The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum and Museum Store Sunday

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by Rebecca Petrie, Retail Manager

This November there will be a new post-Thanksgiving shopping event- Museum Store Sunday!  Museum stores from around the globe – from Belgium to New Zealand and all across the USA – will participate on Sunday, November 26 (the Sunday after Thanksgiving). With a tag line “Be a Patron” this event encourages holiday shoppers to remember their favorite museum stores. Shoppers will not only find quality gifts filled with inspiration and educational value, but through their purchases, will also directly support their favorite museums. Buying gifts at a museum store helps to foster ongoing appreciation and knowledge of art, nature, culture, science, and history of that museum. As a patron your purchase from the museum store helps to sustain the museum’s service to the public. What a wonderful win-win situation!

The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum Store will be offering a free gift with every purchase on November 26 as well as a chance to win our newest Seminole Doll ornament the Seminole Boy Doll.

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Seminole Boy Doll ornament

Joining the beloved girl doll, the Seminole Boy Doll is also a mouth-blown glass ornament that is hand-painted in the old European tradition. His big shirt is decorated with glittering rick-rack and patchwork and in addition he wears real feathers in his turban as well as a fabric neckerchief around his neck. A collectable item designed exclusively for the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, these ornaments are only available for a short time.

Requests for both of our exclusive Girl and Boy Doll ornaments have been tremendous as folks know that these designs change every holiday season.

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ALL of the 2017 Seminole Doll Ornaments!

The doll ornaments have joined our other exclusive ornament – one that has been popular for the past seven years – the Seminole Patchwork ornament.  The 2017 Patchwork ornament continues the celebration Seminole Tribe of  Florida’s 60th years of federal recognition.

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2017 Seminole Patchwork inspired ornament

Adapted from the patchwork pattern on a big shirt worn by Tiger Tail, the blue ball is encircled with sparkling golden diamonds (60 years = Diamond Anniversary) and deep red bands.

These are only a few of the treasures that you will find at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum Store this holiday season and throughout the year – we have books on Seminole history as well as hand crafted jewelry, clothing that sparkles and changes colors and much, much more.

We here at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum Store encourage you to make the beautiful drive to the Big Cypress Seminole reservation on Sunday, November 26 to Be a Patron!  If you can’t make it to visit us, then please check out your local museum store – you will be richly rewarded!

To see a sampling of the items available at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum Store please go to http://www.seminole-store.com/ and for a full listing of the Museum’s events check out http://www.ahtahthiki.com/

For more information about Museum Store Sunday and a full listing of participating museum stores please go to https://museumstoresunday.org/

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Che Hun Tamo

By David Higgins, Facilities Manager

2017 has been a long year for hurricanes and it is not over yet.  Hurricane season ends November 30th but hurricanes have been known to go through December and January of some years.  Hurricane Irma definitely affected many people throughout the state of Florida and caused lots of damage and flooding.  The Seminole Tribe of Florida and their members where affected in all of the reservations.  The Ah-Tah-Thi- Ki Museum is located on the Big Cypress Reservation in Hendry County and was affected by Hurricane Irma.  The storm only caused minor damage to some of our buildings and some of our traditional chickees.

Large chickee lost part of its roof section.
Several chickees had holes in their roofs

The most impacted thing at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum by hurricane Irma was our mile long boardwalk which meanders through our cypress dome forest.  We had over 13 large cypress trees fall through and on top of our boardwalk and numerous amounts of smaller trees and branches.

 

Branches and debris had fallen on the boardwalk

Large cypress trees had fallen through the boardwalk

With the hard work and dedication of the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum staff and the Tribal Historic Preservation staff we worked to remove all of the debris from the boardwalk.  The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum maintenance staff went to work on removing the large cypress trees and repairing the boardwalk.  It took a little over two weeks of long, hard, hot days and hard work and a little getting wet in the cypress dome but the repairs and removal of the trees was completed.

