Lost in the Swamp: The Search for Fort Shackelford

By Shawn Keyte, Tribal Archaeology Section

The purpose of the Fort Shackelford project is to determine the exact location of the fort using historical maps and documents, archaeological investigations, metal detecting, Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), and input from the Tribal community. Recording the exact location of Fort Shackelford will allow the Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO) to help tell the Seminole story and continue to protect and preserve Seminole Heritage.

History of Fort Shackelford

Fort Shackelford was built by the United States Army in February of 1855 on the edge of the Everglades (Eck 2002). The fort was created to serve as an outpost for further exploration of the Everglades during the U.S. Government’s attempt at Indian Removal in the early and mid-1850s. During that time, the U.S. Government offered land to white settlers if they remained armed and available to the U.S Army in the event of any further conflict with the Seminoles.

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Fort Shackelford likely would have consisted of a 12 foot by 12 foot block house for the officers, and a 40 foot by 40 foot stockade type area for the enlisted soldiers and their tents (Ellis 2016). The fort was built in a wetland and occupied by U.S. soldiers during the dry season for about four months, until the rainy season arrived and flooded the area. In June 1855, the fort was abandoned with the hopes of returning during the next dry season. In December of 1855, U.S. Army Lt. George Hartsuff was tasked with assessing Fort Shackelford to determine if the fort was in good enough condition to once again house troops. Hartsuff and a small contingent of men headed for Big Cypress only to find the fort had been burned down by the Seminoles. On their return trip to Fort Myers, Hartsuff and his men were reportedly ambushed by a group of Seminoles led by Billy Bowlegs (Eck 2002). Hartsuff returned to Fort Myers and reported the attack, which ultimately renewed hostilities between the U.S. and the Seminoles. Since then, the exact location of the fort has been shrouded in mystery

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In the early 1940s, government surveyor D. Graham Copeland placed several concrete markers around Southwest Florida marking historic sites. One such marker was placed by one of Copeland’s colleagues in what was thought to be the location of Fort Shackelford; but since Copeland did not place the marker himself, it is uncertain if the marker was placed in the right location (Hanson nd). Adding to the confusion, information from the Tribal Community indicates that after the marker was placed, it was moved to hide the Fort’s location from treasure hunters. Additionally, the area where the marker may have been moved to may have been “salted” to try and prevent any further looting by treasure hunters or those looking to take advantage of the Seminoles. “Salting” is basically the act of someone placing an item or items in an area where treasure hunters might frequent in hopes of tricking them into thinking they found something of value. It is uncertain if the marker was actually moved from its original location, but the idea that it “may or may not” have been moved has proven to be just as effective as actually moving the marker.

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Archaeology of the Fort

Since Fort Shackelford has proven to be an elusive site, the THPO undertook archival, architectural, and archaeological research over the past year to determine if any evidence of the fort remains. Various historical maps provide a general vicinity of where the fort might be located, but with the lack of technology available in the 1850s it is almost certain that the maps are inaccurate. So where do we start? The Tribal Archaeology Section (TAS) began the investigation around the Copeland marker on the Big Cypress Reservation. Metal detection, shovel testing (systematic digging of holes in an area), and phase II excavations (placement of a 1 meter by meter hole), conducted by the TAS have all yielded several metallic items, many of which were too corroded to identify. The TAS did however locate around 12-15 square nails near the marker that date to the time period of the fort’s construction (mid 1850’s). In addition, 3 musket balls or ball shot were located approximately 100 meters (328 feet) to the west of the Copeland marker. Musket balls can be very tough to identify and are currently being re-evaluated at the THPO Curatorial building to determine whether or not they are historic or modern. The square nails provide hope that the TAS is looking in the right area, but one would expect to find more than 12-15 square nails at the site of a fort. Also, there has been a large amount of charcoal discovered during shovel testing and phase II excavations, which supports the claim that the fort was burned down.

