Southwest Florida is rich in history and the Calusa (prononuced: kah LOOS ah) Indians are the key to understanding how important water and the surrounding lands were to our heritage. Photo Credit: AccessGenealogy.com rendition of the Calusa Nation birdseye view. This site is an excellent source to look into Florida's rich past.
It is believed that Calusa translated to mean "Fierce People". This tribe of indians controlled most of Southwest Florida and created an elaborate network of canals, homes, and government. These indians were so unfriendly that this was one of the first tribes that Spanish explorers wrote home about in 1513. Unlike most Florida indian tribes, the Calusa didn't farm the land, but instead they fished the abundant waterways and Gulf of Mexico. They used palmetto branches to weave intricate fishing nets to catch Mullet, Catfish and many other types of fish. It is believed that they could get away without farming because the surrounding waters were so abundant with fish.