UzitaShores is an undiscovered nature preserve between Tampa and Bradenton on Tampa Bay’s shoreline. EnjoyTampa Bay fishing, canoeing Little Manatee River and Tampa Bay, camping, hiking, and famous for excellent birding. Visit its State Park, County Park, and Aquatic Preserve. Place where Hernando De Soto landed in Florida in 1539. The De Soto 1539-1543 Expedition starts here and runs through Florida and Georgia. Florida from 10,000 BC to 1700 AD was home of American Indians and the Timucua tribe. Also, discovery of Ice Age fossils at Leisey shell pits.
Uzita (Uçita) was the name of a 16th century chiefdom, of its chief town and of its chief. The chief town was near the mouth of the Little Manatee River on the south side of Tampa Bay, Florida. The territory of Uzita was said to extend from the Little Manatee River to Sarasota Bay. Uzita were part of the Safety Harbor culture. The people of Uzita were the first inhabitants of Florida encountered by both the Narváez expedition in 1528 and the de Soto expedition in 1539. The town of Uzita consisted the chief's house on a mound, seven or eight other houses, and a "temple" (apparently a charnel house). The houses were made of wood and palm thatch, and probably housed a large number of people each. The Uzitans used bows and arrows. The Spanish described the bows as being very long. Some arrows were sharpened reeds that could pierce a shield, or splinter and penetrate chain mail, while others had fish bone or stone points. The Uzitans practiced human sacrifice. Juan Ortíz, who had been sent on a small boat to search for the missing Narvaez expedition, was captured by the Uzitans. For several years the Uzitans had set him to guard the bodies in the charnel house from wild animals at night. Utiza, the chief, planned to roast Juan Ortíz over a grill, but the chief's daughter requested her father to not sacrifice Ortíz. When the chief later planned again to sacrifice Ortíz, the chief's daughter helped Ortíz to escape to the neighboring chiefdom of Mocoso. Uzita is not mentioned in Spanish records after the departure of the de Soto expedition. In the early 17th century the area where Uzita had been located was known as Pojoy.
LemoyneRibaultMon Two Worlds Meet
Uzita Located Mouth of Little Manatee River in 1539
by Hernando De Soto Expedition
1539 - 1543 De Soto Expedition Trail starts at UzitaShores H.C. Cockroach Bay County Park
Beginng of De Soto Trail at Cockroach Bay
"Because of its pristine condition, Cockroach Bay has become established as Tampa Bay's premier estuarine outdoor classroom for generations of students of all ages."
Randy Runnels, Former Aquatic Preserve Manager
4,800 acres of sovereign submerged lands
Office of Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas
Download a fact sheet. (pdf - 999 KB)