A New Chapter: We Come for Good

By Domonique deBeaubien, THPO Collections Manager

It’s a long standing joke within our department that we operate out of a tin can. Our tiny modular building, built as a five year temporary home, still stands nestled between the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum and a pristine cypress dome.   This little shabby structure looks a bit out of place in such a serene setting, but our office stands as a (not-so) subtle reminder that our Tribal Historic Preservation program can handle just about anything.

image 1
Aerial view of Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum and THPO modular building

It’s been a long journey getting to this point; the establishment of a Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO) doesn’t come with a guide book.  In fact, it doesn’t come with any instructions at all, so each THPO must carve their own path through this tangled wood of historic preservation.  Working within the field of tribal historic preservation is notoriously complex and demanding.  THPOs across the United States are charged with the preservation and management of a tribe’s invaluable cultural resources, and must operate within a complex dynamic of state, federal, and reservation law.  At the same time, a THPO must also uphold the values and beliefs of the tribe that they serve.  As you can imagine, this isn’t often an easy task.

The STOF-THPO is made up of four different sections (Tribal Archaeology, Compliance, Collections and Archaeometry) who all work together to protect the Seminole Tribe’s cultural resources.  On a daily basis we conduct archaeological field work, review lengthy field reports, investigate archaeological objects, drink coffee, lead tours,  make new and exciting maps, participate in community events, and much more! Every day brings a new challenge that supports the preservation of Seminole cultural heritage.

So how is it done, you might be wondering?  The STOF-THPO was officially founded in 2002 by order of Tribal Council.  On the eve of the THPO’s 15 year anniversary, the Seminole Tribe of Florida has partnered with University of Florida Press to publish “We Come for Good: Archaeology and Tribal Historic Preservation at the Seminole Tribe of Florida.”

image 2
We Come for Good: Archaeology and Tribal Historic Preservation at the Seminole Tribe of Florida

This volume serves as a guide to share the challenges, battles, and victories of the Seminole Tribe’s THPO program.  We Come for Good offers a unique tribal based perspective on how a THPO operates, builds internal capacity, and strives every day to become a leader in historic preservation.  So if you really want to know how it’s done, then all you have to do is read the book!  So please join us in celebrating this monumental achievement.  Grab your own copy online, and sit back and enjoy the journey.

image 3
THPO Field Technician Shawn Keyte reviewing We Come for Good.  He really really likes it. 

Geocaching

By Oscar Carrasquillo Rivera, Maintenance Shift Supervisor

1

What is Geocaching?

Geocaching is a real-world treasure/scavenger hunt that’s happening right now, all around you, anywhere and anytime. It’s very similar to a 160-year-old game called letterboxing; compared to that geocaching has only been active for about 15 years, and has tons of great stories and videos, especially online. There are over 2 million active geocaches and over 6 million geocachers worldwide. So of course we are planning on joining the fun. Here at Big Cypress AH-TAH-THI-KI Museum we like adventures, exploring and learning new things, whether it’s from the past, present or future. If you have never played Geocaching before, here is a new adventure that the whole family should definitely try out if you’re feeling adventurous.

Geocaching 101

There was a geocache close by before, but because of some unfortunate reasons it has been deactivated. Due to popular request the Museum is looking into activating one in the very near future for anyone to come and earn them bragging rights.

I myself have seen how competitive some of these families can get. At one time or another I used to see anywhere from 1-2 to sometimes 9-15 people exchanging stories as well as artifacts, notes with small stories, objects, figurines from as far as from the other side of the world. It’s unbelievable how creative and how small but meaningful it may be. In a way Geocaching helps different families and cultures of the world come together.

All you have to do is go to https://www.geocaching.com understand the rules, sign up, download the app on your smart phone and start scavenge hunting adventures with your GPS.

It could be hidden in something tiny, camouflage, or something big.

 2

Will you find it….. come on, I’m sure you will.

