The PEARL QUEEN greets HERNANDO DeSOTO
Behold! The Pearl Queen of Cotifachiqui welcomes the Governor of the Spanish Colony of Cuba, Hernando De Soto, according to best tribal protocol. She has donned fabulous ropes of pearls-- beautiful jewels of the waters. DeSoto has heard of these pearls and intends to take them. He is after gold and jewels and the wealth he can find.
The Spaniards have plundered and pillaged every village they've passed and killed and captured chieftains. But he and his men are hungry now. They are in need of rest. They approach the capitol of the Queen's country, located on the Savannah River, at what are now called Silver Bluffs.
Though she has heard of the terrors the Spaniards might bring to her land, she has had a feast prepared. She greeted the visitors from a great canoe, decorated with feathers and shells, sailing across the river to meet the visitors. They are bedazzled by her beauty.
The party is enjoyed by all. The Spanish are able to rest and refresh. But after a few days they are ready to move on. DeSoto has seen that the pearls are mere fresh water pearls and not of great value to him. Now he lusts again for Gold! He takes the Pearl Queen hostage to guide them into the Wilderness ahead where there is surely Gold.
She is ruler of a vast land and her power stretches far. They travel for days. Everywhere they go, the Pearl Queen sends out scouts to procure food. One day, as they rest; the Queen and her ladies excuse themselves into the woods; they escape! The Pearl Queen returns in to her people. De Soto is left to wander the wilds for he is now in Alabama and there is trouble ahead.
NOTES4U: Today we know that the Pearl Queen's village at Silver Bluffs was between the what is now the present-day cities of Savannah, GA and Augusta, GA. The Pearl Queen is thought by some to be a Chieftainess of the Yuchi. Hernando De Soto and his troops entered Alabama in the northeast corner near present-day Bridgeport. The forests are still beautiful. Find in the picture native things: Cardinals that stay here all year long, Trillium of early Spring, red Fire Pinks-- catchflies, sticky with sap-- and fronds of Ferns that have been here forever.
Illustrations and stories by Carol Middleton 1998, 1999,
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