Wolf Gate - In Search of the Pathfinder

When Worlds Collided:

Native Peoples of the Caribbean and Florida

in the Early Colonial Period

By Jerald T. Milanich

It was an extraordinary moment in history. From their home on the Bahamian Island of Guanahani, Lucayan Indians looked east toward the rising sun where three large floating houses with wings had appeared on the horizon and gradually approached. To the people of the Americas, as well as those of Spain, France, England, and the other countries of the eastern hemisphere, the arrival of the Niña, Pinta, and Santa María off modern San Salvador Island in 1492 signaled the start of a new world. Over the next 500+ years European colonialism would bring conflict, accommodation, and change to the Americas as cultures on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean participated in the great Columbian exchange.

Initial European efforts to conquer the Americas were spear-headed by Spain and were centered on the Caribbean, but soon spread to the mainlands west, south, and north, including to La Florida, the European name for the southeastern United States. As Spain, France, England and later, the Netherlands sought to conquer the peoples of the Americas and wrest profits from them and their land, traditional ways of life would be altered as old ways gave way to new. It was indeed a new world, one to which the native people of the Caribbean and Florida sought to adapt even while suffering the effects of rapid depopulation, the result of diseases introduced from Europe and Africa, forced labor, and other horrors of colonialism.

During the two centuries following the initial voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1492 whole societies disappeared as large portions of the Caribbean and all of Florida were depleted of indigenous people. The destruction of native societies was especially grim in the Greater Antilles where in only a few decades whole societies and hundreds of thousands of people ceased to exist. But many native people did survive, even in the Caribbean and in Florida and coastal Georgia in the southeastern United States which were among the most devastated regions. Some of those remaining remnant populations moved to other locations. Others joined together to form viable, new ethnic groups. Especially across the southeastern United States new native tribes like the Yamasee, Creek, and Seminole Indians coalesced, descendants of people whose ancestors had interacted with the Spaniards, French, and English in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The world had changed. Today as we enter a new millenium the cultural diversity of which we are all a part can be traced to the events of the early colonial period.

Plains Beaded Pipe/Tobacco Bag

Circa 1900, A beautiful example in traditional style, sinew sewn and lazy stitch beaded on buckskin and with quilled suspension. 30" x 8"

Stories of Valor

Native Societies of the Caribbean Region

in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries

The 1492 route of Christopher Columbus across the Atlantic Ocean had taken him to the Bahama Islands, home to the indigenous Lucayan Indians. The Lucayans were one of a large number of groups today known collectively as the Taino Indians, a people who spoke Arawakan languages (the reason the Tainos sometimes are called Arawaks). Taino groups, each a society headed by a hereditary chief (what anthropologists call chiefdoms), inhabited most of the Greater Antilles and the Bahamas.

However Taino Indians were not the only indigenous people living in the West Indies in 1492. Westernmost Cuba may have been home to the Guanahatabeys (erroneously also called Ciboney) who are believed to have spoken a language different from that of the Tainos, though the exact cultural and linguistic relationships between the Tainos and the Guanahatabeys are uncertain. Archaeologists investigating sites thought to have been occupied by the precolumbian ancestors of the Guanahatabeys have found artifacts suggesting they made their livelihood by hunting, fishing, and gathering shellfish. Large sites indicative of chiefdoms like those found in Taino territory are not present and the material culture of the western Cuba sites is unlike that of their Taino neighbors. Though apparently never assimilated by the Tainos, the Guanahatebeys may have disappeared after the early fifteenth-century conquest of Cuba by the Spaniards. On the other hand, scholars have not been able to find any archaeological record of the Guanahatebeys after A.D. 1300 and their presence in the early colonial period is uncertain.

Southward of the Tainos in Guadeloupe and the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles (north of the South American mainland) lived a third native people, the Island Caribs. Sometimes called the Kalinga, the Island Caribs interacted with and claimed ancestry from the Caribs living on the mainland, though they spoke a different Arawakan language (one also unrelated to Taino). Limited archaeological evidence indicates the Island Caribs represent a late prehistoric movement of mainland Kalinga and Galibee Indians into the Caribbean. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the Island Caribs on Guadeloupe and Martinique were colonized by the French.

