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Hollywood Culture now led by Francine Osceola

From left to right are the Hollywood Community Culture Center’s Michael Cantu, assistant manager; Francine Osceola, manager; and Paul Buster, language instructor. (Photo Damon Scott)

HOLLYWOOD – The Seminole Tribe’s Francine Osceola took the helm as manager of the Hollywood Reservation’s Community Culture Center on Sept. 5. She replaces Bobby Frank, who has worked for the tribe for decades.

Osceola’s new position comes after an eight-year run as the Hollywood Council Office’s community affairs specialist for Councilman Chris Osceola. She said it was a tough decision to leave, but she was ready to take on a new challenge.

Osceola isn’t a new face at the center, which operates as a hub for tribal members to learn arts and crafts, sewing, cooking, woodwork, language instruction and more. She worked and volunteered there over the years – when Lorene Gopher was the manager and Donna Turtle was a fixture.

“I was raised by my grandmother, so I pretty much knew how to do arts and crafts, sewing and cooking,” Osceola said. “It was a way of life back then.”

Osceola’s grandmother is the late Francis Willie, daughter of the late Josie Billie. She said Willie taught her the importance of preserving the Elaponke language, something Osceola said is in competition today with technology, social media and “everything moving at a faster pace.”

“We’re the grandmothers now, so we have to sit still and teach all these things to the generations coming up,” she said. “Growing up, the Elders told us we’re not a tribe if we don’t have our language. It is so important.”

Osceola is fluent in Elaponke and said it’s the only language Willie spoke around her.

Community focus

Osceola said the language program at the center is a big focus. She currently has three fluent Elaponke speakers on her nine-person staff.

“I’ve been telling them that even if you’re just welcoming somebody or saying ‘see you later,’ I want to hear it spoken,” Osceola said. “Because the more people hear it, the more comfortable they’re going to get with it.”

She’s started a new language class on Mondays and there’s a language class on Wednesdays led by language instructor Paul Buster.

Other priorities include sewing, cooking, basket making and woodwork. Osceola recently brought in Vincent Osceola from the Brighton Reservation to teach woodwork, and Donna Frank will be teaching basket making classes.

“I’m proud to say that our [attendance] numbers in my first month here were equivalent to the previous three months,” Osceola said.

New initiatives also include a Monday morning breakfast for the Hollywood community prepared under a chickee. Osceola said it’s designed as an outreach and service for those who work during the day. The breakfast begins at 5:30 a.m. and runs until 7:30 a.m. She’d like to extend the operating hours at the center for at least one day a week as well.

“Because it’s challenging for those who work during the day to be involved,” Osceola said. “We get the kids here, but I need the families to start getting more involved. People want more and I’m trying to facilitate that.”

In addition to expanded services and more accessibility, Osceola wants to hire a couple more staff members and said she always needs volunteers.

“I’m looking for good help. I’m demanding. I like to see things moving. I feel like our people deserve the best we can give them. I’m not here to sit and collect a check. I want to make things happen,” she said.

Seminole life

Osceola spent the first five years of her life in the Tamiami Trail community, before moving to the Big Cypress Reservation where she lived until she was about 16. She’s been on the Hollywood Reservation ever since.

She said much of her life has been spent connecting with the tribe’s Elders, which naturally happened through growing up in and attending Seminole churches, but also in her previous position at the Hollywood Council Office.

Osceola has seven children – three girls and four boys – ranging from 17 to 29 years old. Her husband is Marl Osceola, the Hollywood Recreation Department’s site manager.

While all her children are in the Hollywood area, daughter Skyla Osceola is perhaps better known among tribal members. She plays basketball for Nova Southeastern University in Davie, where she’s now earning a master’s degree in leadership.

The Community Culture Center is located in the Howard Tiger Recreation Center on the Hollywood Reservation. Contact the center at (954) 989-6840 or email Osceola at

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