Program 1: Discovering the Tocobaga

Presented by Hermann Trappman and Elizabeth Neily

Pinellas County was inhabited for thousands of years by indigenous peoples prior to the arrival of Europeans on it’s beautiful shores in the year 1528. Few modern day residents of the Central Gulf Coast of Florida know of the existence of this ancient civilization, the Tocobaga Indians who lived here in Pinellas County. Tocobaga is also the name of the cacique (honored man) who represented twenty-nine Tocobaga clans when Pedro Menéndes de Avilés arrived in the territory in 1566. There was also a caciqua (honored woman) who held equal status in the community. Artists Hermann Trappman and Elizabeth Neily unveil the story of the first civilization to call the Central Gulf Coast home.

So how do you get a grip on a culture that flashed out of existence 300 years ago? Were the Tocobaga and the Calusa part of the migration from the Mississippi basin? Did they enter this landscape as traders and over time become the dominant culture? Were they migrants from some local disaster? Did they arrive as conquerors? We may never know the answer to these questions.

However we can begin our search for the Tocobaga by first, placing them into an environment, a natural economy. Secondly, we can begin to appreciate the roots of their culture, through childbirth child rearing. As people coalesce, from small groups who migrate through a seasonal area over a yearly cycle, into complex states with defended borders enclosing cities and sustaining enterprise, they come to express certain environmental adaptations, and see themselves as a governed system of common identity. They are transformed into a state or nation as they were when the Spanish made first contact with the Tocobaga.

Powerpoint presentation and reproduction artifacts of the Tocobaga people.

Time: 45 minutes plus 15 minutes Q&A Performance

Fee per performer: $150.00 Additional Charge for Travel, Accommodation, and Meals 60 miles