Tallahassee’s Rich Native American History

When most people think of Tallahassee and Native Americans, they think of the Florida State Seminoles and football season. Tallahassee’s history with native cultures goes back centuries and is much more than football. The presence of Native Americans like the Apalachee, Creek, and Seminole tribe, is interwoven into Tallahassee’s timeline and has helped shape the city into what it is today.

1530's: Anhaica, A Village Lost in Time

Located in today’s Capital City was once the city of Anhaica, which served as the capital of the Apalachee tribe. Rumors of the Apalachee’s wealth and power had lured in previous conquistadors, so when word that Hernando De Soto was leading an expedition to their lands reached them in 1539, the Apalachee fled in wake of the danger. De Soto’s crew took hold of the city, camping in the empty buildings for the winter. After the Spanish left, the Apalachee returned to their home.

1633: Mission San Luis

Located close to downtown, Mission San Luis was built in 1633 by Franciscan Spaniards. This was part of Spain’s effort to colonize Florida and convert its native people to Christianity. Together, the Apalachee and Spanish carved out a life of coexistence and cultural exchange for three generations before the mission was destroyed in 1704. In 1966, the land was designated U.S. National Historical Landmark, and visitors today can explore the museum that is the re- creation of the mission site.


1821: The city was named Tallahassee

Tallahassee was founded in 1821 as midway point between St. Augustine and Pensacola, the two largest cities of the Florida territory at the time. The name comes from an Creek (Muskogee)  word that means “old fields” or “old town,” referring to the settlement and cleared fields  that later developed into the Seminole tribe.

1825: Lake Jackson Archaeological Mounds

The Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park is a serene park with picnic tables and educational displays. But, between 1000 and 1500 A. D., this prehistoric capital was thriving with the Mississippian culture with the mounds serving as political and religious center. B
etween 1825 and 1860, this property was part of a plantation owned and operated by Col. Robert Butler, Florida's first Surveyor General under Governor Andrew Jackson. Along the nature trail you'll still see the remains of an 1800's grist mill from the property in those days. In 1939, the mounds became the first archaeological site recorded in Leon County.

1947: Florida State became the Seminoles

After 42 years serving as a women-only university, FSU became coeducational. In this new era, students chose to be called “Florida State Seminoles.” This name was selected to honor the unwavering, unconquered spirit of the Seminole Tribe of Florida who, never signed a peace treaty with the US government and its relatively few survivors escaped to the Everglades after the 19th century Seminole Wars. This name honors their strength and courage in the tribe’s original homeland.

2012: Museum of Florida History

Right before the 500th anniversary of Juan Ponce de León’s arrival in Florida, the Museum of Florida History opened an exhibit called “Forever Changed: La Florida, 1513-1821.” This exhibit transports visitors to the past in a walk-through timeline of Florida native history, starting with background on the natives living in Tallahassee, all the way to Florida’s admission to the U.S. in 1821.


Visit Tallahassee


Leon County Division of Tourism (Visit Tallahassee)

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