"Fort Walton Culture" is a term for a late prehistoric Native American people that flourished in southeastern North America from approximately 1200-1500 CE.

The Fort Walton Culture was named by archaeologist Gordon Willey, based on his work at the Fort Walton Mound site near the Indian Temple Museum in the 1930s. Archaeologists have now come to believe the Fort Walton site was actually built and used by people of the contemporaneous Pensacola Culture. The peoples of the Fort Walton Culture used mostly sand, grit, grog, or combinations of these materials as tempering agents in their pottery, whereas the Pensacola Culture peoples used the more typical Mississippian Culture shell tempering for their pottery.

From 1,000 to 1,200 CE, Weeden Island Culture people adopted maize agriculture, the building of platform mounds for ceremonial, political and religious purposes, and the making a new variety of ceramics. These cultural changes may have been influenced by contact with the Mississippian Culture centers to the north and west. This was the beginning of the Fort Walton Culture (1200 - 1500 CE). Fort Walton sites are similar to other Mississippian sites, with the exception of those in the Tallahassee Hills area, which because of the local geography, are located around lakes and swamps instead of along rivers. Settlement types include single family homesteads, multi family hamlets, small single-mound centers, and large multi-mound centers. The hierarchical settlement patterns suggests the area may have had one or more paramount chiefdoms.

By the Late Fort Walton period, increased contact with peoples from central Georgia saw another change in styles of decoration and manufacture of ceramics. This new phase is known as the Leon-Jefferson Culture. This period sees the collapse of the chiefdoms as aboriginal populations declined following contact with European explorers and colonizers. The Fort Walton and later Leon-Jefferson peoples are the direct ancestors of the Apalachee peoples, a tribe still in existence today.

Dr. Nancy White talks about the Fort Walton Culture and Indian Temple Mound


Shell tempered pottery vessels of the Mississippian household were much more efficient containers for cooking, particularly the increasing amounts of maize being grown, and thus sustaining larger and healthier populations. Around 800 CE, shell tempered pottery spread widely and rapidly from the middle Mississippi River valley to become an integral part of the expanding Mississippian culture.


Maize cob fragments were found in the middens near Fort Walton. By the fourteenth century the Fort Walton site housed a large agricultural village. The land was fertile and rich, as it lay in a floodplain, however, fishing and seafood utilization continued to play a major role in the economy.