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Florida in 1539. During his three years of wandering he passed through the present States of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi, and penetrated into the country west of that great river beneath whose waters he found a grave.
On the arrival of De Soto at the Cherokee town of Chiaha he was kindly received by the chief, who, in his speech of welcome, said:
From Guaxale your Lordship sent unto me, that I should prepare Maiz for you in this town for two months: Here I have for you 20 barnes full of the choicest that in all the Countrie could be found.'
The adventurers also found “much butter in gourds melted like oile; they said it was the fat of beares; also great store of oile of walnuts which was cleare as butter.” The town was surrounded by “verie good meadows and manie fields sowne with Maiz.”2 A certain Indian governess visited De Soto in great state from one of her towns on the Savannah River. The visit is thus described :
Within a little while the Ladie came out of the towne in a Chaire, whereon certain of the principall Indians brought her to the River. She entered into a barge, which had the sterne tilted over, and on the floore her mat readie laied with two cushions upon it one upon another, where she sate her down.3
The writer continues concerning the country: Within a league and halfe a league about this towne, were great townes dispeopled, and overgrowne with grasse; which showed, that they had been long without inhabitants. The Indians said, that two yeere before ere was a plague in that Countrie, and that they remooved to other townes. There was in their store houses great quantitie of clothes, mantles of yarne made of the barkes of trees, and others made of feathers, white, greene, red, and yellow, very fine after their use, and profitable for winter. There were also many Deeres skinnes, with many compartiments traced in them, and some of them made into bose, stockings and shooes."
De Soto had planned to settle a colony in some favorable locality, and his expedition was provided with a herd of swine, as well as with chains for Indian slaves. The swine multiplied with remarkable rapidity. After De Soto's death his effects were disposed of by auction to his fol. lowers, and seven hundred swine figure as an item of the property sold." During the march swine for breeding purposes were often presented to the Indians and many others strayed and fell into their hands, so that in a few years they were extensively distributed. Horses and mules were too valuable to the Spaniards to be given away, and the Indians feared them and were glad to destroy them whenever op. portunity offered. One historian asserts 6 that the Indians obtained cows from De Soto, but no other authority can be found for this state. ment and no mention is made by any writer within our knowledge of neat cattle as forming part of the outfit of the expedition.
De Soto's wanderings across the country might be traced by the groans of Indian captives, male and female, reduced to slavery and compelled Portuguese Narrative of De Soto's expedition; Force's Historical Tracts, Vol. IV,
2 Ibid., p. 49. 3 Ibid., p. 43. * Ibid., p. 44. 5 Ibid., p. 98. 6 Pickett: Hist. of Alabama.
to bear the burdens of the soldiers ; by the flames of dwellings, the desolation of fields, and the heaps of slain, young and old.
In 1535, Cartier ascended the St. Lawrence to the present site of Mon. treal, where he found a considerable town surrounded by palisades formed of “ truuks of trees set in a triple row, the outer and inner ranges inclined till they met and crossed near the summit, while the upright row between them, aided by transverse braces, gave to the whole abundant strength. Within were galleries for the defenders, rude ladders to mount them, and magazines of stones to throw down on the "heads of assailants.” 1 The houses were “50 yards or more in length, and 12 or 15 wide, framed of sapling pales closely covered with sheets of bark. Surrounding the town were extensive fields of maize, beans, and pumpkins."
The Indian tribes met by these early French explorers belonged to the same family as those scattered throughout the territory now covered by the Northern and Middle States. These Indians dwelt in vil. lages and cultivated the soil to a limited extent. For their animal food they depended upon fishing and the chase. The same was true of the tribes living west of the Mississippi River. The presence of large herds of buffalo, however, tended to modify the life of the tribes depending upon that animal for food and raiment. The Indians followed the migration of the buffalo, and, therefore, tents were commonly used as habitations rather than the more permanent structures already men. tioned, although this was not true of all the buffalo-hunting tribes. The hunts were conducted according to fixed tribal ceremonials and reg. ulations, more or less religious in character.
