Pohoy (also Pojoy, Pojoi, Pooy, Posoy, Pujoy) was a chiefdom on the shores of Tampa Bay in the late sixteenth century and all of the seventeenth century. Following slave-taking raids by Hichiti language-speaking Muscogee people (called Lower Creeks by the English and Uchise by the Spanish) at the beginning of the eighteenth century, the surviving Pohoy people lived in several locations in peninsular Florida. The Pohoy disappeared from historical accounts after 1739.
Tampa Bay was the heart of the Safety Harbor culture area. People in the Safety Harbor culture lived in chiefdoms, consisting of a chief town and several outlying communities, controlling about 15 miles (24 km) of shoreline and extending 20 miles (32 km) or so inland. Ceremonial mounds were built in the chief towns. Chief towns were occasionally abandoned and new towns built. There are fifteen or more Safety Harbor chief town sites known, most of which are located on a shoreline. When the Spanish reached Tampa Bay early in the sixteenth century, there were three or four chiefdoms on the shores of the bay. The town of Tocobago was at the northern end of Old Tampa Bay (the northwest arm of Tampa Bay), Uzita controlled the south shore of Tampa Bay, from the Little Manatee River to Sarasota Bay, and Mocoso was on the west side of Tampa Bay, on the Alafia River and, possibly, the Hillsborough River. There may have been a fourth independent chiefdom, Capaloey, on Hillsborough Bay (the northeast arm of Tampa Bay), which may have included the Hillsborough River. Milanich states that the name Pohoy is a form of Capaloey.
The Narváez expedition reached Tampa Bay in 1528. That expedition clashed with Uzita before departing inland through Tocobago territory. The de Soto expedition landed in Uzita territory in 1539, and then passed through Mocoso territory, and further north along the Withlacoochee River, the inland towns of Guacozo, Luca, Vicela, Tocaste, all of which may have been Safety Harbor culture settlements. Neither expedition seems to have entered Capaloey territory. The Utiza and Mocoso chiefdoms disappeared within 35 years after the encounter with the de Soto expedition, and Tocobago dominated Tampa Bay when Pedro Menéndez de Avilés visited there in 1567.
The name Pohoy first appears in historical accounts early in the seventeenth century. In 1608, an alliance of Pohoy and Tocobago may have threatened Potanos who had been converted to Christianity. In 1611 a raiding party from the two chiefdoms killed several Christianized Indians carrying supplies to the Spanish mission (Cofa) at the mouth of the Suwannee River. In 1612, the Spanish launched a punitive expedition down the Suwannee River and along the Gulf coast, attacking Tocobago and Pohoy, killing many of their people, including both chiefs. The Spanish of that expedition referred to Tampa Bay as the "Bay of Espiritu Santo and Pojoy", "Espiritu Santo" being the name Hernando de Soto gave it in 1539. "Bay of Pohoy" or "Bay of Pooy" apparently applied to the southern part of Tampa Bay. The Tocobago were weakened by the Spanish attack, and the Pohoy became the dominant power in Tampa Bay for a while.
By 1634 Pohoy was allied with or subject to the Calusa chiefdom. (The Spanish referred to the "province of Carlos, Posoy, and Matecumbe", i.e., Calusa, Pohoy, and the Florida Keys, that year.) Pohoy and Calusa were described as hostile to the Spanish in 1675. At that time the town of Pohoy was said to be on a river six leagues from Tocobago, perhaps on the Hillsborough River or Alafia River. A Spanish expedition down the coast from the mouth of the Suwannee River in 1680 sought to reach the Calusa domain. The Spanish were warned by the Pohoy chief to turn back. Due to increasingly strident warnings in the next few villages on the way to Calusa, the Spanish did retreat. This expedition described the Pohoy, but not the Calusa, as "docile". A Spanish expedition in 1699 that traveled overland from San Francisco de Potano (near present-day Gainesville) found the Tampa Bay area to be largely deserted. While the Spanish were told that there many people in villages in the area, they did not see them. Pohoy was mentioned several times in the report of the expedition, but the Spanish apparently did not visit the town.
