The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Staff Attends the National Association of Interpreters Conference

From Emily Kubota, Lead Tour Guide

In Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki’s Education Division, we find ourselves ending conference season. This year I had my first opportunity to attend several conferences, including FASA (Florida Association of School Administrators) and FRA (Florida Reading Conference).  I attended both of these as a vendor and learned all the tricks of the trade when it comes to preparing a booth, building our background displays, and setting up our table of freebies. Thanks to Florida’s wet season, I also learned how to rain-proof an open bed truck (or attempted to at least). Going into it, I wasn’t sure what to expect and was nervous. There is a lot of planning, packing, and unpacking that goes on, as well as meeting some really interesting people and getting the word out about our museum and the opportunities we provide for schools with different needs.

Emily Kubota, Pedro Zepeda, Greg Palumbo

                I also got to attend NAI (National Association of Interpreters) but I went as a member, not as a vendor. It was held in St. Paul, Minnesota during the month of November. As a girl from the north, I didn’t think the cold would get to me. But Florida’s climate was definitely something I had gotten used to.  For this conference instead of packing collateral, I packed sweaters, scarves, and boots. We spent the first day at the pre-conference workshop where my co-workers Diana Stone, Pedro Zepeda, and Greg Palumbo were presenters. They discussed what it was like working for a Native American tribe and some of the unique challenges we face here at the museum. We heard from other people who work with Native cultures and also from some of the local tribal members, like David Larsen, a Dakota elder.  It was a great experience and I learned about the contemporary problems tribes face today. Throughout the conference, I was able to attend a wide variety of workshops, like how to interpret slavery, interpreting nature, and even how to interpret Johnny Cash’s hometown.  There were lots sessions going on throughout each day, so attendees could pick and choose which sessions to attend.  NAI was unlike any conference I had been to before and I am definitely excited to go again next year.

Scene from Minnesota

                As conference attendees, we took several field trips. We went to historic Fort Snelling, which is located just outside of the city. This fort was built in the early 1820’s and was later site of an Indian concentration camp where they kept the Dakota people waiting to be moved to reservations further west. We also went to the Science Museum of Minnesota, where we got to see dinosaur skeletons and learn about natural disasters. They offered a trolley tour of historic St. Paul where we learned all about the city’s past and its people. Last but not least, we had time to squeeze in a trip to the Mall of America, where I got a head start on some Christmas shopping.

Pedro Zepeda, Greg Palumbo, and Diana Stone presenting at the NAI Conference

                Luckily for me, I am back in the warm Florida weather and have put my heavy coat away for now. Life at the museum has been busy, with hundreds of kids coming every week. Going to conferences is good way to explore ideas and hear about how other museums do things a little differently, which can help us expand our programming and grow as a division. And with all of our visitors this time of year, there is no better time to improve as interpreters.


Happy Holidays!

Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum will mark its 15th anniversary on August 27, 2012.  Whether you are an original member, one of our first guests or a virtual guest; we hope that you join us in celebrating this important milestone.  For fifteen years Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum has been a bridge to the past and a beacon for the future. The Museum’s journey of innovation, collaboration, and accreditation has been exciting and fulfilling.  The early vision and hard work of so many talented and dedicated individuals, laid the ground work for a beautiful and informative Seminole and Florida experience. 

Our newest exhibit is: Mosaic: The Art of Ahfachkee Students, Big Cypress Reservation; currently featuring works of the K – 2nd grade students of Ahfachkee School in Big Cypress. The school’s art teacher Ivette Lopez used the work of Paul Klee and El Greco to inspire her students.  The beautiful, colorful results are framed and hung in the Museum.  The student art exhibition is an ongoing, collaborative project of the Museum and Tribal students from the Ahfachkee School and the Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School on the Brighton Reservation.

Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum tour guides were all recently certified as interpretive guides from the National Association for Interpretation.  The 4-day CIG training was equal to a college level course in museum studies. Having staff that have gone through this training moves us toward our goal of providing you, and all our guests a more informative and fulfilling museum experience.