Adding to the difficulty of locating a fort in a swamp that was burned 150+ years ago is the fact that the area surrounding the Copeland marker has been farmed at least since 1968. This is apparent by the lack of irrigation canals in the 1948 aerial photograph (bottom left), and the irrigation canals seen in the 1968 aerial photograph (bottom right). According to a Tribal member, watermelon farming occurred in the fields around the Copeland marker, and this would have included the plowing of the fields. The plowing or disking needed for watermelon farming would have gone to a depth of approximately 24 inches. This would likely cause any remains of the fort to be scattered throughout the field.

 

Conclusion

Historically, Fort Shackelford represents part of the Seminole’s struggle to survive during the U.S. Government’s attempts at Indian removal, as well as the role the fort played late in the Seminole War Era. Recording the actual location, memorializing it, and presenting our findings to the Tribal Community are all part of protecting and preserving Seminole heritage. The TAS will continue to search for more nails and more charcoal in hopes of finding a large amount of both in a small area to try and locate the exact location of Fort Shackelford.

 

References

Eck, Christopher R., 2002 South Florida’s Prelude to War: Army Correspondence Concerning Miami, Fort Dallas, and the Everglades Prior to the Outbreak of the Third Seminole War, 1850-1855. Tequesta. Historical Museum of Southern Florida.

Ellis, G. (2016). Gulf Archaeology Research Institute. (S. Keyte, Interviewer) Ocala, Florida.

Hanson, W. Stanley, N.D. Letter from D. Graham Copeland to W. Stanley Hanson, June 19, 1941.

Scott, H. L. 1814-1886. (1861). Military dictionary: comprising technical definitions; information on raising and keeping troops; actual service, including makeshifts and improved matériel; and law, government, regulation, and administration relating to land forces. London: Trübner and Co..

 

 

 

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It’s Bigger on the Inside

 By Tara Backhouse and Misty Snyder

Hello Everyone!

Last February we brought you exciting news of our inventory project! Ok, you may be scratching your heads now, wondering how inventory can be exciting.  If so, than you need to read Misty’s blog from February!  As she demonstrates, any project with person-sized boxes is exciting.

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It is also exciting because of the story behind the inventory, and the story of what we inventoried. We have a collection of nearly 200,000 items, and that collection is always growing.  In the last 10 years, it has grown by over 700%!  We now have over 2000 historic objects and pieces of art, 20,000 newspapers, maps, documents, works on paper, and audiovisual materials, and at least 145,000 photographs. Hundreds of our documents, letters, maps and newspapers date from the 19th century, and they tell us about the Seminole War period and the Seminole Tribe’s journey to self-determination.  The postcards and photographs from the post-war late 19th and early 20th century show the Tribe’s journey to federal recognition and financial success.

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The Museum is a special place. We serve the Seminole community and we are dedicated to preserving Tribal history as well as its current events.  We continue to collect photographs, documents and audiovisual material that document the Tribe’s activities in recent decades. In fact, most of our photographs have come from the Seminole Tribune, the Tribe’s newspaper. The Tribune photographers have traversed all six Seminole reservations and associated communities for the last 30-40 years, documenting important people, events and community life, as well as featuring historical pieces about the Indians of Florida. These photographs tell the story of a tribe famous for leading the charge in Indian sovereignty during the decades they charted that path.

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A 2015 donation of 30,000 photographs was quite a challenge to organize!

 

We were honored to have taken custody of these photographs. However, they rapidly filled our vault, and we wondered how we’d have space to properly house these objects.  Also, we wondered how we’d be able to keep taking important donations for years to come.  We knew we couldn’t make the vault bigger, so what was our next option?

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Large Fixed Shelving Filled Up Fast and Left Two Much Empty Floor Space!

 

With the help of a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services we were able to begin a renovation project in the fall of 2016. The first step was to inventory and pack the collection, and this is when Misty had to use the person-sized boxes!

