkeley, CA: The Academy of American Fran-
ciscan History, 2013), 150–158.
the English Virginia colony, Chichimeco Indian raiders in the 1660s set their
sights on the inhabitants of Spanish missions along the Georgia coast for cap-
ture as slaves to be returned to Virginia for sale to the highest bidder.8With
the founding of Charles Town in 1670, slave raiding intensified as the Car-
olina militia and Indian allies outfitted with flintlock rifles targeted coastal La
Not only were missions under threat of attack by English and Indian
slavers, they also had to contend with French corsairs, who were looting
Atlantic coastal missions during the early 1680s.9Pirates eventually robbed
and burned the San Buenaventura mission church and convento on St. Simons
Island, although villagers escaped to the adjacent mainland prior to the assault.
Against this turbulent backdrop, Spanish administrators decided to accelerate
their plans to close down the Georgia coastal missions and move them to safer
locations in northeastern Florida. The abandonment of San Buenaventura in
1684 was an outcome of this organized and wholesale withdrawal of Spanish
missions from present-day Georgia to Florida.10
The Florida destination for San Buenaventura was somewhat of a con-
troversy. The Spanish governor insisted that the Guadalquini community
move to and unite with the existing settlement at San Juan del Puerto, the
primary and only other Mocama mission in existence at the time.
Guadalquini’s residents apparently balked at this idea and instead took refuge
across the sound to the west on an adjacent and unoccupied barrier island
one league from San Juan.11 Once settled, documents refer to this mission as
Santa Cruz y San Buenaventura de Guadalquini (or more simply Santa Cruz
de Guadalquini). The name Santa Cruz is apparently a holdover reference to
the earlier and long-abandoned (ca. fifty years) Mocama mission visita of Vera
Cruz that had been on the island. The Guadalquini community, however,
would remain in this location for only twelve years, as the settlement was again
uprooted and moved to San Juan in 1696. Six years later (1702), San Juan
and the other Guale mission in northeastern Florida were assaulted and
burned by Carolina troops and Indian allies. Although most mission Indians
survived the attack, the communities would be reassembled some thirty miles
to the south within the protective walls of St. Augustine.
MOCAMA LIFE AT SANTA CRUZ DE GUADALQUINI 111
8. Worth, The Struggle for the Georgia Coast, 15–18.
9. Amy T. Bushnell, Situado and Sabana: Spain’s Support System of the Presidio and
Mission Provinces of Florida, Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural
History 74 (New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1994), 162; Hann, A His-
tory of the Timucua Indians and Missions, 269–271; Worth, The Struggle for the Georgia
10. Worth, The Struggle for the Georgia Coast.
11. Hann, A History of the Timucua Indians and Missions, 271; Worth, The Struggle
for the Georgia Coast, 198.
Archaeology of the Cedar Point Sites
The exact whereabouts of the 1684–1696 Santa Cruz mission on the
modern Florida landscape was unknown prior to 2005, when large amounts
of mission-era pottery were recovered from the Cedar Point site (8Du81)
along the southeastern edge of Black Hammock Island. Including the
2005 field season, UNF has devoted portions of six summer archaeological
field schools to investigating the southern end of the island.12 These projects
are part of a joint program between UNF and the National Park Service
(Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve). As a result, nearly 700 shovel
tests (50×50 cm) and more than 140 1×2-meter units have been excavated.
At present, a small gap still exists in the distribution of our shovel tests across
the southern part of the island, but the main parts of the Santa Cruz mission
and probable earlier visita of Vera Cruz have been surveyed. The core mission
area (compound) covers approximately two hectares along the southeastern
edge of the island. A few localized, yet dense, late mission-period shell mid-
dens have been identified between 500 and 1000 meters to the southwest
among an extensive spread of pre-Columbian and Contact-period refuse at
the Cedar Point West site (Figure 2).13 We believe that these late-seventeenth-
century shell middens represent outlying households associated with the relo-
cated Santa Cruz mission community.14 To date, however, most excavations
have focused on the core mission area.
112 Franciscans and American Indians in Pan-Borderlands Perspective
12. A review of the results of the 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2009 field seasons can be
found in Ashley, Rolland, and Thunen, “Missions San Buenaventura and Santa Cruz de
Guadalquini: Retreat from the Georgia Coast,” 406–419.
