But Broward County has a little-known Native American story that goes much farther back and that can still be explored. It lies between the scenic Fort Lauderdale beach scene and the natural wonder of the Everglades. It is surrounded by the affordable conference, resort and family hotels with that offer visitors a quieter pace. It's tucked into the corners of Greater Fort Lauderdale's West Broward experience where publicly-accessible sites of archaeological interest today date back over 8,000 years.
Local archaeologist and anthropologist Paul J. Callsen loves to talk about what he calls South Florida's "very first people." He is among a group of presenters highlighting the richness and diversity of often little-known or rarely-explored aspects of history and culture in Broward 100 events staged around the county as part of the Broward Moments Lecture Series. His presentation, Broward's Early Residents: Native America, How They Lived in the Glades, will be on Aug. 11 at 6 p.m. at the Stirling Road Branch of the Broward County Library System.
As Callsen explains, "Long before European contact - the Spanish and later the English - there were the natives who had a rich society and I talk about where they lived, what they did and didn't do, and the economics the people had. The Seminoles came much later."
While South Florida is no Egypt or Mexico when it comes to pre-history sites, the area does have a few places that continue to be looked at and studied, he said, including downtown Miami and the Tree Islands in the Everglades. Long Key Natural Area and Nature Center in the town of Davie in West Broward is a prime site.
The 164-acre park with an elevated oak hammock, wetland marshes and an orange grove is one the largest natural areas and the most significant archeological resource in the county. In ancient times it was the home of the ancient Tequesta Indians. One hundred years ago the hammock was a series of islands surrounded by Everglades's marsh.
Pre-historic mounds unlocking the mysteries of the area's past can be found in Pompano Beach and, even more notably, along the Pine Island Ridge Natural Area in Davie. The Ridge was a habitation site for over 30 different settlements, including hunting camps of the Tequestas and a permanent home for Seminoles in the 1800s. The Ridge is accessed in Tree Tops Park which, at 29 feet, has the highest elevation in the county.
Diversity has been woven into the fabric of the area since pre-historic days.