It seems certain the Island Caribs reached the Lesser Antilles from South America. Where did the Tainos and Guanahatebeys come from? For decades archaeologists have wrestled with the problem of understanding the precolumbian human colonization of the Caribbean. At the present time, most agree that the first migrants into the region, people of the Lithic culture, crossed the Yucatan Passage from Mexico by canoe 6000 years ago, inhabiting Cuba, Hispaniola (the island on which the modern nations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic are found), as well as Jamaica. When that migration took place, sea levels were lower than at present and Yucatan and western Cuba were closer than the 124 miles they are today.

A second migration into the Caribbean by precolumbian people, the Archaic culture, took place about 2000 B.C., this time from the mainland of South America north through the Lesser Antilles and into Puerto Rico and Hispaniola. In Hispaniola, the Lithic and Archaic populations met and merged, though elsewhere they maintained distinctive lifeways, at least as reconstructed from artifacts recovered from archaeological sites.

A third migration, also northward from South America through the Lesser Antilles and into the Greater Antilles, took place beginning about 800 B.C. and involved ceramic-making people. Ceramic Age sites, usually containing hundreds of pieces of fired clay pottery, contrast with the sites of the preceramic cultures of the earlier migrations. By 400 B.C. late Lithic culture populations had been merged with those of the new Ceramic Age cultures, though the later apparently coexisted with Archaic cultures for some time.

Because specific groups can be traced through time and space by charting distinctive styles of ceramics, archaeologists have spent considerable efforts using pottery to try to trace the post-800 B.C. colonization of the Caribbean and to understand the reasons for it. One thing that is apparent is the movement of people into the Caribbean from the South American mainland continued after 800 B.C. Newcomers sometimes moved rapidly, jumping from one island to the next, sometimes bypassing others when their advances were thwarted by the presence of the older Lithic and Archaic populations or for other reasons. But by A.D. 500 there were Ceramic Age sites on every major island. As populations grew and local land resources were used up, people turned more and more to the sea to gain their livelihoods by gathering shellfish and sea turtles and fishing. They also cultivated manioc, corn and sweet potatoes and gathered a variety of wild plant foods, including fruits, tubers and grass seeds. From terrestrial locales small rodents, birds, land crabs and reptiles were taken. Hutias (a cat-size rodent), dogs and guinea pigs were domesticated for food. Larger land animals, such as sloths, had probably been hunted to extinction by the earlier Lithic and Archaic populations.

Beginning about A.D. 700 in the northern portion of the West Indies (Hispaniola, eastern and central Cuba, Jamaica, and the Bahamas) new ceramics of the Ostionoid series appear at sites, signaling cultural changes, an expansion of populations, and/or an exchange of ideas. New types of settlements and sites – a site hierarchy, villages with formal plazas, ball courts, burial mounds – and increased reliance on root crop cultivation and harvesting resources from the sea signal the appearance of ancestral Taino chiefdoms. Perhaps population growth that had put pressure on local economic resources led to technological and social solutions: new subsistence emphases and more centralized governmental control.

Over time the Ostionoid/proto- Taino way of life became more elaborate, especially in eastern Cuba, Hispaniola, and Puerto Rico, though, as noted above, Taino chiefdoms occupied most of the Greater Antilles. Differences among the various Taino groups existed. For instance, some had denser populations and more complex political organization. Taino chiefdoms were never unified and spoke different dialects, though at times several chiefdoms formed alliances under a single powerful chief, called a cacique.

