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Ahfachkee ‘Spirit Week’ includes traditional Seminole stories

Van Samuels, an educator from the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, talks to Ahfachkee students during the school’s “Spirit Week.” (Photo Beverly Bidney)

BIG CYPRESS — The Ahfachkee School celebrated “Spirit Week” from Sept. 19-22 with a host of activities, including Native fashion day, “Our Past is Our Future” memory sharing, storytelling and a traditional game of stickball.

Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum educator Van Samuels told traditional Seminole stories to students under the large chickee in the school’s culture camp. He described Seminole camps of old, including those in the middle of the Everglades surrounded by water, but with a fire always burning in the center of camp.

“The fire was called the lifeline of the camp,” Samuels said. “There were no such thing as video games, so in the evenings the children would gather around the fire and a storyteller would tell stories before bedtime.”

The story Samuels told was like those told around the fire. It was about a little frog who was sleeping soundly when a rabbit, known as the trickster, tried to wake him up. The frog wanted to sleep, so he made some sounds that scared the trickster away and the little frog went back to sleep.

“Stories have meanings and messages,” Samuels said. “The reason this story is told is to let kids know you are never too small to make a difference in the world.”

Before Samuels told a group of second graders the story, he introduced “Willie,” a Seminole doll and the museum’s mascot. Some kids thought the doll was so cute that they posed for photos with it after storytelling time.

Ahfachkee students pose with the Seminole doll “Willie.” (Photo Beverly Bidney)
Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at