3

Although our adventure is easier but still beautiful, here’s a link of an example(s) you may encounter on another adventure:

Epic Adventure, — Wet Surprise (GC1YV80) — Geocache of the Week Video Edition

 

54

Attending the Grand Opening of the New Hollywood Gym

By Tennile Jackson, Collections Assistant

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of joining fellow Seminole Tribe of Florida staff, and members of the Tribal community, to celebrate the grand opening of the Howard Tiger Recreation Center in Hollywood. Described as a historic day for the Tribe, the inaguration provided attendees with a firsthand look at the gym’s amenities and enlightened many about the history of the Recreation Department.

IMG_20141120_130435

The new Center was constructed over the past year and was built to replace the original gym established over 40 years ago. The two-story facility features a full size basketball court, fitness center, Boys and Girls Club, and culture department. The Center is also home to the Seminole Sports Hall of Fame collection consisting of several trophies, photographs and plaques honoring Seminole athletes. During the construction of the new gym, the items were temporarily housed at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum for safekeeping. As many may recall, selections from the collection formed a popular exhibit during their stay at the Museum. The items are now back at the gym and currently on display in the Center’s lobby.

IMG_20141120_114019
The event began with a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by a large crowd gathered outside the building eagerly awaiting entry. As we made our way through the doors, many bypassed the lobby and headed straight into the brightly lit gym whose entrance was off to the side. Upon entering, we were greeted by colorful banners, basketball hoops suspended from high ceilings, and a glossy hardwood floor emblazoned with symbols representative of the Tribe.

IMG_20141120_124700
Members of the Tribal Council and the family of Howard Tiger sat at center court as Moses Jumper Jr. stood between them and acted as the emcee. Throughout the ceremony, many individuals shared sports related stories from their youth while others expressed their gratitude to the Tribal Council who made the construction possible. Several of the speakers also paid tribute to the late Howard Tiger, who established the Tribe’s Recreation Department and mentored a number of the people who took part in the ceremony. The decorated military veteran and gifted athlete was honored with a bronze bust, unveiled at the dedication, to be permanently displayed in the Center’s lobby (pictured above).

The inauguration of this new gym is a testament to the Tribe’s ongoing commitment to serve the Tribal community and impact the lives of future generations.  I was thrilled to be a part of this momentous occasion.

 

Where the Wild Things Are!!

??????????
Figure 1 Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum pond

 

     by:  Ellen Batchelor, Head of Security, Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum

When you think of the Ah-Tha-Thi-Ki Museum, the last thing most people would think of would be wildlife, but the fact is, IF, you time it right, are really quiet, and VERY lucky you just might get a chance to see some. Visitors a couple weeks ago from Germany  actually got to see a panther and a bobcat on the same visit! At first we were thinking someone just had a very active imagination, but when investigating it further, we discovered tracks and then actually saw the bobcat while returning to the museum!

Figure 2 Florida Panther
Figure 2
Florida panther

 

Figure 3 Florida bobcat
Figure 3
Florida bobcat

On most mornings it is not unusual to see several squirrels, a variety of birds, alligators and raccoons, while hearing the frogs, crickets, cicadas and birds but ,we have occasionally been able to spot, bear, deer, hogs, fox, opossums and turkeys. Rey Becerra, our resident animal expert, is available to answer any questions visitors might have about local wildlife. We have 2 hawks in residence. Ellen a Red shoulder hawk that was found on the boardwalk, as a very young bird, and then there is the Red tailed hawk Sable , we also have a crow, Charlie. They are all part of the animal presentations given here on campus from time to time, along with several turtles, various snakes (venomous and non-venomous) and various other “critters”.

Figur 4 Red shoulder hawk, Ellen
Figure 4
Red Shoulder hawk, Ellen

 

Figure 5 Red Wing hawk, Sable
Figure 5
Red Tail hawk, Sable

We also have a resident alligator we call Sally.  Each year, she hatches a couple dozen baby gators who “hang around” until she hatches babies again.  They then move to the other pond or to other areas of water on our campus.  (Museum staff refers to them as the 1-year-olds, or the 2-year-olds, etc.)

Figure 6 Florida alligator, Sally
Figure 6
Florida alligator, Sally

Another big attraction at the museum each year is the arrival of hummingbirds. They arrive in late April and stay until mid to late July. It is quite a treat to see them zooming around in front of the museum and in the cypress dome. They “dive bomb” each other while feeding from the fire plants that are planted around the museum campus. Visitors and employees alike seem to be fascinated with their activities. There are over 300 species of hummingbirds, but only a few breed in the United States. A few hundred however, travel into the states as part of their migration. We feel so lucky to part of their route.

