Europeans arriving at Hutchinson Island in the 16th century found the island populated by hundreds of Native Americans living in settlements bordering both the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River.
The rich marine environment provided these Native Americans a diet of fish, shellfish, and sea animals, including whale and sea turtle. The land provided them with deer, bear, snakes, and edible and medicinal plants.
Because of the lack of hard stone, tools and weapons were fashioned from bone, shell, and wood. Vessels were made from gourds, wood, and clay. Wooden dugout canoes efficiently ferried groups and families from the Atlantic Ocean to the St. Lucie and Indian Rivers.
Archaeologists have documented numerous prehistoric sites on Hutchinson Island. Many sites have been damaged by hurricanes and looters. Gilbert's Bar House of Refuge was built on top of a prehistoric settlement dating to as early as circa 800 BC.
By the late 18th century, disease, warfare, and slave raids had decimated the Native American populations. There are no known descendants of the first people of Hutchinson Island.