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The Tocobaga developed many tools for hunting, cooking, and eating. From the thick shells they made hammers, dugout chopping tools, net weights, gorgets, plummets, and beads. They lived on top of shells, slept with shells, ate with shell plates and spoons, traded shells, and were buried with shells
By Lucas Huguley2013-2014
For the first 500-600 years, the Tocobaga tribe was the original natives of the Tampa Bay area. They had a rich and simple life.
Around the time of 1528, Spanish explorers discovered the Tampa Bay area. They found the Tocobaga tribe and brought disease and violence to the peaceful tribe. By the seventeenth century, the Tocobaga tribe no longer existed.
The Tocobaga’s enjoyed the huge harvest from Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. They ate clams, oysters, conchs, and fish . This was their primary source of food.
Another delicacy they had were manatees, which were abundant in the nearby waters. The coming of the first white man destroyed all of this.
Tocobaga Cultural Beliefs
The Tocobaga Indians built mounds within their villages, where the chief's home and the tribe's temple were each built on a mound.
The Tocobaga also built burial mounds outside the main village area as a place for burying the dead.
When the Tocobagas chief died they would place them in a temple for every person to see for four days. When the chief died the Tocobagas would not eat for four days.
One such tool was the adz. The adz was made of a shell or pointed stone tied to the end of a curved branch. It was used for digging.
For hunting, the Tocobaga Indians used a throwing stick called an atlatl. It looked and functioned much like a spear. It was used to kill animals for food and clothing. While hunting, the Tocobaga would wear deerskin, or sometimes deer heads over themselves, to get close enough to the animals to kill them.
During this time, the Tampa Bay area was rich with other animals such as deer, rabbits, armadillo, and squirrels. The Tocobaga were great hunters.
They also gathered a variety of berries, nuts, and fruit to supplement their diet. Interestingly, the Tocobaga Indians had corn, an unusual find in the Tampa Bay area. It is not clear how they got the corn, but it is speculated that they may have traded with a northern tribe for it.
The Tocobaga’s believed they had three souls: their shadow, their image in a pond, and the pupil of their eye. When Indians died, two souls departed the body and went into the body of a smaller animal, like a fish.
The Tocobaga Indians lived in small villages. Each village was built around a public area that was used as a meeting place. The houses mostly round and built with wooden poles holding up a roof of palm thatches.
The towns had a central plaza as well as a temple mound. The important residents lived around the plaza and the lesser privileged lived in small huts situated farther away.
The women of the Tocobaga tribes had a garbage heap called a midden, which was located next to their kitchen. Middens were created by the Tocoboga's use of shellfish for food. The midden consisted of a mound of shells that had grown and packed together throughout the years as shells were discarded after every meal.
One of the Tocobaga’s main source of food from land was deer.
While hunting, the Tocobaga would wear deerskin, or sometimes deer heads over themselves, to get close enough to the animals to kill them.