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A big year for the people made from the sands of Florida

There is no doubt that 2017 is an important year for the Tribe. Exactly 200 years ago, in 1817, U.S. General Edmund Gaines attacked the Mikasuki settlement at Fowltown and effectively declared war on the Seminoles. The resultant reign of destruction in north Florida, carried out by men commanded by Andrew Jackson was short-lived but brought with it unimaginable loss. Countless Seminoles lost their homes, their families, and their lives in this brutal raid. For those who endured, it was another push in the direction ever southward toward the sanctuary of the swamps where a core group would survive against impossible odds.

Sixty years ago, in 1957, after years of struggling and facing the termination of U.S. government services, descendants of the survivors of Jackson’s raid were federally recognized as the Seminole Tribe of Florida that retains its political sovereignty today. As the Tribe celebrates its diamond anniversary of federal recognition it is worth taking a moment to reflect on the lives of those brave ancestors that suffered unimaginable hardship to remain unconquered and endure for their descendants.

Exactly 50 years ago, in 1967, Betty Mae Jumper was elected as the Tribe’s first female chairman. Her leadership and emphasis on education ushered in a new era for the Tribe. Just a year after being elected she helped found the United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) organization.
Twenty years ago, in 1997, the Seminole Tribe of Florida built the Ah-Tah- Thi-Ki Museum. Its name means a “place to learn and a place to remember.” The Museum is a community place of cultural preservation and plays an important role in communicating the Seminole story to people who visit Big Cypress from countries across the globe. Today with the internet and social media
the Seminole story is being recognized worldwide.

Ten years ago, in 2007, the Seminole Tribe purchased Hard Rock Café International Inc., leading Indian Country onto a global stage of economic opportunity.

Throughout the year please look for special coverage of these momentous dates including editorial coverage and Tribal member views in The Seminole Tribune, online and onsite exhibitory and programming at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, and community engagement with the Tribal Historic Preservation Office.

Coacoochee (Wildcat) said he was ‘made from the sands of Florida.’ The world now knows the name ‘Seminole.’ In 2017, we should remember the stories of those 200 who survived to become the proud nation of more than 4000 unconquered today.

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