The Alafay people (also known as Alafaes, Alafaia, and Elafay) were associated with the Pohoy, probably as a sub-group. In the seventeenth century Pohoy territory included what is now the Alafia River. The Spanish expedition of 1680 reported that Elafay was the next town beyond Pohoy, with 300 people in Pohoy, and 40 in Elafay. The 1699 Spanish expedition reporting passed through an abandoned village named Elafay near Tampa Bay. Don Antonio Pojoi was identified as the leader of the Alafaias Costas nation in 1734.
Pohoy and Tocobago Indians were living together in a village near St. Augustine early in the eighteenth century. Alafae people were living with other refugee groups in a village near St. Augustine by 1717. Between 1718 and 1723, 162 Alafaes were baptized there. In 1718 Pohoy people attacked a village of Tocobago at the mouth of the Wacissa River in Province of Apalachee. In the 1720s and 1730s, "Pojoy" Indians were living together with Jororo, Amacapira (possibly related to the Pohoy) and later, Alafaya Indians, in villages south of St. Augustine. Many of those people were reported to have died in an epidemic in 1727, with the survivors leaving the area. A new village of Pohoy, Alfaya and Amacapira, and a neighboring village of Jororo, had been established by 1731. Most of the Pohoy, Alafaya, Amacapira and Jororo Indians moved away again in 1734, in response to an attempt by the new governor of Florida to re-settle Indians in villages closer to St. Augustine and extract unpaid labor from them.
All of the indigenous groups in peninsular Florida were working with and looking to the Spanish authorities for protection from Uchize raiders by the early eighteenth century. (The Uchize were the Muscogee people called "Lower Creeks" by the British.) The Spanish hoped that the Indians would help protect St. Augustine and Florida from encroachment by foreign powers, particularly, Britain. Nevertheless, in 1738 warfare broke out between several of the groups. In the 1730s the Pohoy held a number of Jororo slaves, and were being paid tribute by the Bomto or Bonito, who had ties to the Mayaca and Jororo. In 1739 the Bomto attacked a camp of the Pohoy and Amacapira, killing more than 20 people. Only one Pohoy man escaped. The Bomto spared the Jororo slaves in the camp. The Pohoy were still allies or subjects of the Calusa, and the Calusa retaliated for the attack on the Pohoy by attacking the Bomto allied Mayaca people living near Lake Okeechobee. The Spanish received reports that more than 300 people died in that battle. Surviving Pohoy ambushed a Bomto party headed to St. Augustine, killing several. Several of those Pohoys were in turn killed or carried off by Uchizes. The Pohoy and Amacapira (and the Bomto) disappeared from history after that.
- Milanich 1989: 299
Milanich 1995: 28, 73
Milanich 1998: 103-04, 110
- Milanich 1995: 72-3, 157
Milanich 1998: 110
- Hann 1995: 187-8
Hann 2003: 120-21, 131
Milanich 1989: 295, 299
Milanich 1995: 73
Milanich 1998: 110
- Childers: 515, 517-18
Hann 1995: 188
Hann 2003: 122, 125-26, 128-29, 131
Milanich 1995: 73
Milanich 1998: 111
- Childers: 517
Hann 1995: 188
Hann 2003: 102
- Hann 1995: 186-87
Hann 2003: 99, 130-33
Milanich 1995: 73
Milanich 1998: 111
- Hann 1995: 184-85, 194, 199
Hann 2003: 133-34
- Childers, Ronald Wayne (Spring 2002). "Historic Notes and Documents: A Late Seventeenth-Century Journey to Tampa Bay". The Florida Historical Quarterly 80 (4): 504–24. Retrieved 10 April 2012. (Click on link to journal for free access to PDF version of article.)
- Hann, John H. (Fall 1995). "Demise of the Pojoy and Bomto". The Florida Historical Quarterly 74 (2): 184–200. Retrieved 10 April 2012. (Click on link to journal for free access to PDF version of article.)
- Hann, John H. (2003). Indians of Central and South Florida 1513-1763. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida. ISBN 0-8130-2645-8.
- Milanich, Jerald T. (December 1989). "Where Did de Soto Land? Identifying Bahia Honda". The Florida Anthropologist 42 (4): 295–302. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
- Milanich, Jerald T. (1995). Florida Indians and the Invasion from Europe. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida. ISBN 0-8130-1360-7.
- Milanich, Jerald T. (1998). Florida Indians and the Invasion from Europe. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida. ISBN 0-8130-1636-3.