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8th Annual Calusa Heritage Day Saturday on Pine Island

By Staff | Mar 5, 2013

The 8th Annual Calusa Heritage Day, which will take place this weekend, will offer an assortment of activities for everyone to enjoy while learning about the Calusa Indians.

“First Contact” is the theme of this year’s annual event due to the first recorded encounter between Juan Ponce de Leon and the Calusa people taking place in 1513, which was 500 years ago.

The event will be held Saturday, March 9, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., at the Calusa Heritage Trail, 13810 Waterfront Drive. Admission is $5 for adults and free for children under 12 years old and Randell Research Center members.

Free water is available throughout the festival, so individuals are encouraged to bring a water bottle with them to fill up. Food will also be for sale during Calusa Heritage Day by Mel Meo’s fish wagon and Little Lilly’s Island Deli.

Additional activities were added to the event this year.

The Seminole Tribal Historic Preservation Office will provide demonstrations of remote sensing equipment – ground-penetrating radar and the discussion of its work on Seminole sites throughout the day.

The event will also feature a commemorative U.S. mail postmark, which was created for the event. Randell Research Center Programs and Services Coordinator Cindy Bear said it can be stamped onto postcards with artistic renderings of the daily life of the Calusa.

Bear said the event will also offer people a chance to try out ancient and modern technologies and practices through tossing a spear using an atlatl, hear speakers describe new findings about Florida’s earliest people and sample the same type of foods enjoyed by those people.

The featured speaker for this year is Dr. Jerald T. Milanich, who will present “The Calusa Indians Amid Latitudes of Controversy: Charting Juan Ponce de Leon’s 1512 Voyage to Florida,” at 3 p.m. in the classroom. He will also present in the speaker’s tent at 11 a.m.

Randell Research Center Director Dr. Bill Marquardt will speak at noon about “Calusa at Contact: Archaeological Understandings.” He will highlight interdisciplinary, archaeological studies at Pineland that have yielded information on the fishing and tool technology of the Calusa.

Archaeologist and Site Manger Steve Koski for Little Salt Spring Archaeological and Ecological Preserve will speak at 1 p.m. about “First Arrivals, Florida’s Paleoindians, How We Know What We Know.” Since Little Salt Springs contains some of the oldest cultural remains in the United States, as well as the second oldest artifact found in the U.S., his presentation will highlight the understandings of the first Floridians.

At 2 p.m., artist Merald Clark of the Florida Museum of Natural History will share information about masks and figureheads of the Calusa.

On March 9, individuals will also have the opportunity to participate in walking tours hourly on the Calusa Heritage Trail, which is the site of one of the largest Calusa Indian towns.

The Harbor History Boat Tour will also share information about the Calusa Indians beyond the shoreline from noon until 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for students and departs from the dock at Tarpon Lodge, across the street from the event site.

Artists will sell their wares depicting art of the Calusa and attendees will have the opportunity to learn how to make twine, nets, or baskets from native plant materials. There will also be events for the children to enjoy as well.

For a detailed schedule of speakers and activities visit www.flmnh.ufl.edu/rrc/ or call 239-283-2157.