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Joe Dan Osceola, Suarez Museum participate in Bolivia summit

Joe Dan Osceola, left, with Luis Suarez, center, receives Bolivia’s Native Tribes Flag from Johnny Mullisaca, vice minister of Culture, in June during an international summit in Bolivia.
Joe Dan Osceola, left, with Luis Suarez, center, receives Bolivia’s Native Tribes Flag from Johnny Mullisaca, vice minister of Culture, in June during an international summit in Bolivia.

Joe Dan Osceola’s first visit to Bolivia proved to be a trip the former Seminole Tribe of Florida, Inc. president won’t soon forget.

Osceola joined representatives from Miami’s Suarez Museum of Natural Science & History on a goodwill venture to the heart of South America in mid-June. The group participated in the First International Summit of Culture, Nature and Commerce hosted by the Guembe Bio-Park & Resort in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

A panel discussion consisted of Osceola (Seminole Tribe of Florida); Dayamy Rodriguez (U.S.), president, founder and CEO of the Suarez Museum of Natural Science & History; Luis Suarez (U.S.), president of the International Museum Federation LLC and curator of the Suarez Museum of the Natural Science & History; Rocio Solis (Costa Rica), president of the Costa Rican Commission of cooperation with UNESCO; and special guest Marko Machicao, the minister of the Department of Culture and Tourism from the Plurinational State of Bolivia.

The summit was designed to promote discussion about experiences and efforts surrounding the best practices for management of natural and sustainable resources. The summit also welcomed new perspectives as to the best ways to confront challenges when dealing with the business sector and to be able to balance the needs of both. Discussions were also held about how to sustain cultural heritage when approached by new alternatives.

“We want to create a link between our country and the institutions gathered here today in order to attain multilateral agreements to benefit all involved,” Diego Urioste, one of the organizers, said in a press release.

The Suarez Museum made a donation to the Guembe Museum to express the importance of protecting the flora and fauna and to promote education.
The sharing of culture was reciprocal among the attendees.

Rodriguez, Suarez and Urioste helped organize a meeting with Osceola and the Native Tribes of Bolivia, including Guarani, Aymara and Quechua. Discussions focused on cultures and customs of the different Tribes. Osceola said he was impressed with the Tribe officials who traveled to the summit from remote parts of the region.

“They reminded me of the Seminoles before the Seminoles were formed as a Tribe,” Osceola said. “They’re able to adapt to most anything. They can survive just about anything. They adapt to the jungle and the wilderness. I told them the Seminoles have always been in the wilderness, too, like the Everglades.”

Osceola received a Native Tribes flag from Johnny Mullisaca, vice minister of Culture. Osceola gave a Seminole patchwork jacket to Machicao.

“They’ve never seen a jacket like that. They were grateful,” Osceola said.

Although more than 3,000 miles separate Florida from Bolivia, the South American Tribes want to learn more about the Seminoles.

“They were quite interested in the Seminoles,” Osceola said. “They’re in the jungle, so they don’t keep up to date with the news about the Seminoles, but they knew of the Seminoles.”

Osceola said the experience was educational and beneficial, and he’s looking forward to joining the Suarez Museum on another interchange culture visit to Costa Rica and Bolivia in December.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the trip,” he said.

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