BRIGHTON — Brighton community members, employees and staff gathered at what was formerly the seniors center to get an insider’s view of the new home for the Community Culture program on Oct. 11.
The new Culture center location offers more space and a more centralized location in the community than its previous location off S.R. 721 at the Dan Bowers building; it’s now near many other frequented Tribal buildings, including the Preschool, Tribal Field Office, Education center and SPD. (The seniors center was relocated to a new 17,500-square-foot facility set on 7.5 acres on the Brighton Reservation in May.)
With a focus on keeping traditions alive, the Culture Department staff used the opportunity to showcase the services they offer. With more than 100 people in attendance, the staff welcomed the community to their new home by displaying the arts and crafts services they provide.
Emcee Johnnie Jones talked about the importance of the program.
“If you teach your kids one thing, maybe they will grow up ‘n’ teach their kids,” he said.
He also thanked Brighton Councilman Andrew J. Bowers Jr. for assisting in acquiring the building.
“He fought for us to get this building,” Jones said. “If we don’t teach all these things, it will be forgotten.”
Jones introduced Tribal officials and staff in attendance, each giving congratulations for having such an important facility and thanking all who made the opening possible.
“It’s an important program we have here,” Councilman Bowers said. “Take advantage of it and pass it on to your relatives and friends.”
Brighton Community Culture director Jenny Johns discussed the services the program has to offer, including instruction in beadwork, Native clothing and designs, basket making, wood carving, cultural cooking, Seminole doll making, chickee building, storytelling, practicing traditional medicine, speaking Creek and Mikasuki and more.
Johns welcomed all community members to participate.
“This (building) is here for the whole community,” she said. “We are here for the whole community, whatever you want to learn. That’s what we’re all about – working together.”
Everyone agreed on the importance of preserving the identity of the Seminole Tribe.
“Culture is who we are,” Hollywood Community Culture director Bobby Frank said. “This is the strong point of the Tribe, and if we lose it, we lose everything.”