Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

E. Christian Wells, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Thomas J. Pluckhahn, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Brent R. Weisman, Ph.D.


: Rancho, Spanish in Florida, Spanish Fishermen, Creolization, Ethnogenesis, Identity in Archaeology, Florida-Cuba Maritime Trade, Florida History


Spanish Indian is a generic term that has been used repeatedly in written documents over the past three centuries to describe a range of different social, ethnic, and economic groups in the southeastern United States. In this thesis, a comparative analysis of the material culture from Cuban fishing ranchos of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries on the west coast of Florida addresses the ways in which specific Spanish Indian artifact assemblages fit into the archaeological record. Three archaeological assemblages from known Rancho sites are detailed and analyzed. In addition, this thesis details a public archaeology project undertaken in conjunction with the Florida Public Archaeology Network, which led to the development of a traveling exhibit and public presentation on the origins of local place names. The thesis also provides suggestions for how historical archaeologists might contend with difficulties in determining and documenting identity at early historical sites in coastal Florida. The research undertaken for this thesis demonstrates a pressing need for additional data collection and research in the field. As it currently stands, however, the preliminary analysis conducted in this thesis indicates an economic basis for cultural interaction and intermarriage rather than an actual cultural synthesis, creolization, or ethnogenesis, which would imply shared cultural systems of belief and meaning. This thesis is also a proposal for a typology of ranchos. Through a cross-comparison of the similarities and differences in subsistence strategies and labor practices, a research design for rancho archaeology is outlined.