Canoeing the Miami River was an experience outside of our norm. Occasionally, we take our kayaks out in the backcountry of the Everglades or a camping trip in the Ten Thousand Islands. So when my friend who runs an eco tour company, Christopher Scott Boykin, invited us, we joined one of his “Moon Over Miami” trips.
As we were headed towards the meet up point, I was recalling some of the old Florida stories my college botany professor, Dr. Bennett, use to discuss with us in class. He would describe how just 100 years ago, the Miami River had an abundance of freshwater springs; including some rapids along its stretch as you can see pictured below.
So I further researched the river and found that the early inhabitants of the area were the Tequesta Indians. The archeological site we know today as the Miami Circle, was a Tequesta village about 1900 years ago. Furthermore, if you followed the river up north to what was then called Lake Mayaimi (now Lake Okeechobee), you had natives living around the lake known as the “Mayaimi”. Miami is named after the Miami River, which was derived from Lake Mayaimis and the Mayaimi people. Fast forward a couple thousand years to modern times, and the Miami river is heavily polluted; however, there have been some recent efforts to improve its conditions.
Looking back to the historical content of an area that you’re about to visit can amplify your overall experience. As we canoed up the river among skyscrapers and million dollar yachts, one can only imagine what it must have been to live like the Tequesta; among raging rapids and unspoiled springs in the mouth of the Miami River.
Written by Mario Cisneros