Collection: Lake Okeechobee Indians

Crystal River Mound A

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.

Satellite image of Pine Island Florida

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.

The Village of Calos

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.

Mayami Catamaran

Mayaimi People

The Mayaimi People lived around Lake Okeechobee from at least 300 BC to until around 1700 AD. 1“Mayaimi People.” Wikipedia. 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 200 AD to 1150 AD, the ancestors of the Mayaimi lived in a sophisticated society of many towns that were interconnected by canals and raised causeways. 2“Mayaimi People.” Wikipedia. They built ceremonials mounds, complex earthworks, ball courts, ornamental ponds and earthen effigies.

Village of Tekesta

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. 1Hann, John H. (2003). Indians of Central and South Florida: 1513-1763. University Press of Florida; pp. 139-141. At certain periods in the past, they also occupied the Florida Keys, but Calusa artifacts outnumber those of Tekesta in Florida Key archaeological sites, 4:1. This suggests that most of the time, the Keys were occupied by people related to the Calusa. The Tekesta were closely allied to their immediate neighbors to

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. 1“The Miami Circle.” Wikipedia. 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 to carry out a brief field survey the site by the city’s historic preservation ordinance. However, Baumann did not do this until pressured by the Miami-Dade Historic Preservation Division Director, Bob Carr, pressured him to do so. The survey was actually

Birdseye View of Calusa

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 shields.

Big Gopher and Boynton Mound Complexes

The immensely rich archaeological heritage of South Florida is little known outside the southern tip of the Florida Peninsula. Perhaps least known are the large town sites east of Lake Okeechobee. Several have been studied by professional archaeologists and the large town sites are all now protected by some form of public ownership. The 143 acre Big Mound City and 12 acre Big Gopher Archaeological Zones are located in central Palm Beach County, Florida. 1“People of the Water.” Historical Society of Palm Beach County. Web Site. They are ten miles east of Canal Point, in the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management

Site Plan of Big Mound City archaeological zone

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 final

Key Marco

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 of