A Brief History of the Florida Everglades
By Ed • February 20, 2020
The Florida Everglades is a unique place with an ecosystem not found anywhere on the earth. It consists of coastal and freshwater prairie, marshlands, mangroves, pine, and cypress. It also includes the waters of Florida Bay and the many islands in the area. The Everglades was made a national park in 1947 to protect the unique ecosystem that existed there. The Everglades is not a recent phenomenon and has a rich history worth knowing about.
The Tribal History
Humans were living in the Everglades from around 15000 BC. Two major tribes occupied the area at that time. They were the Calusa Indians and the Tequesta Indians who were hunter-gatherers living at the periphery of the Everglades. The Calusa Indians were the larger of the two tribes and occupied the area from Lake Okeechobee to Southwest Florida and the Florida Keys. The Tequesta Indians lived in smaller settlements in Southeast Florida. The tribes are no more there.
The Everglades Under The Spanish And The British
The Spaniards lived in the area from the middle of the sixteenth century till Florida came under the US in 1821. There was a short period between 1763 and 1784 when the British occupied the area. Neither of them gave much importance to this region and thought it was a miserable place with some animals and the Indians.
The Seminole Wars
The Seminoles were a tribe that was forced to live here after being driven away from other areas by the US Military. The US took Florida from the Spaniards in 1821. The period between 1817 and 1858 saw three major wars between the Seminole tribe and the US military. Florida was declared a state in 1845. When the white settlers moved into the state there were regular fights between them and the tribes. The descendants of the tribe still live in the Everglades.
From 1881 Till Today
Once the civil war was over, the then government didn’t consider the Everglades was worth preserving and sold vast areas to private land developers. They tried to drain the water and this helped in the development of the state. Railroads came to Florida and the state started to attract tourists and more residents. The hurricanes in 1947 flooded the area prompting the government to take action and make this a national park.
Several legal battles and detrimental developments later the government formed the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan in 2000 and decided to reverse the bad effects and restore the original water flows as much as possible. The project is expected to take around 30 years for the complete restoration of the Florida Everglades.