Curse of the Calusa

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Curse of the Calusa

Curse of the Calusa

[image:AmyKlein/flickr] Calusa Site

The ancient Calusa were a large group of Native Americans who functioned much the same way a medieval colony would. There was a ruler who resided in a village that would be the capital. He had his trusted advisors who helped him make important decisions. There were those who acted as nobles would and on the opposite end, there were the commoners.

Curse of the Calusa

Calusa Exhibit

In 1566 a Calusa named Caluus, or Carlos, was the “King.” In trying to form a truce between the Calusa and the Spaniards, Carlos agreed to a marriage between his sister and a Spaniard named Pedro Menéndez de Aviles. Menéndez left a group of soldiers behind, who would be the downfall of the great Calusa “King.” The truce wasn’t enough to reconcile their differences and when tensions mounted, the soldiers started killing. They took out not only Carlos, but his successor and other members of importance in the Calusa world.

Eventually, the Calusa died out. Be it from diseases brought over from settlers, being taken into slavery, or all-out-warfare, they ceased to occupy the area. Their remains, however, were still being found in 1970. In one particular case, by a 14-year-old boy named David. David Taylor wanted to be an archaeologist. He was constantly digging around searching for ancient artifacts. When he found the remains of an ancient Calusa, who was adorned with silver and gold beads, he thought he had hit the jackpot. One key artifact that he found that day was a gold medallion, roughly the size of a matchbook and etched with symbols of a dead language. A gold medallion that is thought to carry a curse. This gold medallion, and this very mound of remains, is believed to be that of the Calusa “King,” Carlos.

Curse of the Calusa

Calusa Indian

Knowing the belief that their people put into the powers of their leaders, it would be no surprise that this medallion would carry a heavy load of angry resentment. Carlos was betrayed and it’s likely that if he was wearing the medallion when it happened, he may have inserted the curse into it, hoping that it would reach his enemies. Instead, it lay waiting for one unsuspecting boy. In the months following the boy’s discovery, his mother said that he was “increasingly nervous” and “obsessed with thoughts of Indians.” He was also plagued by nightmares.

One night David’s mother had a nightmare, where she was standing in deep water with David and he was holding the medallion. He dropped it and she told him to leave it, but he just laughed before he disappeared underwater. Three days after this, David’s lifeless body was found. Being confined at home with the flu had him extremely restless and he talked his mother into letting him go outside. A decision she would likely later regret. When he didn’t come home she sent someone to look for him. Not too far away, they found him hanging in a low tree, by the string of the medallion.

Maybe it was the curse, intended for Carlos’ enemies that took this poor boy’s life. It’s also possible that he was just a curious youth who got a bad idea from a T.V. show. Just before this happened, David had seen a show where a man partially choked himself in order to communicate with spirits. Perhaps he wanted to know more about Carlos from the “King” himself. Or maybe, he wanted to ask him how to lift the curse.

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