Billie points to traditional Seminole bead work and palmetto fiber
dolls that she, her seven daughters and her grandmother makes to
sell at their vendor booth at pow-wows around the country.
we make has been passed along from generation to generation," Billie
says from her table at the 13th annual American Indian Arts Celebration
at the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation on Saturday afternoon.
She says she and her family make the traditional crafts to earn
extra income and to preserve their cultural heritage.
don't want to die out," Billie says. "If we lose our language and
our culture, then there's no more of what we are."
the cultural heritage of native people is the goal of the three-day
festival sponsored by the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, says Dorian Lange,
development officer with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The festival
includes vendors, visual artists, dancers, musicians and archaeologists
showcasing the cultural wonders of over 14 American Indian tribes
from across the United States. Additional attractions include an
alligator wrestling show, a critter show and performances by Martha
Redbone, Hank Nelson, Jr. and Cowbone.
Redbone, a New York City-based performer who is headlining the weekend
celebration, says it's important to know your past to get where
you're going. She says she draws on her Cherokee and Choctaw heritage
for her music, which she describes as rhythm and blues infused with
traditional native music.
of America and the world doesn't know Native Americans exist," Redbone
says, now in her fifth year as a performer at the event. "And we
don't exist like we're depicted in Hollywood films."
credits the Seminole Tribe of Florida for being progressive by preserving
the past while looking to the future for prosperity and cultural
no arrogance with all of their success," Redbone says. "There is
a great humility."
Sorrell, of Naples, said she came out on a whim on this chilly Saturday
afternoon to watch the traditional dancers.
I go wherever she goes," quipped her husband, Tony Sorrell, who
added that he has had a lifelong fascination with American Indian
Yellow Bird Apache, a family Native American dance, music and entertainment
group from Mesa, Ariz., performed an array of traditional Apache
dances, Elaine Sorrell said she's glad they made the trek from Naples,
and was impressed by the performances.
"Henehayo" Osceola, an artist from Ochopee, says that showing his
work gives him the opportunity to tell the story of his people.
history is written down. Ours is passed verbally," Osceola says
about his tribe the Everglades Miccosukee Tribe of Seminole
points to a painting entitled, "I Will Not Run," where yellows,
reds and blacks - his tribe's colors - set the background for a
black and white relief depiction of an American Indian elder. Osceola
says it's his grandfather's grandfather, Sam Jones, who evaded Andrew
Jackson's predatory efforts to kill him in the early 1800s. Within
his ancestor's eyes, Osceola painted a silhouette of armed soldiers.
hopes that his paintings will offer a narrative that will not only
tell their history, but also will provoke a discussion and raise
awareness to modern day issues surrounding American Indians.
are close to extinction," Osceola says. "There's not that many of
us left. I try to document it visually and want to leave something
behind. What were they about? How did they survive?"
In our language, Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki means 'a place to learn' We invite
you to come to the Big Cypress Reservation and learn about our exciting
history and culture. The museum exhibits and rare artifacts show
how our Seminole ancestors lived in the Florida swamps and Everglades.
The museum film, 'We Seminoles,' tells our story in our own words,
including our dramatic struggle to remain in Florida. Nature trails
will take you throughout the beautiful 60-acre cypress dome to a
living village. The museum also has interactive computers, and a
Native American gift shop. See you at the museum." "Sho-naa-bish!"