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But this superficial primitivism should not obscure the fact that Tocobaga culture represented a successful and sophisti cated adaptation to the surrounding environ ment. The ability to maintain complex social structures and long-distance trade networks, the capacity to produce ornate ceramics and beautifully crafted jewelry, and the decision to devote considerable time and energy to the construction of temple and burial mounds all testify to the richness and vitality of Tocobaga life.

On the Pinellas Peninsula alone, there were scores of mounds during the late preColumbian era. Although some were nothing more than kitchen middens, others were mas sive earthworks adorned with wooden temples and charnel houses. The largest of the temple mounds were fifty feet high and more than a hundred feet long, a magnitude that impressed the haughtiest of Spanish conquistadors.

The historical record provides us with few specific clues about what went on in the temples and charnel houses of the Tocobaga. We can be reasonably confident that Tocobaga religion derived much of its structure and meaning from the rhythms of the natural world.

Unlike modern Christianity and Judaism, where the historical dimension is paramount, most forms of Mississippian religion sought to explain and enhance a recur ring pattern of birth, life, death, and renewal.

The Tocobaga Mississippians lived in a world of cyclical equilibrium and subtle adaptation, a world where there was little need for a linear sense of time or development.

Although some years were more memorable than others, the basic rhythm of life was dictated by seasonal variation. Tropical storms and winter freezes came and went, but the governing principle of Tocobaga life remained the same; as always, the cultural and physical survival of the tribe depended on an unbroken symbiosis with the surrounding environment. Despite the inevit able temptations of territoriality and cultural pride, the Tocobaga could ill afford a growth mentality, or any other philosophy that pitted human striving against natural limits.

The maintenance of ecological balance took prece dence over individual or collective ambition, and the Tocobaga saw to it that this calculus was ruthlessly enforced by religious ritual and communal pressure. For at least a dozen millennia, a succes sion of native peoples extracted what they needed from the land and sea of the lower Gulf coast without destroying the environment that sustained them.

They probably would have gone on in this way indefinitely had it not been for the advent of the European age of explora tion and discovery. In the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, the cyclical equilib rium of the Tocobaga and other New World societies was swiftly and irrevocably shattered by the coming of the Europeans. Beginning with the voyages of Columbus, the process now known as the Columbian Exchange grad ually melded the biological and cultural systems of the Old and New Worlds.

Fuller erected this sign in the Jungle area of northwestern St. Petersburg during the s to mark the location of Spanish explorer Panfilo de Narvaez s arrival in central Florida in Despite Fuller's claim, the exact location of the Narvaez landing is still a subject of debate among archaeologists and historians.

Petersburg Times long run, the Columbian Exchange included a massive two-way transfer of plants and animals. During the sixteenth century, the Old World had its first encounter with such novel ties as chocolate, tomatoes, potatoes, peanuts, maize, bison, hummingbirds, and rattlesnakes.

In return, horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, oranges, melons, bananas, coconut palms, daisies, dandelions and hundreds of other "oddities" from Europe, Asia, and Africa were introduced to the American landscape.

Many of these Old World species were useful additions to the American scene, but unfortunately for the aborigines of the New World, a number of deadly Old World diseases also migrated across the Atlantic.

The result was a demographic disaster of monumental proportions, a night marish spiral of depopulation and cultural disintegration that facilitated the Europeanization of two continents. The Columbian Exchange began relatively early on the lower Gulf coast of Florida, al though the date of initial contact between the Tocobaga and the Europeans was probably later than some historians have claimed.

During the early sixteenth century, a number of Spanish explorers landed on Florida's lower Gulf coast: But, with the ex ception of Narvaez, there is no hard evidence that any of these explorers encountered the Tocobaga. Although Walter Fuller and other local historians have insisted that the fabled Ponce de Leon visited the Pinellas Peninsula twice, the probability that these visits actually occurred is extremely low. Inafter ex ploring most of Florida's Atlantic coast and the Florida Keys, Ponce de Leon did indeed head north along the lower Gulf coast.

But few, if any, serious historians believe that he went much beyond the mouth of the Caloosahatchie River. Eight years later the peripatetic gover nor of Puerto Rico returned to the lower Gulf coast, with the intention of establishing Florida's first Spanish colony. But a phalanx of native warriors drove the Spanish intruders away, fatally wounding Ponce de Leon in the process.

