The Tocobaga Indians lived in small villages at the northern end of Tampa Bay from 900 to the 1500s. Each village was situated around a public area that was used as a meeting place. The houses were generally round and built with wooden poles holding up a roof of palm thatches.
The ” Tocobaga ” tribe was comprised of several small chiefdoms such as Ucita, Pohoy, and Mococo, that ranged from today’s Pinellas County to Sarasota County. They maintained a fishing and hunting culture for approximately 600-800 years before being encountered by the Spanish explorers in the early 1500s.
Tocobaga (occasionally Tocopaca) was the name of a chiefdom, its chief, and its principal town during the 16th century. The name ” Tocobaga ” is often applied to all of the native peoples of the immediate Tampa Bay area during the first Spanish colonial period (1513-1763).
The Tocobaga Native Americans usually wore very simple clothing made of deerskin. Clothing did not play a big role in their culture. Instead, they preferred to decorate their bodies with tattoos and elaborate hand-crafted jewelry.
Like most Native Americans, the Timucua had no written language. They farmed the rich lands of North Florida. The Tocobaga Indians were a group of prehistoric and historic Native Americans living near Tampa Bay, Florida up until roughly 1760.
The Europeans brought diseases with them that the Timucua easily caught and died from, since their bodies did not have natural resistance to the diseases. The Spanish taught the Indians how to live like Spanish did.
Enemy Indian tribes from Georgia and South Carolina began raiding the Calusa territory. Many Calusa were captured and sold as slaves. In addition, diseases such as smallpox and measles were brought into the area from the Spanish and French explorers and these diseases wiped out entire villages.
The Tocobaga played checkers. They even made checkers.
The Calusas didn’t wear much clothing. Just like today, the weather in southwestern Florida was always warm. Calusa men wore only a breechcloth, and Calusa women wore short skirts made of palm leaves. Shirts were not necessary in Calusa culture, and people usually went barefoot.
There is some dispute as to the origin and meaning of the name ” Tampa “. It is believed to mean “sticks of fire” in the language of the Calusa, an Indian tribe that once lived south of the area. He calls it “Tanpa” and describes it as an important Calusa town.
Sadly, by 1711, only about 2000 Calusa were left in Florida. Diseases introduced to the natives by those from across the sea, and warfare with English backed tribes had caused the numbers to dwindle. The Spanish evacuated 270 Indians to Cuba, where almost 200 soon perished.
The two largest were the Timucua, living in the northern parts of Florida, and the Calusa, covering the southern parts. A smaller group, the Mocoso, lived on Hillsborough Bay between the Hillsborough River and the Alafia River. Their territory included what is now downtown Tampa.
Native Americans suffered 80-90% population losses in most of America with influenza, typhoid, measles and smallpox taking the greatest toll in devastating epidemics that were compounded by the significant loss of leadership.
Apalachee, Tequesta, and Timucua homes were usually round with curved roofs. A hole at the top of their homes let smoke from a fire escape. The Timucua also had homes that were rectangular. These homes were called long houses because of their shape.
Housing, clothing and tools Briton Hammon reported that the Tequesta lived in huts or in 5 story houses. Other tribes in southern Florida lived in houses with wooden posts, raised floors, and roofs thatched with palmetto leaves, something like the chickees of the Seminoles.