You are here
Home > Community > Pumpkins on display at museum sculpture garden

Pumpkins on display at museum sculpture garden

A pumpkin carved by Virgil Motlow appears to stand watch over a bronze Seminole family in“The Pumpkins of Devil’s Garden” exhibit at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum’s sculpture garden. (Photo Beverly Bidney)

BIG CYPRESS — The “Pumpkins of Devil’s Garden” exhibit is on display in the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum’s sculpture garden until Nov. 7.

The 37 pumpkins are nestled among the life-sized bronze sculptures of Seminoles, created by Bradley Cooley Sr. and Bradley Cooley Jr. The pumpkins were either decorated, carved, painted or both, as an art project by Ahfachkee School middle and high school students. Some were decorated by museum staff.

The name of the exhibit came from the story of Abiaka, aka Sam Jones, who was a Seminole leader during the Seminole Wars. He opposed President Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Act of 1830 and rallied other Seminole leaders, including Coacoochee and Osceola, to fight the U.S. Army. Using guerilla tactics to resist the troops, he and his followers would appear seemingly out of nowhere, strike the troops and disappear into the wetlands of the Everglades.

The U.S. Army had various nicknames for Abiaka, including “The Devil.” Abiaka’s home base was referred to as Devil’s Garden and lies just north of the Big Cypress Reservation. The “garden” was mostly covered in water with dense tree island hammocks. It served as an impenetrable fortress and the U.S. soldiers called it Devil’s Garden.

According to early stories by the soldiers, Abiaka would appear and a war cry would be heard coming from an unknown location. Abiaka would disappear and his warriors would strike, leading the soldiers to believe he had the ability to summon creatures of the land into battle.

Later stories told by tribal members described the Devil’s Garden land as extremely fruitful with an abundance of edible food.

Lucee Cypress’s pumpkin probably isn’t what the bronze Seminole warrior and his family are looking for in the sculpture garden. (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