13. These household middens are situated between 500 and 900 meters southwest
of the core mission area at the Cedar Point West site (8Du63). Three weeks in 2010 were
spent testing one of these household middens. See Keith H. Ashley, Vicki L. Rolland, and
Robert L. Thunen, “Betz-Tiger Point and Cedar Point Preserve: Survey and Field School,
Phase II,” report on file with the Florida Division of Historical Resource (Tallahassee:
Florida Division of Historical Resources, 2010), 124–157.
14. Shovel testing suggests that the mission community was more dispersed than the
two-hectare core area at the Cedar Point site, with some residents living nearly a kilometer
from the mission center. This might have been the case in the early years of the relocated
mission. In 1685 the Mocama who had just relocated to Santa Cruz formally requested
the colonial government to allow “some Indians of Colones, Yguajas [Guale], and from
Yamasee mission of Asajo [St. Simons Island, Georgia]” to move to Santa Cruz, and their
petition was granted. Perhaps these refugees established scattered households on the out-
skirts of the Santa Cruz community, as they did on St. Simons Island, in effect forming
small ethnic enclaves. In 1689 the mission was reported to house sixty families or an esti-
mated population of 300. With a mission this large, the community very well may have
been quite dispersed for agricultural purposes; see Hann, A History of the Timucua Indians
and Missions, 271–272; Worth, The Struggle for the Georgia Coast, 124.
The architecture of mission communities in La Florida differed from that
found elsewhere in the Americas. Most notably, those of southeastern North
America lacked any buildings made of stone, masonry, tile, or adobe. Tabby,
a concrete that includes oyster shells and lime, was used sparingly in making
late sixteenth century structures in the town of St. Augustine, while the use
of coquina rock was a little more common in the garrison community. Tabby,
however, did not become widespread until the eighteenth and nineteenth cen-
turies when it was employed in the construction of buildings associated with
coastal plantations and mills. As for the mission frontier, all structures, from
houses to churches, were made of wood (upright posts, wattle, or hewn
boards) and thatch, although in some instances walls were plastered with a
clay daub. These materials were for the most part perishable, and no extant
ruins today mark their former existence.
The first three field seasons at Santa Cruz unearthed only a few mission-
period features, including a series of shell-filled postholes in Units 28 and 30.
MOCAMA LIFE AT SANTA CRUZ DE GUADALQUINI 113
FIGURE 2. Archaeological sites at southern end of Black Hammock Island.
In 2009, eight 1×2-meter and two 1×1-meter units were excavated north and
south of these two units. This expansion, designated Block C, exposed a per-
pendicular alignment of features representing a building corner, labeled Struc-
ture 1.15 Not satisfied with the extent of our horizontal exposure, we returned
to Block C in the summer of 2011, with the goal of exposing as much of the
posthole pattern as possible within a six-week field period. As a result, thirty
1×2-meter and three 1×1-meter units were excavated. Because we had not
fully exposed the outline of Structure 1 in 2011, we revisited Block C in the
summer of 2012 and excavated twenty-five more units, bringing the total size
of Block C to 140 m2(or sixty-six 1×2-meter and eight 1×1-meter units).
Forty-three subsurface features were recorded in Block C. Twenty of
these were large postholes filled with shell midden that included mission-
period artifacts, animal bones, and oyster, clam, and large whelk shells. In
cross-section, the outline of a flat-bottomed post was clearly discernable in
most postholes. Shell midden appears to have been added to postholes to sta-
bilize the post and perhaps sweeten the soil in order to deter bug infestation.
Figure 3 provides a composite view of Structure 1, which combines the 2007–
2012 Block C excavations. Sixteen shell-filled posthole features outlined a
rectangular structure that measured approximately 10×7 meters. Two addi-
tional shell-filled postholes were within Structure 1 and appear to represent
an internal wall. Two more postholes occurred outside the building and were
aligned parallel to the eastern end of the building’s southern wall. The largest
postholes were those forming the two interior rows along the building’s long
axis. These were likely load-bearing posts that supported a gabled roof.