Most of our knowledge about the Tainos comes from late fifteenth and early sixteenth century Spanish documents, a time when Taino chiefdoms were suffering the deprecations of conquest. During those few decades the impact of colonization was too swift and all too fatal for the Taino societies in the Greater Antilles and Bahama Islands to develop new cultural institutions that allowed them to cope with their changing world. Until more archaeological research adds time-depth to Taino studies we cannot completely understand the events that led to the variations in Taino societies that existed within the Caribbean, nor can we understand how the events following 1492 might have altered aspects of Taino life such as political alliances. It is ironic that the very Spanish expeditions that recorded precious details of Taino lives, also contributed to the supression of those same people.

Columbus' 1492 route southward through the Bahamas brought him to the northern coast coast of Hispaniola, the home of many Taino chiefdoms. When the Santa María ran aground near modern Cape Haitian, he placed his first small colony – La Navidad – in the main village of a Taino chief named Guacanacarí. Returning on his second voyage after more than a year's absence, Columbus found La Navidad destroyed and the men left there dead. He sailed farther east along the Hispaniola coast and established a second town, christened La Isabela. With him were seventeen ships, more than 1000 colonists, animals, and supplies. The Spanish conquest of the Americas had begun in earnest.

During the nearly three years of that second voyage (September 1493-June 1496) Columbus would come into firsthand contact with many Tainos as he explored eastern Hispaniola, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. Soon other voyages of exploration and conquest were setting sail from Spain, Portugal, and France. Between 1492 and 1504 more than eighty ships sailed from Europe for the Americas. The island of Hispaniola with its Taino chiefdoms was the initial focus of Spanish colonization efforts, which brought still another migration of people into the Caribbean. Between 1502 and 1509 the then governor of the island, Nicolas de Ovando, set in motion a plan to found fifteen towns around the island's periphery. In part, the towns were an effort to control the Taino population so the native people could be used to further Spanish interests. One of the towns, Santo Domingo on the south coast, would become a major port and destination for ships sailing from Spain and bound for the West Indies.

On Hispaniola a fortified route was pushed through Taino territory from La Isabela south to Santo Domingo to provide access to gold mines in the central portion of the island. Conflicts between the Tainos and Spaniards soon led to open warfare. Against Spanish weapons and military tactics the Tainos stood little chance. Many were slain; others were taken captive and sent to Spain to be sold as slaves or work as servants. Still others were enslaved and made to work locally in the mines, on ranches, or as servants for Spanish colonists. A system of tribute was put in place and the Taino chiefdoms were forced to give food, cotton, and gold to the Spaniards. More conflicts arose and literally thousands of Tainos in central Hispaniola died.

Viewing the remaining Tainos in eastern and western Hispaniola as a threat, Governor Ovando sought to conquer them, assigning land to colonists who then were allowed to use the Indians for labor. Maltreatment was rampant and thousands of Tainos died from epidemic diseases and secondary infections. By 1509 only 60,000 of what had been several hundred thousand Tainos on the island survived, and all were under Spanish control.

Using Hispaniola as a base, voyages of discovery and conquest were quickly bringing much of the Caribbean into the Spanish realm. Led by Juan Ponce de Leon, Spaniards sought to colonize Puerto Rico in 1508. But the desire to gain access to gold mines on that island soon resulted in bloody battles with the Tainos. Some fled the island, many others were killed, and the remaining population was forced into labor. Jamaica was conquered beginning in 1509 and many of its Taino residents were enslaved and forced to work as pearl divers on Cubagua Island off the Venezuelan coast and on newly founded plantations on the mainland of South and Central America. By 1515 few indigenous people remained on the island. Cuba was next. In 1511 one Spanish army moved eastward across the island from the west while another, led by Pánfilo de Narváez newly arrived from the bloody conquest of Jamaica, marched west. Caught between the armies, thousands of Indians were slain. By 1515 the conquest of the island was complete and six Spanish towns had been founded, including Santiago de Cuba. One of the participants in the colonization of Cuba would be horrified by what he witnessed and later became a priest. Bartolome de Las Casas would become one of the fiercest defenders of the Tainos, but by then it was too late for most of the indigenous people of the Caribbean.