Although the exact location of this fatal skirmish is unknown, most scholars feel that it was somewhere in Calusa territory well to the south of Tampa Bay. Of course, wherever it occurred, the Toco St. And, even if they knew nothing of this particular incident, the Tocobaga were un doubtedly aware of the Europeans' presence in the Caribbean basin by the time of Ponce de Leon's second voyage.

Spanish slavers and freebooters had been prowling the Florida coast since the beginning of the sixteenth century, and it seems highly unlikely that a coastal tribe like the Tocobaga could have avoided these early intruders altogether. Indeed, the overnight departure of the first villagers Narvaez encountered in sug gests that prior contact with Europeans had already made the Tocobaga wary of paleskinned visitors in square-rigged ships.

When Narvaez splashed ashore in the spring ofthe long history of the Tocobaga entered a final and ultimately tragic phase.

Any visitor carrying European pathogens and European ideas of sanctified conquest would have disrupted the biological and cultural balance of Tocobaga society. But Narvaez, a man described by Samuel Eliot Morison as "both cruel and stupid," was a particularly unsavory intruder.

According to Morison, Narvaez was "the most incompetent of all who sailed for Spain in this era. Born in Valladolid inNarvaez served under Juan de Esquivel in Jamaica, where he earned a reputa tion as a consummate Indian killer.

Later, during the conquest of Cuba, he extended his reputation by directing several mass slaught ers that helped to break native resistance. Inhe was sent to Mexico to arrest Hernando Cortez, whose expansive activities, according to the governor of Cuba, had gotten out of hand. In this case, Narvaez's martial skills failed him, and Cortez got the better of the exchange.

Wounded in battle he lost an eye and later imprisoned, he eventually had no choice but to side with Cortez in the disagree ment over the imperial chain of command. Despite his humiliation at the hands of Cortez, Narvaez remained a favorite of Emperor Charles V, who appointed him adelantado of Florida in With this title came the right to conquer and colonize the entire Gulf coast area stretching from the Florida Keys to Rio de las Palmas later known as Soto la Marina in northeastern Mexico.

Determined to succeed where Ponce de Leon and others had failed, Narvaez gathered together a massive invasion force of soldiers, colonists, and missionaries. In FebruaryNarvaez's armada of five ships, loaded down with four hundred men and women, eighty horses, and tons of supplies, left Trinidad bound for Rio de las Palmas.

However, a series of severe storms forced the fleet to turn to the northeast and sail along Florida's lower Gulf coast. In mid-April, Narvaez's ships dropped anchor in a small bay somewhere along the coast. Although there is still some uncertainty about the bay's location, most available evidence points to a landing somewhere in or near Boca Ciega Bay.

Other historians have placed the Narvaez landing on the Manatee River, near Bradenton, and some have even argued that it was as far south as the Caloosahatchie River. Wherever the spot was located, a small cluster of bohios palmetto-thatched huts could be seen on the shore, and Narvaez dispatched a scouting party to investigate the scene.

The scouts made contact with a small group of seemingly friendly natives, but when Narvaez himself went ashore the next day, he found that the village was deserted. A thorough search of the village uncovered only one object of valuea small rattle made of goldbut this was enough to pique Narvaez's interest. After claiming the village and all surrounding lands for Spain, the conquistador spent ten days ex ploring the area.

The Spaniards hacked their way across a wide peninsula, eventually com ing upon a large bay which Narvaez christened La Bahia de la Cruz the Bay of the Cross. At this point, Narvaez was growing impatient, having found no one to plunder. But, to his relief, he soon encountered a small band of natives who directed him to the nearby village of Ucita.

All went well until the party inspected the tribal burial ground which, to the Spaniards' astonishment, was littered with Castillian cases. The cases apparently had been retrieved from a shipwreck, and the resource ful natives of Ucita had turned them into makeshift coffins. To Narvaez's horror, the cases were filled with corpses wrapped in painted deer skins.

Offended by this alleged sacrilege, he ordered his soldiers to burn the cases. In the melee that followed, Chief Hirrihigua was wounded in the face, and his mother, who had rushed forward in an effort to protect her son, was hacked to death and fed to Narvaez's greyhounds.

