Size: 53.3 acres
Habitat: Atlantic coastal ridge, archaeological islands, lake, and eight created wetlands.
Live oak, gumbo limbo, redbay, strangler fig, cypress, red maple, wild coffee, beautyberry, fire bush, pickerel weed, eel grass, alligator flag, spatterdock, duck potato, and rushes.
Wildlife: Great site to observe wading birds and ducks, wood storks, little blue and tricolored herons, anhinga, white ibis, and osprey. Snake Warrior’s Island is part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, which is a collection of nearly 500 sites throughout Florida selected for their excellent bird-watching and/or bird-education opportunities.
Concrete trail, interpretive signage, benches, and picnic tables.
A Little History: This 53.3-acre site is one of the most historic of Broward County Parks and Recreation’s natural areas. Prehistoric materials excavated there provide evidence of habitation by subsistence cultures dating from approximately 500 B.C.E. through roughly A.D. 1000 to 1200. Archaeologists have also confirmed that, centuries later, the site was the camp of the Miccosukee leader Chitto Tustenuggee. Also known as the Snake Warrior, Chitto Tustenuggee was designated by chief Sam Jones/Abiaka as his successor during the era of the Second Seminole War (1835-1842), when U.S. government troops clashed with the various groups of Native Americans collectively known as Seminoles.
Historians have identified the site as one of the earliest Seminole settlements in the eastern Everglades and speculate that it had been occupied for more than a dozen years before its Indian inhabitants were attacked and fled in 1841. According to an anonymous soldier’s account from that year, "Chitto Tustenuggee’s or Snake Warrior’s Island is a most beautiful spot, containing from 18 to 20 acres; the soil is extremely rich and two feet deep, lying on rotten limestone. The center is cleared, but the circumference is well protected by immense live oak and wild fig trees, and an almost impenetrable thicket of mangroves." The soldier also reported finding "two towns, two dancing grounds and one council lodge," as well as a variety of artifacts and an abundance of pumpkin, squash, melon, and lima bean plants.
The property was acquired by the Perry family in 1947 and became part of the commercial enterprise Perry Farms, which maintained the land as pasture. It was saved from further development largely due to civic interest in the property as an archaeological and historic site. In 1992 it was purchased by the State of Florida through the Emergency Archaeological Property Acquisition Fund, with assistance from the Trust for Public Land. For purposes of management and preservation, the state leases the land to Broward County, which opened it as a natural area on January 21, 2004.
Prior to drainage, the site consisted of two islands located at the headwaters of Snake Creek (an important canoe route between the coast and the interior), where the creek begins cutting through the Atlantic Coastal Ridge. Today Snake Warrior’s Island is characterized by upland areas, an oak hammock, and a series of re-created wetlands. The Parks and Recreation Division, in conjunction with the Broward County Office of Environmental Services (OES), has added such public-access features as a parking lot, a walkway with seating areas, picnic tables, interpretive signage, and fencing. Funding for the more than $1.2 million project was provided through OES and the 2000 Safe Park and Land Preservation Bond Referendum.
Aerial image of Snake Warrior's Island.
For more information about Snake Warrior's Island, call West Lake Park at 954-357-5161.
Snake Warrior’s Island Natural Area
3600 S.W. 62nd Ave., Miramar, FL 33023