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Fort Pierce marks upgrades, new projects

This photo from May 16, 1996, is from the original groundbreaking ceremony for the Fort Pierce Reservation. The ceremony was organized by then-Chairman James E. Billie. The four sisters, whose mother was the late Sally Tommie Chipco, are in the front row. From left to right are the late Minnie Tommie Howard with husband Jessie Howard; the late Marie Tommie Gilliam; the late Hope Tommie Wilcox and husband, the late Damon Wilcox (Hope Tommie Wilcox was the original founder of the Fort Pierce Reservation); and the last living sister Bessie Tommie. Others in the photo are the late Margaret Wilcox and kids (Hope P. Sneed, Joshua L. Sneed, Crystal L. Sneed, Sheree D. Sneed, Remus L. Griffin); the late Shirley Tommie Sotelo; the late Jane Stockton and kids (O’Hara Tommie); the late Sylvia Tommie and sons Carlton Tommie; Kevin Tommie Sr.; Dean Stokes Sr.; Lawanda Y. Tommie; Shamy Tommie Sr. and Jr.; Wanda Tommie (wife of Shamy Tommie Sr.); Mary L. Tommie and kids (the late Shavonta Timothy and Marlon Tommie). (Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum)

Tribal members at the Chupco’s Landing development on the Fort Pierce Reservation have encountered mold-related issues in their homes over the past few years. During that time, 29 of 30 homes have received mold remediation and other work, including the installation of new heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. While the work is completed, residents have been staying in rental homes or hotels.

Crystal Sneed, the Fort Pierce Liaison to Hollywood Councilman Chris Osceola, said a few families have moved back into their homes, while others are still waiting for the green light.

“We currently have four members moved in and we’re planning for another three in the next couple of weeks,” Sneed said Oct. 28. “By the end of next month, the majority of the community will be back in their homes.”

Sneed said all the homes are expected to be wrapped up by the beginning of 2023. She said the work has been prioritized to accommodate Elders, those with disabilities and families who are staying in hotels.

The single-family homes at Chupco’s Landing were custom-built in 2005 and range from 1,600-to-2,400 square feet. Sneed said a community event will be scheduled in the future to mark the completion of the work.

Playground-park ‘unlike any other’

Meanwhile, sometime in 2023 – Sneed hopes by summer – a new playground-park will be opened south of the Chupco’s Landing Community Center and adjacent to the property’s retention pond.

Crystal Sneed

“This will be unlike any other playground around,” Sneed said. “It will exemplify Native American features at its finest – with tribal entry signage shaped as an arrow with the name ‘Bird Clan’s Landing.’”

Sneed said Fort Pierce tribal members agreed on the entry signage, which also features the Seminole Tribe’s other clans. The Fort Pierce community is comprised of families who descend from the late Sally Chupco Tommie of the Bird Clan.

Some of the playground features kids will enjoy include a teepee-style slide, obstacle course, dream catcher and water mister. The playground’s surface will be composed in a patchwork style. Other features include exercise equipment for different ability levels. Some exercise stations are designed with Elders in mind and for those who use a wheelchair.

“There will be three chickees at the park for gatherings and cooking – including one that will be designed for traditional needs,” Sneed said.

Sneed said she was grateful to the staff at Tribal Community Development (TCD), including its executive director, Derek Koger, for moving the project along.

“This project meant a lot to me, as it is for the community, which is my family, and TCD understood that,” she said.

Sneed said a community event to reveal the playground-park will be scheduled once it’s completed.

“The Fort Pierce community is known for enjoying one another and being very appreciative for our many blessings,” she said. We are very grateful for the blessing left behind from our lineages.”

Sneed’s late grandmother was Hope Tommie Wilcox, known as the founder of the Fort Pierce Reservation. Then-Chairman James Billie assisted the community in procuring the land and hosted the original groundbreaking ceremony.

“I serve my community with the utmost pride, humility and integrity – always remembering that my blessings came from my grandmother,” Sneed said. “She was well-known for her small and intricate patchwork, her Indian dolls and her pride in being a true Seminole. Many of our members have passed on, so we are committed to carrying that torch, ensuring that the Fort Pierce Reservation retains its history.”

Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at