FORT LAUDERDALE — Seminole Tribe of Florida Cultural Ambassador Everett Osceola made history in April when he became the first Seminole officially appointed to the board of directors of Fort Lauderdale’s Historic Stranahan House Museum.
“I never thought I would be on the board,” Osceola said. “I’m passionate about my people. We [Seminoles] do know our history. With me being on the board committee, I can bring a more Seminole presence to the Stranahan House.”
“He puts a good light on the Seminole Tribe. I fully supported him from the beginning,” said Hollywood Councilman Christopher Osceola. “He’s very aware of what Tribal culture is. He’s got a lot of respect out there in the community.”
For about eight years, Everett Osceola has been involved with the Stranahan House for speaking engagements and other events, including Seminole Cinema Night in November 2014 and more recently the Native Reel Cinema Fest at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood during February’s Seminole Tribal Fair. April Kirk, executive director of the Stranahan House, introduced Osceola to the idea of being a board member.
“Everett’s inclusion bridges the gap between the Stranahan House and the Seminole Tribe,” Kirk said. “This is really the start of planning for what the future will be.”
Frank Stranahan moved to New River settlement – now known as Fort Lauderdale – in 1893 to oversee his cousin’s property. He became a successful businessman and developed a business relationship with Seminoles, many of whom would travel to his trading post with canoes. Ivy Stranahan was hired as a teacher in New River settlement. Shortly after she married Frank, Ivy stopped working as a teacher in an official manner, but placed a priority on educating Seminole children.
“I feel a lot of us are indebted to Ivy Stranahan,” Osceola said. “I feel like we should pay homage to that.”
In 1901, the current Stranahan House was built. It is Broward County’s oldest surviving structure. The Stranahans bore no children and were very charitable. They donated a lot of land and essentially helped build Fort Lauderdale, Kirk said. She mentioned that the Stranahans were instrumental in helping develop a relationship with white inhabitants of the New River settlement and the Seminoles. In 1984, the Stranahan House became a historic house museum.
The board’s primary objectives are to oversee the visions and goals of the organization as well as to preserve history. It helps conduct tours for the public and provides educational and historical background. The board is legally and fiscally responsible for the Stranahan House. Each board member’s term lasts two years. There are currently 16 board members.
Osceola has high hopes for his position with the Stranahan House, which attracts an average of 10,000 visitors annually.
“I would like to have a constant flow of Tribal members doing the work. Hopefully I can get more youth involved with the Stranahan House,” said Osceola, who became the official cultural ambassador for the Tribe in September 2015. “I feel like if [people] want to hear about Seminole history, I think it should come from a Tribal member.”