Any discussion of Sanibel's history must include its first inhabitants, the Calusa. To honor the Calusa and their culture, the Sanibel Historical Village will hold Calusa Day on March 26 during regular hours, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
A number of activities are planned, including fun for the children. Museum volunteers and Calusa experts Susan Schmidt (in the morning) and Bonnie Frankel (in the afternoon) will talk with visitors in the museum's Calusa Room in the Rutland House. This room contains artifacts, shell tools, and a diorama showing how the Calusa lived. They created small villages and worked with natural resources (shells and native wood) to build their homes and, later, shell mounds. They most likely numbered in the many thousands from what is now Charlotte Harbor, to the Keys, and the east and west coasts of Southern Florida.
Karen Nelson, Calusa enthusiast and communications coordinator for the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, will speak at approximately 2:45 p.m. Her topic is the "Calusa/Spanish Interaction in the mid-1500s." Most of the known information about the Calusa comes from Spanish records of that time.
Museum volunteers and Calusa experts Bonnie Frankel and Susan Schmidt. PHOTO PROVIDED.
The Calusa eventually died first at the hands of Spanish explorers, and later of European illnesses, leaving behind shell mounds, skeletons, bones, wood carvings and pottery shards.
For information, call 472-4648 during business hours or visit sanibelmuseum.org.