Tara Backhouse, Registrar
That title probably doesn’t sound like something exciting that needs an exclamation point after it. It probably doesn’t sound like something that the museum would be interested in either. But allow me to explain. Snake Road is the name of the section of County Road 833 that starts at Exit 49 on Alligator Alley, and ends at Big Cypress Reservation. The name was coined because of the snake-like shape the road has as it winds its way through the 15 miles between the highway and the Reservation.
Probably due to its shape and scenic opportunities (alligators and other wildlife abound), this road has a rather high accident rate, and is currently undergoing a widening project in order to make it safer. The road is historically significant because, prior to its construction, the only way to access Big Cypress reservation was by dirt track or canoe. The original construction of the road took place over many years from the 1940’s to the 1960’s. Therefore a significant portion of the road is antique, that is, over 50 years old.
That is where the museum comes in. We know that history is always being created. Everything that is current now, will be history to the people who come after us. As the old bridge that leads into the Big Cypress Community was being destroyed, we thought it was a unique opportunity to capture a piece of history. We took it upon ourselves to ask the construction company if we could visit the site and perhaps remove a piece of the demolished bridge.
We got some exciting demolition pictures, and also our very own piece of the bridge. I chose it for its distinctive rebar markings. That’s not that interesting, but hey, it’s concrete!
This item will be incorporated into what we call our Tribal Memorabilia Collection. This collection is continually growing because the Museum often acquires objects from Tribal events, such as souvenirs and event schedules, as well as things that are produced by the Seminole Tribe, such as newspapers and TV programs. As you can imagine, this means we get some rather unique items, such as this towel that commemorated a councilman’s birthday in 2008.
The Tribal Memorabilia Collection therefore consists of modern objects that don’t always seem important. It is hard to imagine that today’s common items will have a greater significance in the future because of their rarity, and because of the historic time period they represent. So look around, and imagine that all the common things you see may someday have a place in a museum. That’s one of the ways we look at Seminole culture, and that’s why we care about Snake Road construction!