This particular atrocity would have deadly repercussions a decade later when Hernando de Soto visited the village, but at the time the outnumbered warriors of Ucita could only look on in disbelief. As Hirrihigua lay bleeding on the ground, Spanish soldiers ransacked the village looking for gold and silver. When they emerged from the bohios with a few golden trinkets, Narvaez demanded to know where he could find more. Anxious to get rid of their brutish guests, several quickthinking warriors pointed north and shouted, "Apalachen!

Intoxi cated with visions of an Aztec-like empire to the north, he decided to undertake an overland march in search of Apalachen riches. Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, Narvaez's top aide and the treasurer of the expedition, counseled against an extended march that would separate the expedition's soldiers from their supply ships.

But the impetuous Narvaez refused to listen. Led by a handful of Indian guides, Narvaez, Cabeza de Vaca, and more than three hundred Spanish soldiers headed north on May 1. For weeks they wandered through the overgrown interior of central Florida, battling the heat and the mosquitoes and the swamps, but always pressing on. Along the way, they encountered several large Indian villages and numerous cornfields, but not an ounce of gold.

By late summer, the exhausted Spaniards had reached the heart of the Apalachee Indian country, near present-day Tallahassee, but even here they found nothing but death and disappointment.

In the meantime, the supply ships fol lowed the coastline north, hoping to meet their conquistador's land force. But the projected rendezvous never took place. Unable to re establish contact with Narvaez's wandering band, the flotilla's commander had no choice but to return to Cuba, leaving the Adelantado to his own devices. Narvaez eventually made his way back to the coast, emerging some where near St. Mark's Bay which the Spanish called La Bahia de Caballosbut by that time the supply ships were long gone.

Undaunted, the conquistador supervised the construction of five small boats designed to carry the ex pedition's survivors to safety in Mexico. With only one carpenter and no experienced boatbuilders, Narvaez's force produced an unseaworthy fleet that had little chance of successfully crossing several hundred miles of open water.

By hugging the coastline as much as possible, all five boats managed to sail as far west as Louisiana, but eventually all but one of the boats were lost. In NovemberCabeza de Vaca and eighty other survivors landed on the Texas coast, but after eight years of starvation, disease, and skirmishes with hostile natives, the only survivors were Cabeza de Vaca and three companions.

In Julyafter walking through much of central Texas and the Gulf coast backcountry, the four men staggered into a Spanish settlement in northern Mexico. Cabeza de Vaca's chronicle of his adventures, published inbecame one of sixteenthcentury Europe's most popular literary creations, ensuring the Narvaez expedition's place in recorded history.

But in the land of the Tocobaga no such chronicle was necessary to sustain the bitter legacy of the red-bearded stranger. The Spaniards had marked the land with their cruelty, and the humiliations suffered at Ucita and elsewhere would not be forgotten.

As remarkable as it was, the Narvaez expedition spawned an equally remarkable sequelthe saga of Juan Ortiz, a young sailor who participated in the expedition but 20 St. Having some knowledge of Narvaez's travels in central Florida, Ortiz was asked to join a search party commissioned by Narvaez's wife. After helping to locate the village of Ucita, Ortiz and a friend went ashore to inquire about Narvaez's fate. But Hirrihigua and his followers had not forgotten the brutal ity of the Narvaez invasion, and as soon as the pair stepped onto the beach the friend was killed and Ortiz was taken captive.

Brought before Hirrihigua, Ortiz soon found himself being roasted alive over an open fire. As the flames rose, he filled the air with piercing screams, prompting Hirrihigua's daughter Ulela to intercede on his behalf.

Thus, despite Hirrihigua's desire to wreak vengeance against all Spanish invaders, the terrified sailor was allowed to survive. With Ulela as his patroness, a grateful Ortiz subsequently became a mem ber of the Ucita tribe. It is said that Captain John Smith later read Ortiz's story and was inspired to claim a similar history of succor by another Indian maiden, Pocahontas. Ortiz never gained the complete trust of Hirrihigua.

After an unsuccessful skirmish with an enemy tribe, Hirrihigua accused him of treachery, and once again Ulela had to inter vene to save his life. This time she helped him to relocate in the village of Mocoso, where the caciquea longtime rival of Hirrihigua's promised to protect him. Ortiz lived at Mocoso for nearly a decade and probably would have remained there until his death had it not been for the unexpected appearance of Hernando de Soto.