Building materials recovered during excavations included preserved pieces
of a few wooden posts in postholes, iron nail and spike fragments, and daub
(hardened clay); the latter was not recovered in any significant amounts until
the 2011 and 2012 field seasons.16 The restricted distribution of daub against
the background of posthole locations suggests that Structure 1 consisted of
two rooms: a heavily daubed wall room measuring ca. 4×7 meters to the west
and a slightly larger ca. 6×7-meter undaubed room to the east. The latter
room may have had lightly thatched walls or perhaps was open, making it
more like a ramada. The structure lacked a prepared clay floor, although the
daubed room apparently possessed a dirt floor above the prehistoric shell
midden. Within the eastern (undaubed) section of the structure, we encoun-
114 Franciscans and American Indians in Pan-Borderlands Perspective
15. A review of Structure 1 as it appears after the 2009 field season can be found in
Ashley, Rolland, and Thunen, “Missions San Buenaventura and Santa Cruz de Guadal-
16. More architectural hardware might be expected from a building of this size, but
because the abandonment of Santa Cruz was a planned move to San Juan, everything
worthy of reuse may have been taken when the mission’s inhabitants left for San Juan.
MOCAMA LIFE AT SANTA CRUZ DE GUADALQUINI 115
FIGURE 3. Outline of Structure 1, Cedar Point site (shaded units
produced high quantities of daub).
tered a mission-period shell midden along with a series of burned (possible)
posts, fire pits, and areas of dark soil, heat-altered sand, charcoal, and ash.
These features combined with the open-sided nature of this portion of the
structure and the composition of the midden’s ceramic assemblage suggest
that cooking and food processing activities took place in the undaubed section
of Structure 1.
The daubed portion of the structure, separated from the open kitchen
area by a daubed wall, might represent a living area or storage room. It could
represent a combined convento-kitchen, particularly in light of the religious
items recovered from Block C. The latter included two small crosses (one
brass with a Latin inscription and the other a lead Greek cross), a brass neck-
lace strand, and a brass ring fragment. In addition, a brass sacred heart of Jesus
finger ring was found ten meters south of Block C in 2006. Fifteen glass beads
and a few kaolin pipe fragments also were recovered. The size of Structure 1
is similar to that of conventos or friaries at other mission sites in La Florida.
However, it is unclear whether Santa Cruz had a resident priest or shared one
with San Juan during its twelve years in Florida. It is possible that the structure
served multiple functions either concurrently or sequentially. At the present
time, we believe the church may have existed on a slight rise sixty meters
southwest of Structure 1, based on the partial exposure of burials and a
possible shell footer during testing along an existing paved road.17
Material Culture and Subsistence
What have we learned about Mocama material culture during the late
mission period based on our work at Santa Cruz? Even after more than a cen-
tury of missionization, Native artifacts still dominate within refuse middens.
Indigenous San Marcos pottery is the prevailing domestic ware in all contexts
at Santa Cruz, as it is at other coeval Mocama, Guale, and Timucua sites along
the Atlantic coast.18 Olive jar and other European coarse earthenwares occur
in moderate amounts and likely served as storage containers. Colonowares,
or vessels of European form manufactured of local clays by Native potters
using traditional firing techniques, also are found in low to moderate frequen-
cies, depending on context. However, broad-scale sampling shows that
colonowares and European tablewares such as majolica, while far more
common in the center of the mission compound, were not the sole possessions
116 Franciscans and American Indians in Pan-Borderlands Perspective
17. Ashley, Rolland, and Thunen, “Missions San Buenaventura and Santa Cruz de
18. San Marcos is also known as Altamaha series pottery. See various chapters in From
Santa Elena to St. Augustine: Indigenous Ceramic Variability (A.D. 1400–1700), ed. Kath-
leen Deagan and David Hurst Thomas, Anthropological Papers of the American Museum
of Natural History, 90 (New York: American Museum of Natural History, 2009).
of resident friars and other Europeans. In fact, red-filmed, brimmed plates
have a low-density and sporadic dispersal across broad village areas, both at
Santa Cruz and nearby at San Juan.19 It is unclear if these locations represent
elite households, or if most villagers possessed colonowares that were used on
Shovel testing in areas well beyond the mission core at Santa Cruz has
produced small amounts of glass and metal artifacts; the same is true for test-
ing at San Juan del Puerto. A rosary bead, a gunflint, two kaolin pipestems,
and olive jar and colonoware pieces were recovered from household middens
located nearly one kilometer from the mission compound at Santa Cruz.
