Potano Indians

Potano Tribe – Meaning unknown.

Potano Connections. (See Utina)

Potano Location. In the, territory of the present Alachua County.

Potano Towns. The following places named in the De Soto narratives probably belonged to this tribe: Itaraholata or Ytara, Potano, Utinamocharra or Utinama, Cholupaha, and a town they called Mala-Paz. A letter dated 1602 mentions five towns, and on and after 1606, when missionaries reached the tribe, stations were established called San Francisco, San Miguel, Santa Anna, San Buenaventura, and San Martin(?). There is mention also of a mission station called Apalo.

Potano History. The name Potano first appears as that of a province through which De Soto passed in 1539. In 1564-65 the French colonists of Florida found this tribe at war with the Utina and assisted the latter to win victory over them. After the Spaniards had supplanted the French, they also supported the Utina in wars between them and the Potano. In 1584 a Spanish captain sent to invade the Potano country was defeated and slain. A second expedition, however, killed many Indians and drove them from their town. In 1601 they asked to be allowed to return to it and in 1606 missionary work undertaken among them resulting in their conversion along with most of the other Timucua peoples. Their mission was known as San Francisco de Potano and it appears in the mission lists of 1655 and 1680. In 1656 they took part in a general Timucuan uprising which lasted 8 months. In 1672 a pestilence carried off many and a the chief of Potano does not appear as signatory to a letter written to Charles II by several Timucua chiefs in 1688, it is possible their separate identity had come to an end by the date. Early in the 18th century the Timucua along with the rest of Spanish Indians of Florida were decimated rapidly and the remnant of the Potano must have shared their fate. (See Utina)

Potano Population. Mooney (1928) estimates the number of Potano Indians at at 3,000 in 1650 and this is probably fairly accurate, as the Franciscan missionaries state that they were catechizing 1,100 persons in the 5 towns belonging to the tribe in 1602. In 1675 there were about 160 in the 2 Potano missions (See Acuera and Utina)

Connections in which they have become noted. The Potano tribe was anciently celebrated as, with one or two possible exceptions, the most powerful of all the Timucua peoples.


Alachua County FL,

Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 145. Washington DC: US Government Printing Office. 1953.

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