Friday, October 11, 2013

Ah Tah Thi Ki Museum

The name means the place where we go to learn, and the video presentation in the theater makes it clear this gorgeous building was created using tribal monies only. As Chief Billie explains in the video, gambling has made the tribe a lot of money, and he decided the tribe needed to preserve its institutional memory, or what's left of it.
The tribe has a ton of land but for whatever reason the huge parking lot is built across the road from the museum requiring pedestrians to cross the street. Traveling in October is the best time in Florida if you want to avoid crowds, as you can see, but what they do in winter I don't know when there are lots of people around. A parking lot next to the museum might have been better.
Inside the permanent exhibit consists of a series of dioramas depicting historical life in the Seminoles' Everglades. Hunters:
Their peculiar headgear can, it turns out be unwrapped into a blanket, which seems like a lot of cloth to carry on the head.
Meanwhile back in the village the distaff members of the tribe are doing womens' work of course. Grating porridge and pounding corn, as one does, all carefully explained. The women seem elaborately overdressed for doing the household chores,call me sceptical but I suspect things were a tad bit tougher and rougher than depicted.
It turns out the soft supple hides the Indians tanned not only took a great deal of labor (female) but they also used the brain of the deer to treat the hide which was apparently how they got the particular softness of the finished product, much valued by white traders.
I have noticed certain similarities the whole world over and marriage is one of those beliefs we all have in common. I'm not sure homosexuality was on the cards in the average Seminole village but I only draw that conclusion by inference in the dioramas.
In the kitchen Seminoles ate the yellow stuff in the pot, a porridge called sofkee Recipes From the Everglades - How the Seminole People Cook which was left by the fire for anyone who felt hungry, which I think is quite civilized. The woman in the picture below is making flatbread to eat with the sofkee. If that doesn't appeal they had venison kebabs or turtle steaks or alligator meat. Sides of heart of palm (not from the can) rounded out the healthy Seminole diet. Which if that doesn't sound like your kind of diet picture the poor Inuit of Alsaka, a people who get to eat raw whale blubber which they think is delicious and call Muktuk. If you live too long in snowfields that's what happens to your taste buds. Give me Florida heat any day.
And then there was the travel diorama, the nuclear Seminole family traveling by canoe to visit neighbors in nearby independent villages.
Silversmithing was a Seminole skill and tools were on display.
They also had fun as it turns out, playing games including during the highly anticipated Green Corn festival when spiritual mysticism played its role in village life. They also played a form of stickball trying to high a post planted vertically in the ground with a round object. Women used their hands, men had to use lacrosse type sticks. Much merriment ensued.
Cheyenne was snug in the air conditioned car and we spent an hour, the last available hour of the day walking the museum. We missed extra temporary exhibits on display and we didn't get to walk the trail in the back of the museum through Chief Billie's former campground.
Well worth the admission, nine bucks for adults, six bucks for us seniors over 55. I am looking forward to spending more time there on my next visit. I'd rather have been a Seminole than a Koreshan if I had to live in the Everglades, perhaps, but more about that later.

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