Trees being removed
Repairs being made to the boardwalk

The Ah Tah Thi Ki Museum’s boardwalk is one of its most popular aspects of the museum and visitors come from all over the country to enjoy the museum and its boardwalk.  It was very important to us to get it opened as quickly as possible for our visitors and Tribal members.  There are still traces of the large cypress trees that fell from Hurricane Irma and they will slowly decay and help give back nutrients to the rest of the cypress forest.  I want to invite you on behalf of the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum’s maintenance staff, the museum staff, THPO staff, and the Seminole Tribe of Florida to come and visit their incredible museum and boardwalk.  To walk around their boardwalk and look for yourself, the strength of Hurricane Irma and the incredible force it took to take down 140+ year old trees.  Learn more about the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum: check out our website http://www.ahtahthiki.com/ , Twitter, and Facebook.

Boardwalk fully repaired after the storm

Lost in the Swamp: The Search for Fort Shackelford

By Shawn Keyte, Tribal Archaeology Section

The purpose of the Fort Shackelford project is to determine the exact location of the fort using historical maps and documents, archaeological investigations, metal detecting, Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), and input from the Tribal community. Recording the exact location of Fort Shackelford will allow the Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO) to help tell the Seminole story and continue to protect and preserve Seminole Heritage.

History of Fort Shackelford

Fort Shackelford was built by the United States Army in February of 1855 on the edge of the Everglades (Eck 2002). The fort was created to serve as an outpost for further exploration of the Everglades during the U.S. Government’s attempt at Indian Removal in the early and mid-1850s. During that time, the U.S. Government offered land to white settlers if they remained armed and available to the U.S Army in the event of any further conflict with the Seminoles.

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Fort Shackelford likely would have consisted of a 12 foot by 12 foot block house for the officers, and a 40 foot by 40 foot stockade type area for the enlisted soldiers and their tents (Ellis 2016). The fort was built in a wetland and occupied by U.S. soldiers during the dry season for about four months, until the rainy season arrived and flooded the area. In June 1855, the fort was abandoned with the hopes of returning during the next dry season. In December of 1855, U.S. Army Lt. George Hartsuff was tasked with assessing Fort Shackelford to determine if the fort was in good enough condition to once again house troops. Hartsuff and a small contingent of men headed for Big Cypress only to find the fort had been burned down by the Seminoles. On their return trip to Fort Myers, Hartsuff and his men were reportedly ambushed by a group of Seminoles led by Billy Bowlegs (Eck 2002). Hartsuff returned to Fort Myers and reported the attack, which ultimately renewed hostilities between the U.S. and the Seminoles. Since then, the exact location of the fort has been shrouded in mystery

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In the early 1940s, government surveyor D. Graham Copeland placed several concrete markers around Southwest Florida marking historic sites. One such marker was placed by one of Copeland’s colleagues in what was thought to be the location of Fort Shackelford; but since Copeland did not place the marker himself, it is uncertain if the marker was placed in the right location (Hanson nd). Adding to the confusion, information from the Tribal Community indicates that after the marker was placed, it was moved to hide the Fort’s location from treasure hunters. Additionally, the area where the marker may have been moved to may have been “salted” to try and prevent any further looting by treasure hunters or those looking to take advantage of the Seminoles. “Salting” is basically the act of someone placing an item or items in an area where treasure hunters might frequent in hopes of tricking them into thinking they found something of value. It is uncertain if the marker was actually moved from its original location, but the idea that it “may or may not” have been moved has proven to be just as effective as actually moving the marker.

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Archaeology of the Fort

Since Fort Shackelford has proven to be an elusive site, the THPO undertook archival, architectural, and archaeological research over the past year to determine if any evidence of the fort remains. Various historical maps provide a general vicinity of where the fort might be located, but with the lack of technology available in the 1850s it is almost certain that the maps are inaccurate. So where do we start? The Tribal Archaeology Section (TAS) began the investigation around the Copeland marker on the Big Cypress Reservation. Metal detection, shovel testing (systematic digging of holes in an area), and phase II excavations (placement of a 1 meter by meter hole), conducted by the TAS have all yielded several metallic items, many of which were too corroded to identify. The TAS did however locate around 12-15 square nails near the marker that date to the time period of the fort’s construction (mid 1850’s). In addition, 3 musket balls or ball shot were located approximately 100 meters (328 feet) to the west of the Copeland marker. Musket balls can be very tough to identify and are currently being re-evaluated at the THPO Curatorial building to determine whether or not they are historic or modern. The square nails provide hope that the TAS is looking in the right area, but one would expect to find more than 12-15 square nails at the site of a fort. Also, there has been a large amount of charcoal discovered during shovel testing and phase II excavations, which supports the claim that the fort was burned down.

