Ringing in 2014: Add a visit to the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum to your calendar!

By Annette Snapp, Operations Manager

The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum wishes you a safe and prosperous New Year as 2014 brings a chilly blast of air to Southwest Florida. The conclusion of one calendar year and the beginning of a new one causes many of us to pause and reflect on past accomplishments and to look forward to upcoming events and projects. We invite you to read on and find out what we achieved in 2013 and what you can look forward to seeing at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum in 2014!

I believe that some of the Museum’s best moments in 2013 were a direct result of the works created by Tribal students from the Ahfachkee and Pemayetv Emahakv Schools and displayed on the Mosaic Community Art Wall. The Ahfachkee School students created original billboard designs based on historic photos from the Museum’s Collection. Later in the year, the Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School students created tradition-based crafts. Both of these exhibits brought enthusiasm and excitement to the Museum as well as a peek into the future of Seminole art and creativity! The Museum looks forward to working with these Tribal students again in 2014!

What else can Museum visitors look forward to in 2014? Opening on January 17th is a new temporary exhibit focusing on “Seminole Music: To Sing as a Group: Multiple Voices of Seminole Music.” This exhibit will explore the Seminole style in various genres, ranging from hymns and folk music to rap. Videos, audio recordings, instruments, stage costumes, posters and other items related to Seminole musical performance will be available for viewing, listening, and enjoying. We hope you stop by soon and listen to inspirational Seminole music!


In the fall of 2014, the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum will be highlighting Native American skateboarding in the Smithsonian Travelling Exhibit, “Ramp It Up.” One of the most popular sports on Indian reservations, skateboarding has inspired American Indian and Native Hawaiian communities to host skateboard competitions and build skate parks to encourage their youth. Native entrepreneurs own skateboard companies and sponsor community- based skate teams. Native artists and filmmakers, inspired by their skating experiences, credit the sport with teaching them a successful work ethic.

These are the indigenous stories of skateboarding. Join us as we celebrate the vibrancy, creativity, and controversy of Native skate culture.


This new year is going to bring more than these brief highlights!  Check out our web site regularly at http://www.ahtahthiki.com/ to see our latest event highlights.  Come and enjoy the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum to learn more about Seminole history and culture in 2014.


A Note from the Director on 2012

_MG_9958Its that time of the year again when I have been pegged to write a year end blog. I’m a bit more accustomed to this process after another 365 days but still a bit of a newbie to social networking and all that it entails. By next year though, myself and the museum will be up for all of these 21st century skills and we will have a new long range strategic plan to guide us along the way.

The museum went through a lot this year. We addressed our overall organizational structure, we changed our operating hours and we finished some much needed physical plant improvements. So what does all that mean? Change I suspect. Change that’s inevitable, change that’s difficult and change that’s exciting! I suppose every year runs along this same spectrum but what we also experienced this year was our 15th anniversary!

Along with a spectacular celebration on August 21st, our anniversary year signaled a time for us to tackle a new long range plan. This year we started our final fiscal year of our long range plan and with that comes to discussion of what do we do next?

One thing is for sure, in 2013 we know we will have some outstanding new faces at the planning table as well as many of our “veteran” staff who bring institutional knowledge that is indispensable. I am confident that all of us will take what we’ve learned in our first fifteen years and mold a new long range plan that will take the museum into 2013 and beyond. Our vision, mission and goals may change as we “wordmsmith” but I’m confident that we will stay focused on the horizon, the Tribal members and their living and material culture.

Happy new year and here’s to the next fifteen!

Anne McCudden

An Approaching Storm

As the Collections Manager at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, I love being able to see, and being familiar with so much of our collection of over 30,000 historic objects and archival materials.  We have dolls, baskets, patchwork, militaria, fine art, photographs, letters, rare books, and many more items, and I have favorites in almost every category.  But it’s a somewhat rare occasion that any of my favorites get put on exhibit for the world to see.  That’s because exhibits have to have a cohesive theme and design.  They are built around an idea, and objects are chosen that best represent the idea.  The objects have to be visually interesting and they have to complement the other objects on display.  So even though I love a certain purple patchwork jacket, or a particular historic letter describing pioneer life in Florida during the Second Seminole War, they may never fit into an idea for an exhibit that is hatched by the folks that hatch exhibit ideas here. 

 I admit that’s not my area of expertise.  So I’m thrilled when my favorite pieces fit well into an exhibit, as they will later this month when we display the work of Thomas Storm Sr. in our Mosaics exhibit.  Mosaics is an exhibit that showcases different Florida Seminole artists throughout the year, sometimes up-and-coming artist or youth from the local schools, and sometimes more established artists like Thomas Storm.  We have 8 pieces of Mr. Storm’s art in the collection.  I love his bold colorful style, the political statements embodied in his work, and the unique media he chooses.

My favorite piece is “The Tracker”

I’ve always had a fondness for pastels as a medium, and I love the muted colors, shading, detail, and perspective in this piece. 