Additional pipe fragments and gunflints were found in the core area. The
recovery of the latter indicates that the residents of Santa Cruz were armed
to protect themselves from land and sea attacks by the English, French, or
other Native groups.
Finally, an interesting aspect of the Mocama material culture is the large
number of modified pieces of shell and animal bone, representing formal and
informal tools, which indicates the continued production of traditional Native
bone and shell tools. The frontier nature of the missions combined with infre-
quency and limited amount of supplies from Spain may have played a role in
the lack of European material culture in Florida missions. In addition, records
indicate that the most common items gifted to mission Indians were articles of
clothing, blankets, cloth, or foodstuffs, all of which rarely survive on archaeo-
logical sites.20 In terms of missions, trade goods appear most frequently at gar-
risoned communities such as Santa Catalina de Guale and San Luis de Talimali,
positioned along the northern and western edges of La Florida, respectively.
With respect to the domestic economy, midden deposits indicate that sub-
sistence still centered on local foods and long-held adaptations to coastal life.
Although mission inhabitants were exposed to Old World domesticated plant
and animal species, they maintained a dependence on estuarine resources,
mostly fish and shellfish. Fishing persisted as an important subsistence pursuit,
and the range of fish body sizes suggests that a variety of capture methods
MOCAMA LIFE AT SANTA CRUZ DE GUADALQUINI 117
19. Ashley, Rolland, and Thunen, “Betz-Tiger Point and Cedar Point Preserve:
Survey and Field School, Phase II,” 84, 86, report on file with the Florida Division of His-
torical Resource (Tallahassee: Florida Division of Historical Resources, 2010), 124–157;
Keith Ashley and Rebecca Gorman, “Archaeological Survey of the Slough Sites, Fort Geor-
gia Island Florida,” report on file with the Florida Division of Historical Resources (Talla-
hassee: Florida Division of Historical Resources, 2010), 38; Martin F. Dickinson and Lucy
B. Wayne, “Archaeological Testing of the San Juan de Puerto site (8Du53) Fort Georgia
Island Florida,” report on file with the Florida Division of Historical Resources (Tallahassee:
Florida Division of Historical Resources, 1985), 5–8.
20. John E. Worth, Timucuan Chiefdoms of Spanish Florida, vol. 1, Assimilation
(Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1998a), 36, 135–143.
(group or single) were utilized. Among the mammal remains are deer, rac-
coon, opossum, rabbit, squirrel, and bear. Unlike the early California missions,
those in Florida were not stocked with cattle, sheep, or horses for the friars to
draw upon “in convincing natives to accept their tutelage.”21 Evidence of
domesticated species includes peach pits, some pig bones, and a single cow
bone, but currently there is no evidence of sheep, goat, or chicken within the
analyzed samples at Santa Cruz. The specific elements recovered and their
conditions suggest that body processing and preparation did not vary between
native and introduced mammals. Compared to pre-Contact midden assem-
blages, the biggest difference in subsistence remains is an increase in the quan-
tity of preserved corn, which is no surprise given that maize production inten-
sified among the Mocama during missionization.22
Discussion and Conclusion
In the balance of this chapter I touch upon a few issues pertinent to our
Mocama research. First is our approach, which is guided by the notion that
all Contact situations are complex and distinctively structured by social and
historical processes particular to those involved. Native reactions to European
expansionist policies and imperialist strategies across the Americas were varied
and rooted in divergent pre-Columbian histories and traditions. As Cobb
states, “processes of colonialism and imperialism cannot be fully compre-
hended until complexity and diversity are projected back in time.”23 Focus
must rest squarely on the historical contexts in which groups create and re-
create their social relations through time. This necessitates long-term historical
studies that span the artificial (and unnecessary) divide between pre-history
and history.24 Forefronting particular processes and histories do not deny a
broader comparative perspective. The archaeology of colonialism lends itself
118 Franciscans and American Indians in Pan-Borderlands Perspective
21. John H. Hann and Bonnie G. McEwan, The Apalachee Indians and Mission San
Luis (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1998), 32.
22. As of October 2014, a detailed paleoethnobotanical study had yet to be under-
taken of the carbonized plant remains from the site.
