Long before the pirates and privateers, Spanish Conquistadors and settlers, Native Americans roamed these lands and were the caretakers of these waters. The Miccosukee Indians
came from North Carolina
and formed the Lower Chiaha, who were one of the tribes of the Creek Confederacy that migrated to Florida in the early 18th century, where they became part of the developing Seminole nation. In the late 18th century British records began referring to a Hitchiti-speaking group around the village of Miccosukee in the Florida Panhandle as 'Miccosukee,' and the name stuck.
By the 1920s and 1930s many Seminole Tribe
formed communities along the newly-made Tamiami Trail, which came through the Everglades connecting Tampa
. It was after this, sometime in the early 1950s, that the Miccosukee people split from the Seminole Nation and formed a new tribal government. The Miccosukee Tribe of Florida was first recognized by the state of Florida in 1957, and in 1962 they received federal recognition.
The tribe today occupies several reservations in southern Florida, principally the Miccosukee Indian Reservation. On these you'll find tribal members and their families, independent Miccosukee, Seminole and other Indian families residing along the Tamiami Trail from Miami to Naples. There are approximately 1,300 in the area and approximately 700 of them are 'pure blood'. If a tribe's member marries outside the tribe they are required to leave the reservation, so that may explain why so few live there.
When you visit the Miccosukee Village, located in the heart of the Everglades, you'll gain insight into the culture, lifestyle and history of the Miccosukee Tribe. You'll see their amazing crafts including beadwork, patchwork quilts, basket weaving and doll making all demonstrated in separate areas of the village. In the museum you'll see historical photos, artifacts and paintings by tribal artists. Outside, tribesmen demonstrate alligator wrestling and tell you all about their tribe; after the show they even let you hold a baby alligator if you'd like. They too offer airboat rides and an authentic, 100-year-old hammock-style Indian Camp.
The Miccosukee demonstrate alligator wrestling as an important part of their history and culture. Back in the days before refrigeration, they would occasionally hunt days from their village and often had to transport an alligator back live, and therefore needed to subdue it by wrestling it and tying its mouth and feet for transport. They did this because if they killed it the meat would rot before they could get it back to the village. The Miccosukee used the alligator, much like their plains-dwelling, Native American cousins used the bison.
Miccosukee Village Gift Shop
The Miccosukee village has a gift shop where you can purchase genuine, handmade Native Indian art, crafts, Miccosukee patchwork quilts, beadwork and jewelry. They have a restaurant where you can taste authentic local foods such as fry breads and Indian tacos. The village also hosts the annual Miccosukee Indian Arts Festival and Miccosukee Everglades Music & Crafts Festival.
The Miccosukee Indian Everglades Casino
On the southeastern edge of the Everglades you'll find the Miccosukee Resort & Gaming complex. They have 302 guest rooms and suites, and a full-service European spa and Pa-Hay Okee Beautique that has a sauna and offers massages, facials, paraffin hand dips and a full range of other beauty treatments. They have a 46,000 square foot meeting and banquet space with a specially trained staff; the Miccosukee Resort and Convention Center can host groups up to 1,800 people, great for special events and concerts.
The resort is family friendly, too. They have their Club Egret which is an 8,500 square foot, fully supervised child-care center where kids can enjoy a state-of-the-art video arcade and a wide range of physical and educational activities.
When it's time for the adults to play, the fun never stops; guests can enjoy the excitement of this gambling place
24 hours a day. They have a 1,200 seat high-stakes Bingo Hall, 1,900 gaming machines including slots, and a poker room with 32 poker tables, where they host regular 7-card stud and Texas Hold'em tournaments.
At the end of the day when it's time to relax, you and your family can enjoy a fabulous meal at one of their five dining options. Choices range from the Cypress Lounge and Martini Bar to a 24-hour deli, a fine dining restaurant or a buffet, truly something for everyone to enjoy, and the food is delicious.
By Beverly Martinez-Collins – PlacesAroundFlorida.com