I find the recent craze in paddle boarding fascinating and symbolic. The culmination of this craze locally occurred this past weekend with “Paddlefest 2014,” organized by Mike Flaugh and Cam Collins. Hundreds of young people and adults were able able to get on the water, many for the very first time, to make a personal connection with the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.
As we navigate our waters today, we must keep in mind the history of other Florida people’s who used a similar, handmade, “standing,” basically flat board, hundreds of years before us. Most notably, here in Stuart, the Ais Indians and later the Seminoles.
The Ais lived prior to the mid 1700s roughly from Stuart to Titusville, before their population was decimated by the Spanish; the Seminoles came to Florida from the Southeastern United States to avoid capture, and they too used dugout canoes, very similar to today’s paddle boards to move through the waterways and swamps.
I think the fighting and earth protecting spirit of the Indians is coming back with each person who takes up paddle boarding. In the 1600s, Jonathan Dickinson and others documented the Ais as the most warlike of all Florida tribes never succumbing to their captors, the remaining few left for Cuba. And the Seminoles? We know that story, they outsmarted the US Government, retreating to the interior of the Everglades, and never surrendered.
With a blessing and a plea for forgiveness, for our Native Peoples’ exterminated by prior generations before us, may their spirt protect and inspire us, in our modern fight against our US and State Government, and in many ways ourselves, to save the beautiful, the sacred, the Indian River Lagoon.
Ais Indians: (http://www.ancientnative.org/ais.php)
Ais Indians Genealogy/History : (http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/ais-tribe-of-florida.htm)
Seminole Tribe of Florida: (http://www.semtribe.com)
Coastal Paddleboarding, Stuart, Florida (http://coastalpaddleboarding.com)