Native Americans: History and Culture of Florida Tribes
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Find out more about Osceola and other famous Native Americans with Biography in Context.
Identify your Native American ancestors with HeritageQuest Online.
View the special "Spotlight On..." section for the month of November dedicated to the contributions and accomplishments of Native Americans.
Produced by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology, College of Education at the University of South Florida, this website contains a wealth of information on Native Americans in Florida. The Websites section includes links for a variety of Florida tribes like the Ais, Apalachee, Calusas, and Timucuan. View the Native Americans in Florida Gallery in the Florida Photographs section of the website for photos of Indian mounds and archaeological sites.
History & Culture
This is a free online genealogy resource containing information about Florida tribes.
This state agency upholds cultural, historical, and archaeological resources of Florida. Explore the archaeology section to learn more about the Miami Circle and Florida's native peoples. Don't miss the Florida Facts and History page which contains information on the history, leaders, and wars of the Seminoles.
Use this comprehensive guide to all of the public archaeological sites and museums devoted to preserving Native American heritage in Florida.
This page provides an overview of the Timucua of Florida and their Taino relations.
Native Americans Today
Take a look at the official website of the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida.
This is a website for the museum dedicated to the preservation, study, and exhibition of the life, languages, literature, history, and arts of Native Americans.
Learn about Florida's largest tribe with the official website of the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
Books about Native Americans
Read about the lives and histories of Native Americans in Florida:
Go further back in time and investigate pre-Columbian Florida.
Experience the sights and sounds of Native American history with the library's DVDs.
Explore traditional and contemporary native music with these CDs.
Learn about the arts, culture, and lifestyles of the Native Americas. Read articles on all aspects of Native American life, both past and present.
Library Online Resources
This is a fun and easy database for elementary students to use to search for historical events. Information about Native Americans is just a click away!
Find books based on subject and grade level. Click on Topic Search, select "Native Americans," and select a grade level to see a list of recommended books.
Explore your world through easy-to-read articles, fun images and illustrations, and more! Simply type in "Native Americans" in the search box to discover it all.
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Get creative. Check out these cool Native American crafts that will be sure to give a fun crafty time.
Circumstantial evidence, particularly resemblance in town names, leads to the conclusion that the Ais language was similar to that of the Calusa and the other south Florida tribes. It is believed that it was connected with the Muskhogean stock.
Fontaneda speaks of a Biscayan named Pedro who had been held prisoner in Ais, evidently during the sixteenth century, and spoke the Ais language fluently. Shortly after the Spaniards made their first establishments in the peninsula, a war broke out with the Ais, but peace was concluded in 1570. In 1597 Governor Mendez de Canço, who traveled along the entire east coast from the head of the Florida Keys to St. Augustine, reported that the Ais chief had more Indians under him than any other. A little later the Ais killed a Spaniard and two Indians sent to them by Canço for which summary revenge was exacted. Relations between the Floridian government and these Indians were afterward friendly but efforts to missionize them uniformly failed.
Excerpt from: Access Genealogy: Florida Indian Tribes
From at least A.D. 1000, a group of farming Indians was living in northwest Florida. They were called the Apalachees. Other Florida Indians regarded them as being wealthy and fierce. Some think the Apalachee language was related to Hitchiti of the Muskhogean language family. The Apalachees' territory extended from the Aucilla River in the east to the Ochlockonee River in the west.
The Calusa Indians were originally called the "Calos" which means "Fierce People." They were descendants of Paleo-Indians who inhabited Southwest Florida approximately 12,000 years ago. During the Calusa's reign the Florida coastline extended roughly 60 miles further into the Gulf of Mexico. Hardwood forests covered the land and the climate was much colder than it is today. The Calusa inhabited a region abundant with bears, woolly mammoths, sloth, tortoises, and saber-toothed tigers. Hunting these animals and gathering roots and fruit that grew on trees was a mainstay until they discovered the waters contained a wealth of fish. This new food source required significantly less time than hunting and gathering their food, and allowed the Calusa time to establish their own system of government. It was quite a complex structure involving nobility, commoners, and slaves. Following this formation of a centralized government were the construction of a canal system, the beginnings of organized religion, and the creating of many art forms.
The Jeaga (YAY•gah) inhabited present-day Palm Beach County. Jonathan Dickson, who survived a shipwreck on the coast near Jeaga land in 1698, described them as "fierce and bloody." The Jeaga depended on the sea for food.
Along the lower Atlantic Coast was the home of many small tribes: the Tequestas of Biscayne Bay, the Ais and the Jeagas up the coast, the Keys Indians, and the Mayaimi who built large mounded villages near Lake Okeechobee. Like the Calusa, these tribes were fishermen and hunters rather than farmers.
Excerpt from: FloridaHistory.org: Florida of the Indians
The Potano tribe was anciently celebrated as, with one or two possible exceptions, the most powerful of all the Timucua peoples. Located in the territory of the present Alachua County.
Excerpt from: Access Genealogy: Florida Indian Tribes
The Seminoles of Florida call themselves the "Unconquered People," descendants of just 300 Indians who managed to elude capture by the U.S. army in the 19th century. Today, more than 2,000 live on six reservations in the state - located in Hollywood, Big Cypress, Brighton, Immokalee, Ft. Pierce, and Tampa. Seminole history begins with bands of Creek Indians from Georgia and Alabama who migrated to Florida in the 1700s. Conflicts with Europeans and other tribes caused them to seek new lands to live in peace. Groups of Lower Creeks moved to Florida to get away from the dominance of Upper Creeks. Some Creeks were searching for rich, new fields to plant corn, beans, and other crops. For a while, Spain even encouraged these migrations to help provide a buffer between Florida and the British colonies. The 1770s is when Florida Indians collectively became known as Seminole, a name meaning "wild people" or "runaway."
Excerpt from: Florida State Division of Historical Resources
The Tequesta were a small, peaceful, Native American tribe. They were one of the first tribes in South Florida and they settled near Biscayne Bay in the present-day Miami area. They built many villages at the mouth of the Miami River and along the coastal islands. The chief lived in the main village at the mouth of the Miami River.
Like the other tribes in South Florida, the Tequesta were hunters and gatherers. They relied mainly on fish, shellfish, nuts, and berries for food. The men caught sharks, sailfish, sea cows, and porpoises in the waters of Biscayne Bay and the Miami River, while the women and children collected clams, conchs, oysters, and turtle eggs in the shallow waters. The sea cow (manatee) was considered a delicacy and served mainly to the chiefs and other prominent leaders.
Excerpt from: Exploring Florida: The Tequesta of Biscayne Bay
The Timucua lived in large circular houses with palm-thatched roofs. Frequently, they built a wall of tall wooden poles around their villages for protection against attack. Like most Native Americans, the Timucua had no written language.
The Tocobaga Indians were a group of prehistoric and historic Native Americans living near Tampa Bay, Florida up until roughly 1760.
The Tocobaga were not part of the Timucua culture which usually only extended as far south as modern day Ocala. However, at times some of the Tampa Bay groups may have been ruled by a Timucua chief named Urriparacox who temporarily extended his range of influence.
All of the Tampa Bay inhabitants relied heavily on water animals and plants for food, but also hunted and gathered on land. Of all these groups, only the Tocobaga planted corn.