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Mercedes Osceola’s unique path leads to tribal events

Mercedes Osceola stands outside of tribal headquarters on the Hollywood Reservation in January. (Photo Damon Scott)

HOLLYWOOD – Mercedes Osceola says her family life and career at the Seminole Tribe have served as preparation for her new venture. Osceola is the Hollywood Council Office’s special events coordinator for Councilman Chris Osceola. Her first day on the job was Oct. 17, 2022. She replaced Francine Osceola, who is now the manager of the Hollywood Community Culture Center.

Osceola’s job involves planning and executing year-round events for Hollywood’s tribal community. Her first event involved Halloween activities for about 600 people, followed by Thanksgiving for hundreds more, and then one of the largest Christmas events the tribe has ever held – about 1,000 people descended on a huge ballroom at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood for the festivities. Right after Christmas, it was time for yet another big event – the Rez Rally – which was held on the Hollywood Reservation this year.

On Osceola’s radar now is Hollywood’s signature event, the Tribal Fair & Pow Wow held at the Hard Rock Feb. 10-12. Also on Feb. 12 is a Super Bowl watch party at Seminole Estates by the rodeo arena. Osceola said the Council Office tries to make events family friendly and provide great food and exciting entertainment and prizes. Most of all, she said, the goal is to make people feel welcome.

“We plan four or five events at a time. I have a big family, I plan ahead of time,” Osceola said. “If I can plan five, six, seven months ahead of time, that’s what I do. I don’t wing anything. Plus, I’m very organized, I’m very detail oriented.”

Osceola’s ability to multitask – she has seven kids – and her natural people skills make sense. She begins her day at 5 a.m., does a workout from 5:45 a.m. to 7 a.m., feeds the kids and gets them ready for the day, goes to work, and then it’s more family activities at night. If there’s an event, it sometimes extends into the wee hours.

Osceola’s first job was as a tribal clerk, a position she started in her early 20s and held for seven years. She learned recordkeeping, helped to organize Tribal Council meetings, handled tribal resolutions and so on. Osceola said the job helped her learn a lot about both the government and business side of the tribe.

She’d leave the position to stay at home and grow her family, but said she started to get an itch to work again once her youngest child reached age six. Osceola returned to work as an intern in the Hollywood Council Office, processing event tickets for Loretta Micco, who was on leave at the time. Once Micco returned, Osceola took a position at the Community Culture Center as a language instructor. She’d stay for three years before landing in her current position.

“I loved being in Culture. We taught people how to cook, the language, how to sew, beadwork and baskets – we had everything,” she said.

Osceola speaks Seminole (Elaponke), something she said her mother – Virginia Osceola – instilled in her as she grew up. She said her father – Joe Dan Osceola – was one of just a few tribal members who spoke both Seminole and Creek. Joe Dan Osceola, who died in 2019 at 82, was the tribe’s first president and the first president of the United South & Eastern Tribes, among many other distinctions.

“He really encouraged us to go out and be advocates for the tribe, to do what we can to make our mark,” Osceola said. “We’re not limited to just Hollywood, I’m here to help serve the Seminole Tribe.”

Osceola, 38, grew up on the Hollywood Reservation and is the oldest of five siblings.

“We call ourselves the second batch, because my dad had a family before he married my mom,” she said with a smile.

Osceola graduated from Sheridan Hills Christian School in Hollywood, where she played volleyball, basketball and ran cross-country. She was also a Jr. Miss Florida and a Miss Florida Seminole.

Back at the Council Office, Osceola said she’s already planning for Mother’s Day and Easter events.

“We’re lucky to be such a tight-knit community. Everybody knows everybody. We all look out for each other,” she said.

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