The Tequesta were the first indigenous people in South Florida. Oldest Tequesta sites put them living in the area from 2,000 BC.
Tequesta were Hunter Gatherers who lived off deer, turtle, shellfish, fish, and birds. The Tequesta were semi nomadic as they would traverse the area between Lake Okeechobee and Miami.
Map below, created by Diego Cutierrez, depicts America with La Florida as of 1562.
The Tequesta used all materials that were available to them. Bones, shells, wood, and stone were used for tools and clay was used for pottery.
One such animal that the Tequesta would occasionally hunt would be the Florida Alligator. Besides Florida having living ancient fossils like the alligator, we also had other ancient animals living in Fort Lauderdale’s vicinity such as the Mastodon.
Earliest written account of life in South Florida was written over 400 years ago. d'Escalente Fontaneda set sail from Carthagena in 1551 and was shipwrecked along the Florida Keys as a 13-year old. He lived among the Indians for around seventeen years. After his return, he wrote his memoir probably about the year 1575. Several excerpts from the memoir talk about these indigenous people.
“They go naked, except only some breech cloths woven of palm, with which the men cover themselves; the women do the like with certain grass that grows on trees.”
He tells of Indians, “who are of large size; the women are well proportioned and have good countenances.”
d'Escalente Fontaneda talked about the country where, “Food is plentiful. From the sea they yield: fish, turtle, snail, tunny, whale, lobster, trunkfish, and seawolf (Seal?) ...”
He also writes of Lake Mayaimi (Lake Okeechobee), “On this lake, which lies in the midst of the country, are many towns, of thirty or forty inhabitants each; and many more places there are in which people are not so numerous.”