Why Mound Key Is Significant To Southwest Florida

Dated: 09/23/2019

Views: 293

Alison Elgart was among a group of researchers who spent countless hours digging on Mound Key in Estero Bay several years ago.

Elgart, an associate professor of anthropology at Florida Gulf Coast University, helped uncover shell tools made by the Calusa, the Native American people of Southwest Florida, and Spanish pottery. Her work was part of an archaeological field school run by FGCU with the University of Florida and the University of Georgia.

The Calusa occupied much of Southwest Florida until the 1700s. Mound Key is said to have been their capital. 

“I think what’s amazing when you go there is to realize that humans built that mound,” Elgart said. “That is just an accumulation of shells. That’s pretty impressive.” 

On Tuesday, Lee County Commissioners unanimously voted to purchase the last privately-owned property on Mound Key for $860,000. About 9.6 acres will be purchased for Conservation 20/20, the county’s land acquisition program. The rest of the more than 100 acres on the island are publicly owned and comprise Mound Key Archaeological State Park. 

Elgart and other stakeholders of the historic Estero Bay island say Mound Key is essential to learning the history of our area. The county’s purchase this week helps preserve the island for the future, Elgart said. 

“I’m happy it’s all now publicly owned, so it’s there for everybody to appreciate,” she said. 

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