De Soto was already in the midst of organizing an expedition to Florida, and Cabeza de Vaca's tales of the Narvaez expedition confirmed his suspicion that Florida could be turned into a grand vice-royalty similar to Mexico and Peru. This prospect prompted Charles V to appoint de Sotoa governor of Cuba and Adelantado of Florida, and in April de Soto and an armada of seven ships sailed for Florida by way of Havana.

After more than a year of preparation in Cuba, the de Soto expeditioncomprised of soldiers and horseslanded near the village of Mocoso probably in the vicinity of the Little Manatee River on Whitsunday, May 25, There, to his amazement, de Soto encountered Juan Ortiz, who remembered enough Spanish to blurt out an incredible story of captivity and survival.

Ortiz helped de Soto to establish a presidio at Ucita and eventually became the conquista dor's most valued interpreter and guide. When de Soto headed north in search of gold and other plunder, Ortiz went with him. As far as we can tell, de Soto's route northstill a subject of sharp debate among historiansdid not pass through the Pinellas Peninsula; and there is no evidence that de Soto or any of his men visited the village of Tocobaga. Nevertheless, there can be little doubt that all of the inhabitants of the Toco baga realm knew of the conquistador's presence.

Fortunately for the Tocobaga, de Soto did not stay in the area for very long, although he did stay long enough to rename the bay La Bahia de Espiritu Santothe uBay of the Holy Spirit. For almost three years, de Soto and his men wandered from village to village, spread ing disillusionment and suffering all across the American southeast.

De Soto's method of conquest, as described by historian Samuel Eliot Morison, was "to enter an Indian village, seize the cacique and others as hostages, demand and receive provisions for man and beast, and after a tense rest, proceed to the next town with the captive cacique and hostages.

These were allowed to go home when the second town capitulated. Warfare and disease thinned the ranks, and in May de Soto himself succumbed to fever on the banks of the Mississippi River. Luis Moscoso, who suc ceeded de Soto as adelantado, led a surviving remnant of soldiers to the Mexican settle ment of Rio Panuco in September Photograph by James Hamilton, courtesy Florida State Archives tially, the survivors were hailed as conquering heroes, but the subsequent accounts of the four-year saga, although fascinating, revealed that the de Soto expedition had found more corn than gold in the southeastern interior.

The North American landscape had been explored as never before, but at the expense of brutalizing and alienating an entire region of native peoples. In the wake of the ill-fated de Soto expedi tion, several religious leaders urged the Spanish Crown to adopt a more humane, soulsaving approach to New World colonialism.

The curse of the Black Legend the notion that Spaniardsespecially Spanish colonialswere unduly cruel could only be undone, they argued, by a change in emphasis throughout the empire. Such reform seemed particularly appropriate in Florida, where de Soto's brutality had already backfired and where the acquisition of converts was more likely than a bounty of gold or silver.

Intwo wellknown Dominican priests with extended ex perience in Mexico and Central America, Bishop Bartolome de las Casas and Fray Luis Cancer de Barbastro, successfully petitioned for a royal patent that would allow them to establish missions among the Indians of Florida.

Two years later, armed with bibles, crucifixes, and hopeful expectations, Fray Luis Cancer and four Dominican brothers left Vera cruz for the Gulf coast of Florida. After a brief stop in Havana, where they acquired a Chris tianized Indian interpreter named Magdalena, the friars sailed into Tampa Bay aboard the caravel Santa Maria de la Encina. Although the captain had orders to avoid areas where there was any history of hostility between natives and Spaniards, the unsuspecting friars were ferried to the northern recesses of Tampa Bay, in the heart of Tocobaga territory.

This mistake would cost them their lives. As soon as the Dominicans made landfall, Magdalena defected, helping a group of Tocobaga warriors to kidnap a sailor and two of the priests.

A shaken but resolute Fray Luis Cancer managed to return to the Santa Maria, but the missing priests and the sailor were never seen again. After several days of search ing for his lost colleagues, Fray Luis reen22 St.

