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Video . . . Dancing . . . What the Florida Apalachee actually looked like

Video . . . Dancing . . . What the Florida Apalachee actually looked like


Florida artists consistently portray their Apalachee to look like the ancestors of the Creek Indians in Alabama and Georgia.  The background music piped into most Florida museums sounds like it came from a reservation on the Western Plains.   However, the chroniclers of the Hernando de Soto Expedition stated something entirely different.  The Florida Apalache . . . or whatever they really called themselves . . . were about the height of the Spanish, which means that they averaged a foot shorter than the Creeks.  The Spanish also clearly described the men and women as wearing skirts, made out Spanish moss.   The Spanish were stunned when they saw the people in present day Central Georgia wearing brightly colored, woven cloth.

The dancers in this video from eastern Peru are Southern Arawaks, who lived in the Amazon Jungle.  They are wearing skirts made from a plant closely related to Spanish moss.  Would you believe that they are in the bromeliad-pineapple-orchid family?  You can be fairly certain that these dancers are what the Spanish Conquistadors observed at the capital town of Anihaica in the winter of 1539-1540.  The only difference would have been that the women would have been topless too.   

Note:  Those who enjoy music and dance should peruse the other indigenous folk dances that follow this one.  These dances from eastern Peru are much the same as what our ancestors danced.  Typical pow-wow music has nothing to with the Southeaster cultural heritage.

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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.

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