This city park on the National Register of Historic Places, is located along the Indian River and encompasses two periods of Native American history.
The mound at Old Fort Park contains human remains and was the centerpiece of an Ais Indian culture dating back 500 to 1,000 years. Once one of Florida’s largest indigenous groups, the Ais contained several thousand people who lived in east central Florida before first contact with Ponce de Leon and the Spanish in 1513. The Ais territory ranged along the coast, north to Cape Canaveral and south to Jupiter. The Ais thrived by hunting, gathering, fishing and collecting. They were largely dependent on the Rio de Ais (Indian River) and the Atlantic Ocean to provide subsistence. They collected oysters, set up fish traps, and fished with hooks made from deer toe bones. They gathered sea grapes, coco plums, sea oats, and palm berries, hunted deer and other small game.
The Ais built thatched huts of wood and palm fronds. Their primary means of transportation were dugout canoes made from pine trees. The Ais did not have a written language. Written accounts and drawings of the Ais come from early Spanish explorers and the journal of Pennsylvanian, Jonathan Dickinson. They were all but wiped out by 1740, having suffered invasions and enslavement by the Spanish and other European nations like other early Florida tribes.
page information credit: City of Fort Pierce, Wikipedia Commons
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