23. Charles R. Cobb, “Archaeology and the “Savage Slot”: Displacement and
Emplacement in the Premodern World,” American Anthropologist 107 (2005), 564.
24. Kent G. Lightfoot, “Culture Contact Studies: Redefining the Relationship
between Prehistoric and Historic Archaeology,” American Antiquity 60; Laura L. Scheiber
and Mark D. Mitchell (editors), “Across a Great Divide: Continuity and Change in Native
North American Societies, 1400–1900 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, Tucson, 2010);
Stephen W. Silliman, “Social and Physical Landscapes of Contact,” in North American
Archaeology, ed. Timothy Pauketat and Diana DiPolo Loren (Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub-
lishing, 2005); John E. Worth, “Bridging Prehistory and History in the Southeast: Evalu-
ating the Utility of the Acculturation Concept,” in Light on the Path: The Anthropology and
History of the Southeastern Indians, ed. Thomas J. Pluckhahn and Robbie Ethridge
(Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2006).
to a comparative approach, because cross-cultural comparisons allow us to
explore some of the “real commonalities” experienced by both Natives and
newcomers.25 Moreover, such comparisons contribute to a better global
understanding of the patterns and processes of culture contact and change,
both past and present.
What about politics and identity as they pertain to the Mocama? Ethno-
historic information indicates that at the moment of European arrival (1560s),
Mocama social organization was based on ranked clans.26 Villages were led
by a chief, who was a member of a noble lineage and assisted by a council of
principal men. Some hereditary leaders not only controlled their home village
but also maintained a political grip on a small group of subordinate settle-
ments in the immediate area. Intervillage alliances were cemented through
marriage, and Mocama chiefdoms often engaged in internecine raiding with
other Timucua groups, making for a volatile landscape at the time of Euro-
pean arrival. Chiefs and their closest kin monopolized the esoteric knowledge
on which society and cosmology were built and further spread an ideology
that both defined and buttressed their lofty status. Such a political structure
clearly falls within the anthropological definition of chiefdom, although the
size and degree of ranking and stratification among the Mocama appears to
have been on a smaller scale compared to that of other contemporaneous
Native societies in the interior Southeast.27
For the Mocama, the first few decades of Contact (1560s and 1570s) wit-
nessed the introduction of diseases and the execution of a scorched-earth strat-
egy of compliance by the Spanish living within the Mocama territory.28 The
failure of chiefs to cease the spread of epidemics or to repel Spanish encroach-
ment likely worked to undermine their leadership powers. Eventual acceptance
of missions in 1587 appears to have been a power play by the Mocama elite
to maintain chiefly control rather than surrender it, as their territory and pop-
ulation began to decline. In the Native political arena, St. Augustine was a
paramount chiefdom vying for control, and the Mocama, as well as other
Southeast Indians, followed Natives’ protocol as they engaged the interlopers
in diplomatic relations.29 The military might of the Spanish combined with
MOCAMA LIFE AT SANTA CRUZ DE GUADALQUINI 119
25. Silliman, “Social and Physical Landscapes of Contact,” 274.
26. Hann, A History of the Timucua Indians and Missions, 83; Milanich, The Timucua,
27. Charles R. Cobb, “Mississippian Chiefdoms: How Complex?,” Annual Review
of Anthropology (2003), 66–68.
28. Hann, A History of the Timucua Indians and Missions, 70.
29. John E. Worth, Timucuan Chiefdoms of Spanish Florida, 13–18, 35–37; Rebecca
Saunders, “Forced Relocation, Power Relations, and Culture Contact in the Missions of
La Florida,” in Studies in Culture Contact: Interaction, Culture Change, and Archaeology,
ed. James G. Cusick, Center for Archaeological Investigations, Occasional Papers no. 25
trade goods proved a compelling incentive for chiefs to ally themselves with
the newcomers. Foreign gifts doled out by colonial officials served to legiti-
mate chiefly authority, as exotic raw materials and sumptuary goods from far-
flung areas of eastern North America had done in pre-Contact times. Early in
the mission period, once one chief accepted Christianity, others followed suite,
fearing that those consenting to Christianity would “possibly supplant them
by becoming the chiefdom’s broker with the new power source.”30 This
gambit was nothing new to southeastern Indian politics.
