The Retirees in the South East USA – Ah Tah Thi Ki Museum of the Seminole tribes of Florida

After the Gator show we drove deeper into the everglades to the Seminole Reservation at Big Cypress to visit Ah Tah Thi Ki Museum of the Seminole tribes of Florida (the Seminole are not only found in Florida and were not the only native tribe inhabiting these everglades, but they are the “undefeated “tribe).

The word “Seminole” is derived from the Creek word simanó-li, which may itself be derived from the Spanish word cimarrón, meaning “runaway” or “wild one”. Seminole culture is largely derived from that of the Creek; the most important ceremony is the Green Corn Dance; other notable traditions include use of the black drink and ritual tobacco. As the Seminole adapted to Florida environs, they developed local traditions, such as the construction of open-air, thatched-roof houses known as chickees. After the United States achieved independence, its settlers increased pressure on Seminole lands, leading to the Seminole Wars (1818–1858). Perhaps fewer than 200 Seminoles remained in Florida after the Third Seminole War (1855–1858), but they fostered a resurgence in traditional customs and a culture of staunch independence. In the late 19th century, the Florida Seminole re-established limited relations with the U.S. government and in 1930 received 5,000 acres (20 km2) of reservation lands. Few Seminole moved to reservations until the 1940s; they re-organised their government and received federal recognition in 1957 as the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

The museum starts with a video history of the tribes and how they avoided being forced into government reservations in the west like the Seminoles of Oklahoma. They have a number of static displays of the Seminoles life at the time of Europeans moving into the everglades. There are some other garments displayed created by the Choctaws and Cherokee tribes. There is also a bush walk where you can see the remains of a Seminole camp and information on the native plants and animals.

This was a big day of driving made even bigger by Kerry’s desire to travel back to Fort Lauderdale the long way around by travel beside a lake. Unfortunately, the lake was surrounded by levee banks so all we saw was grassy slopes of levees. I did not photograph these features.