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When Worlds Collide

Panel 5

Beyond the horizon, the Mocama observed large ships closing in on their shores. Beginning in the early 1500s foreigners such as Juan Ponce de León and Hernando de Soto scoured Florida searching for Indigenous slaves and gold. Political struggles and organized violence in the form of small-scale raiding were nothing new to the Timucua, but the arrival of Europeans brought new dimensions to diplomacy and warfare.

The story of Mocama, French, and Spanish encounters in our region is most often told from a European perspective. Today, Fort Caroline is a memorial to French efforts to colonize Mocama land, and the Castillo de San Marcos is a national park honoring Spanish successes in both vanquishing the French and taking over Timucua homelands. But what did the Mocamas make of French and Spanish colonizers? And why don’t we tell their side of the story?

In 1562, there was already a dynamic rivalry between Holata Saturiwa and Outina, an inland Timucua holata residing somewhere in present-day Clay or Putnam County. Responding to previous raids, each had assembled alliances of thirty to sixty minor Timucua leaders. In the midst of this political conflict, Saturiwa watched the French Huguenot naval colonizer Jean Ribault erect a column on his shore, likely near present-day Mayport.

Saturiwa sat in anger. These Frenchmen had infringed on his lands, visited his subordinate the holata of Alimacani on Fort George Island, and emplaced a foreign marker without his permission. Sending a diplomatic envoy down to meet Ribault, Saturiwa affirmed his power and the French agreed to an alliance. Ribault’s stay was brief, and he soon set sail to the north.


"Walking into Mocama" A painting depicting Mocama men and women as they converse with parucusi (high chief), Saturiwa. Source: Warren Anderson, Public Trust Environmental Legal Institute of Florida Creator: Celeste Nagry Date: 2011
When Worlds Collide Panel A panel describing the initial encounters between Mocama officials and European soldiers. 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


“When Worlds Collide,” Indigenous Florida, accessed June 20, 2024,