Diseases introduced from Europe and, perhaps, Africa, warfare, forced labor, and enslavement cut a swath through the Indians. To secure additional labor, slavers raided Lucayan villages in the Bahamas. Between 1509 and 1513 the entire remaining population of the southern Bahamas, 40,000 people (about half the original population) were removed. At least some of the enslaved Lucayan Indians were taken to Cubagua Island. By 1520, perhaps earlier, the entire homeland of the Lucayans was depopulated and the Tainos of the Greater Antilles reduced nearly to nothing. Increasingly, slaves were brought from the mainland of Central America to provide labor. The devastation of the aboriginal Cuban population had been so tremendous that even as early as 1509 it had become necessary to import slaves from islands off Honduras. When Indian slaves became too difficult to obtain, slaves from Africa were imported into the West Indies. In 1524 there were more African slaves on Hispaniola than Indian.

Spain's conquest of the Caribbean was swift. What wealth could be extracted from the land and its people was quickly taken, leaving the Tainos devastated. The colonial frontier soon moved on to Central and South America, leaving the Caribbean islands on its periphery. Soon other colonial powers would move in into the void. Some remnant Tainos had fled into the Lesser Antilles where the Island Caribs, relatively isolated from Spanish colonization, maintained their identity. But their homeland, too, ultimately would be colonized by European powers. In 1797 the British moved the remaining Island Caribs to Central America where they merged with escaped African slaves and became known as Black Caribs or Garifuna. Their descendants still live there today.

The Europeans borrowed much from the indigenous people of the Caribbean. Words like barbecue, canoe, and hurricane, so common today, came from the Caribbean as did hammocks, sweet potatoes, corn, manioc, and tobacco. The legacy of the Tainos is felt throughout the world. Today many people living in the Caribbean are identifying with their nations's Taino heritage and seeking to trace their own ancestry back to the Tainos. As a consequence, it is not uncommon to find people who claim to be descended from the Tainos.

Apache Moccasins

Early 1900s, Classic pair of beaded buckskin moccasins with hard rawhide soles. 10-1/2"

Eagles Path

Native Societies of Florida in the Colonial Period

While Spanish conquistadors and adventurers were moving the colonial frontier to the mainlands of South and Central America in the early sixteenth century, they also began to explore the southeastern coasts of North America. Slavers preying on the Lucayan Indians in the Bahamas were probably the first to sail the shores of Florida, searching for harbors in which they could anchor to capture Indians who could be taken back to the Caribbean and sold. In 1512 Juan Ponce de Leon contracted with the Spanish crown to explore the region north of the Bahamas and the next year he explored the coasts of the southern portion of the Florida peninsula. In only a few short years other Spanish sailors and slavers would determine what Juan Ponce had thought was an island was a peninsula attached to the mainland of a huge landmass, one connected to New Spain (Mexico) around the Gulf of Mexico.

Over the next forty years the Spanish crown contracted with several conquistadors to conquer and colonize La Florida, establishing a presence on the northern border of Spain's growing American empire. But all would fail. The expeditions of Juan Ponce de Leon in 1521 (to southwest Florida), Lucas Vásquez de Ayllón (to the Georgia and South Carolina coasts in 1526), Pánfilo de Narváez in 1528 (Tampa Bay to the eastern Florida panhandle), Hernando de Soto (Tampa Bay through, Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Texas in 1539-1543), and Tristán de Luna y Arellano (the Pensacola, Florida region and parts of Alabama in 1559-1561) could not conquer the land and its people.

Spain's failure to secure La Florida would not escape the attention of France and England. In 1562 France sent an expedition under Jean Ribault that explored the coasts of northeast Florida and Georgia before establishing a short-lived fort on the South Carolina coast. Two years later a second French expedition established the settlement of Fort Caroline near the mouth of the St. Johns River.

