Before the Europeans descended on St. Simons Island, Native Americans lived on the Island for centuries.
Just north of the village on St. Simons Island off Mallery Street is a park of oak trees named St. Simons Park. On the southern edge of the oaks, along a narrow lane, lies a low earthen mound where 30 Timucuan Native Americans lie buried. The men, women and children interred there lived in a settlement on the site two centuries before the first European contact.
Cannon’s Point, on the north end of St. Simon’s Island, is an archaeological site that includes a Late Archaic shell ring.
The Cannon’s Point site has yielded evidence of occupation by Native Americans since at least as early as the appearance of ceramics in the southeastern United States. Milanich lists the succession of periods at Cannon’s Point as:
- Sapelo Period (2500–1000 BC); ceramics related to those of the Stallings culture of the Savannah River valley and Orange period of northern Florida.
- Refuge Period (1000–500 BC).
- Deptford Periods (500 BC to AD 700).
- Wilmington Period (700–1000).
- St. Catherine’s Period (1000–1250).
- Savannah Periods (1250–1540).
- Pine Harbor Period (1540–1625); European artifacts appear in the archaeological record in this period.
- Sutherland Bluff Period (1625–1680); Native American occupation of Cannon’s Point seems to have ended during this period.
Many scholars in the early 20th century identified the people of St. Simons Island as Guale.
Hann cites evidence that the people of St. Simons at least as early as 1580 were part of the Mocama people. Ashley, et al. suggest that St. Simons may have been occupied by the Guale people when Europeans arrived in southeastern Georgia in the 16th century, and that the original Guale population on St. Simons was displaced from at least the southern part of the island after the Guale rebellion of 1597, and replaced by Timucua speaking Mocama people.