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Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki hopes to partner with Naples museum for long-term exhibit

The front cover of the Niles Weekly Register, a newspaper published in Baltimore on Sept. 16, 1815. (Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum)

BIG CYPRESS — The Holocaust Museum & Janet G. and Harvey D. Cohen Education Center’s praiseworthy mission is to teach the lessons of the Holocaust to inspire action against bigotry, hatred and violence.

This is by no means a small and insignificant mission. There are still many stories and many people to educate about the Holocaust of WWII. But the museum in Naples doesn’t stop there. They want to make sure that people know that this was not the only story of genocide and mass murder.

Similar atrocities have continued to occur across the globe since that war, as they did during the centuries before that mid-20th century world conflict. That is why they are planning a permanent exhibit update about the 10 stages of genocide, as laid out by Dr. Gregory Stanton of Genocide Watch. They want their visitors and communities to recognize and understand the stages and signs of genocide so they can help fight against it in all its forms. There are more details about the stages of genocide on the website that has inspired this exhibit:

It’s important to explain that these stages do not always happen in order. They can take place simultaneously, and all are long and sometimes subtle processes. Not everyone sees them happening, and history often tries to erase them. This is what has happened to Indigenous people in the Americas ever since colonial forces invaded and took control of the lands in the 15th to 19th centuries. Therefore the museum looked to the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum to help tell the Seminole story as part of their new exhibit.

One way we could do this is to focus on the Seminole Wars, and the tactics of the U.S. government in the 18th and 19th centuries. For the past year the museum has been working on a project with historic newspapers that tell this story. Funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, this project will result in new descriptions for over 500 of the historic newspapers in our online collections. You can check out one of them at Enter catalog number 1998.9.13 in the search box.

This 1815 newspaper contains an article that classifies a group of Indigenous people as “hostil e” even though the article admits that not all of them are. They are classified as hostile just because it is convenient for the U.S. government, who had been interfering with an Indigenous civil war and was attempting to use the outcome for its own colonial purposes.

This classification provided the U.S. Army with a reason to organize an invasion into Spanish Florida. This action led to the start of the Seminole War, where thousands of similarly classified people would be exterminated by the U.S. Army even when just defending their homes and families. The dehumanization and classification which exemplifies stages one and four of the 10 stages of genocide of Indigenous people as hostile and uncivilized was carried out in order to make this war seem justified.

This one newspaper is just the beginning of a long story that exposes the stages of genocide in the treatment of Seminole Indians and their allies. At the end of the project you’ll be able to find all the newspaper descriptions at In the meantime, you can stop by the museum to hear about the project and share your thoughts on our collaboration with the Holocaust Museum & Cohen Education Center. You can also give us a call 863-902-1113 or email us at to share your thoughts.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services Native American/Native Hawaiian Museum Service FY21 Program.

Beginning in 2001 from an exhibit created by students from Golden Gate Middle School, the Holocaust Museum & Cohen Education Center in Naples reaches 15,000 students and welcomes 5,000 visitors annually. (