Figure 7 Red Throated hummingbird
Figure 7
Ruby Throated hummingbird

Let’s not forget that there are other kinds of wildlife! The flora of the Ah-Tah- Thi-Ki Museum is spectacular. The beautiful and lush ferns that take over the floor of the cypress dome at different times of the year are quite a sight as you wind your way around the twists and turns of the raised boardwalk. Parts of the dome stay wet for a few months out of the year making the plant life more lush and full than usual. You can find many species of ferns in the confines of the acres that make up the rear portion of the museum’s boardwalk. There are also guava, fig, plum, Custer apples, bananas, and grapes that grow in the area.You will also find several varieties of orchids.

Figure 8 Some of many ferns at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum boarwalk
Figure 8
Some of many ferns at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum boardwalk

There are also many trees and plants that are used by the Seminoles for medicine. Both modern and traditional medicines are used today. Signage along the boardwalk tells about some of the more commonly used plants, while also informing the visitor of the local wildlife that inhabits the area.

Figure 9 The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum's boardwalk
Figure 9
The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum’s boardwalk

Our winding boardwalk is just a little over a mile long. It is open to visitors year round, except when we have to close it due to lightening, or the occasional emergency repair. It winds through a cypress dome located directly behind the museum and was once home to Chairman James Billie’s camp. The twists and turns are themselves interesting enough, however, you add the element of not knowing exactly WHAT is around the next curve, making it a new experience every time! Most of my mornings start out with a trip around the boardwalk, and I must say it is a grand way to start the day. You can find me there on hot, cold, even rainy days. I keep waiting to turn the corner and get the photo of my life!

Figure 10 Florida wild iris
Figure 10
Florida wild iris

Where Does Customer Service Begin?

by Gene Davis, Museum Facilities Manager

The Facilities Section of the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum believes that customer service really begins long before patrons enter our buildings. As a matter of fact, most of our guests whether individual families or tour groups plan their museum visit well in advance. It is unusual for people to be unexpected visitors at our remote location who just stopped in for a couple of hours while on their way down town.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our work group believes that customer service initially begins on the day when people leave their home with the intent of paying us a visit. We are relatively easy to find because the road to our front door from the Interstate only goes in one direction. Seventeen miles up Josie Billie Highway brings you to our parking lot. We believe that sufficient and accurate signage along the roadway directing you to our facility is an essential feature of customer service.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Once in our parking lot the first impression of our facility begins. How often have you pulled into a business parking lot noticing trash scattered about, weeds growing through cracks in the pavement or broken parking space stops making you feel that it was not a well-run establishment? Our parking lot welcomes visitors with its clean pavement, appropriate handicap parking spaces, multiple trash containers and adequate signage directing visitors from their cars guiding them onto the paver brick walkway leading to the museum.

DSCN2161 cleaning

Walking past purposely-positioned native plants and shrubs on their way to the front of the museum; people casually meander along the pathway or stop at the Everglades Trail kiosk for site information. Then they cross the street passing through our perimeter wall entry gate on the pedestrian sidewalk before crossing over the front pond via the elevated wooden walkway. Momentarily stopping to look around from the walkway visitors can spot fish, birds and reptiles as the campfire aroma draws them onward to the comfortable fire pavilion directly in front of the main museum building.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Some people choose to relax here at the fire pavilion by sitting on a log bench and looking into the campfire that is maintained during business hours. Here again they notice the plant arrangements, the palm trees surrounding the circular driveway, and the centrally located life size statue of Abiaki that is a popular picture taking scene.

DSCN1933 Abiaki statue

This relaxing atmosphere is the exact first impression we desire to display. Is your walk from the car to our museum entry doors part of customer service? We believe that it is because customers and visitors receive their first opinion of our facility by visually inspecting it and making judgments on its cleanliness and appearance. Our intention is to impress visitors with our facilities. Accomplishing that task all the way from the parking lot through our entire complex will likely impact overall customer satisfaction as well as their eagerness to return or tell someone else about us.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA