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Reservations celebrate Indian Day

Candace Davis competes in the fan tacking competition during the Immokalee Indian Day festivities. The crowd behind her didn’t slow her down. (Photo Beverly Bidney)


Immokalee took two days to celebrate Indian Day. On Sept. 26, culture was the focus while on Sept. 27 competition ruled the res.

The culture department hosted a community luncheon at the culture village. As the women cooked, men chopped wood, carved under the shade of a chickee and reminisced about old times in Mikasuki and English.

Immokalee council project manager Ray Garza carves as he and Manuel Garza talk at the Immokalee Indian Day culture village. (Photo Beverly Bidney)

“It takes four or five months to cure the cypress,” said Council project manager Raymond Garza as he carved. “If you carve it too soon, it will split when it dries. We expose our kids to our culture and hope they will continue it, but kids have minds of their own.”

Becky Yzaguirre gives it her all as she throws the hatchet at the target during Immokalee’s Indian Day. (Photo Beverly Bidney)

The fire in the cooking chickee was lit early and burned hot all day as the food was prepared. For the first time, the culture department used fresh pumpkin to make the pumpkin fry bread. The orbs were peeled, cut into chunks and boiled until soft. Culture instructor America Martinez took charge of the vegetable and turned it into delectable fry bread.

The lunch was a traditional feast and included spaghetti, spam and tomatoes, stew meat and rice, fried chicken, chicken and yellow rice, green beans, corn and plenty of fry bread.

The following day was all about traditional survival tactics of Seminole ancestors turned into feats of athleticism, accuracy and speed. Under a cloudless sky and in more than 90 degree heat, men and women of all ages competed in the hatchet throw, skillet throw, archery, fan tacking and log carrying.

– Beverly Bidney

Victor Billie begins a carving at the Immokalee cultural Indian Day Sept. 26. (Photo Beverly Bidney)
Juanita Martinez is pleased with her aim in the hatchet throw competition at Immokalee’s competitive Indian Day Sept. 27. (Photo Beverly Bidney)
The crowd gathers to watch Carol Pray throw the hatchet competitively at the Immokalee Indian Day. (Photo Beverly Bidney)
Cecilia Garcia, Carol Pray and America Martinez tweak the location of the pots on the grate as they prepare lunch for a crowd during the Immokalee Indian Day culture luncheon. (Photo Beverly Bidney)
Noah Yzaguirre makes it look effortless as he runs with a heavy log on his shoulder during the competition at Immokalee’s Indian Day. (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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