Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Native American Chiefdoms and Spanish Conquistadors in Western North Carolina 1540-1568

January 23rd, 2015
4 PM

Location
Dinwiddie Hall 102

Dr. Chris Rodning, Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology, will give a talk entitled “Native American Chiefdoms and Spanish Conquistadors in Western North Carolina 1540-1568.”

Talk abstract: During the mid-sixteenth century, Spanish colonial expeditions led by Hernando de Soto and Juan Pardo traversed the province of Joara, in western North Carolina. Written accounts of the Soto expedition describe ‘Xuala’ as a prosperous province in 1540, but they also indicate that ‘Xuala’ was less powerful than the chiefdoms of Cofitachequi, in central South Carolina, and Coosa, in northwest Georgia. When the first Pardo expedition marched inland in 1566 from the Spanish colonial capital of La Florida, located at the colonial town of Santa Elena in coastal South Carolina, they visited several of the same towns that had been visited by the Pardo expedition. The principal town of Joara was, at that time, the most powerful and prosperous Native American town in the southern Appalachians, and for that and other reasons, Pardo chose Joara as the location of Fort San Juan and the adjacent colonial town of Cuenca, which was to become his principal outpost in the northern borderlands of La Florida. Favorable relations were established between Pardo and the people of Joara, but those relations soured, and in the spring of 1568, news reached Santa Elena that Fort San Juan and five other forts that Pardo established had been attacked by Native American warriors and had been abandoned. This talk reviews recent archaeological finds from the site of Joara, Cuenca, and Fort San Juan, in the upper Catawba River Valley of western North Carolina, and it considers the nature of early encounters and interactions among Native American groups and Spanish conquistadores in this part of the American South.

A reception will follow.

Sponsored by the Tulane Anthropology Student Association (TASA). Email tulaneasa@gmail.com with any questions.

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