February GIAS meeting: The life and times of the sixteenth century Guale

The Golden Isles Archaeological Society will hold their February meeting Tuesday the 7th at St. Simons Elementary School (805 Ocean Blvd.) in the Cafeteria at 7:00pm. The meeting will feature Ryan Sipe of Georgia Southern University and is titled Georgia’s Mission Frontier: The Life and Times of the Sixteenth Century Guale.

When the Spanish established their La Florida colony, it put the American Southeast on the world stage. Spain’s first colonial capital at Santa Elena failed 21 years after it was established and the only thing separating St. Augustine from the other encroaching European powers was the Georgia Coast. This was not uninhabited land; however, it was the land of the Guale. The Guale lived among the coastal hammocks and relic dunes of northern coastal Georgia in a chiefdom level society which was, at times, organized into a form of confederacy under a paramount leader.

After the failure of Santa Elena, it was more vital than ever for the Spanish to create loyal subjects among the aboriginal groups that made up the “buffer” zone between St. Augustine and their European competition. This was largely undertaken through the process of Missionization. First the Jesuits, then the Franciscans set up tenuous outposts among the Guale. This; however, would prove to be a daunting task and one that would change both cultures forever.