Category Archives: Archaeology, Paleontology, History, and Indigenous Cultures

This category combines a few different scientific disciplines to create an understanding of all the forces that shaped the wild spaces in our area before European settlers developed and clearcut land.  This is a landscape that took millions of years to create, and only a couple of hundreds of years to radically change.  These stories compliment our coverage of ecosystem and watershed restoration efforts, where humans are trying to recreate what had once existed.

Our natural north Florida landscape contains many links to this area’s ancient past. Rivers like the Wacissa and Aucilla, for instance, are full of Paleo-Indian archaeological sites. One of those sites, the Aucilla’s Page Ladson, was recently dated to 14,500 years ago. This is earlier than people had been thought to have been in Florida, and is challenging notions about human migration into the Americas. Florida waterways may contain further clues to the early settlement of our continent.

We also explore more contemporary indigenous people, looking at native groups present during the first European contacts with our area to today. This allows use to try and paint a picture of how people lived and developed culture over the millennia.  By learning how people lived on our natural landscape over this time, we can create a fuller picture of what our ecosystems looked like in a time before they were altered by clearcutting and development.

In some cases, Florida waterways expose fossils from millions of years ago, as we saw along the Apalachicola River at Alum Bluff.

 

Canoeing the Aucilla: A Red Hills River Steeped in History

Video: We travel down the Aucilla River, the eastern boundary of the Red Hills region, the dark water of which preserves some of the nation’s oldest archeological sites. It’s also a challenging kayak and canoe trail.

Rob Diaz de Villegas WFSU-TV

Until paddling the Aucilla River during the production of this video, I had never had to portage on a river.  For non-paddlers, portage is when you take your canoe or kayak out of the water to navigate around an obstacle.  And on that day, there were plenty of obstacles.  The Aucilla River Paddling Trail Guide recommends the river be paddled by those with intermediate to advanced skills.  Fallen trees and river bends, sometimes in a tricky proximity, had us pivoting at sharp angles.  This was less of a challenge for the three kayakers on our trip, but David Ward and I each ferried a photographer on heavier canoes.  If you’re looking for a Florida river on which to peacefully coast, this isn’t it.  This is a more adventurous river; and one with thousands of years of human usage. Continue reading

Turtle seen on Slave Canal, Florida kayaking trip.

Paleo River Adventure on Slave Canal

Rob Diaz de Villegas WFSU-TV

Video: Slave Canal EcoAdventure

Much like Slave Canal connects the Aucilla and Wacissa Rivers, this post serves as a bridge between our oyster reef and salt marsh videos (not that we’re done talking about Apalachicola by a long shot).  One of my favorite things on this blog is when we can make connections between rivers and the coast.  Of course, rivers provide much needed nutrients and fresh water to the estuarine ecosystems I just mentioned.  But to the many cultures that predate european settlement of our area, they served as the equivalent of Woodville or Crawfordville Highway.  It’s how they got to their Forgotten Coast seafood.

Slave Canal is one of those places I started hearing about a lot when we started doing our EcoAdventure videos.  As soon as you get into the braided channels of the lower Wacissa, it’s easy to see why it’s one of the popular river expeditions in north Florida.  You’re paddling in a canopied river swamp where people have been paddling for several thousand years.  And minus some old growth cypress trees that have been logged in the last century or so, it looks much the same as it did when various native groups made use of the waterway to make seafood runs to the coast.  But it doesn’t look quite as it did when people first got there. Continue reading

Shells, Buried History, and the Apalachee Coastal Connection

Rob Diaz de Villegas WFSU-TV

IGOR chip- human appreciation 150IGOR chip- habitat 150Have you ever found oyster shells in the dirt of your backyard?  If you have and you live in Tallahassee’s Myers Park neighborhood, then you might be looking at the remains of a powerful native village that rose to prominence over 500 years ago. Continue reading

Green Guides and the Lost City of Magnolia

Rob Diaz de Villegas WFSU-TV

IGOR chip- human appreciation 150

When researching the Green Guide videos I was producing for EcoAdventures North Florida, I became intrigued by something I saw on the Palmetto Expeditions web site. Cynthia Paulson’s Green Guide brokering business offered tours based on history and archeology. I have an interest in local history and archeology, but I was surprised that it qualified as ecotourism. It turns out that historical excursions are a common form of ecotourism, as it focuses on local culture. And our local culture is often intertwined with the ecology of the area.

Continue reading