Learning the French were usurping lands he claimed, Philip II of Spain sent Pedro Menéndez de Avilés to oust the Fort Caroline settlement. In 1565 Menéndez accomplished his mission and founded his own town, St. Augustine. In short order he established a second Spanish town, Santa Elena, on the South Carolina coast where the Frenchman Ribault had been. La Florida would remain in Spanish hands for two centuries, though the land it controlled would shrink as English interests, following the ill-fated Roanoke colony in 1585, successfully colonized Virginia and then the Carolinas between 1607 and 1670.

Well aware of the slaughter and enslavement of the Indians of the Caribbean, the Catholic monarchy of Spain had begun to require better treatment of indigenous peoples as early as 1516. In reality, however, such legal admonitions were rarely followed; in Florida, Narváez and de Soto, for example, both displayed extreme cruelty toward the native peoples. But by the time of the successful La Florida colony and the founding of St. Augustine, Spanish attitudes had shifted somewhat. Native people were recognized as having souls and capable of becoming loyal, Christian subjects of the crown, members of Spain's American empire who could work in support of the crown's colonies. From his headquarters in St. Augustine, Menéndez set about to make Christian allies of the Indians of La Florida. He also wished to establish an overland route from the Atlantic coast at Santa Elena south and west to northern New Spain and to find the fabled northwest passage, the sea route from the Atlantic into the Pacific that would provide a shortcut to the riches of the Orient.

With his death in 1574 and the abandonment of Santa Elena in 1587 most of Menéndez's plans went for naught, including an attempt to employ Jesuit missionaries to see to the conversion of Indians living along the coasts of Georgia and Florida (the latter were the Calusa Indians on the southwest coast, the Tocobaga on Old Tampa Bay, and the Tequesta at modern Miami). The St. Augustine colonists saw the utility of using missions to bring Florida's 350,000 Indian inhabitants to Christianity. Almost as soon as the Jesuits left La Florida in 1572, the Friars Minor of the Regular Observance of St. Francis of Assisi, the Franciscans, were invited to assume responsibility for the conversion of Florida's Indians.

During the next two decades few Franciscans reached La Florida and fewer stayed. Apparently the hardships of the mission field dissuaded the friars. Then in 1595 twelve friars arrived and missionary efforts began in earnest. The twelve were assigned to doctrinas, missions with churches whose friars instructed native people in religious doctrine. Initially the missions were arranged along the Atlantic coast from St. Augustine to the Ogeechee River on Georgia's northern coast. These early coastal missions served Timucua Indians (who lived fromSt. Simons Island south) and their more northerly neighbors, the Guale Indians. Missionaries were also sent to Timucua Indians living just north of Lake George on the St. Johns River.

Beginning in 1606 the Franciscans expanded their mission efforts to the region of the Timucua Indians west and northwest of St. Augustine in northern Florida and southern Georgia. Like the Tainos of the Caribbean, the Timucua-speaking Indians were composed of a number of individual chiefdoms, some of whom were allied with one another. Typically, chiefs were invited to St. Augustine where they were given presents and baptized and made allies of the Spaniards. They also were given Christian names. Then missionaries were sent to each chief's main village where a mission was established to serve the Indians of that town and those of the surrounding towns of the chiefdom. By the 1620s all or nearly all of the existing Timucuan chiefdoms had received missions. One after another, their chiefs had made the journey to St. Augustine to swear allegiance to the Spanish crown.

Beginning in 1633 the first missions were founded west of the Aucilla River in northwest Florida, the homeland of the Apalachee Indians. Throughout the remainder of the seventeenth century the mission system would be the primary arena for interaction between Florida's Indians and the Spanish colonists of St. Augustine. Through the missions the Apalachee, Guale, and Timucua, all of who were farmers, were incorporated into the Spanish colony. Unlike in the Bahamas and Greater Antilles where slaving, forced labor, and diseases brought a swift end to most of the Tainos, the mission Indians lived beside the Spaniards for generations and their cultures changed as old ways gave way to new ones. Those Indians living well south of the missions, such as the Tequesta and Calusa, had much less interaction with the Spaniards and continued to live their lives largely as they had for hundreds of years.

