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“Camp Uzita” opens for the season on December 15th
BRADENTON, FLORIDA -- De Soto National Memorial Superintendent Scott Pardue announced that a day of special activities will explore the history of the De Soto Expedition on Saturday, December 15th. This day kicks-off the 34th season of living history programs in Camp Uzita.
The name "Camp Uzita" conjures up images of the initial contact and conflict between conquistadors and Native Americans. The camp evokes the feel of the village of "Uzita," De Soto's base camp in the Tampa Bay area, named after Chief Uzita whose people De Soto first encountered in Florida. Camp activities instill a sense of what 16th century life was like along the West Coast of Florida.
“The mission of the camp and the park as a whole is to educate the public about the significant impacts the De Soto Expedition had on the future of this land,” remarked Superintendent Pardue. “There is no better way to gain an understanding of the hardships encountered byboth the Spanish and the Native Americans than through this recreated camp.”
Ranger led programs are designed to provide opportunities each day for visitors to learn about the four year, 4,000 mile expedition of De Soto and his army. Throughout the season, at the top of each hour, the 21-minute film “Hernando de Soto in America” will be shown in the Visitor Center. Daily programs in the living history camp focus on camp life, Native American and Spanish culture. Between formal programs, visitors can explore the camp with Rangers dressed in authentic period clothing as they demonstrate cooking, blacksmithing, native crafts, arrow head making and 16th century weapons such as the Spanish arquebus (an early firearm) and crossbow. A unique addition to the camp this season is a child-safe crossbow suitable for children to fire under Ranger supervision, and offered every Saturday there will be Native American mask painting where children can paint their own masks to take home with them.
On Saturday, December 15th, National Park rangers in 16th century costume, along with living history volunteers from Calderons’ Company, will present the following special programs:
De Soto The Untold Stories – Come explore with us the differences in Spanish and Native Southeast cultures as they were thrust together upon the land known as La Florida. Here about some of the lesser known stories of people involved in the events of 1539. Learn about some of the unique events and individual histories that helped shape Florida and North America for the next 500 years.
Times: 10:00, 11:30, 1:00
Weapon demonstrations follow each presentation.
12:30 La Comida - Come learn from volunteer Shelia Benjamin about the delights of a 16th century Spanish kitchen, including holiday meals!
2:00 Native mask painting – Come out and let the kids learn the unique roles masks played in Native American society. Let them experience a native practice by painting their own masks, which they will be able to keep and remember the experience
2:30 What the Friar Saw -- Join our volunteer “Friar” Ted Bonstedt in Camp Uzita as he tells the fascinating tale of the role and adventures of Catholic priests on De Soto’s expedition.
De Soto National Memorial is located at the end of 75th Street NW in Bradenton. Entrance to the park is free, as are all activities. The Park is open from sunrise to sunset; the Visitor Center and parking area close at 5:00 p.m. The camp will be open daily this season from December 15th through March 30th. The park is closed Christmas, and New Years Days.
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