History of The Calusa Indians and Juan Ponce de Leon 


Dating as far back as 2,500 years, the native Calusa Indians were the first-known residents of the island. The Calusa inhabited the island for it’s abundant food: conchs, clams, oysters and fish. They were skilled in building and some of their shell mounds used for ceremonies, rituals and burial sites are still intact today. They were believed to be vicious warriors.


Juan Ponce de Leon is considered to be the first explorer to discover the islands. He named the islands “Santa Isybella,” after Queen Isabella. Juan Ponce de Leon was searching for his “Fountain of Youth,” when he discovered the islands, and the Calusa Indians. He and his crew battled the Calusas Indians for years. Eventually Ponce de Leon was wounded by a fatal arrow attack to the leg. He retreated to Cuba where he died.


The battles continued and the Calusa Indians were eventually forced to move further and further inland by the Spanish explorers. Exposure to diseases brought by the Spanish explorers and the fierce battles over the islands brought the tragic end to the Calusa nation.


Even though the islands first inhabitants are now gone, evidence of the Calusa Indians can still be found on the islands. 


To Learn More About The Calusa Indians or Juan Ponce de Leon, Please Visit some of the below Sites


Florida Museum of Natural History


Bailey Matthew Shell Museum



Calusa Nature Cener and Planetarium


Collier County Museum



Calusa Indian Art