At the missions, however, lives changed. Though supporting native leaders, the Spaniards actively opposed the native priests and many native beliefs. Friars and Christianity replaced their counterparts in Indian societies. Indians learned religious doctrine, reciting the Pater Noster, Ave Maria, and Salve Regina in Latin. They knew the Ten Commandments, the Seven Deadly Sins, and the Fourteen Works of Mercy. Some Catholic rites were translated into native languages. A wedding ceremony might well have included words in Timucua, Spanish, and Latin. At one mission Indians even learned to play the organ. Even while becoming Catholics the Indians continued many of their traditional ways: playing centuries-old ball games, building domed houses of poles and thatch, and fashioning stone points for arrows. Their lives were neither Hispanic nor traditional. People became mission Indians, members of the La Florida colony and the Spanish empire. Their role in that colony was largely to supply labor for the colonists, and mission villagers performed a wide number of tasks for the Spaniards. Adult males were burden bearers who transported corn from the missions to St. Augustine. Supplies also were shouldered back to the missions by Indian men.

Men were conscripted to go to St. Augustine to provide labor for projects there, or they were required to remain in that town after transporting supplies. Native labor gangs tended fields for the benefit of the soldiers stationed at the garrison in St. Augustine. At various times during the growing season, shifts of Indian laborers prepared and planted fields, hoed them, and harvested crops. Indians helped to build forts and other structures, timbered (often at some distance from town because of deforestation) , and cut coquina in a stone mine on Anastasia Island outside of town. As many as 300 native people were involved in the construction of the stone fort in the 1670s. Conscripted laborers generally were paid for their work, not in cash but in goods given to the mission friars who doled them out to the laborers after they returned home. Items included hawks bells, knives, blue glass beads, multicolored glass beads, pieces of sheet brass, razors, cloth, and scissors.

Native people also labored in the mission provinces. They maintained the roads, repaired creek crossings, and built bridges. Where roads crossed rivers too deep to ford, they operated ferries, probably little more than rafts or canoes lashed together. At missions men, women, and children worked for the friars. They cooked, tended the gardens, looked after pigs, chickens, and other animals, did household chores, and hunted and fished to provide meat for the friars' tables. They collected firewood, made charcoal, and carried burdens and paddled canoes when the friars traveled.

Special fields and gardens were planted, hoed, and harvested and corn husked, shelled, ground, and stored. This surplus, along with livestock, were sold in St. Augustine when times were hard in town, a clever way to generate credit against which Franciscans who had taken vows of poverty could charge items needed to maintain the missions. Mission villagers were induced to increase production, aided by iron hoes and other tools.

Florida's missions existed against a backdrop of epidemics and population depletion. The same diseases that had ravaged the Caribbean Indians impacted the Florida Indians. To cope with a continually declining labor force, officials reorganized and moved missions and consolidated and resettled people. Throughout the seventeenth century the numbers of mission Indians fell. By century's end only a few thousand Timucua survived; Apalachee's population stabilized at about 8000. Even so, the missions and their native villagers could not survive the rivalries of the European colonial powers who were vying for the Americas. Spain's hold on La Florida was directly challenged by the English after the latter settled Charleston in 1670. Through its Carolinian colonists, England began to chip away at Spain's grasp on La Florida. One way to loosen Spain's hold was to destroy the Franciscan missions.

In the 1680s Carolinian militia and their native allies raided several of the north Florida missions. Raids also took place on the Guale missions on the Georgia coast. In a few instances pirates attacked the Guale missions by sea. Villagers, including Yamasee Indians, remnants of people from South Carolina and Georgia who had banded together and moved to the Guale missions, were captured and taken to Charleston where they were sold into slavery to work plantations in the Carolinas and the West Indies.

