Guale Indians

Guale Tribe. Meaning unknown, though it resembles Muskogee wahali, “the south,” but it was originally applied to St. Catherines Island, or possibly to a chief living there. Also called:

  • Ouade, a French form of Guale.
  • Ibaja, Timucua name.
  • Iguaja, Timucua name.
  • Ybaha, Timucua name.
  • Yguaja, Timucua name.
  • Yupaha, Timucua name.

Guale Connections. The names of villages and the title “mico” applied to chiefs leave little doubt that these Indians belonged to the Muskhogean linguistic family. Part of them were probably true Creeks or Muskogee. (See Alabama.) Their nearest connections otherwise appear to have been with the Cusabo Indians. (See South Carolina.)

Guale Location. On the Georgia coast between St. Andrews Sound and Savannah River, though the section between St. Catherines Sound and Savannah seems to have been little occupied. (See also Florida.)

Guale Subdivisions. Three rough divisions appear to be indicated by Governor Ibarra of Florida but this is very uncertain. (See below under Villages.)

Guale Indian Villages

So far as they can be made out, the villages in each of the three groups mentioned above were as follows:

Northern group:

  • Asopo, apparently a form of Ossabaw but stated to have been on St. Catherines Island.
  • Chatufo.
  • Couexis, given in the French narratives as near St. Catherines.
  • Culapala.
  • Guale, not, it appears, on the island of that name but “on an arm of a river which is a branch of another on the north bank of the aforesaid port in Santa Elena in 32° N. lat.,” probably on Ossabaw Island.
  • Otapalas.
  • Otaxe (Otashe).
  • Posache, “in the island of Guale.”
  • Tolomato, said to have been on the mainland 2 leagues from St. Catherines Island and near the bar of Sapello.
  • Uchilape, “near Tolomato.”
  • Uculegue.
  • Unallapa.
  • Yfusinique, evidently on the mainland.
  • Yea, said to have been 2 leagues up a river back of Sapello and St. Catherines Sound.

Central group:

  • Aleguifa, near Tulufina.
  • Chucalagaite, near Tulufina.
  • Espogache, near Espogue.
  • Espogue, not more than 6 leagues from Talaxe.
  • Fasquiche, near Espogue.
  • Sapala, evidently on or near Sapello Island.
  • Sotequa. Tapala.
  • Tulufina, probably on the mainland.
  • Tupiqui, probably the original of the name Tybee, but this town was very much farther south.
  • Utine.

Southern group:

  • Aluque.
  • Asao, probably on St. Simons Island.
  • Cascangue, which seems to have been reckoned as Timucua at times and hence may have been near the Timucua border.
  • Fasquiche.
  • Fuloplata, possibly a man’s name.
  • Hinafasque.
  • Hocaesle.
  • Talaxe, probably on St. Simons Island or on the Altamaha River, both of which were known by the name Talaxe.
  • Tuque Tufulo.

To the above must be added the following town names which cannot be allocated in any of the preceding divisions:

  • Alpatopo.
  • Aytochuco.
  • Ayul.
  • Olatachahane, perhaps a chief’s name.
  • Olatapotoque, given as a town, but perhaps a chief’s name.
  • Olataylitaba, perhaps two names run together, Olata and Litabi.
  • Olocalpa.
  • Sulopacaques.
  • Tamufa.
  • Yumunapa.

Guale History. The last settlement of the Ayllon colony in 1526 was on or near the Guale country, as the name Gualdape suggests. When the French Huguenot colony was at Port Royal, South Carolina, in 1562, they heard of a chief called Ouadé and visited him several times for provisions. After the Spaniards had driven the French from Florida, they continued north to Guale and the Cusabo territory to expel several Frenchmen who had taken refuge there. In 1569 missionary work was undertaken by the Jesuits simultaneously among the Cusabo and Guale Indians and one of the missionaries, Domingo Augustin, wrote a grammar of the Guale language. But the spiritual labors of the missionaries proved unavailing, and they soon abandoned the country. In 1573 missionary work was resumed by the Franciscans and was increasingly successful when in 1597 there was a general insurrection in which all of the missionaries but one were killed. The governor of Florida shortly afterward burned very many of the Guale towns with their granaries, thereby reducing most of the Indians to submission, and by 1601 the rebellion was over. Missionary work was resumed soon afterward and continued uninterruptedly, in spite of sporadic insurrections in 1608 and 1645 and attacks of northern Indians in 1661, 1680, and even earlier. However, as a result of these attacks those of the Guale Indians who did not escape inland moved, or were moved, in 1686, to the islands of San Pedro, Santa Maria, and San Juan north of St. Augustine. Later another island called Santa Cruz was substituted for San Pedro. The Quaker, Dickenson, who was shipwrecked on the east coast of Florida in 1699, visited these missions on his way north. At the time of the removal some Guale Indians appear to have gone to South Carolina, and in 1702 a general insurrection of the remainder took place, and they joined their kinsmen on the outskirts of that colony under the leader-ship of the Yamasee. A few may have remained in Florida. In any event, all except those who had fled to the Creeks were united after the outbreak of the Yamasee in 1715 and continued to live in the neighborhood of St. Augustine until their virtual extinction. In 1726 there were two missions near St. Augustine occupied by Indians of the “Iguaja nation,” i. e., Guale, but that is the last we hear of them under any name but that of the Yamasee.

Guale Population. Mooney (1928), who was not aware of the distinction to be drawn between the Guale Indians and the Yamasee, gives an estimate of 2,000 Guale in the year 1650. For the two tribes this is probably too low. The Guale alone, before they had been depleted by White contact and Indian invasions from the north, might well have numbered 4,000, but some of these were later added to the Creeks. In 1602 the missionaries claimed that there were more than 1,200 Christians in the Guale province, and in 1670 the English estimated that the Spanish missions contained about 700 men. The first accurate census of the Yamasee and Guale Indians together, made in 1715, perhaps omitting some few of the latter still in Florida, gives 413 men and a total population of 1,215.

Connection in which they have become noted. Aside from the abortive missionary undertakings of the friars who accompanied Coronado, and a short missionary experience among the Calusa, the provinces of Guale and Orista (Cusabo) were the first north of Mexico in which regular missionary work was undertaken, and the grammar of the Guale language by Domingo Augustin was the first of any language in that region to be compiled.


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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