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Native Americans: History and Culture of Florida Tribes  

Explore Florida's First People and Their Heritage.
Last Updated: Jun 29, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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The Ais have been noted as the most important tribe of southeastern Florida, and they were probably responsible for the fact that the watercourse on which they dwelt came to be called Indian River.

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The Apalachees were farming Indians living in northwest Florida from at least A.D. 1000. The Apalachees' territory extended from the Aucilla River in the east to the Ochlockonee River in the west. Other Florida Indians regarded them as being wealthy and fierce.

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The Calusa Indians were descendants of Paleo-Indians who inhabited Southwest Florida approximately 12,000 years ago. They established a complex, centralized government, constructed a canal system, the beginnings of organized religion, and the creating of many art forms.

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The Miccosukee history predates Columbus. Originally part of the Creek Nation, they migrated to Florida before it became part of the United States. During the Indian Wars of the 1800s, most of the them were removed to the West, but about 100, mostly Mikasuki-speaking Creeks, hid in the Everglades.

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The Seminoles of Florida call themselves the "Unconquered People," descendants of 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. Seminole history begins with bands of Creek Indians from Georgia and Alabama who migrated to Florida in the 1700s and all Florida Indians became known as Seminole, a name meaning "runaway" or "wild people."

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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.

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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.

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Native Peoples: The Journal of the Heard Museum
Learn about the arts, culture, and lifestyles of the Native Americas. Read articles on all aspects of Native American life, both past and present.

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