Surviving, Adapting and Flourishing in Florida Today


The Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida

Built between 1915 and 1928, the Tamiami Trail cut through the Everglades and increased contact between Seminoles, Miccosukees and non-Indians that worked on the road. Some Seminoles and Miccosukees eventually opened Indian villages and craft shops along the new Trail. During this time, Miami was becoming a popular tourist destination. Two of the area's tourist attractions, Musa Isle and Coppengers, invited a few Seminoles to set up Indian villages in which to live, make arts and crafts to sell in gift shops, give guided tours and wrestle alligators. The combination was a hit, and these attractions continued to be successful for several decades. Many future Seminole and Miccosukee leaders were born and grew up during the "Seminole living on display" tourism era (1920s - 1950s), and they would carry this experience with them and reshape life for their people.

In 1957, many Seminoles organized and gained federal recognition as the Seminole Tribe of Florida. This allowed the tribe to organize its administration in Hollywood, Florida and receive funding from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Recognizing the value of Native American tourism, the Seminole Tribe of Florida used this funding to develop the Seminole Okalee Indian Village. Now the Tribe could reap the benefits of sharing its culture and history. Many Miccosukee families sought federal recognition as the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida, and were successful in 1962.

After federal recognition, both Florida tribes organized health, education, public safety and other programs, and economic development became a key issue for both. In 1971 Seminole Tribal Chairman Howard Tommie began selling tax-free tobacco products. In the mid-1970s, Miccosukee Tribal Chairman Buffalo Tiger created eco-heritage tourism packages that combined the Miccosukee culture with the Everglades environment. This became a successful venture, attracting tourists from all over the world. 

Building on these successes, the Hollywood Seminole reservation began offering high stakes bingo in the late 1970s, which was challenged in U.S. courts as being unlawful. The U.S. Supreme Court found in favor of the Seminole Tribe, opening the door for similar ventures at other reservations throughout the United States. The proceeds from casinos and resorts have vastly improved living conditions of Florida's Native Americans. This new income also allowed the tribes to create other enterprises that they had never before been able to develop, such as the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum on the Big Cypress Reservation in 1997 and the Miccosukee Resort and Convention Center in 1999. These enterprises allow today's Native Americans in Florida to share their heritage and continue their cultural traditions.

Sponsored listings by VISIT FLORIDA Partners



You are signed in as:null
No comments yet