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Origins of Florida


Capitol of Florida
Capitol of Florida

There were an estimated 350,000 Native Americans in what is now Florida when Europeans first arrived early in the 16th century. They belonged to three major nations, the Calusa along the southwestern coast, the Timucua in the northern half of the peninsula, and the Apalachee where the peninsula joins the panhandle. Peoples dominated by the Calusa lived along the southeastern coast.

All were settled agricultural peoples, as skilled with the hoe as they were with canoes or with bows and arrows. They lived in villages, where they cultivated corn, beans, and other crops. Noted warriors, they fiercely resisted early attempts to bring them under submission, but coexisted peacefully with the Spaniards for most of the first 198 years of Spanish occupation.

The populations of these Native Americans were drastically reduced by diseases introduced by the European explorers. They had no resistance to pathogens such as measles, smallpox, and typhoid fever that Europeans normally survived. The Native Americans also lost ground because of slaving raids by English forces from South Carolina and Georgia. By mid-18th century these nations no longer existed. The modern Native Americans of Florida are the Seminole, originally Creek from the Georgia-Alabama border, who entered Florida in the period 1716 to 1767. Today they have five reservations in the state. They farm, hunt, and fish, run tourist-related businesses, and operate a large bingo hall near Miami. "Florida" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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