By Megan Smith
Nestled between an exotic Caribbean garden and the colorful native Florida plant life at the Naples Botanical Garden is Lake Tupke, a charming man-made lake that has been named after the Seminole Medicine Carrier, Alice Snow. The lake, a year in the making, was a restoration of the native Florida Everglades environment which had become overgrown with invasive plant life. The lake was officially opened last November 15 with a naming ceremony attended by Tribal members and other dignitaries. The chirping of native birds that have made their way back to the garden, the bubbling of fountains, and quiet cobblestone walkways filled with mosaics make this quaint garden the perfect place to honor such an inspiring Seminole tribal member.
Alice Snow was born in 1922, on the outskirts of Lake Okeechobee, where she grew up living in a village beneath the palmetto frond roof of a chickee. In her later years, she lived on the Brighton Reservation where she shared her knowledge as an herbalist by teaching her children and others about medicinal plants.
Spanning a generation of great social transition that included her move from her village to the reservation, Alice Snow witnessed many changes in Seminole life and tradition. She hoped that sharing her knowledge of healing plants would bring both traditional Seminole roots and the modern world together. She wrote and did research for a book entitled “Healing Plants: Medicine of the Florida Seminole Indians” alongside Susan Enns Stans that covers the uses and traditions of medicinal plants found in the Everglades. She also shared some of her knowledge with visitors, volunteers, and staff at the Naples Botanical Garden, inspiring the dedication in her honor.
The resilience of the Seminole people is shown clearly in Alice Snow’s work with medicinal plants as she shared her knowledge and gift with others. Much like Alice Snow, preserving and protecting Seminole culture and history is one of the primary efforts of the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum where people from all around the world travel to learn about the livelihood and deep history of the tribe. Future garden-goers may stumble upon Lake Tupke, curious as to whom the Seminoles are, hopefully choosing to satisfy their curiosity and visit our museum to learn more. There is no better way to honor Alice Snow’s memory than to share both her work as a Medicine Carrier and the rich culture of the Seminoles with the Naples Botanical Garden and their visitors.
If you are in the Naples area and feel the need for a calming respite, come in and stroll the shores of Lake Tupke at the Naples Botanical Garden!