ORLANDO — The Chairman’s office hosted a cultural workshop event in Orlando Aug. 9 through 11 for Seminoles who live off reservations.
The nonresident gathering took place at the Rosen Shingle Creek hotel and resort.
Tribal families from the Tampa area and beyond met to take part in a daylong series of activities in a large ballroom.
The activities included sewing, beading, doll making, wood and soap carving, and a language class.
“One thing I liked was talking to a man carving wood and soaps,” Aaron Tommie, who is in the advanced career development program in the Executive Director of Operations Office at Tribal headquarters in Hollywood, said.
“He mentioned the importance of patience – a lot of times kids just want to play video games and do things quickly. With this, detail and time is put into it. If you do things quickly it doesn’t always come out right. That resonated with me,” he said.
Tommie said that traditionally when woodcarvings were done; it was a time to talk, like some families do today around the dinner table.
“That was one of the opportunities for the older generations to talk to the younger ones,” he said.
Other participants, both younger and older, were sewing clothes for dolls, doing beadwork and creating sashes.
For a short time in a neighboring ballroom where food was offered throughout the day, Jenny Johns, Brighton’s Community Culture Center manager, was leading a Creek language class for a group of kids.
She and her assistants were teaching the kids the Creek alphabet using songs.
“The people that were there said they really, really enjoyed it,” Johns said.
She’s worked for the Tribe since 1989 in various positions and has been in her current role for about 10 years.
“We teach the kids the best we can,” Johns said. They offer a Creek language class on Tuesday afternoons at the Brighton Community Culture Center for kids and adults.
Johns said she’s fluent in Creek and Miccosukee.
Back in the main ballroom, instructors were assisting Tribal members with any questions they had or help they needed.
The goal was for participants to be able to take back something they created or learned back to their respective communities.
Blake Osceola, who leads special projects in the Chairman’s office, helped to organize the event.
“Everyone I heard from said they had great time. I heard a lot of adults say it was their first time making a doll or basket. The Culture Department instructors enjoyed the event – a lot of them asked if the Chairman was planning to have another one and had some ideas for the next one,” Osceola said.
The day ended with a raffle. The Chairman’s office gave away sewing machines, Seminole clothing, a one night stay at the Hard Rock in Hollywood or Tampa and more.