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Social and Political Organization

Panel 4

The Mocama practiced matrilineal decent and traced kinship ties through their mother’s line. Husbands and wives were always members of different clans, meaning children belonged to the mother’s clan from the time of birth to death and beyond.

Male and female holatas (or chiefs) were often members of the Deer Clan, although a council of elders helped temper their power. Certain Mocama men and women also served as shamans, herbalists, and other spiritual guides who performed a variety of important ceremonies and rituals. Cultural traditions promoted community solidarity, reinforced important values, beliefs, and practices, and connected them to the natural and spiritual worlds.

Despite sharing a common language, the estimated 200,000 Timucua speakers of northern peninsular Florida and Georgia never united into a single political group. By the sixteenth century, they had confederated under different, powerful leaders who competed for regional power.

The Mocama had at least two distinct polities in the 1560s. Those living at the mouth of the St. Johns River and on the barrier islands to the north allied under Holata Saturiwa. While Holata Tacatacuru on Cumberland Island led the Mocama north of and including Amelia Island. Saturiwa and Tacatacuru were friendly allies, and many Timucua communities were connected by clan and exchange networks. But raiding among Timucua villages was also common due to ongoing disputes and territorial trespassing.


"Apalachee Village" This painting is an artist rendering of an Apalachee village located at the Spanish mission site Mission San Luis in Northeast Florida. Mocama villages were constructed in a similar manner. Source: Mission San Luis, Florida Department of State Creator: John LoCastro
Social and Political Organization Panel This panel describes the social and political organization of the Mocama people. Source: Department of History and Department of Anthropology, University of North Florida Creator: Dr. Denise Bossy, Dr. Keith Ashley, and University of North Florida students. Date: 2020


“Social and Political Organization,” Indigenous Florida, accessed June 20, 2024,