BIG CYPRESS — Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum staff has been so intensely immersed recently in preparation for the Seminole Tribe’s upcoming 18th annual American Indian Arts Celebration (AIAC) that the event is being heralded as the “most anticipated AIAC ever.”
“We have fantastic performances slated for both days. People will be coming from out of state to attend and to participate because we have a very strong, strong lineup,” said Annette Snapp, the Museum’s operating manager.
Snapp, who holds a doctorate degree in philosophy and archaeology, said highlights of the Nov. 6-7 art and culture extravaganza include performances by the award-winning Cherokee dance group Warriors of AniKituhwa, a 20-30 piece pop-up photography exhibit and video presentation called “Seminole Spirit” by world-renowned fashion photographer Russell James, and the soulful Seminole sounds of the Rita Youngman Band.
Works by Leonard Peltier, a Native American activist and member of the American Indian Movement, will be exhibited by his son Chauncey Peltier, of Oregon. Leonard Peltier has been imprisoned for 40 years, some say for political reasons, due to a 1975 shootout on Pine Ridge Reservation that resulted in the deaths of two FBI agents.
Last year hundreds packed the festival to watch entertainment, learn more about Native history and culture, and purchase artwork created by more than 30 artists and crafters from throughout Indian Country.
Medicine man Bobby Henry will open the event at 10 a.m. Nov. 6 with a ceremonial Stomp Dance at the chickee camp adjacent to the Museum parking lot. Greetings from Brighton Seminole princesses will be followed by genuine Seminole alligator wresting by tribal culture keeper Billy Walker.
On Nov. 7, Snapp will kick off festivities with a 7-8 a.m. Audubon Society-sanctioned bird watching tour along the Museum boardwalk.
The $10 admission charge to the event includes the bird-watching tour and access to the Museum exhibits, gift shop and boardwalk.
Tribe employees, who show work identification badges, and three guests, will get in free.
Current exhibits inside the Museum include “It’s Not a Costume: Modern Seminole Patchwork” and more than a dozen pieces from the collection “Guy LaBree: Painted Stories of the Seminoles.”
Recently installed interactive exhibits dot sections throughout the Museum to help guide visitors through past and present cultural experiences of the Seminole Tribe.
In addition to typical festival fare, Seminole food favorites such as Indian tacos, pumpkin frybread and spam covered in tangy tomatoes will be available for purchase.
“If you’ve never been to the American Indian Arts Celebration at Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, this is the year to come on out,” Snapp said. “If you’ve been here before, be prepared for something more and better than ever.”
For more information, visit www.AhTahThiKi.com or call 863-902-1113.