Topic: Calusa

Pineland Archaeological District – Lee County, Florida

The 211 acre Pineland Archeological District was listed as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places on November 27, 1973. It is located on Pine Island within the Pine Island Sound in Lee County, Florida. The archaeological zone is adjacent to Pine Island Sound. Pineland Archaeological District contains medium-to-large sized shell and sand mounds, pre-European canals, earthen platforms, artificial ponds and effigies created from sandy soil. Many small mounds and occupation sites were destroyed by real estate development during the past 150 years.

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The Calusa People

During the 1500s and early 1600s, when Spanish explorers were first making contact with the indigenous inhabitants of the Florida, they made contact with a powerful nation on the southwest coast between Charlotte Harbor and Cape Sable. 1MacMahon, Darcie A. and William H. Marquardt. (2004). The Calusa and Their Legacy: South Florida People and Their Environments. University Press of Florida; pp. 1-2. The first contact was made in 1513 by Juan Ponce de Leon, when he landed at the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River in southwest Florida. His landing boats were attacked by Calusa war canoes, lined with round...

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Big Mound City Archaeological Zone

Big Mound City is the only site from the Belle Glade culture on the National Register of Historic Places. 1“The Early History of the Corbett Wildlife Management Area.” Friends of the Corbett Wildlife Management Area web site. It was added in 1973 as an example of a Calusa ceremonial complex, but is now understood to have originally been constructed by the same ethnic group that built the Ortona and Wakate towns – probably ancestors of the Mayaimi. Even though its earthworks are about 1000 to 1500 years older than those of Fort Center, the architecture was extremely similar. Its...

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Muspa Culture, Key Marco and other Platform Villages

A cluster of islands on the Gulf Coast of Florida, immediately south of Naples, FL and southwest of Lake Okeechobee once held numerous mounds and town sites. Know as the Ten Thousand Islands Region, it contains the villages and mounds of an unidentified Archaic Period people, the Muspa Culture and the Calusa People, who absorbed the Muspa. The Muspa or Thousand Islands Culture in recent years has been considered a division of the Lake Okeechobee-Glades Culture. 1MacMahon, Darcie A. and William H. Marquardt (2014). The Calusa and Their Legacy: South Florida People and Their Environments. Gainesville, Florida: University Press...

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Calusa Indians in Florida

An early Spanish writer. Gov. Mendez de Canço, writing in 1598 or 1599, says that the Indians of southern Florida did not live in settled villages because they had no corn, but wandered about in search of fish and roots. Fontaneda, whose information dates from a very early period, has the following to say about the Indians of Calos (Calusa): These Indians possess neither gold nor silver, and still less clothing, for they go almost naked, wearing only a sort of apron. The dress of the men consists of braided palm loaves, and that of the women of moss, which grows on trees and somewhat resembles wool. Their common food consists of fish, turtles, snails, tunny fish, and whales, which they catch in their season. Some of them also eat the wolf fish, but this is not a common thing, owing to certain distinctions which they make between food proper for the chiefs and that of their subjects. On these islands is found a shell-fish known as the langosta, a sort of lobster, and another known in Spain as the chapin (trunk fish), of which they consume not less than the former. There are also on the islands a great number of animals, especially deer; and on some of them large bears are found. 1Doc. Ined., V, pp. 532-533. A later writer says that the Calusa Indians wore gold...

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Calusa Towns

All of the Indians of southern Florida on the western side of the peninsula, from the Timucua territories as far as and including the Florida Keys, belonged to a confederacy or overlordship called Calusa or Calos. On the eastern coast were a number of small independent tribes, each usually occupying only one settlement. The most important of these appears to have been Ais, located close to what is now Indian River Inlet. The next in prominence, if not in power, were the Tekesta, at or near the present Miami, and between these were the Jeaga, or Jega, in Jupiter Inlet, and the Guacata and Santa Lucia Indians, probably identical, who lived about St. Lucie River. The province of Ais is said to have extended northward almost to Cape Canaveral, but the authority of its chief was probably not very great along the northern edge of this area, where we are told of a province called Ulumay. We will consider first the towns of Calusa. Two lists of Calusa towns have come to my notice; one in Fontaneda’s Memoir, the other possibly from him also, but containing many more names and some variants of the names in his Memoir — in the Lowery manuscripts. From the fact that Tampa is given by Fontaneda as a Calusa town, it has been quite generally assumed that the Calusa extended as far north...