Adding to the difficulty of locating a fort in a swamp that was burned 150+ years ago is the fact that the area surrounding the Copeland marker has been farmed at least since 1968. This is apparent by the lack of irrigation canals in the 1948 aerial photograph (bottom left), and the irrigation canals seen in the 1968 aerial photograph (bottom right). According to a Tribal member, watermelon farming occurred in the fields around the Copeland marker, and this would have included the plowing of the fields. The plowing or disking needed for watermelon farming would have gone to a depth of approximately 24 inches. This would likely cause any remains of the fort to be scattered throughout the field.

 

Conclusion

Historically, Fort Shackelford represents part of the Seminole’s struggle to survive during the U.S. Government’s attempts at Indian removal, as well as the role the fort played late in the Seminole War Era. Recording the actual location, memorializing it, and presenting our findings to the Tribal Community are all part of protecting and preserving Seminole heritage. The TAS will continue to search for more nails and more charcoal in hopes of finding a large amount of both in a small area to try and locate the exact location of Fort Shackelford.

 

References

Eck, Christopher R., 2002 South Florida’s Prelude to War: Army Correspondence Concerning Miami, Fort Dallas, and the Everglades Prior to the Outbreak of the Third Seminole War, 1850-1855. Tequesta. Historical Museum of Southern Florida.

Ellis, G. (2016). Gulf Archaeology Research Institute. (S. Keyte, Interviewer) Ocala, Florida.

Hanson, W. Stanley, N.D. Letter from D. Graham Copeland to W. Stanley Hanson, June 19, 1941.

Scott, H. L. 1814-1886. (1861). Military dictionary: comprising technical definitions; information on raising and keeping troops; actual service, including makeshifts and improved matériel; and law, government, regulation, and administration relating to land forces. London: Trübner and Co..

 

 

 

It’s Bigger on the Inside

 By Tara Backhouse and Misty Snyder

Hello Everyone!

Last February we brought you exciting news of our inventory project! Ok, you may be scratching your heads now, wondering how inventory can be exciting.  If so, than you need to read Misty’s blog from February!  As she demonstrates, any project with person-sized boxes is exciting.

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It is also exciting because of the story behind the inventory, and the story of what we inventoried. We have a collection of nearly 200,000 items, and that collection is always growing.  In the last 10 years, it has grown by over 700%!  We now have over 2000 historic objects and pieces of art, 20,000 newspapers, maps, documents, works on paper, and audiovisual materials, and at least 145,000 photographs. Hundreds of our documents, letters, maps and newspapers date from the 19th century, and they tell us about the Seminole War period and the Seminole Tribe’s journey to self-determination.  The postcards and photographs from the post-war late 19th and early 20th century show the Tribe’s journey to federal recognition and financial success.

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The Museum is a special place. We serve the Seminole community and we are dedicated to preserving Tribal history as well as its current events.  We continue to collect photographs, documents and audiovisual material that document the Tribe’s activities in recent decades. In fact, most of our photographs have come from the Seminole Tribune, the Tribe’s newspaper. The Tribune photographers have traversed all six Seminole reservations and associated communities for the last 30-40 years, documenting important people, events and community life, as well as featuring historical pieces about the Indians of Florida. These photographs tell the story of a tribe famous for leading the charge in Indian sovereignty during the decades they charted that path.

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A 2015 donation of 30,000 photographs was quite a challenge to organize!

 

We were honored to have taken custody of these photographs. However, they rapidly filled our vault, and we wondered how we’d have space to properly house these objects.  Also, we wondered how we’d be able to keep taking important donations for years to come.  We knew we couldn’t make the vault bigger, so what was our next option?

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Large Fixed Shelving Filled Up Fast and Left Two Much Empty Floor Space!