The manufactures of the Indians consisted of articles of pottery; stone and copper axes and chisels; arrow-heads; mortars of stone and wood for grinding maize; stone and bone hoes and skin dressers; dressed hides of the deer and elk, from which they made clothing and moccasins, embroidered with quill work; weaving and spinning of vegetable fibres; canoes, rope, and domestic utensils from bark; snow-shoes; fish-nets of sinew; and wooden war-clubs, spears, and bows.
Throughout the territory of the United States the various Indian tribes, with few if any exceptions, had a social organization based upon kinship. Each tribe was divided into clans, septs, or gentes, under the leadership of chiefs. Among the Pueblos and the tribes of the Pacific coast, and those formerly living in the present Gulf, Middle, and Northern States, the woman carried the clan, or septs; that is, the children belonged to tbe clan of the mother and not to that of the father, who must be of a different clan. Iu tribes having descent by the mother, women frequently held public office. The American Archives give instances of the interposition of these “female governesses"2 in gov. ern mental and other matters. Women generally held the bousehold
1 Parkman: Pioneers of France in the New World, 189. ? Americau Archives, 1st series, Vol. V, col. 1101.
8. Ex. 95--2
property as their own. To them belonged all the duties pertaining to the conserving of life; they formed the only non-combatant class, and, therefore, upon them devolved the industrial pursuits and the care of the possessions of the people. To the men belonged the duties of the provider and protector, which required them to be hunters and warriors.
No regular army organization existed among the Indian tribes. Every man strove to be a warrior. All war parties, large or small, were composed of volunteers, who during the expedition followed and obeyed their leader, but disbanded upon their return, each one claiming for him. self such bonors as he was able to win individually. The fighting was not conducted by any system of tactics for combination ; each man looked out for himself and did as le deemed best, although he would fly to the rescue of a fallen friend to prevent his being mutilated by the enemy. Religious ceremonies attended the preparation and setting out of war parties, and grave responsibilities rested upon the leaders.
The polity of the Indian tribes was an interweaving of the religious and civil elements and powers.
The chiefs of the various clans composed the council, which was the central authority. In this assembly all the affairs of the tribe were settled, and a unanimous consent was needful to a decision and consequent action. The hereditary duties of the clans determined somewhat the relative positions and functions of the chiefs, but personal ability generally secured the head chieftainship. The office of chief was in part religious, and the inauguration ceremopials partook of that character. To promote internal peace and the welfare of the people was an important part of the duty of a chief. He seldom led in war after he was installed in office, although in his earlier days he had proved his personal prowess as a successful leader of war parties.
The punishment of offenders was generally left to those who were aggrieved or to their relatives. In cases where the vengeance tended to go too far the chiefs interfered to restore harmony anii peace.
Indian social order was without caste or personal inheritance of power or property. The clan was superior to the individual in these and other respects, and helil its members bound by bonds impossible to break or to be released from except by expatriation. There was little or none of the co-ordination or centralization which goes to form a nation, among any of the tribes; therefore conquest in the Eastern sense di<l not enter into the ambition of a tribe or league of tribes.
This outline sketch shows the Indians in their native condition when first met by the Spaniards. This condition exists to the present day, except as it is modified by the changes induced through the loss of game, the pressure of the white population, and the taking on of civilized ideas and modes of life.
The previous experience of the Spanish in the New World had prepared them to expect to find the country thickly populated. Their search for gold sent them to regions which the tales of the natives peopled with
namerous powerful tribes, having cities rivalling in extent and mag. nificence those of ancient Mexico and Peru. To these expectations may be attributed many of the exaggerations which color the Spanish narratives respecting the number of Indians inhabiting the regions visited by the Spanish adventurers. Several causes conspired to reduce the Indian population on the invasion of the white race. Among these were strange and fatal diseases, like the small-pox, which baffled the skill of the native physicians; the wars in which they became involved with the whites; and the policy inaugurated by De Soto and continued by the French and English of fomenting wars between the tribes, and of using them as allies for the sake of temporary advantage. It is highly probable that the decrease of the Indian tribes has not been so great as is generally stated and popularly supposedl. Recent experience has proven that any accurate enumeration of an Indian tribe invariably reduces preceding estimates in a remarkable degree. It is doubtful if the Indian population of the territory now forming the United States ex. ceeded half a million at the beginning of the sixteenth century.
