Recovering History, Reclaiming the Present: The Apalachee Diaspora since the 16th Century
On April 7, 2022, Kimberly C. Borchard presented a lecture about the 500-year-old myth of Appalachian gold and its catastrophic consequences for the Native Floridians that gave Appalachia its name.
Growing up in rural Appalachia, Kim Borchard was well-acquainted with stereotypes of Appalachian poverty and backwardness. For that reason, she was struck by accounts of an opulent, gold-rich province by the name of Apalache in 16th-century Spanish, Portuguese, and Incan accounts of early European forays into Florida. What at first seemed an onomastic coincidence proved to be a pervasive and ultimately deadly myth: generation after generation of explorers and would-be conquistadors from Spain, Portugal, France, and finally England, marauded Apalachee territory and ravaged Native societies of the southeast in the attempt to seize the fabled gold and silver mines associated first with the Apalachee people, and later with the Appalachian Mountains. This lecture described the devastating power of 16th-century “fake news” over the course of two centuries while following the Apalachee diaspora out of the Florida panhandle and into central Louisiana, where the Talimali Band of Apalachee Indians continue to fight for their sovereignty to this day.
Kim Borchard earned her B.A. and M.A. from Ohio University and her PhD from the University of Chicago. She teaches courses in Spanish, Latin American colonial literature, and Spanish for Social Justice at Randolph-Macon College. She is the author of Appalachia as Contested Borderland of the Early Modern Atlantic, 1528–1715.
The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
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