Prelude to Rebellion: Diego de Rebolledo vs. Lucas Menendez in Mid-17th Century Spanish Florida

Linda Suzanne Cecelia Borgen

           Ethnohistoric interpretations of indigenous perspectives from the early colonial period remain a tenuous proposal for anthropologists. The limitedness of documents and their European authorship complicate the task considerably, and proposed arguments rely proportionately on researcher's skills of critical analysis. Yet the project of giving voice to the unrepresented and disenfranchised must supersede any hesitancy. Historic patterns are not without modern parallels; lessons to be learned from the challenges faced by indigenous groups during the colonial period are too important to set aside for fear of scholarly criticisms. Answers provided by residents of St. Augustine to question nine of Governor Rebolledo's 1660 residencia [gubernatorial term investigation] provide a view of a dynamic event that changed the social landscape of Florida and contributed to the extinction of an indigenous culture group. The residencia reveals Governor Rebolledo's treatment of one individual, rather than the totality of the Timucuan leadership, as the impetus for the Timucuan rebellion of 1656. Contrasting markedly to other residencias, the report on Rebolledo's term evidences the passions, frustrations, and frailties that indelibly marked colonial interactions.