How the Calusa Lived. The Calusa lived on the coast and along the inner waterways. They built their homes on stilts and wove Palmetto leaves to fashion roofs, but they didn't construct any walls. The Calusa Indians did not farm like the other Indian tribes in Florida. Instead, they fished for food on the coast, bays, rivers, and waterways.
Culture. Early Spanish and French sources referred to the tribe, its chief town, and its chief as Calos, Calus, Caalus, and Carlos. Hernando de Escalante Fontaneda, a Spaniard held captive by the Calusa in the 16th century, recorded that Calusa meant "fierce people" in their language. By the early 19th century, Anglo-Americans in the area used the term Calusa for the people.
Calusa Indians generally built houses near the water, and they were erected on stilts to protect them from floods. Their homes had no walls, and they made their roofs out of woven palmetto leaves. The tribe did not rely on agriculture for food. They probably gathered certain wild fruits and vegetables, but they didn’t actually grow anything.
What were Calusa homes like in the past? Calusa houses didn't have any walls. They were more like canopies--roofs of palm leaves supported by wooden poles. Here is a picture of Native American shelters like the ones Calusa Indians used. Calusa villages, on the other hand, were very complicated to build.
Mound Key Archaeological State Park is a shell midden mound in the Estero Bay that is estimated to have been inhabited over 2,000 years ago. The first people to live on the island were the Calusa Native Americans, who were known as a fierce people.
The Calusa, however, relied mainly on catching fish like mullet, sharks, turtles, shellfish, and other animals from the coasts, estuaries, and mangrove forests around their villages.
Calusa, North American Indian tribe that inhabited the southwest coast of Florida from Tampa Bay to Cape Sable and Cape Florida, together with all the outlying keys. According to some authorities their territory also extended inland as far as Lake Okeechobee.Their linguistic affiliation is not certain. Their estimated population in 1650 was 3,000 living in 50 villages.
Spanish explorers estimated that the tribe was large, perhaps as many as 50,000 Calusa’s inhabited the islands, known as the Marquesas at the time according to ancient maps. The tribe lived and built their homes on the larger more established islands that had an accumulation of sand (sandy beaches) on their western side.
The Calusa are said to have been the descendants of Palaeo-Indians who inhabited Southwest Florida about 12000 years ago. The ancestors of the Calusa are said to have survived by hunting prehistoric animals such as woolly mammoths and giant tortoises, and collecting fruits and other edible plants.
From several firsthand accounts of south Florida Indians written by Europeans, it is apparent that the Calusa were socially complex and politically powerful. Calusa influence extended over most of south Florida in the sixteenth century. The Calusa were well established, with a population of several thousand.