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