"With Such People I Want No Peace"

Acuera (Timucua, c. 1540)

In 1539, about twenty-five years after Juan Ponce de Leon had "discovered" Florida and enslaved south Floridan tribes, Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto and an army arrived in Florida. When de Soto sent a few Native Americans he had captured to ask Acuera to meet him, the Timucua chief had this to say.

  Others of your accursed race have, in years past, poisoned our peaceful shores. They have taught me what you are. What is your employment? To wander about like vagabonds from land to land, to rob the poor, to betray the confiding, to murder in cold blood the defenceless. No! with such a people I want no peace—no friendship. War, never—ending war, exterminating war, is all the boon I ask.
  You boast yourselves valiant, and so you may be; but my faithful warriors are not less brave, and this too you shall one day prove; for I have sworn to maintain an unsparing conflict while one white man remains in my borders—not only in battle, though even thus we fear not to meet you, but by stratagem, ambush, and midnight surprisal.
  I am kirig in my own land, and will never become the vassal of a mortal like myself. Vile and pusillanimous is he who will submit to the yoke of another when he may be free. As for me and my people, we choose death—yes! a hundred deaths—before the loss of our liberty and the subjugation of our country.
  Keep on, robbers and traitors: in Acuera and Apalachee we will treat you as you deserve. Every captive will we quarter and hang up to the highest tree along the road.

SOURCE: Francis S. Drake. The Indian Tribes of the United States. Volume 2. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott and Co., 1884. 34.

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