Sacred Lands Preservation and Education 
 

Apalachee Indians

(By Mac Perry)

 

Apalachee Indians Tending Crops

The Apalachee Indians were great farmers and fearless warriors, but they were afraid of ghosts and witches and hid their women in round thatched houses with no windows during their menstrual period. They numbered perhaps 50,000 and grew miles of fields of corn in the rolling foothills around today's Tallahassee, corn which they stored in large community houses and exported to Cuba. They also hunted a ton of white-tail deer whose hides they stacked to the sky.

It was the Apalachee who chased the heavily armed, 400-man Narváez expedition out of Florida in 1528 using dirty words, guerilla tactics, sticks and stones, and a lot of unfriendly persuasion When Desoto's 600 men arrived at their town in 1539, the women were topless and wore mini skirts made of Spanish moss (or was it Indian Moss?) Capafi their chief was so fat he had to be carried everywhere on a litter or else crawl on his hands and knees. How the old boy loved his corn syrup (you are what you eat.)

The Apalachee had no plow animals, no metal tools, hadn't even invented the wheel yet, so they tended their huge acreages by hand. (As seen in the drawings of Jacques LeMoyne, a Frenchmen who came to Florida in the 16th century.) But when a Spaniard rode into their village they could shoot an arrow into the horse's chest so deep it would penetrate two-thirds of the horse's body. Lordy, were they scared of them horses. The arrows were shot from very tall bows that most Spaniards couldn't even bend.

Apalachee Indians Celebration

The Apalachee had one complicated marital system. To keep from having kids with six toes, men married outside their clan. And because they were a matrilineal society, their children became the property of their wife's clan and acquired all their training and possessions from that clan. What a mess that was. When a man got hooked up, he had to make a quick choice. 1) Go live with his wife at her clan and watch his children being raised by some incompetent uncle, their mother's brother. 2) Go live with his sister where he would be close to her kids, children he was responsible for teaching the ways of the woods. 3) Or go live with his father, who was neither in his wife's clan (the clan of his children) nor his own clan (the clan of his mother, brothers, and sisters.) This would be the best choice if he was to assume his father's chiefly role. If that was the case, him becoming a chief someday, not only could he then have a number of wives, but one of them, his principal wife, could be his sister, so that their six-toed son, who would someday inherit the throne, could keep the chiefdom in the family clan. It was enough to keep a man from marrying, that and the fact that men were allowed to sleep with as many women as they wanted until they got married then had to stop all that stuff. But marriage had its good points. When a man married, there was often a ceremony in which dozens of young single girls danced in a circle wearing nothing but a belt dangling copper and shell jingles.

 

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