In the sixteenth century the Timucua inhabited the northern and middle portion of the peninsula of Florida, and although their exact limits to the north are unknown, they held a portion of Florida bordering on Georgia, and some of the coast islands in the Atlantic Ocean, as Guale (then the name of Amelia) and others. The more populous settlements of these Indians lay on the eastern coast of Florida, along the St. John’s river and its tributaries, and in the northeastern angle of the Gulf of Mexico. Their southernmost villages known to us were Hirrihigua, near Tampa Bay, and Tucururu, near Cape Canaveral, on the Atlantic Coast.
The people received its name from one of their villages called Timagoa, Thimagoua 1 , situated on one of the western tributaries of St. Johns River, and having some political importance. The name means lord, ruler, master [atimuca “waited upon (muca) by servants (ati)];” and the people’s name is written Atimuca early in the eighteenth century. We first become acquainted with their numerous tribes through the memoir of Alvar Nunez Cabeca de Vaca, the three chroniclers of de Sotos expedition, and more fully through Réné de Laudonniere (1564). Two missionaries of the Franciscan order, Francisco Pareja (1612 sqq.) and Gregorio de Mouilla (1635), have composed devotional books in their vocalic language. De Brys Brevis Narratio, Frankfort a. M., 1591, contains a map of their country, and engravings representing their dwellings, fights, dances and mode of living.
A few words of their language (lengua timuquana in Spanish) show affinity with Maskoki, others with Carib. From 1595 A. D. they gradually became converted to Christianity, revolted in 1687 against their Spanish oppressors, and early in the eighteenth century (1706) were so reduced in number that they yielded easily to the attacks of the Yamassi Indians, who, instigated by English colonists, made incursions upon their villages from the North. Their last remnants withdrew to the Mosquito Lagoon, in Volusia County, Florida, where the name of the Tomoco River still recalls their tribal name.
In 1564, Rene de Laudonniere heard of five head chiefs (paracusi) of confederacies in the Timucua country, and from Pareja we can infer that seven or more dialects were spoken in its circumference. The five head chiefs, Saturiwa, Holata Utina, Potanu, Onethcaqua and Hostaqua are only tribal names (in the second, Utina is the tribal appellation), and the dialects, as far as known, were those of Timagoa, Potanu, Itafi, the Fresh-Water district, Tucururu, Santa Lucia de Acuera, and Mocama (“on the coast”). The last but one probably coincided with that of Aïs.
The Aïs Indians, who held the coast from Cape Canaveral, where the Spaniards had the post Santa Lucia, to a lagoon once called Aïsahatcha (viz., Aïs River), were considered as a people distinct from the Timucua. They worshiped the sun in the shape of a stuffed deer raised upon the end of a high beam planted in the ground; this gave, probably, origin to their name Aïs, for B. Romans interprets Aïsa hatcha by Deer River (itchi, itche deer, in Creek and Seminole). Their territory formed the northern part of the “province” of Tequesta. 2 3
- Timoga on De Brys map
- Cf. B. Romans, East and West Florida (New York, 1775), pp. 2. 260. 273. 281.
- Herrera, Dec. IV, 4, 7. Barcia, Ensayo, p. 118.