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Miami - Bill Baggs Cape, Key Biscayne

Bill Baggs cape, Key Biscayne, Miami

Key Biscayne is an island east of Miami, where 12K people live. Why is it called Key? Isn't it an island? When the Spanish arrived to the New World, they took the word 'cayo' from the Taino Indians of Hispaniola (today's Haiti-Dominican republic) and Cuba, which used 'cayo' to refer to small islands. While in Spain, we use the word 'isla' for island and 'islet' for small island, the Spanish in the New World used 'cayo' and 'cayuelo' for a very small island. The English used 'cay' as in Hawks Cay, so it ultimately became 'key'. Hence the Caribbean is full of keys surrounding the bigger islands.

Key Biscayne offers the perfect background for a relaxing day in the nature. Beaches are public, long and sandy, parking lots huge and barbecues mushroom along with picnic tables. I always enjoy spending time in places where you can see the life of the local i.e. where the average family would spend a day. We parked and took a walk on the beach, followed by a climb to the top of Cape Florida Lighthouse, a brick structure from 1845 that offers superb views of the bay. This lighthouse  replaced the previous lighthouse which was damaged in 1836 during the Second Seminole War.

Around the lighthouse, we can still read about the history and get a feeling of the houses back then.

The Seminole Wars
Also known as the Florida Wars, were three conflicts in Florida between the Seminole — collective name given to the amalgamation of various groups of Native Americans and African Americans settled in Florida - and the United States Army. Together the Seminole Wars were the longest and most expensive Indian Wars in United States history.
  • The First Seminole War (1816-1819) began with US army excursions into West Florida and Spanish Florida against the Seminoles after the conclusion of the War of 1812. The governments of Britain and Spain both expressed outrage over the "invasion". Spain was unable to defend its territory, and the Spanish Crown agreed to cede Florida to the United States in the Adams–Onís Treaty of 1819. According to another treaty (signed in Moultrie Creek, 1823), the Seminoles were required to leave northern Florida and were confined to a large reservation in the center of the Florida peninsula. The U.S. government enforced the treaty by building a series of forts and trading posts in the territory, mainly along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.
  • The Second Seminole War (1835-1842) was the result of the United States government attempting to force the Seminoles to leave Florida altogether. Raids and skirmishes and a handful of larger battles raged throughout the peninsula, with the outgunned and outnumbered Seminoles effectively using guerrilla warfare to frustrate the ever more numerous American forces. After several years chasing bands of Seminole warriors through the wilderness, the US Army changed tactics and began destroying Seminole farms and villages. This cruel strategy proved quite effective and changed the course of the war. Most of the Seminole population in Florida was killed in battle, ravaged by starvation and disease, or relocated to Indian Territory in modern Oklahoma. Only a few hundred Seminoles were allowed to remain in an unofficial reservation in southwest Florida.
  • The Third Seminole War (1855-1858) was again the result of Seminoles responding to US Army scouting parties encroaching on their lands, perhaps deliberately to provoke a violent response that would result in the removal of the last of the Seminoles from the area. After an army destroyed a Seminole plantation west of the Everglades in December 1855, Chief Billy Bowlegs led a raid near Fort Myers. This set off a conflict which consisted mainly of raids and reprisals with no large battles fought. American forces again strove to destroy the Seminoles' food supply, and in 1858, most of the remaining Seminoles, weary of war and facing starvation, agreed to be shipped to Oklahoma in exchange for promises of safe passage and cash payments to their chiefs. An estimated 100 Seminoles still refused to leave and retreated deep into the Everglades to live on land that was unwanted by white settlers.

Bill Baggs cape, Key Biscayne, Miami
Walking from the beach, back to the road towards the lighthouse.
Bill Baggs cape, Key Biscayne, Miami
Bill Baggs cape, Key Biscayne, Miami
Bill Baggs cape, Key Biscayne, Miami
Bill Baggs cape, Key Biscayne, Miami
Bill Baggs cape, Key Biscayne, Miami

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