 

With the help of a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services we were able to begin a renovation project in the fall of 2016. The first step was to inventory and pack the collection, and this is when Misty had to use the person-sized boxes!

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This step was complete in early 2017 and after the contents of the vault were moved to museum-quality off-site storage, we got into the nitty gritty of the demo phase.  The carpet and dropped ceiling were removed.  Then a layer of concrete was poured at the back of the vault in order to create a raised area where the movable shelving could be installed onto rails.  The edges of the ceiling were sealed to prevent pest problems, and HVAC vents and lighting apparatuses had to be re-engineered in order to suit the preferred open-style ceiling.  Then the entire vault was painted a bright light color, to maximize the illumination in the space.  After that, five long rows of movable shelving were installed.

For the final part of the renovation project, we had a custom stainless steel table installed over a special oversized flat file that we left room for in the front of the vault. This table gave us a workspace while providing storage for historic maps underneath.

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I think you’ll agree, the new vault looks great! We estimate that the new shelving will double our storage capacity, providing much needed space to continue to preserve Seminole history.  We’ve started to bring the collection back and it’s good to see the shelves and drawers starting to fill up!

It will take time to unpack and re-install all the material, but we expect to complete the process by the end of the year.  And we’ve got a lot to catalog in the meantime!  We’re anxious to show everyone the beautiful new “bigger on the inside” vault in early 2018.  Let us know if you’d like to see it!

In the meantime, you can see amazing items from all our collections check on our Online Collections Page here: http://semtribe.pastperfectonline.com/)

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This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services [MA-30-16-0122-16]

An Alphabetic Opportunity at the Museum

Hello again from the Museum’s Collections team!  We are happy to host many volunteers and work experience participants throughout the year.  This summer an enterprising young journalist used our library resources to design an alphabetic tour through Native American history, with a special focus on Florida.  This proved to be a good way to explore an interest and consider a possible career.  Please enjoy Randean’s article, and let us know if we can help you explore something!

 

Native American History A to Z

By Randean Osceola, summer intern at the Ah-Tha-Thi-Ki museum.

My name is Randean Osceola, and I am a part of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, I am a member of the Wind Clan family. I am an upcoming freshman at Sagemont high school. This summer I decided to be an intern at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum through the summer work experience program (SWEP). I’m not doing this to pass time or earn money; I’m doing this to get better at reading and writing, and because my mom wanted me to. I decided to write this article because I wanted to inform people about our past.

A: Abiaka Jones “Sam” was the head of a band of Miccosukees during wartime. Seminoles joined him on his quest against the United States. For this reason his “campaign” against the U.S. was one of the most successful. His legacy is a big part of why we are here today.

B: Chief Billie Bowlegs, “Billie Bolek”, was a leader of the Seminoles in Florida in the second and third parts of the Seminole war against the United States. He resisted at first, but eventually moved to Indian Territory.

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C: Chief Cowkeeper was the Hitchiti speaking Oconee chief at Payne’s Prairie. He challenged Jonathan Bryan, who was trying to steal Native American land. He was torn between peace and war, but later decided to fight for his land.

D: Dunlawton Plantation Sugar Mill Ruins was a Seminole war battle site. It was destroyed in 1835. In 1846 attempts were made of reestablishing the sugar mill, however those attempts failed.

E: Everglades was a safe place for the Native Americans during wartime. While the Seminoles knew the ways of the Everglades, the soldiers were lost.

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F: Fort Brooke, located on the west coast of Florida, was significant in the Removal era. In March 1841 Wildcat, a war leader, went to Fort Brooke to have a meeting with the soldiers. It was in Fort Brooke that President Tyler allowed the Seminoles to stay in Florida for a time, but they were not allowed to leave their land except to go to Fort Brooke. They would receive no food or water.

G: Geronimo “Go-Tay-Thlay” was an Apache chief and a medicine man. Geronimo led his followers on a series of escapes from the soldiers. However, he eventually surrendered to General Nelson Miles where he stayed in captivity until his death.

H: Hills Hadjo was a Seminole leader during the 19th century. He was an active part of the Seminole wars. He was one of the chief instigators of the second uprising.

