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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our fifth calendar year
    PCR #200  (Vol. 5, No. 4)  This edition is for the week of January 19--25, 2004.

A Condensed History of the Native Indigenous Peoples of the Tampa Bay (or “La Bahia Del Espiritu Santo”) Region
 by Will Moriaty
"Along Came Polly"
 by Mike Smith
FANGORIA Weekend of Horrors, 1998....Boy George's "Taboo"....B-52s
 by Andy Lalino
The Black Dog Bites Back: from the Book of Joshua
 by Joshua Montgomery
Matt Helm, "Yea, Baby!"....Commercial Hall Of Fame
 by Vinnie Blesi
200....My Good Buddy Tom....The Rondo Awards
 by Matt Drinnenberg
Luke Ski Update....Casting Wish....Oh My God!....Passing On....Meet The Beatles 2
 by Mike Smith
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A Condensed History of the Native Indigenous Peoples of the Tampa Bay ( or “La Bahia Del Espiritu Santo”) Region

A Story Thirteen Years in the Making
You may recall in last week’s edition that I attempted to conduct a public arts project at the Interstate 75/Crosstown Expressway interchange with New York environmental and public sculpture artist Hera between 1990 and 1991.

Many of Hera’s works are based on the elements of the history of America’s indigenous peoples (or “American Indians” as y’all may better know them as) and she wanted to obtain from me such a history on such peoples of the Tampa Bay region prior to contemplating her eventual design for the interchange.

Although our public works project never saw the light of day, I am happy to share with you a by-product of the research that went into that proposal. I will share this story with you along with a very special member of the car club that my wife and I belong to (www.scfba.net) named Cate, who is not only a one of the most fascinating Florida Cracker ‘s I’ve had the honor to know, but is her self of indigenous origin. I plan over the course of time to share with you Cate’s incredible knowledge of Florida history as it relates to the Indian in the Sunshine State.

90,000 B.C.
Sounds like the title of a schlocky movie starring Raquel Welch in a loincloth, don’t it? Actually, it is estimated that the first human inhabitants in the Tampa Bay area settled here about 90,000 years before Christ. These people presumably crossed over the Bering Straits and migrated southeast over the North American continent. Florida noir author Randy Wayne White (www.docford.com) passed along a theory in one of his fine Doc Ford novels that South Florida’s indigenous peoples may actually have migrated to our area from points south, however, such as Mexico, Central America or the Caribbean.

Early European and United States Chronicles of American Indians
In “The Indians of the Southeastern United States” by John R. Swanton (1946, U.S. Government Printing Office, Rev. 1969), up to six American native tribes or provinces were chronicled to exist in the Tampa Bay area. All were alleged to have been of Muskhogean stock. All of these tribes lived and hunted in what archaeologists refer to as an Austroriperian area. This area is naturally populated with Longleaf Pine, Loblolly Pine, Baldcypress, Tupelo Gum, Mocking Bird, Bunting, Warbler, Ibis, Fox Squirell, Cotton and Wood Rats, among many other life forms. This portion of the West Coast of Florida was almost devoid of native population in early European historic times, but abundant archaeological remains (at Madeira Bickel Mound, Maximo Mound, Weedon Island and Phillipi Park) show it once was heavily populated with Native Americans. The tribes were as follows:

Presumed to be in the Muskhogean Division of Muskhogean Stock, the Calusa (sometimes spelled “Caloosa” hence the name “Caloosahatchee River” in Lee County ; “Caloosa” for the tribe; “hatchee” being an Indian term for river) were a large tribe or confederation of tribes on the West Coast from Tampa Bay south to present day Key West and interior southeast Florida. Spanish explorer Ponce De Leon first met this tribe in 1513 and was later killed by them in 1521.

The Calusa were chronicled to be cruel and war-like to ship wrecked European sailors and passengers, as well as toward other neighboring tribes. They were also presumed to be a tall people, many being one to two feet taller than many of the Spanish explorers who were the first Europeans to have any interface with them.

