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Prehistoric Peoples of South Florida

Written by William E. McGoun

Publication Year: 1993

To many people in South Florida, and "oldtimer" is someone who has lived there for more than five years. Prehistoric Peoples of South Florida considers the culture history of the real South Florida "oldtimers" dating from 10,000 B.C. through the invasion by Europeans and analyzes the ways in which they adapted to their environment through time—or caused their environment to adapt to them.

South Florida is a biological island, its plant communities circumscribed by the southern limits of frost. Its peoples were distinct from those to the north and were less studied by scholars. In recent years the pace of research has increased, but there has been no attempt at synthesis since John M. Goggin wrote his still-unpublished manuscript on the Glades nearly half a century ago. Prehistoric Peoples of South Florida assembles the available knowledge and discusses competing theories, and does so in terms that are understandable to the general reader. McGoun outlines a cultural system that maintained an impressive continuity for 10,000 years—before being destroyed by two centuries of European contact.


Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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pp. vii

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Introduction: The Theory and the Area

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pp. 1-8

To many people in South Florida, an old timer is someone who has been around for more than five years, and nothing worth talking about happened before the dawn of the twentieth century. In the following I will seek to set the record straight, to recount for old timer and newcomer alike the millennia of ...

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1. Caciques and Conquistadors: Aboriginal Peoples in the Men

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pp. 9-37

Neither the cacique nor the conquistador was taking any chances. The two Spanish brigantines were drawn up broadside to the shore with their artillery concentrated on the landward side and a large supply of hail-shot on hand. When the conquistador disembarked he was accompanied by thirty soldiers, each ...

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2. On the Trail of Big Game: The Paleoindian Presence in South Florida

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pp. 39-51

To most people South Florida was still a new land in 1913. There had been Euro-American settlement along the Indian River since the 1840s, but the area had not really become accessible until the Florida East Coast Railway was built in the 1890s. Officials of the Indian River Farms Company decided ...

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3. Living Off the Land: The Enduring Hunting and Gathering Societies

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pp. 53-69

To Peter Farb, Archaic people, unlike their big-game hunting predecessors, "specialized in nothing, but they were versatile in attempting everything.... In a remarkable diversity of environments ... [they] invented fish spears, snares for trapping rodents and birds, darts for bringing down small game, baskets for ...

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4. Earthworks and Effigies: Hopewellian-Related Societies Around the Big Lake

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pp. 71-91

The flames engulfed the north end of the platform, eating through the pine posts that supported it and charring the bird and animal figures. Once the structure was sufficiently weakened the platform collapsed, sending the bones tumbling into the pond below. The fire happened some time in the early ...

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5. Down to the Sea and the Shells: The Shift of Power to Southwest Florida

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pp. 93-107

What happened, according to Randolph J. Widmer, is that the people utilizing the rich marine resources on the southwest coast had expanded in numbers to the limits of their environment, leading to the final step in a process of increasing social complexity that had been under way since the end of the ...

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6. The Road to Extinction: Aboriginal Peoples after the Men

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pp. 109-114

After the 1560s, neither the Spanish nor the Indians saw anything to be gained by further Spanish settlement in South Florida. Each could get what it wanted from the other without the necessity of living together. As a result, the historical record becomes sparse. The discovery of European artifacts at sites ...


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pp. 115-135


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pp. 137-140

E-ISBN-13: 9780817384104
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817306861

Page Count: 148
Publication Year: 1993