Anderson Mound at Jungle Prada Site Complex

The Anderson Mound at Jungle Prada Site Complex was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 4, 2003. The 600-man Pánfilo de Narváez expedition is believed to have landed here in 1528, the public portion of the multi-mound site is nestled in a wooded park overlooking Boca Ciega Bay. The private portion, owned by the Anderson family, contains a 10-foot deep archaeological test pit that looks down into the heart of the mound. Artifacts from the site and information about Tocobaga Indians are on display in the Greenhouse Museum on site.


Panfilo de Narváez, courtesy of State Archives of Florida

Panfilo de Narváez, (born c. 1478, Valladolid, Castile [Spain]—died November 1528, Gulf of Mexico), Spanish conquistador, colonial official, and explorer.

Narváez entered military service as a youth and arrived in Jamaica as one of the island’s first settlers. Later he commanded a company of archers during Diego Velásquez’s campaign to conquer and pacify Cuba. He was rewarded for his services with public offices and extensive land grants on the island. In March 1520 he left Cuba, commanding 1400 men on a fleet of 19 ships, and with orders from Velásquez to capture and replace Hernán Cortés as ruler of Mexico. When the news of Narváez's arrival reached Cortés, the latter gathered 250 men and headed to the coast.

On May 27, 1520, Cortés men moved in on Narváez's camp at Cempoala under the cover of a driving rain, and quickly took control of the artillery and horses before entering the city. Narváez took a stand at the main temple of the city of Cempoala with a contingent of musketeers and crossbowmen. Finally Gonzalo de Sandoval arrived with reinforcements to Cortés who managed to set the main temple on fire, driving out Narváez and his men. Narváez was sorely wounded, having lost an eye in the fighting. He was taken prisoner and spent two years at the garrison of Veracruz before he was sent back to Spain. His men, who had been promised gold by Cortés, joined the conquistadors and returned to Tenochtitlan where they participated in the conquest of the Aztec empire.

In 1526 Narváez received authorization and numerous governing titles from Charles V to subdue and colonize vast lands from Florida westward. He sailed from Spain on June 17, 1527, with five ships and about 600 soldiers, sailors, and colonists. In Santo Domingo 140 men deserted the expedition, and in Cuba a hurricane sank two of the ships, killing 50 men and several horses. Narváez remained in Cuba until late February 1528, then sailed with five ships and 400 followers to the region around Tampa Bay in Florida.


On April 12, 1528, the expedition spotted land north of what is now Tampa Bay. They turned south and traveled for two days looking for what the pilot Miruelo described as a great harbor. During these two days, one of the five remaining ships was lost. Finally, after spotting a shallow bay, Narváez ordered entry. They passed into Boca Ciega Bay north of the entrance to Tampa Bay. They spotted buildings set upon earthen mounds, encouraging signs of culture (and wealth), food, and water. This was a Safety Harbor Culture (Tocobaga) settlement. The Spaniards dropped anchors and prepared to go ashore. Narváez landed with 300 men in Boca Ciega Bay at what is known as the Jungle Prada Site in present-day St. Petersburg.

The expedition comptroller Alonso Enríquez was one of the first ashore. Making his way to the nearby native village, he traded items such as glass beads, brass bells, and cloth for fresh fish and venison. Narváez ordered the rest of the company to debark and establish a camp.

The next day, the royal officials assembled ashore and, with ritual, performed the formal declaration of Narváez as royal governor of La Florida. He read (in Spanish) the Requerimiento, which stated to any natives listening that their land belonged to Charles V by order of the Pope. He also said that natives had the choice of converting to Christianity. If they converted, they would be loved and welcomed with open arms; if they chose not to, war would be made against them. The expedition ignored both pleas and threats by the Tocobaga.
"The Narváez Expedition Lands in Tampa Bay" [Dean Quigley]
Image available on the internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

Even though overland exploration with the guidance of the Tocobaga led them to discovering what is now known as Old Tampa Bay, Narváez ordered his expedition ship pilot, Miruelo, to take a brigantine in search of a large harbor he believed existed to the north of where they landed. Possibly not realizing that greater Tampa Bay was it and could be entered to the south of Boca Ciega, Miruelo, who had already proven to be less than skilled at navigation sailed north.

On May 1, 1528, Narváez made the decision to split the expedition into land and sea contingents. He planned to have an army of 300 march overland to the north while the ships, with the remaining 100 people, sailed up the coast to meet them. Remember, he believed the mouth to Tampa Bay to be a short distance to the north, when in fact it was to the south. The expedition's treasurer and (some say) sheriff, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, argued against this plan, but was outvoted by the rest of the officers. The overland party never met up with the ships.

Years later, it was learned what happened to the ships. Miruelo had returned to Old Tampa Bay in the brigantine and found all the ships gone. He sailed to Havana to pick up a supply ship and brought it back to Tampa Bay. After heading north for some time without finding the expedition on land, commanders of the other three ships decided to return to Tampa Bay. After meeting up with Miruelo, the fleet again searched for the land party for nearly a year before finally departing for Mexico.

The expedition had been told by the Tocobaga that gold and much food would be found to the north in the land of the Apalachee, so Narváez decided to head that way, again not realizing how far and arduous a journey it would be overland. From Tampa Bay, the men marched in near-starvation for two weeks before coming upon a village north of the Withlacoochee River. They enslaved the natives and for three days helped themselves to corn from their fields.

From scout reports, the Timucua knew the Spanish party was nearing their territory. They decided to meet the Europeans as they came near on June 18. Through hand signs and gestures, Narváez communicated to their chief, Dulchanchellin, that they were headed to Apalachee. Dulchanchellin appeared pleased by this (it turned out the Apalachee were his enemies). After the two leaders exchanged gifts, the expedition followed the Timucua into their territory and crossed the Suwannee River. During the crossing, an officer named Juan Velázquez charged into it on his horse, and both drowned. His was the first non-shipwreck casualty of the expedition, and even though the men were disturbed by his death, the starving army cooked and ate his horse that very night.

