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Longstanding partnership provides online access to community history, including Tribal Fairs

Dancers gather and wait to perform. From left to right are: Bobby Henry, Barbara Sisnero, Susie Henry, Stephen Bowers, Alan Jumper, Jimmy O’Toole Osceola and Linda Lee Henry. Do you know anyone else in this picture, or can you guess the date? (ATTK Catalog No. 2015.6.7253)

For more than 10 years, the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum has partnered with The Seminole Tribune in a very special way.  It has long been the Tribune’s mission to chronicle the daily lives and special events of the Seminole Tribal community. For over 63 years the Seminole Tribune has recorded Princess Pageants, council meetings, marriage announcements, grand openings, birthdays, parades, and so many more community events from the different reservations.  After they produce an amazing newspaper each month, they set out to do the same thing the next month.  This is an amazing responsibility and they do a great job.  These days, the newspapers are put online and can be enjoyed there long after the month of that issue has passed, at https://seminoletribune.org/.

Seminole royalty Vanessa Frank and Suriaya Youngblood Smith lead the grand procession at the 1997 Tribal Fair. A young man walks between them. Do you recognize him? (ATTK Catalog No. 2015.6.7255)

The museum’s role in this process also takes place for a long time after an issue of the paper is revealed.  Our collection contains approximately 150,000 photographs that were taken by Seminole Media Productions and their predecessors from the late 1970s to the early 2000s.  With the purpose of preservation in mind, the employees of the museum’s collections division have consistently been working on the conservation, safety, and accessibility of the collection.  Through an ongoing project, over 25,000 of these photos have been made accessible to the Tribal community through the museum’s online collections.  Browse our photos from the museum’s website: https://semtribe.pastperfectonline.com/

These photographs are extremely important to the museum because they preserve the recent history of the Seminole Tribe of Florida and all its activities. The museum’s primary goal is to serve the Seminole Tribe of Florida and with these photos we are able to protect, preserve, and make accessible the Tribe’s history to its Tribal citizens.

One of the biggest events that the Tribe hosts every year is Tribal Fair in Hollywood.  This is an event that celebrates Native American culture and the rich heritage of the Seminole Tribe and of other Native people across Indian Country.  With last February’s 47th Tribal Fair and Powwow still fresh in our minds, it’s important to reflect on what a significant event this is for the community. This is especially true in the spring of 2020, when an unforeseen situation has waylaid our busy spring event season.  Because of The Seminole Tribune, the museum houses over 1,500 photographs of the numerous Tribal Fairs over the years ranging from the 1970s to the early 2000s. The photographs include grand processions, clothing contests, concerts, dancing, talent contests, vendors, arts and crafts, and all other activities pertaining to the Tribal Fair.  Many of these are available to view through our online collections.  If you find a picture you like, you can request a digital copy through the website.  We’ll be sure to send a copy quickly to the email address you provide. 

While the museum on Big Cypress is closed for everyone’s safety, we can still search our database for your friends and family.  So let us know if you can’t find what you’re looking for and we’ll be glad to help.  Email Tara Backhouse at tarabackhouse@semtribe.com for any image requests or questions about our collection. 

Number 157 and 148 display two of the numbers for young participants in a Tribal Fair clothing contest in the early 2000’s. We don’t have anyone identified in this picture. Can you help? (ATTK Catalog No. 2015.6.7260)
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