John Worth and Amy Bushnell argue convincingly that the indigenous
chiefly titles and elite honors extended well into the colonial period among the
missionized Timucua and Apalachee, respectively.31 Pledging obedience to the
Spanish Crown and openly accepting friars into their communities ensured the
preservation of a chief’s secular control over villagers. Their privileged status
was recognized by colonial officials, who exempted chiefs from Indian labor
requirements issued by the governor and presented them with gifts on certain
occasions. In time, mission Indians became familiar enough with the colonial
system to use it to their advantage.32 Ultimately, however, chiefs were subject
to the governor of St. Augustine and religion was guided broadly by the
Catholic Church. But Spain needed the support and reinforcement of the
Native political structure to sustain its struggling St. Augustine colony.
The layout of mission communities not only reflected but shaped this
political and religious structure. From the opening decades to the waning
years of missionization, churches existed alongside Native council houses in
the doctrinas of La Florida.33 Politics transpired in Native council houses, while
worship was confined to churches. The former buildings continued to main-
tain a formal arrangement of assigned seats based on political rank, and meet-
ings followed long-established rules and traditions, including consumption of
the sacred black drink.34 According to Spanish documents, a 1695 formal vis-
itation to Santa Cruz de Guadalquini was held in the village council house
120 Franciscans and American Indians in Pan-Borderlands Perspective
(Carbondale: Southern Illinois University, 1998), 413; David Hurst Thomas, “War and
Peace on the Franciscan Frontier,” From La Florida to La California: Franciscan Evange-
lization in the Spanish Borderlands, ed. Timothy J. Johnson and Gert Melville (Berkeley,
CA; Academy of American Franciscan History, 2013), 125.
30. Hann, A History of the Timucua Indians and Missions, 142.
31. Worth, “Spanish Missions and the Persistence of Chiefly Power,” 241; Amy T.
Bushnell, “Ruling ‘the Republic of the Indians’ in Seventeenth Century Florida,” in
Powhatan’s Mantle: Indians in the Colonial Southeast, Peter H. Wood, Gregory A. Waselkov,
and M. Thomas Hatley (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989), 139, 142–144.
32. Saunders, “ Forced Relocation, Power Relations, and Culture Contact in the Mis-
sions of La Florida,” 417.
33. Milanich, Laboring in the Fields of the Lord, 142–143.
34. John H. Hann, “1630 Memorial of Fray Francisco Alonso de Jesus on Spanish
Florida’s Missions and Natives,” The Americas 50 (1993), 94–95.
and was attended by a colonial representative and a series of chiefs and other
men of titled lineages,35 suggesting the persistence of noble families, even if
only in name. Until late in the mission period, Mocama missions were essen-
tially Native communities with a lone friar as their only European resident. In
fact, as mentioned previously, Santa Cruz may have shared a Franciscan mis-
sionary who resided full-time at nearby San Juan de Puerto.
Santa Cruz provides an illustrative example of the continuing influence
of chiefs in village politics. Despite having lived under the mission bell for
more than a century, including the previous few decades under constant threat
of English raiders and French pirates, the Guadalquini chief did not comply
with the governor’s request in 1684 to relocate his St. Simons Island village
to the San Juan mission. This act of resistance suggests that Mocama missions
still exercised a degree of social and political autonomy. Even in their new
location, Santa Cruz continued to drag their heels and feign compliance for
another twelve years, lamenting that they had not moved yet due to “their
being tied up with plantings and with other occupations that they have been
called upon for in the service of his majesty . . . [and] if at the moment they
are not doing so [moving to San Juan], it is because it is time already for their
field preparation.”36 But when questioned as to why in the “past years they
had not sown the field that is set aside [community field?],” the chief
responded that it “was because of the shortage of provisions that existed, for
which this year they are disposed to plant it.”37 The mission remained firmly
entrenched on Black Hammock Island in 1695 despite the governor’s concern
for the “risks that are entailed, while they are in the said place of Santa Cruz,
being overrun by the enemies by way of the mainland.”38 Although a council
house for Santa Cruz had already been built at San Juan at the time of the
1695 visitation, the community did not move there until the next year
(1696).39 In the end, their move to San Juan appears tied to the death of the
chief at San Juan and promotion of the Santa Cruz chief to provincial chief.