When the Spaniards arrived at the Timucua village on June 19, the chief sent them provisions of maize. That night, an arrow was shot past one of Narváez's men near a watering hole. The next morning, the Spaniards found the natives had deserted the village. They set out again for Apalachee. They soon realized they were being accompanied by hostile natives. Narváez laid a trap for the pursuing natives, and they captured three or four, whom they used as guides. The expedition had no further contact with those Timucua.

On June 25, 1528, the expedition entered Apalachee territory. Finding a community of forty houses, they thought it was the capital, but it was a small outlying village of a much larger culture. The Spanish attacked, took several hostages including the village's cacique, and occupied the village. Although the villagers had none of the gold and riches Narváez was expecting, they did have much maize.

Soon after Narváez took the village, Apalachee warriors began attacking the Europeans. Their first attack was a force of 200 warriors, who used burning arrows to set fire to the houses the Europeans occupied. The warriors quickly dispersed, losing only one man. The next day a second force of 200 warriors, equipped with large bows, attacked from the opposite side of the village. This force also quickly dispersed and lost only one man. After these direct attacks, the Apalachee changed to quick assaults. They could fire their bows five or six times while the Spanish loaded a crossbow or harquebus, then fade away into the woods. They harassed the Spanish with guerrilla tactics continuously for the next three weeks.

Fed up with the attacks and lack of riches to be found, Narváez ordered the expedition to head south. The Apalachee and Timucua captives told him that the people of Aute had a great deal of food, and their village was near the sea. When the Spanish finally reached Aute, they found the village already deserted and burnt. They harvested enough corn, beans, and squash from the garden to feed their party, many of whom were starving, wounded and sick.

Upon finding access to the sea, in early August 1528, the expedition decided to try and build boats in hopes of sailing on to Mexico. By September 20, they had finished building five boats. They sailed on September 22, 1528. After being ravaged by disease, starvation, and attacks by the various peoples they intended to conquer, 242 men survived. About 50 men were carried by each boat, which were thirty to forty feet long and had a shallow draft, sails made from their own clothing, and crudely fashioned oars.

Narváez manned one craft for himself with the strongest men, another was led by Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, the expedition's second in command. De Vaca and Narváez had several heated confrontations over the route strategy. Cabeza pleaded with Narváez not to let the meager crafts become separated, but Narváez did so anyway. Narváez's group moved slowly westwards with some men on land and others on the boat. As the party was crossing a river (possibly the Mississippi delta area) strong winds pulled the lead raft out to sea, with Narváez on board. He was never seen again. The fate of the party that remained on land is unknown, because the other four boats continued to sail west.

The storm wrecked two of the four boats, and the other two made it to the island of Galveston, or another in the same region, where they were captured by the local Indians. Out of those 86 survivors, only 15 lived past that first winter.

Painting from “Borderlands: The Heritage of the Rio Grande through the Art of Jose Cisneros,” courtesy of the Museum of South Texas History, Edinburg, Texas.

For the next four years, Cabeza de Vaca and a steadily dwindling number of his comrades lived in the complex indigenous world of South Texas. Possibly as slaves, but there is debate about that among historians. By 1532, Cabeza de Vaca, Andrés Dorantes de Carranza, Alonso del Castillo Maldonado, and Carranza's Moroccan Berber slave named Estevanico, escaped. They headed west and gradually south hoping to reach the Spanish Empire's outpost in Mexico, becoming the first men of Europe and Africa to enter Southwestern North America.

Their precise route has been difficult for historians to determine, but they apparently traveled across present-day Texas, perhaps into New Mexico and Arizona, and through Mexico's northern provinces near the Pacific Coast before turning inland. In July 1536, near Culiacán in present-day Sinaloa, the survivors encountered fellow Spaniards on a slave-taking expedition for New Spain. The Spaniards accompanied the survivors to Mexico City.

In 1537, Cabeza de Vaca returned to Spain, where he wrote his narratives of the Narvaez expedition. These narratives were collected and published in 1542 in Spain. They are now known as The Relation of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca. The narrative of Cabeza de Vaca is the “first European book devoted completely to North America.” His detailed account describes the lives of numerous tribes of American Indians of the time. Cabeza de Vaca showed compassion and respect for native peoples, which, together with the great detail he recorded, distinguishes his narrative from others of the period.

Interesting Side Story: Estevanico is considered a discoverer of New Mexico. He served as the main guide for a return expedition to the Southwest. Spaniards believe he was killed in the Zuni city of Hawikuh in 1539. Some scholars believe he was able to fake his death with the help of the Indians in order to be free from slavery. As his body was never seen or buried by the Spanish, it is not known which story is the truth. 


1700 Park Street North, St. Petersburg, FL 33710
Learn about the lives of the Tocobaga on a guided tour of the Anderson Mound at Jungle Prada Site Complex. Family-owned since the 1940s, the property features a botanical garden full of native plants used by the Tocobaga, sweeping views of Boca Ciega Bay, and one of the best-preserved Indian mounds in Tampa Bay. Your guide is one of the Anderson family with years of experience leading tours at the site. A small exhibit space is also included.
Tours start at 11:30am and 2:30pm Wednesday - Sunday
$10 Adults - $4 Kids (2-12)
Please arrive 10 - 15 minutes before the start of the tour. Reservation are recommended but not required. Call 727-430-2677 or visit for more information.

page information credit: Encyclopedia Britannica, University of South Florida,, Wikipedia 
photos from the sources listed above, as well as publicly posted online sites with thanks to the contributors