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It’s time for some local history!

Hernando DeSoto was a notorious Spanish Conquistador on a quest to lead a major expedition to conquer Florida for the Spanish crown. Many people don’t know de Soto first landed in Florida right here in Ruskin. He traveled over 4,000 miles throughout the region now known as the Southern US, clashing with Native Americans along the way. In May of 1539, de Soto entered Florida here in Ruskin along the banks of the Little Manatee River. He encountered a settlement of Native Americans known as the Uzita. They made camp with the Uzita using a Spanish soldier they found living as a Native American as a guide. After two months de Soto and his men began their march inland and continued their mission to conquer and settle the Americas. Seven aboriginal mounds have been found on a 3 mile stretch of the Little Manatee River between the river’s mouth and the town of Ruskin. Due to the Little Manatee River’s unspoiled beauty, you can still imagine this place as it was in the 1500’s when you tour with us. If you’d like to learn more about this early native American tribe, Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Center produced a video detailing the Uzita way of life.

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