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13. Mocamas Cut off the French

“Bloody Massacre” National Park Service Display

Without Mocama alliance and support, the French had no hope of surviving in Mocama utimile (homelands). The French thought about moving north to Charlesfort on present-day Parris Island, South Carolina. They had briefly established a fort there in 1562. But, mostly they wanted to return to France. In the late spring of 1565, French carpenters started to build a large ship to take everyone back to France. When the ship was ready, the French began to destroy their own fort to prevent the Mocamas from taking it over.

The Mocamas remained in control as the French prepared to abandon Fort Caroline. The French had long awaited the arrival of relief ships from France. They finally arrived on August 28, 1565. But it was too late. The French leader of Fort Caroline – René Goulaine de Laudonnière – explained to the new arrivals that the French had to leave because they had destroyed their alliance with the Mocamas. But Jean Ribault, the captain of the French relief ships, refused to listen.

While Laudonnière understood that the Mocamas were the landowners and held the balance of power, Ribault was much more concerned about the Spanish. French and Spanish imperial officials often ignored that Indigenous people owned the territories they were fighting over. The Spanish had long claimed all of Florida as their own, despite not having any settlements there. In early September 1565 a Spanish armada arrived, under Pedro Menéndez de Avilès, to drive the French out. Ribault intended to defend the small, partially demolished fort with the troops he had brought against the Spanish.

Meanwhile, as the French and Spanish battled over Mocama territory, Mocama leaders turned this to their advantage. In control of local news networks, the Mocamas cut off communication with the French. Saturiwa allowed the Spanish to advance on Fort Caroline and drive the French from Mocama. The French were completely taken by surprise. And the Mocamas were free of the French.

Images

"Mocama Hunting Deer" A painting that depicts Mocama men hunting deer. Source: Warren Anderson, Public Trust Environmental Legal Institute of Florida Creator: Brett Pigoe
"Bloody Massacre" National Park Service Wayside Display A still image of the Bloody Massacre National Park Service wayside display located inside of the Fort Caroline National Memorial. Source: National Park Service Creator: The National Park Service at the Fort Caroline National Memorial
Indigenous Fort Caroline Tour Map A map displaying the physical locations associated with each tour spot. You are now at Spot 13 in front of the "Bloody Massacre" National Park Service display located inside of the Fort Caroline replica. 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, “13. Mocamas Cut off the French,” Indigenous Florida, accessed March 1, 2024, https://indigenousflorida.domains.unf.edu/items/show/46.