Pineland Archaeological District – Lee County, Florida

The Pineland Archaeological District, covering 211 acres on Pine Island, Florida, is a significant historic district recognized since 1973. Managed by the University of Florida Foundation and other partnerships, this region showcases an array of archaeological features including shell and sand mounds, pre-European canals, and artificial structures attributed to the Calusa Indians, who dominated the area from 500 BCE until after 1700. The district evidences dramatic shifts in sea levels and climate that influenced the area’s habitation patterns. Native Americans utilized the land extensively before significant loss due to real estate development over the past 150 years. Significant components of the site include linear shell middens, monumental earthworks, and architectural residues which reflect the complex societal structures and environmental interactions of its ancient occupants. Presently reduced to around 20 acres of protected land, the remaining site still harbors valuable insights into prehistoric life on Florida’s largest island, historically shaped by both natural and human forces.

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

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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

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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

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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. 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

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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,

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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

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