By Kara DiComo, Intern
While studying anthropology in college I learned a lot about museums. From their overall history, their triumphs and failures, and how they grow and change with time. It was at this time that I first learned about the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki museum and how it served as a place for the Seminole Tribe to tell their history their way. During this time, I also learned about the Seminole Tribe’s Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO) and how they actively work to preserve, document, and promote Seminole history.
I found the Museum and the THPO to be inspirational as I continued on with my studies, and when I finished my undergraduate degree I decided to reach out about an internship. I started interning with the Seminole THPO in late November 2019. At first I mainly worked with the Tribal Archaeology Section (TAS) where I assisted a team of archaeology field technicians on a survey project on the Brighton reservation. This consisted of hours out in the field trekking through hammocks of various densities and sizes digging thousands of test pits. It was exhausting work, and I often returned home drained and sore; but all of the work felt more than worth it whenever we pulled fragmented remains of artifacts out of the earth that could lead to something bigger down the line. In December, I ended up moving from fieldwork to lab work, mainly due to a sprained ankle, and began interning with both Museum and THPO Collections. Most of my days spent with Museum Collections consisted of working with historic newspapers and photographs that concern the Seminole Tribe.
There truly is nothing like handling old and often fragile pieces of paper that serve as bits and pieces of a whole story, knowing that these papers that were never intended to last for long will continue to be preserved and will thus be accessible to the community for essentially forever. With THPO Collections, I spent a lot of time washing the dirt and grime off of objects that had recently arrived from the field, however I also got to spend some time learning about the housing process for objects such as glass bottles. I even got to put my carving and hot glue skills to the test while creating some custom housing for glass bottles that I had washed the previous week. In addition to Collections, in January I interned with the THPO Archaeometry section and got to learn more about how they use GIS technology to prepare for and assist with field research. This was particularly interesting since my baccalaureate thesis centered in the use of 3D photogrammetry in anthropology.
Overall the experiences I have had interning with the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s THPO and the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki museum have been invaluable and hopefully the skills that I have learned will be put to good use in my future endeavors.