Let’s Move, Museums & Gardens – 489 museums, zoos and gardens have signed on to include and promote healthy lifestyle choices in their exhibits and programs. Let’s Move is a program instituted by First Lady Michelle Obama and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) – a federal agency.  The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum is a Let’s Move institution. An upcoming exhibit at the Museum, Through the Eyes of the Eagle, comes along at just the right time as it coincides with the Let’s Move initiative.  The exhibit is a series of large watercolor paintings based on a series of children’s books written by Georgia Perez and illustrated by Patrick Rolo (Bad River Band of Ojibwe, Wisconsin) and Lisa A. Fifeld (Oneida Tribe, Wisconsin). It was originally developed by the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in collaboration with the Tribal leaders Diabetes Committee and Indian Health Services. The exhibit runs February – April 2012.  We hope you can visit.   

Museum Store: In addition to our selection of Seminole patchwork, books, CDs and jewelry; we have just received our holiday ornament. A red ball with a band of patchwork, it comes boxed, ready for gifting. It’s just $12.95.  You can order this ornament by emailing or calling the Museum Store at 877.902.1113 ext. 12224.

We hosted our first Birdwalk on the Boardwalk during AIAC. Hendry County Audubon Society and its members led the morning walks. Here is our AIAC bird list: Northern Perula, Grey Catbird, American Redstart, Blue Grey Gnatcatcher, Phoebe, Great Crested Flycatcher, Wilson’s Warbler (#255 on one watcher’s life list), Palm Warbler, Yellow Bellied Sap Sucker, Red Bellied Woodpecker, Red Shouldered Hawk, Magnolia Warbler, White Ibis, Anhinga, Great Blue Heron.  Heard but not seen: House Wren and Indigo Bunting.  Pictured at right is a Red Shouldered Hawk I saw on Sunday morning.

The Museum has introduced our first volunteer program; providing unique opportunities for members and interested individuals willing to lend a hand and interact with staff in such exciting areas of the Museum as Collections, Membership and Education. Volunteers will help to fulfill the mission of the Museum and work to create a strong collaborative, community environment, as well as garner a deeper, first-hand knowledge and understanding of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. More information about the volunteer program is available by contacting the Museum Administrative Assistant at (863) 902-1993 and we hope to hear from you soon!

Add this to your calendar: Battle of Okeechobee – reenactment: February 4 & 5, 2012, hosted by Battle of Okeechobee Battlefield Friends.  This event commemorates the largest and fiercest battle in the Seminole Wars, fought on Christmas Day 1837.  We will have an informational and retail booth at the event so we hope to see you there. Visit for additional information.

To enhance your Museum experience we offer free tours on most days, check the calendar on our website for times and days.

Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum members are always admitted free.  If you would like Museum membership information, please email or call 954.364.5205.

I look forward to seeing you at the Museum. 

Mary Birch-Hanson

Membership Coordinator

AIAC and Museum Happenings

Hard to believe it is mid-October already. Preparation for our 14th annual American Indian Arts Celebration (AIAC) is in full swing as the first weekend in November draws near. While excitement revs up for the event, Development continues to work to bring awareness and support to the Museum and its related events. The deft art of fundraising in stressed economic times provides the perfect learning curve for our Museum as we embark on a multi-tiered approach to expanding our membership base and other opportunities for community, corporate and philanthropic investment. Essentially a newcomer to this arena, the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki is slowly albeit dedicatedly building a platform for recognition and support.

Working closely with cultural and community partners to design programs of interest at the Museum and elsewhere, including birdwalks, archaeological days, collections workshops, traditional arts demonstrations as well as exclusive store sales, we have enhanced our profile and brought more awareness to the Museum, its mission and the importance of preserving cultural heritage.

During AIAC weekend we will be hosting an early morning Birdwalk on the Boardwalk. For the price of admission to the festival, birding enthusiasts are welcomed and will gain access to the Boardwalk before the Museum officially opens at 9am. Beyond AIAC, the Museum plans to hold these early morning Birdwalks quarterly throughout the year. So in what appears to be a successful model, specific event planning can lead to overall programming thereby broadening the Museums reach, role and recognition.

