Calusa Heritage Day is back! Mark your calendars for Saturday, March 25, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Calusa Heritage Trail, Randell Research Center, 13810 Waterfront Drive, Pineland. This year's event will include the first public tours on the parcel that contains the Smith (burial) Mound.
The Smith Mound was described as early as 1895 and is a burial mound made mostly of sand from about 1,000 A.D. The Smith Mound is named after Capt. John Smith who saved the mound from being taken down entirely in 1926.
Calusa Heritage Day is a history festival celebrating the Calusa Indian legacy. There will be outdoor archaeology and ecology exhibits/presentations with guided walking and boat tours.
Under the speaker's tent attendees can listen to Dr. Torben Rick of the Smithson-ian Institution at 10:15 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.; Rachel Kangas of the Florida Public Archaeology Network at 11:30 a.m.; Dr. Bill Marquardt, Randell Research Center Director, at 12:30 p.m.; and Merald Clark, anthropologist and graphic artist, at 1:30 p.m.
A highlight of this year's event are the "Harbor History Boat Tours," narrated by Denege Patterson, the author of "A Tour of the Islands of Pine Island Sound: Their Geology, Archaeology, and History'."
"These boat tours are with Captiva Cruises," Patterson said. "They are scheduled at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The fee for these tours is $35 per adult and $25 per child under 12, in addition to the festival entry fee. Make your reservation by calling Captiva Cruises at 239-472-5300.
"The Harbor Tour begins in Wilson Cut boat channel at Pineland introducing Pine Island Sound, its origins and its importance today," Patterson said. "Cruising past Part Island we learn how an archaeologist from the Smithsonian Institution in 1895 formed his famous theory of how shell mounds began in Pine Island Sound. From there we go to Useppa Island and the era of grand hotels, tarpon fishing, Cuban fishing ranchos, American military outposts and more recently, international CIA intrigue."
The Harbor Tour also includes the fish houses of Pine Island Sound, Captiva Pass, Cayo Costa, Cabbage Key and the mysterious Mondongo Island. There will also be opportunities to taste food enjoyed by the Calusa at Pineland over 1,000 years ago. Visitors can sample shellfish and fruit.
Food will be available from Little Lilly's Island Deli and The Perfect Cup, and free water will be available. Please bring a refillable water bottle.
Park at the Randell Research Center. Make your reservation by calling Captiva Cruises 239-472-5300 for either the 10:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. departure.
The cost for Calusa Heritage Day is $5; free for members and children 11 and under. Visit www.flmnh.ufl.edu/calendar/grid/calusa-heritage-day/ or call 239-283-2157