Miami’s Hidden Indigenous. Miami might be famous for its lively nightlife and diverse culture, but not many folks know it sits right on top of ancient Indigenous land. Way back from 500 BCE till the 1700s, the Tequesta folks were the OG residents here. They set up shop near Miami River and Biscayne Bay, running a bustling society with a solid trade network.
Betty Osceola: Keeper of the Past
Betty Osceola, repping the Miccosukee tribe, has been hustling to spread the word about Miami’s hidden past. But it’s not all history—she’s on a mission to save her tribe’s home in the Everglades, threatened by rising waters.
A Native Legacy: Miccosukee & Seminole
The Miccosukee and Seminole tribes, who’d been around even before Columbus hit the scene, made their way to Florida from Alabama and Georgia. When the government forced folks out west in the 1800s, roughly a hundred said “nope” and hid out in the Everglades. That move shaped today’s Miccosukee, Seminole, and other Florida tribes.
Step into the Everglades
Betty’s company, Buffalo Tiger Airboat Tours, gives you a peek into the Miccosukee’s world in the Everglades. Guides take you through cypress domes, mangroves, and the good old “tree islands,” while schooling you on Miccosukee history. It’s like a nature and history class rolled into one!
Miami Circle: A Little-Known Gem
Ever heard of Miami Circle? It’s like the Stonehenge of the States, discovered in 1998. This 2,700-year-old site was a trading hub for the Tequesta. But guess what? It’s not quite recognized as a Native American spot, and most locals think it’s a dog park!
Development vs. History
Areas along the Miami River in Brickell hold loads of ancient Indigenous remains. With Miami booming, high-rises keep popping up, and guess what they’re finding? More Indigenous sites, like at 444 Brickell Avenue in 2021. Developers are digging, archaeologists are finding treasures, but Betty and the tribe say “stop!” Their voices aren’t part of the chat about what happens to these sites.
Standing Up for the Past
Ishmael Bermudez, a local artist and “amateur archaeologist,” has been a voice for preservation. He turned his home into the Well of Ancient Mysteries, holding artifacts and fossils he found while digging his basement. But with growing skyscrapers, he had to bid farewell to his home and his piece of history.
With all the development, the city risks losing its roots. Talbert Cypress, the head honcho of Miccosukee Business Council, worries Miami will forget where it came from, becoming just another concrete jungle. The fight to protect these historical sites continues, as ancient artifacts clash with modern construction plans.
Miami might shine with glitz and glamour, but there’s a rich, buried history waiting to be told. It’s a tale of ancient peoples, forgotten sites, and a struggle to preserve what was here long before the flashy lights took over.