Petersburg Historical Society countered Magdalena who warned him that the natives were in no mood to discuss religious doctrine. He also received an ominous warning from Juan Munoz, a Spanish soldier who had lived with the Tocobaga since his capture ten years earlier. Munoz paddled out to the Santa Maria to inform Fray Luis that the missing priests had already been tortured to death.

This convinced the disappointed friar that he had better look elsewhere for potential converts, but he foolishly made one last trip to the shore in search of drinking water and further confirmation that his colleagues were dead. Once on the beach, he was immediately blud geoned to death by two native executioners.

The celebrated martyrdom of Fray Luis Cancer delayed Spain's colonization of Florida for more than a decade. Although Spanish galleons continued to fill the sea lanes on all sides of the peninsula, Florida itself was left undisturbed.

Indeed, the expectation of fierce Indian resistance might have kept the Spanish away for a much longer period if a group of French Huguenots, led by Jean Ribault, had not established a colony at Fort Caroline, on the St. Johns River, in Hoping to save Florida from heretics and savages, the king commis sioned Pedro Menendez de Aviles to secure the claims of Ponce de Leon and de Soto.

One of Spain's most talented conquistadors, Menendez fulfilled his commission with astounding speed and uncompromising ruthlessness. After slaughtering more than four hundred French men on the beaches of northern Florida, he founded the colonial stronghold of St. Through a combination of bribery and intimidation, he pacified the local Timucua Indians, and by Spanish authority in northeastern Florida was secure.

Pleased with this success, Menendez soon turned his attention to the unexplored and unconquered central and southern portions of the peninsula. Menendez was determined to bring all of Florida under his control, and in February he led an expedition to the lower Gulf coast. His first landing was in Calusa territory, near Charlotte Harbor, where Natives and Strangers 23 PAGE 30 he was greeted with an elaborate procession of three hundred warriors.

After several rounds of gift giving, the chief of the Calusa tribe, whom the Spanish called Cacique Carlos, urged Menendez to form a military alliance with his tribe. Together, he argued, the Calusa and the Spanish could destroy the hated Tocobaga, a villainous tribe to the north that was holding his sister captive.

A wary Menendez refused Carlos's offer, but he was intrigued by Carlos's tales of the Tocobaga.

St. Petersburg and the Florida dream, 1888-1950

His desire to head north into Tocobaga territory was also encouraged by his conversations with Domingo Escalante de Fontaneda, a shipwrecked Span ish sailor who had lived among the Calusa since Fontaneda would eventually return to Spain with the first book on Florida, but not before he had filled Menendez's head with stories of native savagery and hidden treasure troves.

At the village of Tocobaga Safety HarborMenendez met with the Tocobaga cacique, who seemed interested in the Spaniard's proposal to use Spanish soldiers as a peacekeeping buffer between the Calusa and the Tocobaga. This proposal, plus an offer to teach the Tocobaga the principles of Christianity, led to a four-day conference which brought together twentynine caciques including Carlos and Tocobagaa hundred subchiefs, and more than fifteen hundred warriors.

At the end of this remark able conference, Menendez was given permis sion to set up a mission and a small presidio at Tocobaga village. Garcia Martinez de Cos to command the presidio and a Jesuit priest, Father Juan Rogel, to lead the mission effort, Menendez sailed for Havana, confident that he had established an entering wedge among the Tocobaga.

However, as soon as Menendez left the scene, relations between the Tocobaga and their Spanish guests soured. The situation reached a crisis in Decemberwhen the Tocobaga cut off the garrison's food supply, forcing Father Rogel to sail to Havana for help. By the time Rogel returned a month later, all but three of Captain de Cos's men had been killed. And, as Rogel soon dis covered, the three survivors had been kept alive only for his benefit.

As the Jesuit looked on in horror from the deck of a Spanish caravel, the Tocobaga hacked their three prisoners to death on the beach. Once again the sword and the cross had been rudely dispatched from the seemingly bedeviled Bay of the Holy Spirit.

Following the fiasco ofMenendez returned to Spain to convince Phillip II to bankroll a major colonization effort on the Florida Gulf coast. But the crown, which was having enough trouble holding its position in northern Florida, gave him only lukewarm support.

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Menendez pressed on with his plans until his death inbut the adelantados who succeeded him displayed little interest in Florida's lower Gulf coast. Thus, well before the end of the century the hegemony of the Tocobaga and the Calusa had been restored.

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