chickee talk by Tina Osceola

Celebrating Native Naples

Welcome to November! It is officially Native American Heritage Month. Folks who are new to Naples may not know that they are living on native lands and among the Seminole and Miccosukee people. If not for any other reason than it being November, now is the time to learn about Florida’s native peoples and who best to learn from than the Seminole and Miccosukee. All you need is one day in your car or a few hours on the internet, both Tribes give you plenty of opportunities to plugin and download some useful information.

Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation

Photo from the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki
Museum website

“Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki”, in our language, means a place to learn, a place to remember. I may be completely biased but I feel that everyone needs to start their journey here. Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki was the nation’s first tribally-governed museum to be accredited by the American Association of Museums. The campus itself sits under the dome of a beautiful cypress hammock and is home to the Tribe’s national treasures, more than 180,000 artifacts and archival items that help to celebrate, preserve and interpret Seminole culture and history. Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki tells the Seminole story from the first person. Everything from the exhibits, museum store, architecture, boardwalk and Village have been interpreted from the perspective of the Seminole. This experience is worth the trek! If you can’t make the drive, please visit the website.

Miccosukee Indian Village and Museum, Tamiami Trail, Miami- Dade County, Mile Marker 136

Photo from Miccosukee’s content

Although Miccosukee’s Village and Museum are closed due to COVID-19 protocols, the gift shop is open Friday-Sunday. However, use this opportunity to add a placeholder for things to do when COVID restrictions are lifted. The village itself boasts artist demonstrations, alligator wrestling and a boardwalk that takes you out into the sawgrass prairie. The tribal museum will draw you into a village setting while the voices of the Miccosukee people tell you about who they are.

Corey Billie Airboat Rides, 20610 Tamiami Trail E, Naples, FL 34114

Photo from the Corey Billie website

If you want to take a short drive east along Tamiami Trail, you will come across a roadside airboat attraction owned by Seminole Tribal Member, Corey Billie. Corey grew up a few miles east of his boat docks, in the small town of Ochopee. Corey employs only locals to take people out on tours of a 200-acre preserve. Gliding across the vast expanses of Florida’s Everglades is the perfect backdrop to learn about Florida’s Seminoles, pioneers and even some local legends about the infamous Everglades.

Tribal Festivals

Hopefully 2022 will bring back the outdoor arts and crafts events hosted by the Tribes. November kicks off every season with the American Indian Arts Celebration at the Ah-Tah-Thi- Ki Museum. More than 50 artists and vendors converge upon the museum grounds for the public to enjoy Native musicians, dancers, alligator wrestling and storytellers. The local food vendors also setup for folks to buy some scrumptious pumpkin fry bread, Indian Tacos, and Indian Burgers! I quit typing after three menu items because I started to get hungry! This year will have a virtual component, so please check out

December ushers in the Miccosukee Indian Arts and Crafts Festival, held annually from December 26 to January 1. This festival has been held since the 1970’s and is well known for its numerous dance performances, Apache Fire Dancers, Aztec Dancers and Miccosukee Fashion Shows. I know it seems like a
long time to wait, but the Tribe is small and strict protocols have kept its tribal members as safe as possible. artsfestival

The Seminole Tribe of Florida hosts its annual Tribal Fair and Pow Wow in February. This year’s plans are still a bit up in the air, but it should be our 50th Anniversary. More than a hundred vendors selling native arts, crafts and memorabilia line the halls of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, FL, creating endless rows of shopping temptations. Our tribal members also bring out their best to compete in clothing and art contests. It truly is the time to join us as we celebrate our arts and culture in a public forum. Make sure you keep checking for more information! I hope that you enjoy November and use the time to celebrate our native people and cultures! Remember, regardless of where you travel or live, you walk upon the lands of the indigenous.

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