BIG CYPRESS — Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum’s public reception, set for 2 p.m. Jan. 16 to celebrate the Museum’s newest exhibit “Struggle for Survival, 1817-1850,” will also herald two additional exhibits that opened in November.
“Conversations” by award-winning Seminole Tribune photographers, showing through February 2016 in the Museum’s Mosaic Gallery, consists of 14 images captured while reporting live news during the past three years by Beverly Bidney, Kevin Johnson and Eileen Soler.
“The photography shows the complex depth and richness of what it means to be Seminole today. The images are true to the spirit whether the people depicted are collecting sweetgrass for making baskets or playing basketball,” said Museum curator of exhibits Rebecca Fell.
In 2013 and 2014 alone, Bidney, Johnson and Soler received 22 Native media awards collectively at consecutive Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) conventions. NAJA membership welcomes media department employees of all Tribes throughout Indian Country.
“Telling our Stories – Recording Seminole Traditions,” in the Museum’s NOOK Gallery through May 8, is an interactive exhibit that invites visitors to don headphones and hear 10 personal accounts of life from distinguished Seminole elders and others whose lives have been impacted by Seminole culture and tradition.
“We have many oral histories. Some will never be heard by anyone, others only by family members or clan members. Every person can share different aspects of the culture with provisions and restriction on how the recordings can be used,” Fell said.
The recordings in the exhibit were made available to the public with permission from the subjects themselves.
Highlights include timeless words from Tribal members Bobby Henry, Judybill Osceola, Shule Snow, Zack “Doc” Battiest and his father Henry James “Jr.” Battiest (Choctaw) and Miccosukee Tribe member Lee Tiger.
Tiger said he concentrated on telling the story of his father, Buffalo Tiger, instead of his own. Buffalo Tiger, longtime Chairman of the Miccosukee Tribe who passed Jan. 6, 2015, was an activist throughout Indian Country and Florida long before and after the creation of the separate Seminole and Miccosukee tribes.
“He was really good with dealing with people in political power because he knew how to tell the truth. It wasn’t about politics when he spoke; it was about truth. That’s why he got so much done and that is why I wanted him to be part of the oral history,” Lee Tiger said.
Fell said the exhibit explains why the oral history library was created and the processes that make the collection successful.
“It’s wonderful how different stories connect and how they capture and save history for future generations,” Fell said.