a. British Colonizers
b. Dutch Settlers
c. French Civilizers
d. Native American Residents
e. Portuguese Discoverers
f. Spanish Explorers
Miami, much to my Grandson’s surprise, was named for the Mayaimi, a Native American tribe that used to live in what is Florida today, and in particular the Miami area. Mayaimi meant “big water” to the Indians. They lived around Lake Okeechobee from the beginning of the Common Era until the 17th or 18 century, and Lake Okeechobee has a lot of around. It is shallow, with an average depth of 2.7 meters, but is 1,900 km2 total. The Mayaimi tribe is long gone, and they only left about 10 words recorded their extinction.
We know that their life was not bad for the times, because of a man name Hernando de Escalante Fontaneda, who, in the 16th century, lived with this tribe for 17 years. Actually, he was a boy when he began to live there. Hernando was born around 1536, and his father was a Spanish official in South America, probably Peru or Columbia. When Hernando was thirteen, he and his brother were sent to Spain to study in Salamanca, Spain. They never made it. Their ship was wrecked the coast of Florida, and Native Americans captured those who survived. Most of those survivors were eventually sacrificed; including Hernando’s brother, and the story is that young Hernando escaped death by singing and dancing for his captors on their command. A Pedro Menendez de Aviles, the first Spanish governor of Florida, eventually rescued the boy from captivity. Aviles founded the city of St. Augustine in 1565, and it is the oldest continuously inhabited established settlement within the borders of the continental United States.
Hernando served as an interpreter and a guide for Menendez for a couple of years, and did not get to Spain until 1569, when he was about 33, and definitely no longer a boy. In 1575, he wrote his memoir, which was and still is valuable to historians. He wrote about the communities, the people, the names of the caciques, and even something about the Fountain of Youth, which kept alive the myth of Ponce de Leon searching for the healing waters in Florida in the early 1500s, aka The Fountain of Youth. Indians made weapons and tools seashells at that time.
The Mayaimis built ceremonial mounds and platforms around the lake, and also dug canals, which they used as pathways for their canoes. They lived in little groups of 30 to 40 people and ate a lot of fish, snakes and alligators, but also something called coontie, that they made flour from. Coontie is a very resistant tropical plant that looks a bit like an ornamental succulent that somehow bred with a something in the palm family, except that it has pine cones. Curiously, it is also found the Grand Canyon. The Mayaimis used it much like the South American Indians used cassava root.
At the beginning of the 18th century, British colonists began to persistently raid the Mayaimi villages, capturing or killing the Indians. The captured Natives were sold slavery and by 1743, there are reports that there were less than 100 of the Mayaimis left. Most of them had been sold in Cuba or Barbados. The Mayaimi weren’t the only Native Americans driven to extinction. Other Indian groups, such as the Tequestas, the Calusas, and the Jaegas also inhabited what is Florida today for thousands of years before any Europeans arrived.
The Spanish deported a lot of the Native Americans to Cuba to be Christianized, where many of them died from smallpox and other diseases brought by the Europeans while the Spanish were taking over their land. But other Indians actually fled to Cuba to escape Spanish oppression. The long and the short of it was that the Indians did not accept that the King of Spain had dominion over their land. Florida, where slavery was banned in 1821, was already home to quite a good number of fugitive slaves, as well as free blacks that came from the South of America. They eventually mixed the Native Americans and became Black Seminoles. Black Seminoles became a distinct tribe and today there are about 2,000 of them living in Florida and calling themselves the “Unconquered People.”
The Tequestas left something called “The Miami Circle,” an archaeological site right in what is downtown Miami today. It is a perfect circle measuring 11.5 meters made up of 24 holes cut into limestone, and surrounded a large number of smaller holes. It is the only known prehistoric structure cut into bedrock in Eastern United States and is believed to be between 1,700 to 2,000 years old. It might have marked their capital, which is interesting because Miami is not the capital of the state of Florida.
