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8. The People of the Sea (Moca), and Marsh (Yalu)

The Dock

Mocama means: the sea (ma+Moca). The Mocamas were the people of the sea, but it is even more accurate to call them the people of the yalu or marsh. The Mocamas built their homes near tidal salt and freshwater marshes for easy access to cuyu (fish), sicali (oyster), and other resources. Mocama men designed and built what the French called “fishing parks,” large enclosed fences (or weirs) that they placed in the salt water marshes and tidal creeks around their towns to capture fish. As the tide rose, fish unknowingly swam into the ichali (weir), leaving them trapped when the tide went out.

Water was so important to Mocama daily life that it also had religious significance. Mocama men and women manufactured tools, jewelry, and religious objects from shells, particularly whelks. They made the stronger and more common right-handed whelks into everyday tools for farming and tanning animal hides. Left-handed whelks were special. Their inner spiral is counter-clockwise, the same as the movement of the sun from east to west. The Mocamas used left-handed whelks for ceremonial purposes, especially as drinking vessels. Parts of the whelk shell were also made into decorative beads.

Yalucare (marshes) are still vital to the well-being of coastal communities. When properly managed by humans, marshes serve as the homes for a wide variety of fish, shellfish, and birds. They also lessen the risk of flooding from storms and prevent soil erosion by stabilizing shorelines.

Audio

The People of the Sea (Moca), and Marsh (Yalu) Audio Narration This is an audio narration for this stop on the Indigenous Fort Caroline Tour. Source: Department of History, Center for Instruction and Research Technology (CIRT), University of North Florida Creator: Amarilys Sánchez Date: 2024

Images

"Mocama Fishing on the Marsh" A painting depicting Mocama people fishing on the marsh, their town in the background. Source: National Park Service, Harpers Ferry Center Commissioned Art Collection (HFCCAC) Creator: Richard Schlecht Date: 1997
The Dock at the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve A photo of the Dock at the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve prior to arriving at the replica display of the Fort Caroline National Memorial. Source: Center for Instructional and Research Technology (CIRT), University of North Florida Creator: Michael Boyles Date: 2023
Items Found at the Mill Cove Complex Photo depicting the following artifacts along with a size key: Whelk large disk bead (top left); Whelk small disk bead (bottom left); Tubular bead (top left); Barrel bead (bottom left). Source: Center for Instructional and Research Technology (CIRT), UNF Archaeology Lab, University of North Florida Creator: Michael Boyles (photo), Keith Ashley (artifacts) Date: 2023
Items Found at the Mill Cove Complex Photo depicting the following artifacts along with a size key: Whelk shell columella gouge or punch (top); Disk dosinia shell with suspension hole (bottom left); Various disk and barrel beads (bottom right) Source: Center for Instructional and Research Technology (CIRT), UNF Archaeology Lab, University of North Florida Creator: Michael Boyles (photo), Keith Ashley (artifact) Date: 2023
Lightening Whelk Cup (obverse and reverse sides of same shell) A photo of a Whelk Cup found in the Mill Cove Complex along with a size key. Source: Center for Instructional and Research Technology (CIRT), UNF Archaeology Lab, University of North Florida Creator: Michael Boyles (photo), Keith Ashley (artifact) Date: 2023
Indigenous Fort Caroline Tour Map A map displaying the physical locations associated with each tour spot. You are now at Spot 8 on the walkway and dock located on the St. Johns River. Our path takes you from the Main Parking Lot, past the Timucuan Preserve Visitor Center, overlooking the river, along the Fort Caroline Memorial Trail, to the actual replica of Fort Caroline. Source: Center for Instructional and Research Technology (CIRT), University of North Florida, and the National Park Service Creator: Michael Boyles and the National Park Service at the Fort Caroline National Memorial Date: 2023

Location

Metadata

Indigenous Florida, “8. The People of the Sea (Moca), and Marsh (Yalu),” Indigenous Florida, accessed July 17, 2024, https://indigenousflorida.domains.unf.edu/items/show/42.