The localities of the various tribes were generally the same in the sixteenth century as in the two centuries following. Conquest, settlement, and purchase made but slight changes in the distribution of the Indians.
MISSIONARY EFFORTS IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY.
The missionary efforts of the sixteenth century in behalf of the Indians were put forth solely by the Spaniards. The expedition of Narvaez to Florida, in 1528, was accompanied by a number of Franciscans, under the direction of Father John Juarez, who had labored in Mexico. No mission was founded, however, and the Franciscans perished "of famine, disease, or by the hands of the Indians." De Soto and his fol. lowers in 1539 were attended by twelve priests, eight inferior clergymen and four monks. Their efforts to convert the natives were fruitless, and all the missionaries perished before the remnant of the expedition reached Tampico.
In 1514 Father Andrew de Olmas penetrated alone into the country north of the Rio Grande, and reached the rolling prairies. The inhab. itants “listened in peace to his doctrines,” and several followed the missionary to Tamaulipas, where he instructed them.”
About the same time the Dominican father, Louis Cancer de Barbastro, visited Spain, and through the good offices of Las Casas, who was a fellow-passenger on the voyage tbither, secured the patronage of Philip II, and a royal decree emancipating all natives of Florida who were held in slarery in Spanish America. He returned to this country, and, with three companions belonging to the same order, sailed to Florida. A few days after landing he and one of his companions were
Shea, Catholic Missions, p. 40. * Ibid., p. 45.
killed by the natives. The others fled from the country in the vessel that brought them.
In 1553 three hundred Spaniards, survivors of a shipwreck, landed on the Florida coast, among them five Dominicans, four of whom, with all their companions, perished in the attempt to reach Mexico by land. One survivor, after enduring great hardships, finally reached Tampico.
A Spanish expedition, consisting of thirteen vessels and fifteen hun. dred men, was dispatched in 1559. Several of the vessels were driven asbore in a storm, and many men perished. The survivors, establishing themselves in Florida, sent back for aid. Before it arrived the leader, with a portion of his followers and two Dominicans, penetrated into the interior, formed an alliance with the Creeks, and marched west to the Mississippi to attack the Natchez, with whom the Creeks were at war. Returning to the Creek country, the Spaniards spent some time there, the missionaries laboring to convert their Indian allies; “but their efforts were not crowned with success, and only a few baptisms of dying infants and adults rewarded their zeal."2 After many vicissitudes the colony and missions of Santa Cruz, in Pensacola Bay, were abandoned in 1561.3
In 1565 the first permanent Spanish settlement in Florida was made by the founding of Saint Augustine by Mependez. The expedition consisted of thirty-four vessels and two thousand six hundred forty. six men. More than twenty Franciscans, Jesuits, and other ecclesiastics accompanied it. Soon after the colony arrived Menendez sent a party of soldiers and some Dominicans to build a fort and begin a mission among the Indians of Virginia. They were accompanied by an ludian chief belonging to one of the Virginia tribes. They failed to reach their destination, and, alarmed by storms, sailed for Spain, where the chief was baptized by the name of Don Luis Velasco.5
Missions were begun at several places in Florida, and in 1568 a re-en. forcement of eleven Jesuit missionaries arrived. An Indian school was opened at Havana under the charge of two missionaries, who had learned the native lauguage and“ drawn up vocabularies by the help of natives then in Havana."?
In 1567 Father Roger tried to win the Indians of Florida to industrial pursuits; “lands were chosen; agricultural implements procured ; twenty commodious houses raised. After eight mouths' application he judged many sufficiently instructed to receive baptism; and, calling a council of the chiefs, proposed that the tribe should "renounce the devil and embrace the new faith.”8 The natives, howerer, voted unani. mously to reject the new faith. The missionary departed, and after spending some time fruitlessly with other tribes, returned in 1570 to Havana with some Indian boys to be placed at school.9
1 Shea's Catholic Missions, pp. 46-49. 2 I bid., p. 51. 3 Ibid., p. 52. 55. 6 I bid., p. 56. 6 I bid., p. 58. "Ibid., pp. 57-58. 8 Ibid., p. 60.
* I bid., p.