Skip to main content

Holey Land - History

Seminole Indians historic photo
Florida Photo Archives

By the mid-1700s, the original Indian cultures first encountered by European explorers were gone, their members killed or enslaved, or dead from diseases to which they had no resistance. A new group of Indians — a few hundred Seminoles and Miccosukees — escaped to south Florida at the end of the Second Seminole War in 1842. They established small settlements on the tree islands, hunted, fished, gardened, and collected wild foods. They plied the waterways in cypress canoes, and toward the end of the 19th century began trading desirable commodities of alligator hides and egret feathers, in exchange for sewing machines and provisions.

Crane digging a levee
Florida Photo Archives

Despite the remoteness of this unique, low-lying flooded landscape, early developers used drainage canals to try to transform the marshes and sloughs into farmable land. Severe damage to the Everglades ecosystem persisted through the early 1900s until the Everglades National Park was established in 1947. Florida passed the Everglades Forever Act in 1994 to address environmental concerns related to quality, quantity, and timing of water entering the Everglades. Ongoing restoration continues; for more information on Everglades restoration visit the South Florida Water Management District website.

Holey Land derived its name from reports that it was used as a practice bombing range during World War II and is pocked with bomb craters. However, these depressions may be the result of natural phenomena. Holey Land is part of the Everglades complex of Wildlife Management Areas that includes hydrologic restoration efforts.