The raids on the Georgia coastal missions grew so intense that by the mid-1680s all of the coastal missions north of Amelia Island (in northeastern coastal Florida) were abandoned and most of the people moved southward to missions in Florida. Then from 1702 to 1704 massive Carolinian raids on the Apalachee and Timucuan missions in northern Florida effectively destroyed the mission system west of the St. Johns River. Mission churches and other buildings were burned, their contents smashed, and the villagers scattered, tortured and killed. Nearly 5000 mission villagers were taken to Charleston where most were sold into slavery. Others fled west out of Florida to Pensacola and Mobile. By 1710 what had been the mission provinces of Apalachee, Guale, and Timucua were unpopulated. Twelve thousand mission Indians were reduced to less than 1000 people, some of whom fled to refugee mission villages established around St. Augustine. There they hoped to be protected.

With no Spanish presence in the north to shield them, the non-Christian Indians of peninsular Florida were left open to Indian raids from the north. The half century following 1710 saw the decimation of all of Florida's Indians, many falling victim to slavers who took them to Charleston to be sold. During that same period the population of the towns around St. Augustine fluctuated as new refugees moved there, though overall the number continued to decline. In 1763 when Spain turned La Florida over to Britain the less than 100 Christian Indians who survived were taken to Cuba with the withdrawing St. Augustine colonists. Today only a handful of descendants of Florida's original people exist, living in Louisiana where their ancestors had moved after fleeing Apalachee 300 years ago.

Florida's Indian legacy is still apparent today. Many Apalachee and Timucua names remain on the landscape, some reflecting a mixture of native and Spanish cultural elements. Alachua – which means "the sinkhole" – is such a combination, while Etoniah Creek in Putnam County takes its name from the Outina Indians, a Timucuan chiefdom in that locality in the sixteenth century. Aucilla, Suwannee, and the Apalachee Parkway leading to Florida's capital building all are testimony to the early Indians of Florida and the Spanish presence.

Our Native American legacy is not only a geographical one, it also is a living one. Seminole, Miccosukee, and Creek Indians, descendants of native people who moved into the state beginning about 1750, live in Florida and have been joined by thousands of twentieth-century American Indian newcomers, people seeking the same things as other new residents, a good climate and economic opportunities. And every time we eat grits or corn bread or succotash we are acknowledging food-ways that predate the coming of Europeans to La Florida by hundreds of years.

Eagle Hawk Vision

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wonderful information 

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Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries had its humble beginnings as an idea of a few artisans and craftsmen who enjoy performing with live steel fighting. As well as a patchwork quilt tent canvas. Most had prior military experience hence the name.


Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries.


Vendertainers that brought many things to a show and are know for helping out where ever they can.

As well as being a place where the older hand made items could be found made by them and enjoyed by all.

We expanded over the years to become well known at what we do. Now we represent over 100 artisans and craftsman that are well known in their venues and some just starting out. Some of their works have been premiered in TV, stage and movies on a regular basis.

Specializing in Medieval, Goth , Stage Film, BDFSM and Practitioner.

Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries a Dept of, Ask For IT was started by artists and former military veterans, and sword fighters, representing over 100 artisans, one who made his living traveling from fair to festival vending medieval wares. The majority of his customers are re-enactors, SCAdians and the like, looking to build their kit with period clothing, feast gear, adornments, etc.

Likewise, it is typical for these history-lovers to peruse the tent (aka mobile store front) and, upon finding something that pleases the eye, ask "Is this period?"

A deceitful query!! This is not a yes or no question. One must have a damn good understanding of European history (at least) from the fall of Rome to the mid-1600's to properly answer. Taking into account, also, the culture in which the querent is dressed is vitally important. You see, though it may be well within medieval period, it would be strange to see a Viking wearing a Caftan...or is it?

After a festival's time of answering weighty questions such as these, I'd sleep like a log! Only a mad man could possibly remember the place and time for each piece of kitchen ware, weaponry, cloth, and chain within a span of 1,000 years!! Surely there must be an easier way, a place where he could post all this knowledge...

Traveling Within The World is meant to be such a place. A place for all of these artists to keep in touch and directly interact with their fellow geeks and re-enactment hobbyists, their clientele.

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