Strange and macabre facts about Georgia’s Native Americans

jacques-le-moyne-how-a-sentry-was-treated-for-negligenceA new online art exhibit about Georgia’s Timucua Indians reveals the darker side of their rituals and customs. The artwork was created by Jacques Le Moyne, an artist with the first French colony in the New World at Fort Caroline in modern-day Jacksonville, Florida. Le Moyne’s artwork of the Indians of southeast Georgia and northeast Florida are the first known depictions of any Native Americans in the New World thus give an important window into this now lost world. Here are some highlights:

  • When the Timucua went to war they carried little clay jars filled with hot embers which they used to light the tips of their arrows which they then shot into the rooves of the village they were attacking thereby setting the entire village on fire
  • Before going to war the chief would consult a soothsayer to predict the nature of the battle. If the chief was not assured victory he did not continue with the war expedition
  • The warriors would also drink a tea made from the leaves of a local holly bush which contains ten times the amount of caffeine as a similar quantity of coffee thus being the earliest form of an energy drink
  • The Timucua would scalp the dead and wounded alike and later dry the scalps over a fire and then attach the scalps to their war clubs as a sign of how many men they had killed
  • After a successful battle the Timucua would dismember their enemy and take the body parts (legs, heads, arms, scalps, etc) back to their village and display them on tall posts as a sign of their victory
  • Captives would be made slaves and their achilles tendon cut so they couldn’t escape; women were made wives of the warriors and chief who all had multiple wives
  • The Timucua would execute members of their own tribes who had shown cowardice or broke other rules; this execution would be by having their heads split open with a canoe paddle
  • To hunt alligators, the Timucua would first shove a post down its throat and once the alligator got his teeth stuck in the post they would flip it over and shoot arrows into its underbelly, the least protected part of the alligator
  • To hunt deer, the Timucua would cover themselves with the skin of a deer including its head and antlers so they could get closer to a deer herd without being spotted

These are just a few of the strange and macabre facts illustrated by French artist Le Moyne depicting the curious lifeways and customs of the southeast’s first people. Check out Le Moyne’s Florida Indians at to learn more about the history of Native American tribes.