Another of my favorites is “We are America” / “Bondage Still in America”

You may not be able to tell from this picture, but this piece was done with pencil and ink on a manila envelope.  The media choice has such and impact in person and really matches the emotional message conveyed by the artwork, not to mention that he has the best signature ever:

Mr. Storm is a man of many talents, and I’d like to share one more of my favorite pieces to illustration this.  It’s a brochure from his alligator wrestling days.  You may not see it in the exhibit, so enjoy it here….

You can see more of Mr. Storm’s work on exhibit here at the museum from September 28st to January 2nd.  Please come by to see it and the rest of our exhibits.  And if you would like a behind-the-scenes tour to see more of my favorites, just let me know!

Tara Backhouse, Collections Manager


863-902-1113 ex12246

Can you dig it?

It’s time for an update from the Outreach committee of the THPO. With our mock dig box being so well received at the Second Seminole War Reenactment Shoot Out and Junior Archaeology Day events, the THPO will be joining the fun at the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s annual Swamp Kids Summer Fun Festival & Slumber Party! This two day festival includes swamp buggy rides, face painting, animal displays, and Native storytelling, among other fun activities. The THPO will host activities at the festival including our mock dig box, where kids can be an archaeologist and see just what it is we do every day. We will have a mock excavation roped off to demonstrate what an actual excavation test unit would look like


THPO will also host the Chungkee Stone, where attendees can play a traditional game native to North America. The archaeological record of materials associated with this game date back to over 3,000 B.P.. The game is known to have been played throughout the Eastern Woodlands, South East, as well as the Great Plains Native communities via historic accounts from the 1,500s.


The Swamp Kids Summer Fun Festival & Slumber Party will be held on June 22nd and 23rd from 11:00am until 4:00pm each day at the Billie Swamp Safari on the Big Cypress Reservation.



In late July/early August, the THPO will participate with numerous other STOF departments in the 9th annual Seminole Youth Camp. This year’s theme, Health, Wellness, and Culture, promotes healthy living and lifestyle choices. The THPO will be leading a discussion and activity addressing health through time and culture. The activity will use a variety of items associated with different time periods in Florida’s history to illustrate how archaeology can shed light onto the health and lifestyle choices of historic and prehistoric cultures. It’s sure to be both a fun and educational activity.


The THPO is looking forward to these events and sharing our knowledge of archaeology and what can be learned through it. Happy summer!

Written by: Karen Black

Investigating an Early 20th Century Trading Post

One of the exciting projects recently undertaken by the THPO is the investigation of Brown’s Trading Post, which was an early 20th century store located on the Big Cypress Reservation. Brown’s Trading Post was established in 1901 by Bill Brown, his wife Jane, and their ten children. During this period, trading posts were found throughout South Florida and especially along the two coasts. Some of the more prominent posts included Stranahan’s store in Fort Lauderdale and Storter’s at Everglade. While these stores provided numerous trade opportunities for the Seminoles, they required at least three to four days of travel to reach. The establishment of Brown’s Trading Post lessened the amount of travel to one to two days.

Brown’s Trading Post was settled on a high area on the reservation, though additional soil may have been added for more elevation above the water. On his move to the area in 1901, Brown cleared about an acre of land and constructed a house, store, barn, and various outbuildings. In order for the Seminoles to be able to pole their canoes directly to the store, Brown excavated a ditch about one hundred yards from the store to the deeper water. For the most part, the Seminoles would supply Brown with alligator hides, otter skins, egret plumes, and raccoon hides and in return would receive grits, flour, sugar, pots, pans, and skillets. At times, men would trade or buy derby hats, watches, and vests while the women would attain beads for personal adornment.

In 1908, Brown decided to move his family back to Immokalee so that his wife’s health might improve. Upon Brown’s leaving, an Episcopal mission, under the guidance of a Dr. W.J. Godden, was set up at the location of the post. During this time, Dr. Godden also continued to trade and sell items to the Seminoles. In 1913, the area was abandoned and the buildings were moved to a new mission site. It is unknown what the area was used for between 1913 and 1970, at which time another store was built where Brown’s Trading Post once stood.

Archaeological excavations at Brown’s Trading Post have occurred numerous times in the past twenty years. The first investigation was conducted by the Archaeological and Historical Conservancy, Inc. in 1990. During this examination, archaeologists found black glass bottle base fragments that date from 1900-1910 and an iron axe that also dates to 1900. A later survey in 2005 conducted by Janus research found numerous historic nails, as well as glass and porcelain fragments, a 19th century survey sight, and a porcelain doll’s head.

Although the THPO has just begun excavations on what is believed to be the location of Brown’s Trading Post, numerous exciting items have already been found. The majority of the artifacts recovered include glass fragments, faunal material (animal bones), and unidentifiable metal objects. One of the most interesting finds includes a bead that may be one of the items that was bought at Brown’s store.

For more information about the history of Brown’s Trading Posts and trade occurring in South Florida in the early 20th century please refer to Harry A. Kersey’s work entitled Pelts, Plumes, and Hides: White Traders among the Seminole Indians 1870-1930.