CHAPTER 2.  NATIVE AMERICANS OF THE AREA

Florida

There were about 25,000 native Americans in Florida. They had developed governing, religious, and warrior classes.

Five major groups with numerous subgroups:

I. Timucuans -- 14,300

II. Calusa -- 2,375

III. Ais -- 800

IV. Apalachee -- 6,800

V. Tequesta -- 800

25,075

The Timucuans ran from Cape Canaveral to Georgia, west to the Aucilla River. The Apalachee occupied the area from the Aucilla to the Ocklockonee and its tributaries in the west and north into Georgia. Their center was Tallahassee. The Ais occupied the coastal and Indian River region from Cape Canaveral to the Saint Lucie River and inland twenty to thirty miles.

The Tequesta were in the area from modern Pompano Beach to Cape Sable, where they merged with the more powerful Calusa from the west coast. They were separated from the main body of the Calusa by the Everglades.

The Calusa occupied the region from Tampa Bay or Charlotte Harbor south to Cape Sable, and they most certainly exercised control over Lake Mayaimi, now known as Okeechobee. They may also at times have exercised political control over the culturally related Tequesta.

The last of the Indians, less than 200, left Florida with the Spanish in 1763 and did not return for the second Spanish occupation twenty years later.

Georgia

In Georgia there were two great tribes when the white man first came -- the Cherokees and the Creeks. The Cherokees were the more numerous and the more civilized. Latecomers, they had moved into the Georgia mountains from the old colonies to the north, trying to escape the white frontiersmen.

The Creeks were the fiercer fighting men and were more widely scattered, Creek villages being found westward to the land of the Chickasaws, Choctaws, and Natchez in what is now Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee.


Museum of Science and History

1025 Gulf Life Drive, downtown, Jacksonville, Florida.

Displays on bats; dinosaurs; health, natural and physical sciences; wildlife; Indians and pioneers; also the Civil War battleship Maple Leaf. Free planetarium, science and reptile shows. (Mon-Sat also Sun afternoons; closed major holidays).

Peoples of the Mound. Indian Burial Mound "Dent Mound" in Jacksonville, Florida. 2,640 years before the present plus or minus ninety years. It was excavated in 1977 to 1984.

The museum has an excellent display of two Indians waiting for the return of a hunting party. It shows how intimately related the Indians were to the habitats around them.

Timucuan chief and warrior await a bear and deer hunting party from their village across the river they named Wilaka "Chain of Lakes."  Blue lip and face paint; turkey feather topknot; and rattlesnake skin wrist guard.  Typical round hut using wattle-and-daub method of building.


Museum of Florida History

In downtown Tallahassee, housed in the R. A. Grey Building (500 S. Bronough) across from the state Supreme Court in Tallahassee. Open every day but Christmas, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday, noon-4:30p.m. Sundays and holidays, no admission fee; (904) 488-1484.

For more information about ancient Florida -- its ice age, huge mastodons, resourceful Indians and Spanish explorers -- stop in at the Museum of Florida History in downtown Tallahassee. You can also inspect a pre-Civil War dugout boat and view precious gold doubloons.


Lake Jackson Mounds State Archaeological Site

The mounds are located six miles north of Tallahassee off U.S. 27 and are free.

The tradition of wintering in Florida was apparently started by Hernando de Soto in 1539. He and his men celebrated Christmas mass in the vicinity of Lake Jackson Mounds State Archaeological Site in what is believed to have been the first Christmas in the New World.

The dominant features of this state park are impressive pyramid-shaped mounds that are the remains of the largest known Indian ceremonial center in North Florida.

A way of life flourished here from 1300 to 1600 A.D. that revolved around a village, six temple mounds and a burial mound. This was the place of a large ceremonial center dating back to the Fort Walton period of Florida's history (1000 - 1450 A.D.).  The Indians who lived here were farmers who traded their surplus crops with nearby villages.

Among the items that you can see are copper break plates and shell beaded necklaces.  These artifacts give some indication of the extensive trading among different Indian ceremonial centers in the southeastern United States.

Climb to the top of the highest mound.  Just think -- these mounds were created by Indians carrying sand and clay, one basketful at a time! This is a lovely spot for a picnic and a walk through the woods. The Butler Mill Trail through a hardwood ravine and upland pine woods leads to an early 1880s grist mill site.


CRYSTAL RIVER ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE

 

March 3, 2004

Stayed at Best Western Citrus Hill Lodge in Hernando next to the Ted Williams Museum (so close and yet so far, we never actually had the time to get to the museum). My brother-in-law Cefe hardly slept at all. He was up early, around 5:30 and dressed. We ate breakfast in Hernando at a diner/ice cream shop along the west side of Route 41. They drenched the grits and toast in butter and the eggs weren’t that good either.

We are now headed west for Crystal River State Park using Route 486 and then Route 44 to get there. The stupid map we had covered with other information the part that we needed to get to the Crystal River Archeological Site. So we went the wrong way on a guess and then had to turn back once we reached a dead end on the water at the Fort Island Gulf Beach area.

Crystal River Archeological Site. They had a good informative video.  One Indian mount was built of sand for burials; one consisted of accumulated shells and refuse piled into a heap; and one was a temple mound from later in the period.

As time passed there was the development of a plaza and a second temple and burial mound complex.

In 1903 Clarence B. Moore steamed up the Crystal River in his paddle-wheel houseboat. He found and explored the mound complex.

In 1906 he returned for more excavations.

In 1951 archeologist Ripley P. Bullen did the first scientific investigation of the area.

He returned in 1961.

1965 was his final excavation.

In 1990 the place was named a National Historic Landmark.

From 500 B.C. to after AD 900 this place was a ceremonial center. There were burial and ceremonial celebrations conducted here. There was a 28 foot shell temple mound. The Hopewell Interaction Sphere in the upper mid-west indicated a broad trade network.

The whole complex was abandoned long before the Europeans came.

Found black medick in bloom along with common blue violet and a hawkweed. A white Rubus also in bloom.

At the height of the area there were from 7 to 10 thousand people here.

There are 51 steps up to the top of the highest mound (the Temple Mound from AD 600) which gives a good view of Crystal River. We learn from the kiosk that oysters were the native American's preferred food.

Find saw thistle and a willow shrub in bloom. See sweet gum trees.

Take a look at stele number 1 from around AD 440. It is a roughly triangular rock with a face carved into it (but which has now been largely eroded away).

Crystal River State Buffer Preserve is adjacent to the mound area.

From here we headed south for Weeki Wachee.  The mermaid show was very interesting.  We enjoyed the visit. 


The National Park Service gives the following other mound sites:

Alexander Springs Midden
Canaveral National Seashore
Chesser Homestead and Floyd's Neck Mounds
Davenport Mound
Green Mound
Hontoon Island
Kolomoki Mound
Mount Royal
Sapelo Shell Ring
Tomoka



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