Canku Ota Logo
Canku Ota
Canku Ota Logo
(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
pictograph divider
American Indians Celebrate Cultural Heritage At Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation
by Tristan Spinski - Naples (FL) Daily News
credits: Photos by Tristan Spinski - Naples (FL) Daily News

Tammie 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.

"Everything 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.

"We 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."

Preserving 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.

Martha 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.

"Most 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."

Redbone credits the Seminole Tribe of Florida for being progressive by preserving the past while looking to the future for prosperity and cultural survival.

"There's no arrogance with all of their success," Redbone says. "There is a great humility."

Elaine Sorrell, of Naples, said she came out on a whim on this chilly Saturday afternoon to watch the traditional dancers.

"And I go wherever she goes," quipped her husband, Tony Sorrell, who added that he has had a lifelong fascination with American Indian culture.

After 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.

Leroy "Henehayo" Osceola, an artist from Ochopee, says that showing his work gives him the opportunity to tell the story of his people.

"Your history is written down. Ours is passed verbally," Osceola says about his tribe – the Everglades Miccosukee Tribe of Seminole Nation.

He 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.

Osceola 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.

"We 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?"

pictograph divider

About Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum
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!"

pictograph divider
Home PageFront PageArchivesOur AwardsAbout Us
Kid's PageColoring BookCool LinksGuest BookEmail Us
pictograph divider
  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  
Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 of Vicki Barry and Paul Barry.
Canku Ota Logo   Canku Ota Logo
The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the
Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 of Paul C. Barry.
All Rights Reserved.

Site Meter
Thank You

Valid HTML 4.01!