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This step was complete in early 2017 and after the contents of the vault were moved to museum-quality off-site storage, we got into the nitty gritty of the demo phase.  The carpet and dropped ceiling were removed.  Then a layer of concrete was poured at the back of the vault in order to create a raised area where the movable shelving could be installed onto rails.  The edges of the ceiling were sealed to prevent pest problems, and HVAC vents and lighting apparatuses had to be re-engineered in order to suit the preferred open-style ceiling.  Then the entire vault was painted a bright light color, to maximize the illumination in the space.  After that, five long rows of movable shelving were installed.

For the final part of the renovation project, we had a custom stainless steel table installed over a special oversized flat file that we left room for in the front of the vault. This table gave us a workspace while providing storage for historic maps underneath.

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I think you’ll agree, the new vault looks great! We estimate that the new shelving will double our storage capacity, providing much needed space to continue to preserve Seminole history.  We’ve started to bring the collection back and it’s good to see the shelves and drawers starting to fill up!

It will take time to unpack and re-install all the material, but we expect to complete the process by the end of the year.  And we’ve got a lot to catalog in the meantime!  We’re anxious to show everyone the beautiful new “bigger on the inside” vault in early 2018.  Let us know if you’d like to see it!

In the meantime, you can see amazing items from all our collections check on our Online Collections Page here: http://semtribe.pastperfectonline.com/)

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This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services [MA-30-16-0122-16]

An Alphabetic Opportunity at the Museum

Hello again from the Museum’s Collections team!  We are happy to host many volunteers and work experience participants throughout the year.  This summer an enterprising young journalist used our library resources to design an alphabetic tour through Native American history, with a special focus on Florida.  This proved to be a good way to explore an interest and consider a possible career.  Please enjoy Randean’s article, and let us know if we can help you explore something!

 

Native American History A to Z

By Randean Osceola, summer intern at the Ah-Tha-Thi-Ki museum.

My name is Randean Osceola, and I am a part of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, I am a member of the Wind Clan family. I am an upcoming freshman at Sagemont high school. This summer I decided to be an intern at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum through the summer work experience program (SWEP). I’m not doing this to pass time or earn money; I’m doing this to get better at reading and writing, and because my mom wanted me to. I decided to write this article because I wanted to inform people about our past.

A: Abiaka Jones “Sam” was the head of a band of Miccosukees during wartime. Seminoles joined him on his quest against the United States. For this reason his “campaign” against the U.S. was one of the most successful. His legacy is a big part of why we are here today.

B: Chief Billie Bowlegs, “Billie Bolek”, was a leader of the Seminoles in Florida in the second and third parts of the Seminole war against the United States. He resisted at first, but eventually moved to Indian Territory.

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C: Chief Cowkeeper was the Hitchiti speaking Oconee chief at Payne’s Prairie. He challenged Jonathan Bryan, who was trying to steal Native American land. He was torn between peace and war, but later decided to fight for his land.

D: Dunlawton Plantation Sugar Mill Ruins was a Seminole war battle site. It was destroyed in 1835. In 1846 attempts were made of reestablishing the sugar mill, however those attempts failed.

E: Everglades was a safe place for the Native Americans during wartime. While the Seminoles knew the ways of the Everglades, the soldiers were lost.

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F: Fort Brooke, located on the west coast of Florida, was significant in the Removal era. In March 1841 Wildcat, a war leader, went to Fort Brooke to have a meeting with the soldiers. It was in Fort Brooke that President Tyler allowed the Seminoles to stay in Florida for a time, but they were not allowed to leave their land except to go to Fort Brooke. They would receive no food or water.

G: Geronimo “Go-Tay-Thlay” was an Apache chief and a medicine man. Geronimo led his followers on a series of escapes from the soldiers. However, he eventually surrendered to General Nelson Miles where he stayed in captivity until his death.

H: Hills Hadjo was a Seminole leader during the 19th century. He was an active part of the Seminole wars. He was one of the chief instigators of the second uprising.

