Human Heritage and Natural Heritage in the Everglades
Department of Conflict Resolution Studies
International Journal of Heritage Studies
Human society and the natural environment of the south Florida Everglades developed simultaneously. From the beginning the human perspective was inherently exploitative. Archaic Indians occupied all the high natural ground but neither farmed nor lived in the Everglades. This culture and succeeding Indian cultures persisted for thousands of years with the population sustainably capped by food supply and availability of high ground. After Spanish contact, Indian society collapsed leading to a 150‐year hiatus in human occupation. In the late 1800s for the first time newly immigrated Indians took up residence in the Everglades; European‐derived Americans settled high ground and agriculture developed. Within 100 years thereafter, half of the Everglades had been drained and the population of south Florida had reached 6.2 million residents. The overall exploitation of the Everglades’ resources during the 20th century reflects the area as a place of transience. Contemporary human relationships with the environment appear to be different in scope but not in fundamentals from cultures that came before. Until the contact period, humans had adapted their culture to sustain communities in balance with the difficult landscape. Today’s human population dominates the natural environment, although perhaps only in the short term. It remains to be determined whether cultural views can change quickly enough to secure a new viable carrying capacity.
Kushlan, J. A., & Smith-Cavros, E. (2007). Human Heritage and Natural Heritage in the Everglades. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 13 (4-5), 335-349. https://doi.org/10.1080/13527250701350959