Chief Chekika’s Island hideout in the Everglades.
A nearly forgotten place,
yet an important piece of Florida history!
(tap or click pic to read)
The infamous Indian Key raid and massacre that occurred
on this day in 1840 fits into the much broader
context of the Second Seminole War.
In the days leading up to this, Chekika’s band of warriors would have been traversing the Shark River Slough aka, the “River of Grass”. Once out of the slough, they would have navigated the maze of coastal mangroves and exited into Florida Bay probably in the vicinity of today’s Flamingo. The final stretch of about 30 miles across Florida Bay enabled them to reach the keys near Indian Key where they lay in wait to launch their surprise attack. There is plenty of information on the Indian Key attack itself, but not much on Chekika’s home base which was at the time hidden deep in the unknown Everglades.
Today thousands of daily motorists unknowingly drive right past it on their way to or from the west coast on the Tamiami Trail!
There is limited historical information about Chief Chekika, but he was said to be a man of great stature at over 6ft tall and 200lbs plus. He was a leader in his people’s struggle against the US Government’s genocidal policies, generally referred to as the Second Seminole War. This war was a direct result of a very dark chapter in American History called the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and the ensuing Trail of Tears. It’s because of this that dislocated native peoples were driven deeper down into Florida and eventually the Everglades. The systematic destruction of native culture, removal and outright genocide was official government policy. Sadly this grave injustice has yet to addressed by our government nearly 200 years later!
Mother, should I trust the Government?
The earliest reference to Chekika is from July 23, 1839 when he led a successful raid on the Caloosahatchee Trading Post in which Lt col. Harney barely escaped with his life. It would appear that Harney then held a personal grudge against Chekika, and the events that unfolded next played right into this. Chekika’s plan was to raid the large stockpiles of salvage and other supplies stored in warehouses on Indian Key. These were owned and maintained by Captain Jacob Housman, who owned most the of island. On August 7, 1840 Chekika and his band of 60-130 warriors attacked and raided the Key in what is sometimes called the Indian Key Massacre. Upwards of 18 people were killed by the time mayhem was over including Dr. Perrine and the whole town was burned. Chekika’s band left Indian Key with 28 canoes and six of Houseman’s boats filled with all the loot. They sailed and paddled the 90 odd miles back to their base at Chekika Island hidden inside the endless Everglades.
Full story at:
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