I:  (The) Indian Removal Act was signed into law by Andrew Jackson on May 28th, 1830; this gave Jackson the Mississippi land in exchange for Indian land.  Only a few tribes went peacefully, many resisted and later agreed, but only a few stayed in their homeland.

J: John Quincy Adams was a U.S. president who differed from earlier presidents Jackson and Monroe in his policy towards the Indians. He was determined that there should be no forcible removal of any tribes. Adams forbade the state of Georgia from surveying the Indian lands.

K: (Chief) King Payne he was the son of Chief Cowkeeper and one of the leading chiefs in the Seminole Tribe. He led his people against the Spanish and the Americans during wartime.

L: Lake Okeechobee was desired by many soldiers during wartime, however none were successful. Not long after the soldiers were rejected, a Seminole resident, James B. Brighton used the land and made another reservation.

M: Muscogulges was the referred name to the Creeks, Seminole, Yahmasee, Tuckabatchee, Hitchiti, Koasati, Timuca, and many other ancient tribes. Rather than naming each one the soldiers referred to the Native Americans as Muscogulges.

N: Naiche, was the last chief of the Chirricahua Apache Tribe. He was the youngest son of Chief Cochise. He spent 27 years in captivity along with some of his people, until he was released in 1913. Naiche and his people continued to fight bravely against the U.S. and Spain until death did them part.

O: Osceola “Billy Powell” was a military leader during the Seminole wars. He stood up for his people, as a force to be reckoned with. If it wasn’t for Osceola we wouldn’t be here today.

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P: “Payne’s Prairie Preserve State Park”, is land that was home to many Seminoles. It was the site of action during wartime, and now has a visitor’s center with displays on the war.

Q: Quanah Parker, he was a war leader of the Comanche people. He fought in the Red River war during 1874-1875 with Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie.

R: Rain-in-the-face was a Native American leader. He was a warrior at a young age: having fought in a December, 1866 battle against Captain William Fetterman’s troops during the Civil War.

S: Seminoles are Native American people originally from Florida. Many live in modern day Oklahoma, but the descendants of the unconquered still live in Florida. The Seminole Tribe of Florida is one of the federally recognized tribes of today.

T: The Trail of Tears was the name given to Andrew Jackson’s actions towards the Native Americans to vacate their lands. He forced them to go to Indian Territory- they set off on foot. A Choctaw Indian told the Alabama newspaper that it was a “Trail of Tears and Death.”

U: The Ute people are the oldest residents of Colorado, their home is in the mountains and vast areas. They are said to have lived there since the beginning of time-there is no proof of them ever not being there.

V: Captain (Joseph) Van Swearingen, was recognized because of his actions during the Battle of Okeechobee. His brave actions lead him to death. The U.S. army troops made a fort in Martin County Florida during the Second Seminole War, they named it after him.

W: Wilma Mankiller, she became the first female Cherokee leader. She won many awards for her leadership and was even Women of the Year in 1986.

X: Xega or “Jaega,” were Indians identified by 16th century Spanish explorers. There is little information about the Jaega tribe, but there are known links to the Ais tribe. The Jaega tribe and the Ais tribe are joined together by marriage. Just west of Boynton Beach in an area of agricultural reserve people have found what seem to be Jaega remains.

Y: Yoholo-Mico, was a Creek Indian. He protested the Indian Springs Treaty. He was the head man of Eufaula town, as well as an outstanding warrior.

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Z: The Zunis are from New Mexico. Spaniards found their land and demanded they move out. Instead of submitting the Zuni’s resisted. The Zuni’s are still apart of New Mexico today.

 

Bibliography of resources available at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum Library:

Wright, Leitch Jr. Creeks and Seminoles. Lincoln: University of Lincoln Press, 1986. Print.

Hann, John H. Indians of Central and South Florida 1513-1763. Gainesville: A Florida Heritage, 2003. Print.

Wood, N.B. Lives of Famous Indian Chiefs. Des Moines: Marc Woodmansee, 1906. Print.

