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Pine Island Sound History, Legend, and Folklore - With Calusa John - April, 2010

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On: Tue, Mar 23, 2010 at 10:36AM | By: John Paeno


Tampa. If you live in Southwest Florida, you know where Tampa is located. But you may be surprised to learn that the original Tampa was located in Pineland — actually, at the present site of the Randell Research Center! Settled more than 1,000 years before the Spanish arrived on our shores, “Calusa Tampo” (Great City) was a capital city with 700 to 1,000 residents. There were large shell mounds/pyramids that were 60 feet high with a canal carved between them that led to water courts and the royal burial mound/pyramid in the center of a lake. The canal also went across the island to the other side. This canal was hand-dug and went 2 ½ miles at a depth of about 8 feet and width of about 30 feet (Cushing, 1898). The city’s royal family was led by a Cacique (king), the head shaman, and war captain. They lived atop the mounds/pyramids with a view of Pine Island Sound and the outposts, work sites, and villages scattered along the shores and islands, including Josslyn, Useppa, and Cayo Costa. These smaller settlements played an important role in Calusa life. They represented the hub of their culture’s trade — fishing, canoe building, and tool making. The sites were also believed to serve as designated areas for Calusa ceremonies and human sacrifice (Cushing). Although crude by modern standards, their society was also steeped in politics, religion, and military interests, but based on aquaculture instead of agriculture. “Most people live on the edge of the land, but the Calusa lived on the edge of the water.” (John Worth, former assistant Director Randell Research Center) Some artifacts found on Useppa have been dated back 6,000 years. Enough time for a great and powerful civilization to form. In their language they called themselves “The Fierce People”; the Creek and Seminole Indians referred to them as “The Bad People”. There is no disputing they were a powerful people and, in 1614, proved it by sending out 300 war canoes and killing 500 people (up the west coast). They sent 12 survivors to St. Augustine to warn the Spanish to stay out of Calusa territory. We have found Calusa artifacts in the north as far as Ohio and New York and we have found artifacts here from the north also. They traded with Cuban Indians and maybe much more than we originally thought (John Worth), by traversing the water by canoe. To communicate with the other outposts, the Calusa used smoke signals and the far-reaching sounds of horse conch horns. Take a Calusa Ghost Tour and you’ll hear that eerie horn even today, as though the spirits of the Calusa are reaching out to reclaim “Calusa Tampo” — or perhaps their next human sacrifice. For additional stories about historical Pine Island, contact John Paeno, Calusa Ghost Tours at 239-938-5342 or calusaghosttours@comcast.net On the web at www.calusaghosttours.com or www.calusabackwater.com or www.youtube.com and search calusajohn. If you have pictures, stories or legends of the sound to share, John would love to hear from you. Check out our new adventures and location in Bonita Springs

Tampa. If you live in Southwest Florida, you know where Tampa is located. But you may be surprised to learn that the original Tampa was located in Pineland — actually, at the present site of the Randell Research Center! Settled more than 1,000 years before the Spanish arrived on our shores, “Calusa Tampo” (Great City) was a capital city with 700 to 1,000 residents. There were large shell mounds/pyramids that were 60 feet high with a canal carved between them that led to water courts and the royal burial mound/pyramid in the center of a lake. The canal also went across the island to the other side. This canal was hand-dug and went 2 ½ miles at a depth of about 8 feet and width of about 30 feet (Cushing, 1898). The city’s royal family was led by a Cacique (king), the head shaman, and war captain. They lived atop the mounds/pyramids with a view of Pine Island Sound and the outposts, work sites, and villages scattered along the shores and islands, including Josslyn, Useppa, and Cayo Costa. These smaller settlements played an important role in Calusa life. They represented the hub of their culture’s trade — fishing, canoe building, and tool making. The sites were also believed to serve as designated areas for Calusa ceremonies and human sacrifice (Cushing). Although crude by modern standards, their society was also steeped in politics, religion, and military interests, but based on aquaculture instead of agriculture. “Most people live on the edge of the land, but the Calusa lived on the edge of the water.” (John Worth, former assistant Director Randell Research Center) Some artifacts found on Useppa have been dated back 6,000 years. Enough time for a great and powerful civilization to form. In their language they called themselves “The Fierce People”; the Creek and Seminole Indians referred to them as “The Bad People”. There is no disputing they were a powerful people and, in 1614, proved it by sending out 300 war canoes and killing 500 people (up the west coast). They sent 12 survivors to St. Augustine to warn the Spanish to stay out of Calusa territory. We have found Calusa artifacts in the north as far as Ohio and New York and we have found artifacts here from the north also. They traded with Cuban Indians and maybe much more than we originally thought (John Worth), by traversing the water by canoe. To communicate with the other outposts, the Calusa used smoke signals and the far-reaching sounds of horse conch horns. Take a Calusa Ghost Tour and you’ll hear that eerie horn even today, as though the spirits of the Calusa are reaching out to reclaim “Calusa Tampo” — or perhaps their next human sacrifice. For additional stories about historical Pine Island, contact John Paeno, Calusa Ghost Tours at 239-938-5342 or calusaghosttours@comcast.net On the web at www.calusaghosttours.com or www.calusabackwater.com or www.youtube.com and search calusajohn. If you have pictures, stories or legends of the sound to share, John would love to hear from you. Check out our new adventures and location in Bonita Springs




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