I:  (The) Indian Removal Act was signed into law by Andrew Jackson on May 28th, 1830; this gave Jackson the Mississippi land in exchange for Indian land.  Only a few tribes went peacefully, many resisted and later agreed, but only a few stayed in their homeland.

J: John Quincy Adams was a U.S. president who differed from earlier presidents Jackson and Monroe in his policy towards the Indians. He was determined that there should be no forcible removal of any tribes. Adams forbade the state of Georgia from surveying the Indian lands.

K: (Chief) King Payne he was the son of Chief Cowkeeper and one of the leading chiefs in the Seminole Tribe. He led his people against the Spanish and the Americans during wartime.

L: Lake Okeechobee was desired by many soldiers during wartime, however none were successful. Not long after the soldiers were rejected, a Seminole resident, James B. Brighton used the land and made another reservation.

M: Muscogulges was the referred name to the Creeks, Seminole, Yahmasee, Tuckabatchee, Hitchiti, Koasati, Timuca, and many other ancient tribes. Rather than naming each one the soldiers referred to the Native Americans as Muscogulges.

N: Naiche, was the last chief of the Chirricahua Apache Tribe. He was the youngest son of Chief Cochise. He spent 27 years in captivity along with some of his people, until he was released in 1913. Naiche and his people continued to fight bravely against the U.S. and Spain until death did them part.

O: Osceola “Billy Powell” was a military leader during the Seminole wars. He stood up for his people, as a force to be reckoned with. If it wasn’t for Osceola we wouldn’t be here today.

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P: “Payne’s Prairie Preserve State Park”, is land that was home to many Seminoles. It was the site of action during wartime, and now has a visitor’s center with displays on the war.

Q: Quanah Parker, he was a war leader of the Comanche people. He fought in the Red River war during 1874-1875 with Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie.

R: Rain-in-the-face was a Native American leader. He was a warrior at a young age: having fought in a December, 1866 battle against Captain William Fetterman’s troops during the Civil War.

S: Seminoles are Native American people originally from Florida. Many live in modern day Oklahoma, but the descendants of the unconquered still live in Florida. The Seminole Tribe of Florida is one of the federally recognized tribes of today.

T: The Trail of Tears was the name given to Andrew Jackson’s actions towards the Native Americans to vacate their lands. He forced them to go to Indian Territory- they set off on foot. A Choctaw Indian told the Alabama newspaper that it was a “Trail of Tears and Death.”

U: The Ute people are the oldest residents of Colorado, their home is in the mountains and vast areas. They are said to have lived there since the beginning of time-there is no proof of them ever not being there.

V: Captain (Joseph) Van Swearingen, was recognized because of his actions during the Battle of Okeechobee. His brave actions lead him to death. The U.S. army troops made a fort in Martin County Florida during the Second Seminole War, they named it after him.

W: Wilma Mankiller, she became the first female Cherokee leader. She won many awards for her leadership and was even Women of the Year in 1986.

X: Xega or “Jaega,” were Indians identified by 16th century Spanish explorers. There is little information about the Jaega tribe, but there are known links to the Ais tribe. The Jaega tribe and the Ais tribe are joined together by marriage. Just west of Boynton Beach in an area of agricultural reserve people have found what seem to be Jaega remains.

Y: Yoholo-Mico, was a Creek Indian. He protested the Indian Springs Treaty. He was the head man of Eufaula town, as well as an outstanding warrior.

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Z: The Zunis are from New Mexico. Spaniards found their land and demanded they move out. Instead of submitting the Zuni’s resisted. The Zuni’s are still apart of New Mexico today.

 

Bibliography of resources available at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum Library:

Wright, Leitch Jr. Creeks and Seminoles. Lincoln: University of Lincoln Press, 1986. Print.

Hann, John H. Indians of Central and South Florida 1513-1763. Gainesville: A Florida Heritage, 2003. Print.

Wood, N.B. Lives of Famous Indian Chiefs. Des Moines: Marc Woodmansee, 1906. Print.

Mahon, John K. History of the Second Seminole War. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1985. Print.

Horan, James D. The McKinney-Hall Portrait Gallery of American Indians. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1972. Print.

Covington, James W. The Seminoles of Florida. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1993. Print.