The Calusa were generally Nomadic with little social hierarchy. The Spaniards drove most Calusa out of their area of inhabitation between 1568 and 1571. It is presumed that most Calusa that left migrated to the Florida Panhandle by 1763 (though other accounts claim that only a handful escaped to Cuba), but several were allegedly involved with the Seminole War killing of eighteen American troops as late as 1839. Colonel Harney put their leader, Chekika, to death as a result. On May 5, 1840, members of the Calusa killed Dr. Henry Perrine, a famed botanist who lived on Indian Key south of Key Largo. Calusa Population: Possibly up to 56 towns, Chief Calos claimed 70 towns.

Mococo (or Mucoco)
The Mococo were from the Timucua Division of Muskhogean Stock. They were a tribe at the inner end of Hillsborough Bay (present day downtown Tampa and Hyde Park). Mentioned by Laudonniere, but subsequently disappeared from the pages of chroniclers.

Ocita (or Ucita)
Also from the Timucua Division of Muskhogean Stock, this was a tribe near the entrance to Tampa Bay. (Terra Ceia and Egmont Key north to St. Petersburg. Probably responsible for the Madeira Bickel and Maximo Mounds). Met by Hernando De Soto in 1539, the chief of the Ocita tribe saved the life of a Spanish castaway named Juan Ortiz who became De Soto’s principal interpreter. One of their principal towns that were seized by the Spanish is believed to be present day Terra Ceia.

Pohoy (Pooy, Pojoi, Posoye)
Also from the Timucua Division of Muskhogean Stock, this was a tribe or province located along Tampa Bay (probably inhabitants of Weedon Island). In 1612 they were visited by a Spanish expedition under an ensign named Cartaya. Pohoy population circa 1680- est. 300.

Also from the Timucua Division of Muskhogean Stock, the Tocobaga were a tribe or province whose principal town was at the head of Old Tampa Bay near Safety Harbor, specifically near present day Phillipi Park. Visited by Menendez in 1567, this tribe may have migrated to Apalachee Country (Tallahassee) as Tompacuas. The Calusa tribe often attacked the Tocobagas, who were a structured agricultural society that was basically peace loving.

The Timucua Division
The Timicua Division consisting of all the tribes mentioned above, with the exception of the Calusa. The Cuban Bishop Calderone claimed to have a sacrament of 13,152 Timicuans. Other estimates are as low as 1,400 to 1,500 in 1597.

And Now, the Rest of the Story: Ponce de Leon (namesake of Leon County)
In 1521 Ponce de Leon was the first European to discover present day Tampa Bay. de Leon was allegedly slain in this area by the Calusa Indians “as a response to information they received of Spanish mistreatment of Indians (Calusa and Caribe) in Cuba”. de Leon’s body was first taken to Europe and now resides in the cathedral of St. John the Baptist in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Panfilio de Narvaez
Landed in Tampa Bay on Good Friday 1528 and called it “the best port in the world”. De Narvaez immediately got into an argument with a local Indian chief who in turn sliced off deNarvaez’s nose and chased him out of the area.

Hernando de Soto (namesake of Hernando and DeSoto Counties)
Arrived in Tampa Bay on May 25, 1539, calling Tampa Bay “La Bahia Del Espiritu Santo” (the Bay of Holy Spirits) and met with native Indians under the Charter Oak (or De Soto Oak) near present day Plant Park at the University of Tampa.

Tampa Bay is visited and charted by the Spanish Royal Fleet

The Spanish swap Florida to England for Cuba.

Lord Will Hills (namesake of Hillsborough County), British Colonial Secretary of State, appointed by the British to secure this area.

Thirteen Colonies declare independence from England calling themselves “the United States of America” while Florida still remains loyal to Great Britain.

Florida made a U.S. Territory by General Andrew Jackson (namesake of Jackson County and Jacksonville)

Hillsborough County established by Territorial Legislature and is cut off from Alachua County.

Major Francis Dade (namesake of Miami-Dade County and Dade City) is ambushed near Bushnell beginning the First Seminole War. This attack was known as “the Dade Massacre”. “Seminole” is a Creek Indian word for “runaway”.

Florida becomes a state.

Tampa becomes an incorporated City.

The Third and final Seminole War is fought.

As the great news commentator Paul Harvey would say, “Now you know the rest of the story!”

"La Floridiana" is ©2004 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.