There’s more to Florida Than Disney World
But for history buffs, outdoor adventurers and tourists looking for a more personally enriching and cultural experience, Florida is also home to some of the best-preserved archaeological and Native American historical sites anywhere in the country.
This may come as a surprise, considering that Native Americans only make up less than half of one percent of Florida’s population. In fact, of the 574 federally recognized Tribal Nations as of 2020, Florida only has two of them: the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida.
However, that was not always the case. Florida was once home to hundreds of thousands of Native people, and dozens of tribes, prior to the arrival of Ponce de León over 500 years ago. Forced resettlement of those tribes in the nineteenth century, and the resulting Seminole Wars which were fought to resist those settlements, drove most of those tribes out of Florida forever, and led to the outright extinction of others.
Still, some Native people remained, retreating to Florida’s wetlands to avoid detection and re-establishing their reservations there, where many still live today.
Through incredible perseverance and determination, the culture, heritage and history of Florida’s First People are alive and well today, through dozens of museums and heritage sites across the state that are open to the public. Most importantly, Indigenous Florida culture thrives today through the living Native American elders, whose storytelling and teachings down through the generations have kept their heritage and traditions alive in the face of constant battles and threatened extinction. They also help fight misconceptions and negative stereotypes that continue to persist.
Today, these Native storytellers gladly teach their sacred traditions and culture to visitors who wish to learn, and share that knowledge with others.