The past, when viewed from the present, is often romanticized. Perhaps that is one of the reasons people enjoy thinking about precolumbian and early-colonial-period Florida. But was the past truly idyllic? Did the precolumbian native inhabitants of Florida enjoy a carefree life, living in harmony with one another, free from disease and warfare, as some modern faux Indians have claimed? Of course not. The precolumbian groups of Florida at times struggled to survive; they did attack one another, and some groups and individuals were successful in spreading political domination over others.
Over the long term, the archaeological record indicates that the precolumbian groups in Florida did make successful adjustments to the land and to one another. But there were good times as well as bad, times of famine and times of relative plenty. And bioarchaeologists who have studied the bony tissues of precolumbian Florida people tell us they suffered from endemic diseases, such things as treponematosis (a form of nonvenereal syphilis), spina bifida, osteomyelitis, and arthritis.
In the early colonial period, as more and more people from Europe arrived on the scene, life for the native Florida Indians only became more difficult. Introduced diseases and the colonial system reduced populations, caused alterations of traditional political systems, and disrupted what had previously been adequate subsistence systems.