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Guacata – An inland Calusa village on Lake “Mayaimi” or Okechobee, south Florida, about 1570. Elsewhere in his memoir Fontaneda refers to it as a distinct but subordinate tribe. 1Hodge, Handbook of American Indians, 508, 1907. Guacata, Cuacata – In one place Fontaneda speaks of this as a town on Lake Mayaimi (Okeechobee) and elsewhere as one of the provinces of the east coast. A Spanish document in the Lowery collection gives it as a place “in the land of Ays.” It is possible that these people lived on St. Lucie River and camped farther inland than most of...

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Calusa Tribe

Calusa Indians. An important tribe of Florida, formerly holding the southwest coast from about Tampa Bay to Cape Sable and Cape Florida, together with all the outlying keys, and extending inland to Lake Okeechobee. They claimed more or less authority also over the tribes of the east coast, north to about Cape Canaveral. The name, which can not be interpreted, appears as Calos or Carlos (province) in the early Spanish and French records, Caloosa and Coloosa in later English authors, and survives in Caloosa village, Caloosahatchee river, and Charlotte (for Carlos) harbor within their old territory. They cultivated the ground to a limited extent, but were better noted as expert fishers, daring seamen, and fierce and determined fighters, keeping up their resistance to the Spanish arms and missionary advances after all the rest of Florida had submitted. Their men went nearly naked. They seem to have practiced human sacrifice of captives upon a wholesale scale, scalped and dismembered their slain enemies, and have repeatedly been accused of being cannibals. Although this charge is denied by Adair (1775), who was in position to know, the evidence of the mounds indicates that it was true in the earlier period. Calusa Tribe History Their history begins in 1513 when, with a fleet of 80 canoes they boldly attacked Ponce de León, who was about to land on their coast, and after an...

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Calusa Indians

Calusa Tribe. Said by a Spaniard, Hernando de Escalante Fontaneda, who was a captive among them for many years, to mean “fierce people,” but it is perhaps more probable that, since it often appears in the form Carlos, it was, as others assert, adopted by the Calusa chief from the name of the Emperor Charles V, about whose greatness he had learned from Spanish prisoners. Calusa Connections. From the place names and the few expressions recorded by Fontaneda, I suspect that the Calusa were connected linguistically with the Muskhogean stock and particularly with that branch of it to which the Apalachee and Choctaw belonged, but no definite conclusion on this point is as yet possible. Calusa Location. On the west coast of the Peninsula of Florida southward of Tampa Bay and including the Florida Keys. The Indians in the interior, about Lake Okeechobee, while forming a distinct group, seem also to have been Calusa. Calusa Subdivisions. Unknown, except as indicated above. Calusa Villages In the following list the letters S and I indicate respectively towns belonging to the seacoast division and those of the interior division about Lake Okeechobee. Beyond this allocation the positions of most of the towns may be indicated merely in a general manner, by reference to neighboring towns. Abir (I), between Neguitun and Cutespa. Alcola (or Chosa), location uncertain. Apojola Negra, the first word is...

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Calusa Indian Language

The Calusa held the southwestern extremity of Florida, and their tribal name is left recorded in Calusahatchi, a river south of Tampa bay. They are called Calos on de Bry’s map (1591), otherwise Colusa, Callos, Carlos, and formed a confederacy of many villages, the names of which are given in the memoir of Hernando d Escalante Fontanedo.

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