Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Swamp Water Cafe and Billie Swamp Safari

Lunch time and the nearest (only) place for miles around is the Swamp Water Cafe, so that is where we went!  Casino attached to the cafe.
 The cafe, a zoo of sorts, a camp, a safari ... greeting by a huge tortoise ...
 Cattle and swamp ...
 Kumquat pie (but we didn't have any) ... we had "Indian" tacos ...
 This same guy in the shade with
 Fenced walkway to view the reptiles.  There was a caged panther that I couldn't look at (have a hard time looking at caged animals.)
 Out to the airboat rides ...
 ... you have to wear earplugs, the engine is so loud!
 Cabins for camp.  Eric called this "Swamp Camp", as opposed to "Sea Camp" (where he went in 7th grade.)

Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki - The Boardwalk - Part 3

Surrounding the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Seminole Indian museum is a one mile raised boardwalk which winds its way through an Everglades Cypress Dome.  On the Big Cypress Reservation, this is the land on which the Seminoles make their life. 
 Tall cypress trees.

Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Photographs

This is what alerted me to the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki.  There is something "frozen in time" on photographs that makes them very real for me. - From this NPR site:
The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Seminole Indian Museum on the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation in Florida has a new exhibit that gives patrons a rare glimpse into the past.

Taken by photographer Julian Dimock during a 1910 expedition across the undrained and untamed landscape of tropical wetlands and cypress hammocks of southern Florida, the photos show everyday activities and portraits of the Seminole people he encountered.

At the time, Florida was the final frontier for settlers and explorers — there were no roads to take through the alligator-, snake- and mosquito-infested wetlands. Dimock and his party waded and canoed their way for miles through the back country. They hoped to photograph Seminole subjects who, only 50 years earlier, had been fighting a guerrilla war against the U.S. government — and had never surrendered.

In addition to the topological challenges, Dimock also had to lug heavy photography equipment, including a big box camera and glass lantern slides for negatives. Anytime he wanted a shot, he had to hop out of the dugout canoe and set up. Then he had to get his glass slides all the way back to New York in one piece.

Dimock's photos sat in storage at the American Museum of Natural History for nearly a century before they were rediscovered. Now, descendents may finally see the faces of their Seminole ancestors, and view their everyday lives.
 More information about these photos on this NPR site.

These are some of my photos of the photos, with much glare from the glass ...

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki (Part 1)

Some call the casino derived wealth of Native Americans the red man's revenge.  There are about 3800 Seminole Indians in Florida now, all with lifetime paid health insurance and education/tuition.  Their casinos are in Fort Lauderdale.  We drove over to the Seminole reservation in Southwestern Florida to visit the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki museum, which means "a place to learn".  There is much to learn about this fascinating tribe ... much information on their website as well! 

The road to the reservation went through miles of flat Florida fields, many with cattle.  Seminoles, besides running their gaming businesses, are cowboys!
 In a state with so much urban sprawl on its coasts, this is refreshing.  Quiet.  More than 50 miles of not seeing another car on the road, until we came upon this ...
 John thought it looked like the Clampetts.
Met Eric at the museum ...
( My hair IS finally growing, albeit no bangs yet! )
Seminole history begins in the 1700s when the Creek Indians migrated (from Alabama and Mississippi) to Florida's Spanish missions.  Here they mixed with the area's native peoples.  By 1800 conflicts with the white settlers escalated into wars.  Most Seminoles were forcibly moved west of the Mississippi.  By the end of the century only 300 survivors remained in the Florida swamps.

The Seminoles masterfully conquered the difficult terrain of the Everglades.  Their natural ways sustained them and set them apart as a people - culturally, economically and environmentally.

Interestingly, they never surrendered.  (This definitely gives them legal advantage when dealing with the U.S. Government. ) The Seminole Tribe of Florida now governs itself, with its own laws and police department.  Its citizens are also U.S. citizens.   They look to be prospering.  The homes on the reservation are modern, some new, some double wides - all neatly kept with chickees in the yards.

Here are some photos from the museum.  We wondered how they stayed cool in the Florida heat and humidity in all those fancy clothes.  I suspect that this is not every day wear ...