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Princess portraits now part of Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum décor

BIG CYPRESS — Portraits of Seminole royalty now grace the same wall at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum where Tribal Council photographs are prominently displayed.

The formal portraits of Miss Florida Seminole Cheyenne Kippenberger and Jr. Miss Florida Seminole Allegra Billie were added Nov. 19 above the entrance to the theater for all museum visitors to see.

Miss Florida Seminole Cheyenne Kippenberger and Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum Director Paul Backhouse display the photos of the princesses. (Courtesy photo)

“We are very honored to have them up on the wall,” said Paul Backhouse, museum director and Tribal Historic Preservation Office officer. “It’s tremendous for our visitors to get a sense of who they are; they are amazing young women who represent the Tribe worldwide.”

Princess pageant committee chairwoman Wanda Bowers had the idea for the photos when she and Kippenberger placed a collection box for the Princess Toy Drive at the museum.

“We were talking about the Council photos and I told Paul the princesses should be up there, too,” Bowers said. “I took them to get their portraits made and gave them to Paul.”

Bowers would like the princess’ portraits to be displayed with Tribal Council every year. Backhouse would like to continue the new tradition. Tours, which already discuss the role of Tribal Council, now incorporate the princess program as well.

“As a sovereign nation, we always point out Tribal Council,” Backhouse said. “Now we point out the princess program and why it’s important to the Tribe. It’s an excellent opportunity to showcase them and it’s a great way for Tribal members and children to see it and maybe want to try out for the princess program themselves.”

Backhouse believes the princess program teaches the young women to be public figures, be positive role models and possibly be future leaders of the Tribe.

Along with the Tribal Council photos, the princess portraits grace the wall above the entrance to the theater. (Photo Beverly Bidney)
Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at

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