The captivity of Hernando de Escalante Fontaneda by the Calusa Indians led to the creation of a series of documents that vividly depict the indigenous peoples of southern Florida. These writings clearly have proto-ethnographic qualities. Students of Florida history and archaeology have frequently utilized this information to better understand native peoples who lived on the peninsula.2 In the case of Fontaneda's writings, however, we must ask vital questions about translation. He wrote in sixteenth century Spanish, yet the current lingua franca of the academic and research community in the United States is the English of the twenty-first century. This paper investigates the Fontaneda's texts as they have been translated over the years; the path from his original Spanish version, through several transcriptions, to its translation into multiple English versions. This translation history is more than a mere recitation of the publication history of Fontaneda's documents. It also delves into the similarities and differences between these texts, both interlingually (i.e., from Spanish to English) and intralingually (i.e., between the English versions) and assesses the potential influence of individual translators in enacting prevailing societal norms in translations, considerations of audience, and the translator's position vis-a-vis the split between antiquarians and professional historians. The importance of Fontaneda's writing to the ethnohistory of southern Florida indicates that this project is long overdue.
"A Translation History of Fontaneda,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 89:
2, Article 5.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol89/iss2/5