Finally, contrary to popular views, there was no such thing as a single his-
toric Indian identity, even among the missionized Indians of La Florida. A
MOCAMA LIFE AT SANTA CRUZ DE GUADALQUINI 121
35. Juan de Pueyo, “General Visitation of the Provinces of Guale and Mocama Made
by the Captain Don Juan de Pueyo by Title and Nomination of the Señor Don Laureano
de Torres y Ayala, Knight of the Order of Santiago, Governor and Captain General of the
City, Presidio and Provinces of St. Augustine of Florida for His Majesty, January 25, 1695,”
in Visitations and Revolts in Florida, translated by John H. Hann, Florida Archaeology 7
(1993), 222, 241.
36. Ibid., 243.
37. Ibid., 243–244.
38. Ibid., 243. Earlier Pueyo refers to these enemies as “bandit pagan Indians who
roam about on the mainland” (235).
39. Ibid., 243.
key factor contributing to the colony’s multiethnic composition was that “lin-
guistic difference[s] remained distinct” throughout the mission period.40 In
fact, La Florida was divided into mission provinces based on the dominant
Native language in the region. Even as the number of missions was reduced
and communities combined, Guale always merged with Guale and Mocama
with Mocama (Timucua).41 This is not to say that Spanish missions were
bounded communities—they were not. Missions Indians were actively
engaged in external relations with other Indians, and some missions along the
La Florida periphery were pluralistic societies, although most of their residents
likely spoke dialects of the same language (e.g., Muskogean or Timucua).
As for the four Mocama missions, until the waning decades of the seven-
teenth century, each was composed mostly of Timucua speakers, although
they may have housed speakers of different Timucuan dialects. While external
relations between Guale and Mocama were peaceful throughout most of the
seventeenth century, the two were traditional enemies in pre-Contact times.
Moreover, tensions and outward hostilities were still apparent during the
Guale Rebellion of 1597 and shortly thereafter. A shared language, sense of
being, and history on the part of each group combined with their longstand-
ing rivalry likely played a role in the maintenance of separate Mocama and
Guale identities throughout the mission period. We must remember that iden-
tity is context-driven and subject to constant social negotiations that entails
both culture continuity and change. Traditions of the past are not propelled
into the future simply by being customary; they are actively set in motion and
do not exist apart from the actions that create/re-create them.42
Culture contact was nothing new to America’s indigenous populations,
although the circumstances of European colonization were different and the
pace was more accelerated and intensive than any encountered by their pre-
Columbian ancestors. Throughout the mission period, the Mocama contin-
uously mediated between old and new ways of doing and perceiving things;
this mediation simultaneously entailed accommodation and resistance in the
ongoing production of culture and tradition. While in the eyes of the
Spanish the Mocama may have been seen as generic mission Indians or
neophytes, they maintained an ongoing identity that distinguished them
from the Guale and other missionized Indians of La Florida. Moreover, the
mission-era Mocama should not be treated as diluted versions of what they
once were, because such a portrayal renders them irrelevant in the
production of their own culture. Mocama identity was ongoing and it persisted
122 Franciscans and American Indians in Pan-Borderlands Perspective
40. Worth, “Spanish Missions and the Persistence of Chiefly Power,” 241.
41. Worth, The Struggle for the Georgia Coast, 47–50.
42. Timothy R. Pauketat, “A New Tradition in Archaeology,” in The Archaeology of
Traditions: Agency and History Before and After Columbus, ed. Timothy R. Pauketat
(Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2001), 1–15.
in the Native council houses, agricultural fields, and mission churches of
Spanish Florida, although it differed from what existed at the dawn of the
In sum, excavations at Santa Cruz de Guadalquini (1684–1696) in Jack-
sonville, Florida have exposed refuse middens, pits, and the outline of a clay-
daubed building. We have uncovered artifacts showing that coastal Mocama
Indians at this time were armed with flintlock rifles and acquired goods of
Spanish and British origin, yet continued to craft items of clay, bone, and shell.
They grew corn and ate European peaches and pigs, but also fished, gathered
shellfish, and hunted deer, as they had for millennia along the Atlantic coast.
Their distinctive identity persisted, as they had yet to assimilate fully into colo-
nial Spanish life.
MOCAMA LIFE AT SANTA CRUZ DE GUADALQUINI 123