Seminole Culture in the Hard Rock
By Jodi Mailander Farrell
In between clubbing, shopping, concert-going and casino games, there’s a chance to explore the historic unconquered spirit of Florida’s first people at the Seminole Okalee Village inside the tribe’s Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood.
Dubbed “Seminole Paradise,” the complex is best known for its 140,000-square-foot casino and live concerts and comedy shows.
But hotel guests and visitors can get a dose of Old Florida amid the glam and glitter at the village, a smaller branch of the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate on the Big Cypress Indian Reservation in the heart of the Everglades.
Here are five ways to learn about the Seminoles’ resiliency and traditions without stepping outside the city:
1. Catch one of the cooking, woodwork or craft demos that occur on a regular basis inside the living village. Seminole women are known for their beadwork and once wore up to 12 pounds of beads at a time.
2. Purchase handmade jewelry, clothing, woodwork, sweetgrass baskets or dolls inside the Authentic Seminole Arts & Crafts Gift Shop. Cloth-wrapped palmetto fiber husk dolls stuffed with cotton accurately portray the clothing and hairstyles worn by traditional Seminole men and women.
3. Learn about Seminole architecture and check out the “chickees” inside the village. Built from palmetto thatch over cypress log frames, the houses were created by Seminoles in the 1800s when they were on the run from U.S. troops and needed fast, disposable shelter.
4. Watch a Deep Water Alligator Wrestling Show at 8 p.m. on Saturdays. The hunting tradition turned tourist attraction goes back generations in Seminole culture.
5. Get a sample of the Everglades and the Seminoles’ native surroundings at the small zoo featuring Florida panthers, alligators, turtles and birds.
Info: Seminole Okalee Village, 5716 Seminole Way, Hollywood, 954-797-5551, semtribe.com