Sunday, January 15, 2012

He shoulda asked directions...

One of the reasons for this Odyssey I am on is to learn more about the history of my country.  Earlier in the week I explored Pine Island and Punta Gorda looking for the spot where the first white man (Spaniard) was killed by the Indians (Calusa).  Nobody knows his name but he was part of Ponce de Leon's expedition that came looking for the Fountain of Youth in 1513.  I've been looking for it too, but--well it's just past the next Walmart, I'm sure.   Anyway, it is too bad that the poor guy's death didn't scare the Spaniards off but they just kept coming.

 Twenty three years later in 1539 a rich man named DeSoto brought an expedition of 700 men to the shores of La Florida looking for gold and to claim land for Charles V of Spain.

DeSoto was very wealthy and had made his money by capturing and trading Central American Indians as slaves.  His designs on North America were no more righteous.

He and his men started right out killing and plundering--For four years and 4000 miles!  At one time they even captured a very powerful female chief and held her as a slave until she died. (I would love to know more about her--the only female Indians I ever heard about were Sacajaweja and Pocohantas--thank you Walt Disney)

The Spaniards used Indians as guides--which may explain why they kept getting lost.

They would settle in a spot for a while, eat all the food, annoy all the neighbors, then get in arguments over whether to keep going or go back--kind of like a family on vacation...

I hope you can see the red lines on this map--it shows the incredible 4000 mile hike.  It ended on the shores of a little town in  Mexico after they lost over 300 men, all their livestock and all DeSoto's money. Plus old Desoto died somewhere near the Louisiana-Arkansas border of a tropical fever.  However,  I am sure he would be pleased to know that there are dozens of parks named for him all over the southeast U.S.
History Lesson study questions...1.) Why can't we have a park named for the female Indian chief?
2.) Why do we remember--without all their evil doings--such immoral people?
3.) Aren't you glad you didn't have me for a history teacher?  (Oops! Sorry kids, you did.)


  1. Enjoyed the history. You have some very valid questions. I'd like to know the answers myself.

    Have you heard of "Deleon Springs State Park" (it's somewhere between Orlando and Daytona Beach)
    I think it might be your kind of place. interesting history But the highlight is the breakfast. The tables have built-in hotplate where you cook your own breakfast. The specialty is pancake. Yummy!

    Have a good week


  2. from Janice W....Here are some links to the female Indian Chief, Lady of Cofitachequi, you are referring to on your blog:

  3. Thanks for the suggestion, Nicole. That breakfast sounds like fun.

    Janice, Thank you so much for looking those up. That Indian chief sounds so interesting--I think her story would make a good movie.

  4. Really sad thing is we think we're saving the world by invading other countries in modern times.

    I love stories of women who were leaders. Proof that history isn't all about the men :)

    Thanks for the links Janice. And thanks for posting this Toni!