The Timucua

Historic drawing of a Timucua chief and French soldier

The Timucua (tee-MOO-qua) lived in central and northeast Florida. The Timucua were the first Native Americans to see the Spanish when they came to Florida.

What did the Timucua eat? The Timucua, like other Native Americans, were fishermen, and they lived near the marsh and along the creeks and rivers where fishing was easy. Timucuan men made tools for hunting and fishing. They used spears, clubs, bows and arrows to kill their game. The Timucua hunted bear, deer, wild turkey and alligators for food and clothing. They also ate fish, clams and oysters, and piled the shells into large heaps called middens, which are still here today. To preserve their meat, they smoked it over open fires on a smoking rack.

The Timucua used a fishing trap called a weir. When the tide was low, they would lay a fishing net on the river floor. When the tide came in, the fish would swim over the net. The net poles would float to the surface, and the Timucua would put them in the river bed between the opening of the weirs. When the tide went out, all the fish that had come in with the tide were trapped by the weir and nets.

The Timucua also raised crops like corn, squash, beans, pumpkins and melons. The women cooked the meals, and cleaned and prepared the animal hides for clothing. The women also made pottery for use in cooking. Timucuan children helped their mothers find and cook food, and learned how to do grown-up work like hunting and making pottery.

Cooking was a community project where everyone contributed to the meal, but each family had its own home. In Timucuan villages, there were usually two kinds of houses. One type of home was referred to as the long house. It was built using poles for the frame, and branches from palmetto trees for the sides and roof. The other, a round house, was round and covered with palmetto leaves.

The Timucua wore clothing made from Spanish Moss, animal skins and, later, woven cloth. The men wore their hair long and tied up. It was a place to hide their weapons during battle. Both men and women had tattoos, and children could start getting tattoos as they grew up and showed they were brave and responsible.

The Timucua liked to hold dances and ceremonies for planting, harvesting, and honoring the dead. The ceremonies were led by a religious leader called a Shaman.

After the arrival of the French and Spanish, the number of Timucua became smaller with each passing year. The Europeans brought diseases with them that the Timucua easily caught and died from, since their bodies did not have natural resistance to the diseases. The Spanish taught the Indians how to live like Spanish did. As the tribes began to die out, the Timucua began to live among the Spanish, and some joined other tribes. There are no Timucua left today.

Last updated: December 7, 2016

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