Early November is sure to bring long awaited and celebrated cooler temperatures, typically the perfect backdrop for our annual fall event. Several meet-ups have been organized for birders, bikers and photographers. This year we welcome Native American performer Kevin Locke ( and a group of Native Hawaiian dancers called the Aloha Islanders ( ; as well as the usual excitement of Seminole Stomp dancing, alligator wrestling, Critter Show, sensational Seminole and other foods. GET YOUR FRY BREAD HERE!


Expect weekend-long fun for all ages with Raffles, the Children’s Craft Tent, the Archaeology Tent and the digital Scavenger Hunt. Be sure to stop by the Museum Information tent to visit with Museum staff and learn about current and planned exhibitions, programs, events and membership opportunities.

Look for more event details on the Museum website and the AIAC Facebook Page. And remember to set those clocks back on Sunday, November 6. We wouldn’t want you to miss a thing in our exciting lineup!  See you soon.

-Dorian Lange

Membership Happenings

September Membership Blog

You can already feel the change in the weather, as the days get shorter, the sunlight turns golden and our fine feathered winter visitors (both human and birds) are on their way south.


Our Exhibits Manager Greg Palumbo was showing us the new Microsoft Surface touchtable program called Camp Life.  It’s an interactive program, geared to kindergarten – 4th grade children, that seeks to acquaint them with Seminole camp life in the 1890s.






Museum Store – New item:  generous 48″ umbrella with a clear acrylic shaft and a light-up center, just $24.95 (Museum members, take advantage of your member discount.)

Contact the Museum Store at (877) 902-1113 ext. 12224 with your questions about these items.



American Indian Arts Celebration (AIAC) – November 4-6.  Join us for a celebration of traditional and contemporary Native American art, music, and dance from across the country.   Delicious food will be available for purchase.

Friday is AIAC Youth Day, featuring crafts, animal shows and special archaeological programming. There is great programming everyday for school age children, including a “take-away craft.”

Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO) will be demonstrating, providing hands on learning opportunities and daily talks about their work.

The full AIAC schedule will be posted by the middle of October. 

Current exhibits

Tools of War, looks at the changing technology of weapons and how these advancements shaped the Seminole Wars.  This exhibit features great items from our collection, including weaponry from 1817 -1858. 

From Surviving to Thriving: An Everglades Economy is also available for your viewing.  It is a chronological look at how the geographical area commonly known as the Everglades, has sustained the Seminole Tribe of Florida from the mid 1800’s to the present.  Learn how some of the deliberate attempts to change the Everglades have impacted the ecology of South Florida and how they have positively and negatively affected the Tribe.

To enhance your Museum experience we offer free tours on most days, check the calendar on our website for times and days.

Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum members are always admitted free.  If you would like Museum membership information, please email or call 954.364.5205.

I look forward to seeing you at the Museum. 



Mary Birch-Hanson

Membership Coordinator

Connecting to Collections

At last week’s Florida Association of Museum Conference an exciting new initiative was announced in relation to the nationwide Connecting to Collections initiative.  Connecting to Collections began back in 2005 with a report released by Heritage Preservation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).   The report, titled “A Public Trust at Risk: The Heritage Health Index Report on the State of America’s Collections (HHI),”, revealed that museum collections of objects, documents, and digital material are not only essential to America’s cultural health, but are imperiled and in need of swift protective action.

The study’s findings concluded that: 

  •   190 million objects held by archives, historical societies, libraries, museums, and scientific organizations in the United States are in need of conservation treatment;
  • 65 percent of collecting institutions have experienced damage to collections due to improper storage;
  • 80 percent of collecting institutions do not have an emergency plan that includes collections, with staff trained to carry it out; and
  • 40 percent of institutions have no funds allocated in their annual budgets for preservation or conservation.  

Starting in 2008 Florida museums began participating in the program with regional meetings and symposiums being held to discuss the status of collections held in the state.  Meetings continued through 2009 and now in 2011 a new initiative has been announced that will partner not only Florida museums, but also libraries, archives, and archaeological collections across the state in order to answer the demand for regional emergency response networks. 

Being in the midst of hurricane alley has made the need for emergency response of utmost importance to us here at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum.  We look forward to working with other local museums to make sure these irreplaceable collections will stay with us for years to come. 


Please click here to read the full Connecting to Collections:  A Report to the Nation