"They be all naked and of
goodly stature, mighty, faire and as well shapen…as any people in
all the worlde, very gentill, curtious and of good nature… the men
be of tawny color, hawke nosed and of a pleasant countenance…the
women be well favored and modest…”
-- French explorer Jean Ribault
The Timucua were the Native American people living in the
Northeast and North Central portions of what is now Florida.
Their name may derive from the Spanish pronunciation of the
Timucuan word atimoqua which means "lord" or "chief." The Timucua
probably numbered between 200,000 and 300,000 people organized
into various chiefdoms speaking a common language. The earliest
evidence of their presence dates from around 3000 BC.
during the mild Fall and Winter months, the Timucua lived in the inland
forests. Here, they planted maize, beans, squash, melons and various root
vegetables as part of their diet employing "slash and burn" technology.
Large growth would be cut and then the fields would be cleared with fire.
The soil would be turned and broken utilizing the nitrates in the ash as an
effective fertilizer. They would also collect wild fruits and berries
and bake bread made from the root starch of the koonti plant. They
cultivated tobacco and utilized a communal food storage system suggesting
Timucuans also hunted game including deer, alligator, bear,
turkey, and possibly eastern bison. During the hot summers they would
migrate to the cooler seashores where they would fish and collect oysters
and shellfish. The evidence of their culture still exists in the many shell middens, essentially Indian trash piles, still found in Florida's coastal
The Spanish sent several expeditions through the Central Florida area during
the first half of the 16th century, primarily looking for gold and other
exploitable natural resources. Most of their impact fell on the Timucua.
Juan Ponce de Leon landed near present