The Trail of Florida’s Indian Heritage (originally called, “Trail of Lost Tribes”) was founded in 2000 by independent heritage interpreters Karen Fraley (Karen Majdiak Willey) and Martha (Marty) Ardren. The goal was to develop a network of publicly-accessible archaeological sites in Florida for cross-marketing and educational purposes. This concept immediately received support from managers of such sites, Florida-based archaeologists, and Dr. James J. Miller, who was the State Archaeologist of Florida and Chief of the Bureau of Archaeological Research at the Florida Department of State.
At first the Trail developed along the Gulf Coast as a network of representatives of twelve archaeological sites, three heritage tour operators interpreting these sites, seven museums with pre-Columbian collections and one research center. Network members wrote the Trail's first Mission Statement: “To promote awareness, responsible visitation and protection of the remaining cultural sites of the original people of Florida. Interpretation will engage all levels, will be consistent and based on current science to encourage heritage tourism.”
In 2002, Trail members voted to seek grants to produce an archaeology speaker series for the general public and a brochure to encourage archaeological/heritage tourism. This effort was sponsored by Time Sifters Archaeology Society in Sarasota, a chapter of the Florida Anthropological Society. Grants were awarded to the Trail from the Florida Humanities Council, VISIT FLORIDA, and the Frank E. Duckwall Foundation. The speaker series received strong support from academics and the general public. The Trail also produced its first full-color archaeological tourism-promotion brochure and distributed 25,000 copies free of charge through Trail sites, heritage interpreters, the convention and visitor bureaus in the 10 counties where Trail sites were located, FAS chapters, schools, and universities.
By 2003, the Trail had grown to 21 sites and three independent heritage interpreters. It became a Florida nonprofit organization, formed an Advisory Council. The volunteer Board of Directors began the process of applying for Federal nonprofit 501c3 status.
In 2007, with grant assistance provided by the Bureau of Historic Preservation, Division of Historical Resources, Florida Department of State, and assisted by the Florida Historical Commission, the Trail produced the booklet, “Florida Native American Heritage Trail”, which includes more than 100 destinations where visitors can experience the rich history and modern culture of Florida’s native people. This publication also provides an account of the 12,000-plus years of Native American presence and significance in Florida, and includes special interest topics and biographies of individuals important to Florida’s Native American heritage are presented throughout the publication.
Today we have 70 sites and interpreter, as well as a growing list of non-profit members and convention and visitors bureaus. We will be working on our 9th edition of the Trail guide publication in 2018, and we have plans for travelling exhibitions and a mobile app.
"The Trail of Florida's Indian Heritage is not just about the ancients, but about the total sweep of time and continuity from the first humans who entered Florida to the present Native Americans here." [Roger Block, founding member Trail of Florida’s Indian Heritage]
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Mike Thomin, President
Sherry Robinson Svekis, Vice President
Austin Bell, Secretary
Ron Fekete, Treasurer
Tamara Allen, Immediate Past President
Martha (Marty) Ardren, Trail Co-Founder, Membership Chair
Dr. Sorna Khakzad
Roger Block, Ph.D.
Former President, Trail of Florida's Indian Heritage
Mary Glowacki, Ph.D.,
FL Bureau of Archaeological Research Chief and State Archaeologist
Chief Justice, Seminole Tribe of Florida
Karen Fraley Willey
Trail Co-founder; Owner, Around the Bend Nature Tours
William H. Marquardt, Ph.D.
Curator in Archaeology, FL Museum of Natural History
Director, Silver River Museum and Environmental Education Center