Living in the Florida Keys, tiny key deer run through the pine forests, mangroves, and freshwater wetlands. They roam in search of freshwater, swimming across the stretches of water to small islands.
Before the arrival of Spanish missionaries, the southern part of what is now Florida was inhabited by the a native tribe called the Calusa. Through the two hundred years that followed those first incursions, the Calusa resisted Spanish missionaries and colonists, but eventually were decimated and the small remaining population mostly fled to Cuba. Very little remains about their cultural heritage, but beautiful wooden figureheads and masks have been excavated by archaeologists, submerged in flooded plains that protected their integrity and bright colors. Many of these uncovered relics have been of animal masks, and deer in particular. In some of the few writings about what those first missionaries saw, Father Juan Rogal wrote in 1567:
...they attempted to climb up to our fort to hold a procession with their masks, coming from a little hill, where they had their houses, to the hill on which our fort was located. Between these hills there was a little valley where they were accustomed to promenade in view of the people... And the women adored them and sang their praises.
Size: 7 x 7 inches