San Marcos Region and Apalachee Natives

Historic plans for the fort.

Development of the San Marcos region made the area a thriving trade route and a strategic location for a military fort with an ideal location at the confluence of the Wakulla and St. Marks rivers. San Marcos was the center of cultural clashes and territory struggles that helped mold Florida into what it is today.

Native people first inhabited Florida over 14,000 years before European exploration into the new world. The Wakulla and St. Marks River junction was settled by the Apalachee, a powerful centrally organized and independent chiefdom. 

The Apalachee developed farming communities, growing maize (corn), squash and various types of bean, tobacco and other minor crops. The tribe also relied on hunting and fishing.

In 1528, Panfilo de Narvaez and his team of 300 men navigated more than 270 miles over land from Tampa to the Florida Panhandle in search of gold. While traveling, the Narvaez expedition encountered the Native American Apalachee tribe. 

More than a decade later, in 1539, Hernando de Soto arrived in the Apalachee capitol village of Anhaica. Instead of meeting both expeditions with open arms, Apalachee archers met the men with hostility and drawn bows, and then followed up with constant attacks. 

Persistent fighting and contagious diseases that were introduced by the explorers eventually took its toll on the Apalachees. 

Following several devastating attacks on Spanish Florida by the British and their Creek Indian allies, Apalachee natives who survived migrated north into Creek territory. Some moved east to St. Augustine with the Spaniards or temporarily relocated in the Timucua Province before eventually resettling in St. Augustine.

Visit San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park to learn more!