Video: Stuart Reed // Florida’s First Travelogue: A Spanish Shipwreck Survivor’s Memoir of Enslavement with the Calusa Tribe for 17 Years // Art Deco Weekend 2024

Read Time: 2 mins
Stuart Reed

On Sunday, January 14, 2024, Stuart Reed presented his lecture “Florida’s First Travelogue: A Spanish Shipwreck Survivor’s Memoir of Enslavement with the Calusa Tribe for 17 Years” at the Art Deco Museum as part of the 47th annual Art Deco Weekend.

Lecture Description

Hernando D’Escalante Fontaneda was 13 years old when he survived a shipwreck in Florida in 1549. He and his brother were sailing from their home in Cartagena to be educated in Salamanca, Spain. In his memoir, Fontaneda wrote that the Calusas enslaved him rather than martyring him, like other shipwreck survivors, because he obeyed their commands to sing and dance. Seventeen years later, St. Augustine was founded and Fontaneda united with Governor Menendez to become his interpreter with Florida’s tribes for five years, as he claimed to have learned most tribes’ languages during his captivity. Many names of places in modern Florida were first written in his memoir, like “Mayaimi”, “Ocale”, “Apalache”, “Tanpe”, and more. His memoir describes the plants, animals, foods, customs, geography, and other details of pre-Spanish Florida, interwoven with personal stories and observations, mainly to help Spain settle and colonize the new territory. Fontaneda’s observations about pre-Spanish Florida will be discussed in the lecture, as well as the “New World” he lived in.

About the Speaker

Stuart Reed is an attorney and mediator currently living in Stuart, Florida. Reed opened his first solo office in 1997 in Miami Beach’s Historic City Hall. Soon after, he became a member and chair of the Sierra Club’s Miami Group and the City of Miami Beach’s Marine Authority. Reed is currently a member of the City of Miami Beach’s Historic Preservation Board and was recently a member of the Miami Design Preservation League’s Board of Directors.

Before he attended law school at Florida State University from 1989-1992, he worked for Miami Dade County’s Department of Environmental Resources Management as a pollution control inspector. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 1988 with major studies in Environmental Sciences. In 2003, he kayaked around the full circumference of Biscayne Bay with two friends, which took 8 days. At that time, he kayaked often and frequently wondered what life was like for the Tequesta tribe before the Spanish arrived, with so much seafood and freshwater around Biscayne Bay.

In 2006, he attended a lecture at the Wolfsonian Museum about the Tequesta tribe by Bob Carr, the state’s chief archaeologist who was supervising the Miami Circle’s excavation. He said that almost everything we know about Florida before the Spanish settlement came from Fontaneda’s memoirs. Since then, learning about Fontaneda and the world he lived in has been a passion for Reed. Says Reed: “His story is like a long-lost Spanish treasure that deserves to be shared with a wider audience.”

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Art Deco Weekend is produced and owned by the Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL) with major funding and support from the City of Miami Beach and the Miami Beach Cultural Arts Council, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, the Miami-Dade County Tourist Development Council and the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs.

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