Monday, March 31, 2008
Native American Hiding Places at Florida Caverns
Since a brief article about the archaeology of Florida Caverns State Park appeared online at www.jacksoncountytimes.net last week, I've had the pleasure of hearing from several individuals who trace their roots back to the families of Native Americans who once used the caves as hiding places during the Seminole Wars.
There are old legends in Jackson County that Native Americans regularly used the caves to elude capture during the Seminole Wars. According to the emails I've received, there is strong tradition in local Native American families that the legends are true.
One writer indicated that over the years her family had developed a tradition regarding the caves. She remembered how her grandfather would take the family children and show them the cave in which their ancestors hid to avoid capture and being shipped west on the Trail of Tears.
It is a little known fact that a number of small bands of Native Americans somehow managed to elude capture at the time of the Trail of Tears in the region (1836-1844) and remained hidden in secluded areas of Jackson County (and neighboring Calhoun) until they were able to blend with their white neighbors and enough time passed that the forced removals ended. Even so, the elder members of such groups urged continued secrecy about their ancestry out of fear of reprisals.