Mahon, John K. History of the Second Seminole War. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1985. Print.

Horan, James D. The McKinney-Hall Portrait Gallery of American Indians. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1972. Print.

Covington, James W. The Seminoles of Florida. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1993. Print.

Summer Time Fun!

By Alyssa Boge, Education Coordinator

Each summer I think things will start to slow down at the Museum, but just like Florida weather, things seem to heat up!

We ended the spring semester saying goodbye to interns, Elisah and Eyanna. Elisah worked with Eric, our Oral Historian, on a video project while Eyanna worked in our Compliance Office and with our Conservator.

With the end of the school year came the beginning of Ahfachkee School’s summer program and our Lego Project. Throughout the spring we worked on building a scale model of the school, but this summer we took a different tack. Our Tribal Historic Preservation Office preserves places important to the Seminole Tribe with our Tribal Register of Historic Places. These places include Red Barn which served an important role in the Seminole cattle industry and government, the Council Oak where the Seminole Constitution and By-laws were signed in 1957, and camp sites like the Josh Camp for which we recently unveiled a site marker (Find out more here: http://seminoletribune.org/josh-camp-marker-unveiled/). This summer we asked students to create places important to them out of Legos to explore why places matter.

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Students work on their scale model of the school

We also worked with kids from our local Boys and Girls Club and Recreation Department to offer our Summer Program. On one day students created their own art inspired by our current exhibit “Elgin Jumper: Portraits and Landscapes.”

Another day kids learned about cattle traditions with Rodeo Trivia. How well do you think you would do? Do you know when the first cattle management program was formed? It was 1937! Do you know who brought cattle to the Seminole? It was the Spanish! And finally, do you know who Cow Keeper was? He was an important Seminole leader with a very large herd of cattle in the 1740s. Kids also got to try roping for themselves and designed their own brands.

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Written in 1774, this is the oldest letter in our collection and records a talk to Cow Keeper. http://semtribe.pastperfectonline.com/archive/3CCD1DAB-6EBD-467F-983E-469125160055

Our Rodeo activities weren’t just reserved for kids though. For our Rodeo Day Discovery Day, visitors learned more with our mobile cattle cart exhibit, got to try roping for themselves, and even got a bit crafty making beaded cow keychains.

Visitors enjoy activities at our Rodeo Days!

Our Discovery Day series continues with our Everglades Day this Saturday, July 22nd! Join us and hear Daniel Tommie talk about his hunting camp from 12-1, try archery, taste swamp cabbage and more. All activities are included in your admission. Our final Discovery Day will be our Art at Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Day on September 9th.

This summer we also have activities in Spanish. Our final Spanish Day will be August 13th with tours and crafts from 1-4pm.

We hope to see you out here and enjoy the rest of your summer!

 

Interns Dig Archaeology!

By Victoria Lincoln, Tribal Archaeology Section Intern

My name is Victoria Lincoln, I am a senior at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) studying Anthropology and History and also am employed with Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN). Upon graduating I intend to further my education by attending graduate school focusing solely on archaeology within the Southeast! For the past six months, I have had the pleasure of interning with the Tribal Archaeology Section (TAS) within the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO). Through this internship, I have gained hands-on experience in the preparation, execution, and documentation of Phase I and II cultural resource surveys.

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TAS Intern, Victoria Lincoln, on excavation at Pineland

Before joining the TAS as an intern, I had limited knowledge or experience with pre-excavation strategies. In May 2016, I attended a field school hosted by FGCU. At this field school, students were immersed in Phase III fieldwork and learned the process of an excavation. However, this was done without learning any of the other phases of archaeological investigations (Phase I and Phase II). Although I learned a lot from this field school, I lacked the ability to perform Phase I and Phase II surveys. To prepare for my future career as an archaeologist, I felt I needed to enhance these skills. Surveying land, performing Phase I shovel tests, and setting up Phase II excavation units are essential to professional archaeological fieldwork. The archaeology internship program provided by the TAS allowed me to really dig my heels in and explore the realities of Tribal Archaeology.

