The Guale lived between the Ogeechee and the Altamaha rivers on the coast of what is today Georgia. Most of the Guale were enslaved or wiped out by the English pirates who raided and destroyed the old Spanish Franciscan missions of Georgia. The surviving Guale moved south to St. Augustine and regrouped, building a new settlement named after their ancient lost high chieftain's ancestral village of Tolomato that the English had destroyed.
This is an artist’s conception of a young Guale couple. At approximately the age of our rebel, Prince Juanillo, the Guale man holds in his hand what we think a Guale macana might have looked like.
When the English came to destroy St. Augustine, they burned the newer Tolomato to the ground, too. Consequently, some of the remaining Guale immigrated to Cuba and others moved west to what is today Mississippi. It was an ignominious end to these ancient people who had lived in this land for centuries, but while they were among the first to be driven out, they would not be the last.
The policy of the Spanish was not to drive native people off their land, but to organize and draw them into the Church through a series of missions. The Guale invited the missionaries into their lands, and accepted baptism as so many ancient European tribes had in ages past. But their story was not unlike other stories.
With the Gospel comes change, and sometimes these changes are hard to accept, so some missionaries met resistance and even death. Still, the Franciscans saw the Guale and all native people not as savages to be abandoned to their pagan gods, but a people noble and great, a people who needed to hear of the Christ, who is the King of all the nations!