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Curious Gulf Coast Asks: What Motivated Early Settlers of South Florida?

Photos: State Library & Archives of Florida
Left, a family living out of a covered wagon, 1895; right, Seminole Indians at Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation, early 1900s.

What motivated early Floridians to move into the swampy, mosquito-infested area of South Florida? How did the Seminoles and other Native American peoples thrive in such a demanding environment? Questions from Curious Gulf Coast listeners spurred a look at life in Florida before modern conveniences.

Wednesday at 1:30 p.m., Immokalee Pioneer Museum at Roberts Ranch manager and archeologist Theresa Schober explains how portions of Southwest Florida, first occupied by Calusa Indians and later by the Seminoles, has been home to hunters, cattle ranchers, missionaries, and traders since the 1870s.

Everett Osceola, Seminole Tribal Cultural Liaison, also joins the program to discuss ways Seminoles and other Native Americans thrived for centuries in the environment of Southwest Florida.

Also joining the conversation is Seminole tribal member Samuel Tommie, offering his perspective on Seminole history.

This segment of Gulf Coast Live answered a question that was submitted to Curious Gulf Coast by Bill Roy. Do you have a question about Southwest Florida, its people or history, that you'd like WGCU to check out? Click here to submit your own question to Curious Gulf Coast.

Matthew Smith is a reporter and producer of WGCU’s Gulf Coast Live.