The first permanent Europeans to settle in the Miami area arrived in 1800, and some of them were treasure hunters, there to hunt for valuables from all the shipwrecks off the Great Florida Reef. Many of them received Spanish land offers to settlers the Miami River.
Then, there were three Seminole Wars, the first in 1817-1818, the second from 1835-1842 and the third, a 4-day battle on Lake Okeechobee, in December of 1837. The wars were fought before the American Civil War (1861-1865) and began when the American military authorities arrived in Florida, which was not yet a state, in order to try to capture runaway slaves and generally take fertile Indian land. They also seized Spanish-held Pensacola and the end result was that in 1819, Spain was forced to surrender Florida to North America. But part of the treaty was that Spain got to keep Texas, although only until 1848.
These wars were the most destructive Indian wars in American history, causing an almost total loss of what was left of the Native Americans in the Miami area. Some soldiers stayed and made their homes after the wars, and some of the Seminoles made their homes in the Everglades. After the wars, in 1845, Florida became the 27th state in the Union. From that time on, immigrants began to arrive, mostly from Latin America, Africa and Asia.
The word cliffhanger comes from cliffs. Duh. Cliffs are vertical, or nearly vertical, rocks that have been formed by erosion and weathering. There are lots of famous cliffs, but the first ones that come to my mind are the White Cliffs of Dover, probably because there was a popular World War II song about them that was part of my childhood, and also because they are on the historical English coastline.
When one thinks of cliffhangers, England and its gothic novels always come to mind. Cliffhangers are the kind of story, book or movie that uses suspense either at the end of an episode or a scene. A good example was the way the final episode of Game of Thrones, season 5, was done. Jon Snow was dead. Or was he? Those of us who sweated it out until season 6 was aired were never really sure. The writers used old-fashioned melodrama, suspense and uncertainty, and the audience was left as if hanging from a cliff in a state of tension and apprehension. And that’s a true cliffhanger.
This part of the blog will not be able to offer any nail-biting cliffhangers, but it will have classes in series, and I hope they will be interesting enough that you will want to come back and read what happens next, even if you don’t lose sleep anticipating the next chapter. Enjoy.
I have known Betsy for a long time, and in all these years I have learned so much from her… not just English, but from her vast experience as a teacher and as a person. Being an excellent teacher is not just about knowing your subject perfectly (which is of course the case since English is her first language) but also about loving to learn and to relate to people from all kinds of backgrounds and ages. I had as much fun in her classes as a nerdy Star Wars / Elvis teen fan as I do now as busy working grown up!
Betsy is my little sister, and I am very proud of her for her amazing language capabilities. When she was just a small girl, she would sometimes make up new words when she needed to, to avoid being slowed down by not knowing the “mainstream” word. Example: her word, “benext”, a combination of “beside” and “next to”, which simple meant “do lado” (but long before she ever encountered Portuguese, of course).
Betsy and I worked together as teachers in an English School many years ago. The need of keeping my English fluent and updated inspired me to have classes with her, so, 3 other teachers and I formed a group for these classes. Betsy’s classes were always fun, full of new, challenging and interesting vocabulary, focusing on what was happening in the world and many times, with suggestions for our own classes. I still keep the material she prepared for us at that time and, surprisingly they are still fitted for my students. The environment where she teaches is so cozy that we believed we were abroad; this also contributed to the charm of the classes. Apart from that, Betsy and I have developed a strong friendship that has been kept alive up to now. I still turn to her whenever I need something and she never lets me down.
É com prazer que escrevo sobre minha grande amiga e professora Betsy. Além de possuir um excelente conteúdo, fruto de pesquisas em livros, revistas, internet etc., Betsy se preocupa em nos deixar a par dos mais recentes acontecimentos. Possui uma criatividade encontrada em poucos, fazendo com que suas aulas sejam bastante dinâmicas e divertidas. Tenho certeza que os ensinamentos em seu blog, trarão muitos proveitos para os alunos, permitindo que estes aprimorem seus conhecimentos na língua Inglesa.