Ah-Tah-Thi-ki Seminole Museum


THEIR MISSION IS TO CELEBRATE, PRESERVE, AND INTERPRET SEMINOLE CULTURE AND HISTORY


The Seminole people are descendents of the Muskogean speaking peoples who lived in the valleys of the Apalachicola and Chattahoochee Rivers. In the 1700s, pressured by white settlement in South Carolina and Georgia, some chose to migrate south to Florida where the Spanish colonial government welcomed them as trading partners. Having been divided by geography and circumstance from their ancestors, by the mid 1700s the Indians of Florida came to be called “cimarrones” by the Spanish, meaning “wild ones”. They thought of themselves as “yat'siminoli” or “free people”.

A series of conflicts, the War of 1812, the Creek Wars and the Seminole Wars, and treaties that disrupted the Seminole way of life ultimately resulted in the forcible removal of most Indians from Florida. A core band of Seminoles, however, refused to surrender; approximately 300-700 survived and remained in Florida. Revitalizing their cultural identity, drawing strength from their matriarchal clans, and adapting their cultural arts were all key to their survival as a people and a sovereign nation. Between the end of the Third Seminole War in 1858 and federal recognition as the Seminole Tribe of Florida in 1957, the Seminoles kept ancient traditions alive deep in the lands of the Everglades and Big Cypress Swamp.

The cultural tradition of patchwork is easily distinguishable by bright colors and block patterns. Each patch represents something familiar to the Seminoles.

Patchwork came to fashion in the early part of the 20th century. Prior to this, Seminole women's clothing echoed that of other southeastern tribes. The woman wearing many strands of glass beads is Suzie Billie (Panther Clan). Seminole women wore as many strands of glass necklaces as they could afford. In the 1834 images of Seminole women you will notice the plainer designs. Full length skirts have always been the norm. In the more recent past, Seminole women’s style was to show a small amount of mid-drift between the blouse and skirt, and translucent material for their capes. In the 1930s through 1950s, tourist travelling along the Tamiami Trail to Miami liked to purchase hand-made Seminole skirts and capes. 

The style of the 20th century Seminole man consisted of a bright, varicolored, calico shirt, narrow at the waist and wrists, with the expanding skirt reaching to the knees. Some wore bandana kerchiefs around their neck. Depending on the time period, some wore turbans put together with bandanas, calico cloth, or plaid wool blankets. They were held in place with a broad band of beaten silver. In the vintage photo, George Osceola is wearing beaded belts across his waist and chest. Both have long trailing tassels. Glass beads were traditionally used to make belts, necklaces, garters and fobs. Shown here is a 19th century beaded sash. Notice the intricate work and the tassels at the end, both of which are common to Seminole belts.


CLICK THE IMAGES BELOW TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE SEMINOLE CULTURE, HERITAGE, AND THE MUSEUM



PLAN YOUR VISIT


MUSEUM ADDRESS:
Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation
34725 West Boundary Road,
Clewiston, FL 33440
MAILING ADDRESS:
Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum
Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation
30290 Josie Billie Hwy, PMB 1003
Clewiston, FL 33440
PHONE: (877) 902-1113 
EMAIL: museum@semtribe.com
HOURS: Open 7 days a week 9:00am to 5:00pm
WEBSITE: http://www.ahtahthiki.com/


page information credit: The Seminole Tribe, Florida Department of Historical Resources, University of Miami, Florida Memory Project, Florida teacher curriculum guide 2014, Florida guide to native plants, previous Trail website material, and anonymous sources
photos from the sources listed above, as well as publicly posted online sites with thanks to the contributors