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Special Exhibition

The People of the Water



Village Fort Center, Fisheating Creek.











The Historical Society of Palm Beach County will present the special exhibition THE PEOPLE OF THE WATER, at the Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History Museum in the 1916 Court House from September 3, 2013 – June 28, 2014.

By 1763, when the Spanish left Florida, those who had ruled the watery world of central and south Florida for over 3,000 years were no more. The exhibition will showcase their culture as it was before the landing of Ponce de León in 1513.

This incredible history has been revealed through archaeological excavations near Belle Glade, Palm Beach County’s westernmost city, and Boynton Beach, the southern boundary of the Belle Glade Culture. Two stories will be told simultaneously in the exhibition People of the Water, the history of the Belle Glade Culture and the experience of uncovering the sites. Actual artifacts on loan from the Lawrence E. Will Museum of the Glades, Belle Glade; Florida Museum of Natural History; and Florida Atlantic University, discovered by our state’s own “Indiana Jones” archaeologists will be displayed for the first time ever, along with plenty of text and illustrations. A video of an archaeological dig at the Boynton Beach Mound Complex, led by FAU Graduate student Rebecca Stitt will also be shown. There will also be hands-on replica artifacts such as an example of weaving using natural jute fiber, shell pick ax, shell dipper, shark tooth tool, cordage made from sabal palm fiber and various other items typically found throughout Florida during this time.

In conjunction with the exhibition and as part of the Society’s Distinguished Lecture Series, lecturer and author Jerald T. Milanich will present “Extraordinary Archaeological Culture of South Florida” Dr. Milanich was the excavator of the material on loan from the Florida Museum of Natural History. February 12, 2014 at 7:00 PM in the 1916 Court House. Cost – $20.00 non-member, $10.00 members. Barefoot Mailman level and up FREE.

In the late 1960's Florida Atlantic University archaeologist William Sears directed excavations at a large Belle Glade Culture archaeological site on Fisheating Creek on the west side of Lake Okeechobee. The excavations at the Fort Center site, named for a nineteenth-century U.S. Army fort from the Second Seminole War, provided extraordinary information about the Belle Glade people and their earthworks.

In his illustrated lecture, Jerald T. Milanich will focus on the Fort Center site, the complex Belle Glade earthworks, and the people who built them. Artifacts from Fort Center and other Belle Glade sites are featured in “People of the Water.”

For more information about the exhibition and lecture series, please visit or call 561-832-4164.

Funding provided in-part by The Florida Humanities Council, Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners, Tourist Development Council, and The Cultural Council of Palm Beach County.


Click image for Middle School Teacher's Guide by the Lawrence E. Will Museum, Belle Glade.

 Click on images for People of the Water Lesson Plans Grades 3-5













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