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Uncovering Miami's Ancient Secrets: The Tequesta Civilization and the Modern Battle for Preservation

The Tequesta were a Native American tribe that lived in the southeastern part of Florida, primarily around the area that is now Miami. They were one of the earliest known inhabitants of the Miami region, with evidence of their presence dating back over 7,000 year-old-history.

Watch Miami Herald’s Interview of University of Miami’s Archeology Professors and Researchers Discoveries 

History and Culture

Early Inhabitants

The Tequesta settled in the region around Biscayne Bay and the Miami River. Their territory extended from the southern tip of Florida up to the area near present-day Boca Raton.


The Tequesta were primarily hunter-gatherers and fishers. They utilized the rich coastal and riverine resources, relying heavily on fish, shellfish, and other marine life. They also hunted deer, collected nuts, fruits, and other wild plant foods.

Social Structure

The Tequesta society was organized into small, familial clans. They lived in small villages of thatched huts and had a chief, or cacique, who governed their social and political affairs.

Religion and Beliefs

The Tequesta practiced animism, believing in the spiritual essence of natural elements. They also buried their dead in a ceremonial manner, often in mounds, and their religious practices included rituals to honor the spirits of the deceased.

European Contact

The arrival of the Spanish in the early 16th century marked the beginning of significant changes for the Tequesta. Juan Ponce de León was one of the first Europeans to encounter them in 1513. The Spanish attempted to convert the Tequesta to Christianity and established missions in their territory, but these efforts were largely unsuccessful.


The Tequesta population began to decline rapidly due to diseases brought by Europeans, to which they had no immunity, and conflicts with other tribes and European settlers. By the mid-18th century, the Tequesta were severely diminished, and many survivors eventually moved to Havana, Cuba, with the Spanish.

Archaeological Evidence

Archaeological sites such as the Miami Circle provide evidence of Tequesta habitation. The Miami Circle, discovered in 1998, is a series of holes cut into the limestone bedrock, believed to be the foundation of a Tequesta structure.


The legacy of the Tequesta remains significant in South Florida history. Their influence is still recognized in the names of various places and landmarks in the Miami area, and ongoing archaeological research continues to uncover more about their way of life and contributions to the region's history.

Preserve or Construct?

Should the City of Miami create a museum to create historic tourism to allow archaeologists to research humanity’s most ancient society or build another luxury condominium in Brickell?

The preservation efforts for an ancient Tequesta site in Miami. The Miami Preservation Board is working to protect this archaeological site, which contains evidence of the Tequesta tribe, including artifacts and structural remains. The site, located in downtown Miami, has significant historical value, shedding light on the indigenous culture that existed long before European contact. The preservation efforts aim to balance development with the need to protect and study this important cultural heritage.

Despite a protest from local Native American tribes, a preliminary vote by Miami's Historic and Environmental Preservation Board would allow some development at the 2,500-year-old archaeological site that sits at the mouth of the Miami River.

It could be the most significant local archaeological discovery since the nearby Miami Circle National Historic Landmark in 1998, the Miami Herald reports.

The Developer - Related Group

Related Group, a local development company that owns the parcels at 777 SE Fifth Street and 444 Brickell Ave., has plans to build a condo building and two other towers on the parcels.

The average prices of luxury condominiums developed by The Related Group vary significantly depending on the location and specific property features. Here are some examples:

  • The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Tampa | Starting price: $1,400,000
  • Solemar, Pompano Beach | Starting price: $1,300,000
  • Auberge Beach Residences & Spa, Fort Lauderdale |  Starting price: $2,795,900
  • Waldorf Astoria Residences, Pompano Beach | Prices vary, but they are part of the high-end market, similar to other luxury properties listed.
These prices reflect the premium nature of the properties, offering high-end amenities, prime locations, and exceptional design. For more detailed and updated information, visiting the specific property pages on The Related Group's website is recommended.

The Related Group, a major real estate development company known for its luxury condominiums and extensive development portfolio, has a substantial financial footprint. In 2023, the company reported an annual revenue of approximately $150 million. This figure highlights the scale of their operations and their significant impact in the real estate market.

For more detailed financial performance metrics, such as annual profit, specific figures are not readily available in public sources. However, considering the scale of their operations and revenue, it is clear that The Related Group remains a significant player in the real estate development industry.

For more detailed financial reports or insights, it would be beneficial to refer to their annual reports or financial disclosures if publicly available.

Development Portfolio

The Related Group is a leading real estate development firm focusing on a wide range of properties, including luxury condominiums, affordable and workforce housing, international projects, and mixed-use developments. Some notable properties include The St. Regis Residences, Casa Bella by B&B Italia, and Baccarat Residences in Miami, FL.

While specific annual profit figures are not disclosed on the website, The Related Group is recognized for its extensive and valuable portfolio, reflecting a robust financial performance within the real estate sector.

Jorge M. Pérez, the founder, chairman, and CEO of The Related Group, is a prominent philanthropist associated with the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). He is known for his substantial donations to the museum, which led to it being renamed in his honor. Pérez's contributions have significantly supported the museum's development, exhibitions, and community outreach programs.

For more information, you can visit the Pérez Art Museum Miami or The Related Group.

- Milanich, Jerald T. *Florida Indians and the Invasion from Europe*. University Press of Florida, 1995.
- Hann, John H. *Indians of Central and South Florida: 1513-1763*. University Press of Florida, 2003.
- [University of Florida Digital Collections](
- [Miami Circle at Brickell Point]

- The Related Group (
- Zippia (

These sources provide detailed historical and archaeological insights into the Tequesta tribe, their culture, and their interactions with European settlers.

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