In the 1700s, as Florida’s Indigenous tribes were displaced, the forebears of the Miccosukee and Seminole descended along the southwestern Gulf Coast. They soon began working with Hispanic and Indigenous fishermen from various Spanish colonies, who had seasonal operations along the barrier islands.
Eventually these seasonal operations became prolific year-round fisheries and communities, incorporating the fishing practices previously learned from the 6,000-year-old Calusa culture. Their productive estuarine fisheries were called ranchos, which served the same significant commercial and cultural function that the deerskin trade did for their contemporaries.
The author, David Rahahę∙tih Webb, is adding to our understanding of the ranchos, writing from the perspective of a descendant. His direct ancestor, Juan Montes de Oca and his family, belonged to the Spanish Seminole rancho communities.