Lake Okeechobee Indians

Thornton, Richard. The Native American History of Florida’s Lake Okeechobee Basin. Digital Rights Copyright 2014 by AccessGenealogy.com.

The Urban Development Pattern of Ortona Archaeology Site

In the early 2000’s, the Ortona site was studied by archaeologists from several southern Florida universities under the direction of Archaeologist Bob Carr, Executive Director of the Archaeological and Historical Conservancy, Inc. The Ortona Archaeological Zone received a flurry of publicity from articles in several major newspapers around the United States. It was designated a …

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The Native American History of Florida’s Lake Okeechobee Basin

The Lake Okeechobee region contained some of the most sophisticated indigenous cultures that ever existed north of Mexico. Its towns built large earthworks and ponds in the shape of the ceremonial scepters carried by leaders in the Southeastern Ceremonial Mound Culture, but they were built several centuries before the Southeastern Ceremonial Mound Culture appeared elsewhere. Its engineers constructed several hundred miles of canals and raised causeways to interconnect the towns. They even built locks to enable cargo canoes to bypass rapids. Yet despite all this cultural precociousness, so far there is no evidence that the people of South Florida ever practiced large scale agriculture. However, intensive cultivation of raised garden beds in a semi-tropical climate, also a practice of the Mayas, may have produced a far higher percentage of their diet than anthropologists currently presume.

The Miami Circle

The Miami Circle was discovered in 1998 during excavation for the construction of a luxury condominium at Brickell Point in Downtown Miami near the Miami River and Biscayne Bay. The developer, Michael Baumann, tore down an existing apartment complex in 1998. Prior to initiating construction of the new tower, he was required to retain archaeologists …

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The Chontal Maya or Putun Maya

The presence of crescent shaped temple mounds in the Florida Peninsula strongly suggests cultural contacts with Maya ethnic groups, who worshiped the goddess, Ixchel. Very few Florida archaeologists have been willing to suggest publicly that Florida, Mesoamerica and South America had direct cultural contacts. Those who did, were all ostracized by their peers. However, the linguistic and architectural evidence is overwhelming for contacts between illiterate Maya merchants and the indigenous peoples in Georgia – which is north of Florida.

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. The first contact was made in 1513 by Juan Ponce de Leon, when he landed at the mouth …

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The Architecture of Fort Center Archaeological Site

The Fort Center Mounds archaeological site was the first ancient Native American community near Lake Okeechobee to be studied thoroughly by contemporary, professional archaeologists. It was the last major archaeological project for Archaeologist, William Sears. ((Memorial for William Hulse Sears (1909-1996) Society for American Archaeology.)) For at least two decades, many of Sears’ peers dismissed his interpretation of the site as being “off the wall” and considered him a kook. However, in recent decades work by other archeologists have confirmed his interpretation and pushed back the occupation of Fort Center even further.

One of the most unusual examples of Native American architecture ever created was a mortuary complex at Fort Center, constructed around 200 AD. From the complexity and uniqueness of the complex, it is clear that it was “designed” and built according to the plans. The temple compound included a chevron-shaped earthen berm with rounded ends, a terrace for elite residences, a pond, a “sacred garden” for growing corn, a wooden platform for funerals, a conical mound veneered with shells imported from the coast, and a mortuary temple for cremating human remains.

Tekesta People

The Tekesta were an indigenous maritime people, whose primary villages were near the mouths of rivers along the Atlantic Coast of what are now Miami-Dade, Broward and southern Palm Beach Counties. At certain periods in the past, they also occupied the Florida Keys, but Calusa artifacts outnumber those of Tekesta in Florida Key archaeological sites, …

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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.

Ortona Archeological Site

Ortona is an enormous 500 acre+ town site and ceremonial complex, located on the Caloosahatchee River, west of Lake Okeechobee in southern Florida. It is located on the southern edge of Glades County. The modern name for the site is Italian and was given by early real estate speculators. Archaeologists currently do not know what the citizens of this community called it.

Ortona’s primary period of occupation was 300 AD- 150 AD, but (probably) Calusa People continued to occupy the site up until the 1600s. The period of greatest growth was between 500 AD – 800 AD, after which Wakata (to the east) became the dominant town of the densely populated Lake Okeechobee Basin. Ortona contains mounds and earthworks in forms that predate by 300-500 years similar architecture elsewhere.

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 …

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Mississippian Symbolism at the Ortona Archaeological Site

Archaeologists working at the Ortona site in the late 1990s and early 2000s were astounded to find “landscaping” in the shape of the scepters carried by the Maya elite in the Yucatan Peninsula. Both a mound and a ceremonial pond were over 100 yards/meters long. The discovery has great significance for the understanding of how cultural ideas traveled around the Caribbean Basin and North America, prior to the arrival of European explorers.

Mayaimi People

The Mayaimi People lived around Lake Okeechobee from at least 300 BC to until around 1700 AD. Their ancestors probably lived in the region as early as 1000 BC, because some village sites show continual cultural development from that era forward. The Mayaimi were the progenitors of the Glades Culture. During the period from around …

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Maya Cultural Traditions at the Ortona Archaeological Zone

One of the several arguments that Southeastern archaeologists have used to dismiss a direct cultural connection between the Southeastern United States and Mesoamerica is that architecture of the respective regions was different. The architecture of the largest and most sophisticated Maya cities WAS more sophisticated and larger scaled than in towns in the Southeast, but the same architectural elements could be found in both regions. The Mesoamerican pyramids were really earthen mounds veneered with stone in some civilizations, left as clay stuccoed mounds in others.

Lake Okeechobee Geology

Okeechobee is the Anglicization of the Itsate Creek (Miccosukee) words Oka chopi, which mean “Water Big.” Its aboriginal inhabitants called the lake either Maya-imi, which apparently means “Maya Water or Mayakaa, which means Maya People in several northern South American tongues. The Spanish called it Laguna de Mayaco or on some maps Laguna de Espiritu Santo. However, that name more typically applied to the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee River. In 1821, when Florida was ceded to the United States, the earliest English language maps generally retained the Mayaco name, but some called it Macaco.

Early Human’s Presence around Lake Okeechobee

Anthropologists believe that mankind has lived somewhere in southern Florida for at least 12,000 years. Its sub-tropical climate, abundance of water and fertile peat soils produces a diverse range of animal and vegetative food sources for humans year round. However, to date no Paleo-American artifacts have been discovered in or along the shores of the lake. Such evidences of the past are probably buried deep under the peat in scattered locations. They have been found in abundance about 88 miles (110 km) to the northwest in two natural springs near Sarasota, FL.

Crystal River Archaeological Zone – Citrus County, Florida

The 61.55 acre Crystal River Archaeological Zone (8CL1) is located on the Crystal River within the Crystal River Preserve State Park. It is a National Historic Landmark and contains at least six mounds. This important Native American occupation site is located on the Central Gulf Coast of the Florida Peninsula, about 92 miles north of the mouth of Tampa Bay and 20 miles south of the mouth of the Suwannee River. It is possible to canoe on the Suwannee River to the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia then on the St. Marys River to the Atlantic Ocean. This was a major trade route in pre-European times. The entrance to the park is about two miles northwest of the town of Chrystal River, off of US 19/98.

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