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Tribe Mikasuki
Born ca. 1710
Died 1783
Successor King Payne
Nickname(s) Cowkeeper
Known for Fighting the Spanish. First recorded chief of the Alachua band of the Seminole tribe
Relatives Sons, Payne and Bowlegs

Ahaya (Mikasuki) (ca. 1710 – 1783) was the first recorded chief of the Alachua band of the Seminole tribe. European-Americans called him Cowkeeper, as he held a very large herd of cattle.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Career 2
  • References 3
  • Further reading 4

Early life and education

Ahaya was born to the Chattahoochee River in North Florida when he was a small boy. They were among the Native Americans who left Georgia and Alabama to escape encroachment by English colonists.


By his mid-twenties, Ahaya had been chosen as a chief of his village. He developed a hatred of the St. Augustine in 1740, Ahaya and his 45 warriors were willing allies.[1]

About the year 1750, Ahaya led his people south to what is now Governor of Georgia and expressed his hatred both for the Spanish and for any Indian tribes allied with them. He explained that he had a vision that he would not find peace in the afterlife unless he killed 100 Spaniards.

In 1763, when Spain ceded Florida to the British following the Seven Years' War, in exchange for territory west of the Mississippi River, Ahaya was overjoyed. He traveled to St. Augustine for the inauguration of the new British governor Patrick Tonyn. The British treated his people as separate and distinct from the other native people of Florida, calling them "Seminole," a name derived from the Spanish word cimarones, meaning runaways, or maroons. Eventually, this name was applied to all the people who formed a new tribe from Creek and other Muskogean peoples.

In 1774, the naturalist Payne and Bowlegs to his side to confess that he had killed only 86 Spaniards and asked them to kill the remaining 14 in his name.

Preceded by
Leading chief of the Seminoles
Succeeded by
King Payne


  1. ^ Lanning, John T. (1954). The St. Augustine Expedition of 1740. Columbia: South Carolina Archives Department. pp. 55, 155. 

Further reading

  • Lars Andersen, Paynes Prairie: A History of the Great Savanna, Sarasota, Florida: Pineapple Press, Inc., 2001.
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