Seminole Museum Celebrates Milestone Anniversary

Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum in Clewiston

At the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum on the Big Cypress Reservation, you can catch a rare glimpse into the culture of the Seminole Tribe and its members, who hid out in remote camps there at the start of the century. Learn about marriage ceremonies and camp life through exhibits, stroll nature trails that wind through a cypress dome and experience firsthand an authentic Indian village.

Located 17 miles north of Interstate 75, the museum is celebrating its 15th anniversary in August. In honor of the milestone, you can tour the museum for free that month.

Culture and Tradition

Descendants of the Creek people, the Seminole Tribe of Florida can be traced back at least 12,000 years. In 1997, under the vision of then- and current-Tribal Council Chairman James E. Billie, the museum opened; 12 years later, it became the first tribally governed museum to be accredited by the American Association of Museums.

In the Seminole language, Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki means "a place to learn."

Begin your educational adventure in the 5,000-square-foot gallery. Enjoy a hands-on tour with touchable artifacts and admire life-like dioramas that detail camp life and ceremonies.

In the West Gallery, view two traveling exhibits on display through August. “The Seminole Wars” timeline depicts the tribe’s resistance against the government’s removal policies in the 19th century, while “At Home: Seminole Reservations” explains the history of each reservation.

In all, the museum is home to more than 20,000 artifacts, as well as interactive computers and a theater.

Before you leave, hit the Museum gift shop. Don’t miss the Seminole dolls, crafted of palmetto husk fiber. {pullquote}

Natural Splendor

Nestled on a 66-acre cypress dome, the museum is surrounded by natural beauty.

Hike the winding, one-mile boardwalk and see bobcats, bears and birds such as the Gray Catbird. Stop at interpretive panels to identify local flora like St. John’s Wort and Spanish moss, and learn how the Seminoles used them medicinally.

At the boardwalk’s midpoint, you can tour the recreated ceremonial grounds. Stroll through various chickees, see how Seminole canoes are carved and explore the grounds where stickball is played.

The boardwalk leads to the Living Village, which is a recreation of a Seminole camp that existed from the turn of the century. Here, tribal elders tell stories, answer questions and demonstrate arts and crafts. Guided tours are available.

The outdoor area is also home to an amphitheater, where storytelling and activities, such as arts and crafts workshops, take place.

Special Events

Throughout the year, the museum hosts an array of events, including the Seminole Archaeology Day and Annual American Indian Arts Celebration.

This summer, you can listen to tribal member Moses Jumper Jr. read from the book Legends of the Seminole, which was written by his mother, Betty Mae Jumper. At the June 26 event, Moses will also read poetry from Echoes in the Wind.

Also in June, the museum is participating in Broward Attractions and Museums Month, which is a month-long reciprocal program that allows members of any of the participating organizations to visit the others for free.

The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum belongs on your must-visit list this summer. It is a place to learn – and a place you won’t soon forget.

This article was brought to you by the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum. To plan your trip, go to www.ahtahthiki.com.

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