This internship was divided into four stages. First, I learned how to conduct desktop analyses, then Phase I and II cultural resource surveys, which made up the majority of the internship. The final two portions of the internship consisted of lab work and report writing. This structure allowed me to quickly immerse myself in skills valued by contract archaeology firms, THPOs, and State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPO).

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Archaeologist, Shawn Keyte, conducts a shovel test with the help of a curious kitten from the Brighton Reservation

 

The first month of the internship was dedicated to getting acquainted with Geographic Information System (GIS), a tool used by archaeologists to store, manage, analyze, and interpret spatial and geographic data. Knowledge and experience with GIS is extremely sought after by employers. While working with TAS, I used GIS to create maps of the Areas of Potential Effect for numerous projects. I learned how to create modern aerial maps, historic maps, topographic maps, and elevation maps. In doing so, I gained an appreciation for the background research involved in archaeological investigations. Another important step in desktop analysis is determining the probability of encountering cultural material in an archaeological survey. By working closely with the TAS crew, I began to determine this probability myself and plot to be excavated shovel tests in GIS. Over the course of my six-month internship, I have completed nearly 20 desktop analyses putting me well ahead of my fellow classmates who have never used GIS.

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Archaeologist Rachel Morgan uses a trimble and a metal detector to complete a survey

 

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Archaeologist Nick Butler uses the Trimble during a survey

As mentioned previously, field work made up the majority of the internship. This is the step where APEs previously mapped out during the desktop analysis are visited and Phase I shovel tests are excavated. I was taken out with TAS employees to sites on the Brighton and Big Cypress Reservations, where I was able to learn how to maneuver through hammocks and cypress domes. Although this was definitely challenging, it was by far my favorite part of the internship. During Phase I surveys, I excavated holes to a depth of 100 centimeters. I did not encounter any archaeological artifacts during my time with TAS. Nonetheless, I think this phase of the internship provided a valuable means of understanding the preparation, challenges, and documentation involved in archaeological fieldwork, skills that will undoubtedly be useful in gaining future employment as an archaeologist.

 

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TAS Inerns, Marshall Sterling and Victoria Lincoln, put their Phase I skills to the test in a pasture on the Big Cypress Reservation.

As the hot summer days of May came upon the Reservations, I began alternating between lab work and report writing. I became acquainted with the process of cleaning, organizing and documenting cultural resources in the Collections Lab. I had very little experience working in labs prior to this internship. My time in the lab allowed me to gain knowledge in the specific steps taken to ensure cultural materials are handled in an ethical way. Lastly, I learned how to write reports. This was probably one of the less exciting things, but an essential part of any scientific fieldwork. After each cultural resource survey, a report is completed explaining the reason for the fieldwork, the scope of the project, and the results of the survey. Just attending classes at university did not allow me to effectively interpret archaeological investigations. Lab work and report writing allowed me to look at results from the field and confidently communicate findings. This ability will greatly aid me in attaining my future goals.

 

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Kittens make even note taking fun in the field

 

Overall, this internship was an amazing experience which allowed me to become better acquainted with field work and the steps taken prior to Phase I and Phase II excavations. Throughout this internship, TAS’ perspectives and strategies were shared broadening my archaeological perspective. I have also gained a newfound understanding and respect for the views the Seminole Tribe hold regarding their cultural materials and their history. This internship opportunity allowed me to understand the importance of collaborating with indigenous groups and their representatives on research; they share valuable knowledge of the area and people who lived there. This type of collaboration can help to avoid pitfalls in projects archaeologists face when they attempt to downplay indigenous roles and rights. All in all, this internship allowed for hands-on involvement in the field I wish to work in upon graduating. It allowed me to become confident using the tools I need to complete archaeological surveys. As I come to the end of this internship, I feel much more stable in my pursuit of a career in archaeology.