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467th Commemoration of de Soto Expedition

De Soto National Memorial

National Park News

De Soto National Memorial Acting Superintendent, Sandy Brue invites the public to join the park in two days of activities on Saturday, May 27th and Sunday, May 28th to commemorate the 467th anniversary of the beginning of the Hernando de Soto expedition. This particular Entrada (Spanish for first expedition and conquest of a country) began some 467 years ago when Spanish conquistadors, horses, and war dogs splashed ashore in the lower Tampa Bay area on May 30, 1539. What followed were violent encounters with Native Americans while searching fruitlessly for a civilization possessing gold and jewels like the Aztecs of Mexico or the Incas of Peru. Four years later, with de Soto dead and half his men gone, the expedition found its way back to Spanish settlements in Mexico. Eventually the descriptions of new peoples and abundant lands provided by survivors would help to inspire other Europeans to colonize North America.

On Saturday, May 27th activities in the park will be as follows:

9:30 Ranger Talk - What Brought de Soto Here? Meet at the Visitor Center beach (prior to boat landing). 9:45 – 10:45 The Landing - Be there as de Soto and his army begin their four year, four thousand mile odyssey! Conquistador Walk – Join the conquistadors, on a walk through the mangroves to Camp Uzita with stops along the way to discuss life in “La Florida.”

11:00 De Soto’s Cavalry – Join our volunteer Heidi May for an exciting Cavalry demonstration. Meet the descendants of the horses that de Soto brought (Paso Fino) and discover how they were used.

11:45 Warriors: Tools of the Trade – See (and hear) a matchlock musket (called the arquebus) being fired along with other period weapons demonstrated.

1:00 Piñata Demonstration - Celebrate the 467th Anniversary of de Soto’s expedition 16th century style with a demonstration and the history of the piñata (fun for kids!)

2:00 Words from a Woman - Join our volunteer Elizabeth Neily and learn the story of the women on the expedition; those they met, those who went and those who were left behind.

3:00 Ranger Talk - The Legacy of the de Soto Expedition – Meet for the final program in Camp Uzita.

On Sunday, May 28th activities in the park will be as follows:

10:00 Ranger talk - de Soto before La Florida

11:00 Warriors: Tools of the Trade – See (and hear) a matchlock musket (called the arquebus) being fired along with other period weapons demonstrated.

12:00 La Comida - Volunteer Shelia Benjamin talks about the delights of a 16th Century Spanish kitchen!

1:00 Captured by Indians!-The Juan Ortiz Story – Learn the exciting story of Hernando de Soto’s chief translator, Juan Ortiz, by noted local archaeologist, Bill Burger.

2:00 Cross in the Sand - Join our volunteer “Friar” Ted Bonstedt in Camp Uzita as he tells the fascinating tale of the priests on de Soto’s expedition.

3:00 Ranger talk - The Legacy of the de Soto Expedition.

Special Program in the Bishop Planetarium, South Florida Museum

5:00 p.m. W.D. Sugg Memorial Speaker Series-de Soto, The Man and The Myth – To be held at the Bishop Planetarium, South Florida Museum. Noted author, Charles R. Ewen, PhD, Professor, Department of Anthropology and Director, ECU Archaeology Laboratories, will present a program titled, “Conquistadors and Pirates: The Archaeology of Celebrities.” Dr. Ewen will be available, after his presentation, to autograph copies of, Hernando de Soto Among the Apalachee: The Archaeology of the First Winter Encampment and his new release X Marks the Spot: The Archaeology of Piracy.” RSVP-Limited Seating 746-4131, Ext. 20 De Soto National Memorial is located at the end of 75th Street NW in Bradenton, Florida. Entrance to the park is free, as are all activities. The Park is open from sunrise to sunset; the parking area closes at 5:00 p.m.


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