When you look at these pictures, you should keep a few things in mind.
A. Jacques le Moyne drew them over 400 years ago. He actually saw some of the things he drew, but others, the Indians just told him about. They may have made some things up. So, not everything le Moyne drew is true.
B. The Spanish from St. Augustine burned down the French fort (Ft. Caroline) to make the French leave La Florida. Almost all of le Moynes drawings were burned up. He redrew them from memory. This means there were probably lots of mistakes because he couldnt remember everything exactly.
C. After le Moyne died, another man, named Theodore de Bry, decided to use his pictures. De Bry thought if he engraved them to put them into a book, he could make a lot of money. Since he wanted to make money, he sometimes changed the pictures to make them more exciting. He may have made up some of the pictures entirely. This means even more things about the pictures arent true.
D. Its unlucky for us that le Moynes original artwork about the Timucuas is lost. But we can still learn about the Timucuas by studying de Brys engravings and trying to figure out what is true and what isnt.
E. After each picture, Ive added some descriptions written by either le Moyne or de Bry. Were not sure who wrote them, and since they are both dead now, we cant ask. Some of these descriptions are true, and some might be made up.
F. After the descriptions, Ive written about some ways the pictures are true and false. If you want to learn more about the French and the Timucua Indians, read this book: A Foothold in Florida, by W. John Faupel, ISBN#0 9514914 3 1. It is available at the Ft. Caroline National Memorial in Jacksonville, FL. This book is written on a grown-up level.
Click on choices 1, 2, or 3 to look at drawings of Timucua life.
1. Hunting 2. Ceremonies 3. Village Life a. Alligator Hunt a. Black Drink a. Chief & Wife Go for a Walk b. Deer Hunt b. Dancing b. Picnics and Rivers c. Preserving Meat c. Deerskin Ritual c. Villages d. Training and Games d.War d. Weddings
a. How the Indians Kill Alligators
French Descriptions: "When the creatures are hungry they come out of the water onto the islands to hunt but if they could not find anything they made a terrible noise that could be heard for half a mile. Then the guard called ten or twelve others who approached the large and terrifying creature with a long tree trunk. As it crawled towards them with its jaws open they rammed the pointed end down its throat. Because of the roughness of the bark it could not get free so they were able to twist it over and shoot arrows into its soft belly, club and spear it, then cut it open. The hard scales made its back impossible to penetrate, especially if the creature was old..."
True and False: This probably is how the Timucuas hunted alligators. These reptiles have hard scales (called scutes) under the skin on their backs. Arrows and spears will not go through these scales, so flipping the alligator over, to hunt him on his softer belly, was a good idea. Alligators have something called a "bite-reflex." If anything touches the inside of their mouth, they bite down really hard. In fact, they would have bitten down on the tree trunk so hard that their teeth could have gotten stuck in the wood. Once the alligator was stuck, the Timucuas would have avoided his dangerous thrashing tail and flipped the tree (and the alligator) over to hunt him. Now lets look at the false part. Timucua bows were not shaped like that. And the alligator in the front would have been about 80 feet long. Thats way too big, even for 400 years ago. Thirty feet long is believable, but not eighty. De Bry probably made the alligator bigger to sell more books. Also, have you ever seen an alligator with ears? How about those fingers? It is pretty clear that de Bry drew these gators because he never saw one his whole life, and he wasnt quite sure how to draw them. Last of all, the hunters look like theyre naked. This is probably FALSE. The men would have worn some kind of protective clothing, like a loin cloth (bikini bathing suit).
b. How the Indians Hunt Deer
French Descriptions: "The Indians, when hunting deer, used ingenuity such as we had never seen before. They fitted the skins of the largest deer that they have been able to catch over their bodies so that the deers head covered their own and they were able to look through the eye holes as if it were a mask. Having previously noted the time when the deer came down to the river to drink, the Indians, dressed like this, were able to approach and get really close to them without arousing their suspicions. There were a lot of deer in that region so they were easily able to shoot them with their bows and arrows. In doing this they had learnt to protect their left arm with tree bark from the string of the bow. They were able to remove the deer skin and prepare it without any metal knife, just shells, with such skill that I doubt there was anyone in the whole of Europe who could do it better."
True and False: This picture is probably very true. The deers antlers are not drawn quite right, and they Indians probably couldnt get that close to the deer, but they could get close enough to get a good shot. Other Native American peoples call this specially made deer hide a "deer cloak." The legs and head were left on. The antlers could have been hollowed out so they wouldnt be heavy. If you stayed bent down, a deer cloak actually made you look like a deer.
c. How the Indians Prepared Game
French Descriptions: "In order that the game lasted longer, they prepared it in the following way. They pushed four large wooden forked stakes into the earth and laid sticks over these like a grate onto which they laid out the game and fish. Beneath this they build a fire, the smoke from which hardens all the food. They were very careful to ensure it was dried out really well so that it would not rot, as can be seen in this picture. I believe these food supplies were prepared in this way to help them through the winter during which they lived in the woods. For this purpose they had storehouses for food, as I have said, and these were built under a crag or rock at the waters edge, not far from the dense wood so they could collect what they needed by small boat."
True and False: Most of this drawing is probably true. The shape of the wooden rack may not be exactly right. And the animals would probably have been butchered, with their meat cut into small slices before it was smoked and dried. However, by leaving the animals whole, le Moyne or de Bry may have hoped to teach us about some of the animals the Timucuas ate: fish, fox, snake, deer, and alligator in this picture. The fact that there are eight fish on the rack should tell us that the Timucuas ate a lot of fish. The description says that the food was stored under a rock at the edge of the water. There arent many rocks in eastern Florida, so this (at least the rock part) was probably made up.
d. How the Young Men were Trained
French Descriptions: "The young men were trained in running and those who could run the longest distance were given special prizes. They were also coached, especially in archery. Then they played a certain ball game in the following manner. A post was erected in the middle of an area, about eight or nine yards high, on the top of which was a rectangular wooden frame woven from rushes, and the one who managed to hit it with a ball was awarded a prize. Apart from this they also enjoyed hunting and fishing very much."
True and False: This picture does give us a good idea of the kind of games and training the boys had while growing up. However, de Bry probably made up most of this picture himself. The way the young men are running and holding their bows is not realistic. Le Moyne would have done a better job if hed done the original drawing. Also, the target pole is not supposed to have tree roots; its a pole. Last of all, the trees and things in the background are not Florida plants, so the background was definitely made up by de Bry. Another French man, Laudonniere (Law-don-ee-yeah) wrote that the boys also had contests to see who could hold his breath the longest (good practice for swimming).
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