Join Dr. Baram for a dynamic tour and interactive discussion of the historical events that took place around the spring

Read Dr. Baram’s full article about the various histories and the archaeological research that has informed the history at
Driving down Manatee Avenue (State Road 64), it is easy to assume all is recent. Yet going from Holmes Beach on Anna Maria Island eastward through Bradenton and then across the Braden River and on to Arcadia, the road passes impressive history, if one knows to look. Just north of Manatee Avenue in east Bradenton, Reflections of Manatee, Inc., has preserved and interpreted the past around the Manatee Mineral Spring. The historic marker might seem out-of-place but much history is beneath the surface.Manatee Mineral Springs
The history around the Manatee Mineral Spring is impressive, complicated and engaging. Reflections of Manatee, Inc., the stewards of the property, has collected a tremendous amount of information on those histories and has been generous in sharing the knowledge with scholars and community members. What is today a field with interpretative signs, a historic marker, sugar cane fields, and gardens was, many times over the centuries, a thriving center of social activities. From evidence of the Native American presence to suggestive insights into the modern period, archaeological excavations have informed the history, expanding understandings for many chapters and revealing new ones.
Piecing together the past, going beyond the simplifications and assumptions that muffle history in order to repair our understandings of what happened around the Manatee Mineral Spring is the goal of the research and studies. The individual chapters include stories of successes as well as destruction; the sweep of history illustrates the adaptations and significance of the spring to many peoples and times, but the goal is not to simply have a collection of historical facts. Rather delineating the many histories moves us to recognize the cosmopolitanism of the past, a thousand years of history of different peoples coming together at or near the Manatee Mineral Spring. Whether lives of pre-Columbian Native Americans, the Spaniards recording the coastline, the various peoples of African heritage coming together as a maroon community with help of British filibusters and Cuban fishermen, or the women and men of the Village of Manatee, the past was socially complicated and dynamic with each epoch having its own variation and several aspects of the built environment and modifications of the ecology leaving legacies for the next generation. The many histories around the spring are a reminder of those cosmopolitan eras with their diversity, and even if they are not visible on the surface now, we can appreciate the rich heritage that is beneath our feet

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