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Forever Changed: La Florida, 1513–1565

In 1513, Juan Ponce de León’s expedition landed on Florida shores. This event marked the beginning of the European and African presence in Florida and in the United States. The Spaniards were the first Europeans to arrive. At the time, several hundred thousand to perhaps one million Indigenous people lived in Florida, in dozens of distinct groups. They included diverse cultures such as the Timucua, Apalachee, and Calusa people. Though they shared important cultural traits, there were many differences as well. The way of life of Florida’s Indigenous inhabitants was impacted drastically as Spain established a foothold that lasted for nearly 300 years.