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UNF collecting first comprehensive history of Northeast Florida’s Indigenous past  

The artwork description is at the end of the storyUniversity of North Florida associate professor of history Dr. Denise Bossy and associate professor of anthropology Dr. Keith Ashley have been awarded a three-year $250,000 Collaborative Research Grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). They are one of only 20 national teams to receive this prestigious funding.

Bossy and Ashley will utilize the grant to write the first comprehensive Indigenous history of Northeast Florida from 13,000 years ago to the present. “Heca Utimile (Our Land): The Indigenous History of Northeast Florida,” will be written for a broad public audience and grounded in their innovative research on the long history of the native populations of Timucua-speaking Mocamas, Yamasees and Guales.

Combining their respective areas of expertise in local history and archaeology, Bossy and Ashley will collaborate with linguists who are reconstructing the Timucua language and with local Indigenous nations.

This project builds on and meaningfully expands a collaboration that Bossy and Ashley began five years ago and which has already resulted in two UNF seminars, an exhibit at the Beaches Museum and a virtual tour of Indigenous Fort Caroline on the UNF Digital Humanities website.

Bossy is a leading expert on the Native history of the Southeast and is at the forefront of the effort to include Indigenous people in Florida’s historical records in public as well as scholarly ventures. She will serve as the project director and as the expert historian on the research team working to guide the research and write those portions of the book that focus on how the Native Americans responded to European colonization.

For the past 25 years, Ashley has been a leading figure in the Indigenous archaeology of Northeast Florida. He has excavated a myriad of archaeological sites in the region that range from Indigenous shell middens to Mocama towns dating to the 16th and 17th centuries, spanning between 5000 BCE to 1700 CE. He will use his expertise to reinterpret the rich archaeological record of Northeast Florida and will be the lead author of those sections of the book that deal with Indigenous histories prior to European colonization.


Artistic Description: Artistic interpretation of the Mocama, sponsored by the Public Trust Environmental Legal Institute of Florida through the Timucua-Mocama Art Contest with the goal of presenting a more authentic portrayal of the scenes depicted in the classic but ethnocentric sixteenth-century works of Jacques Le Moyne and Theodor de Bry.