Chief Tascaluza, the grand cacique of the paramount chiefdom of Tascaluza in present-day central Alabama, was said to have been a giant of a man, both physically and politically. Hernando de Soto encountered Chief Tascaluza in 1541, and the chronicles of the expedition describe much about him and his polity. Here, anthropologist Robbie Ethridge probes the documentary and archaeological evidence for what it can tell us about Chief Tascaluza and the structures of hierarchical leadership during the late Mississippian Period at the time of European contact.
Bio: Robbie Ethridge is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Mississippi. In addition to writing several articles and book chapters on the history of Native peoples of the American South, she is the author of Creek Country: The Creek Indians and Their World, 1796-1816 and the award-winning From Chicaza to Chickasaw: The European Invasion and the Transformation of the Mississippian World, 1540-1715. She also co-edited Mapping the Mississippian Shatter Zone: The Colonial Indian Slave Trade and Regional Instability in the American Sout. Her current research examines the rise of the world of the pre-Columbian Mississippian chiefdoms, the 700-year history of this world, its collapse with European contact, and the restructuring of the Native South into the colonial South.