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Seminole exhibition opens in Fort Lauderdale

The exhibit opened Oct. 22 at History Fort Lauderdale. (Damon Scott)

FORT LAUDERDALE – The new art exhibition “Chehantamo: How are you?” opened Oct. 22 in Fort Lauderdale with an appearance by Tia Blais-Billie, one of 15 Seminole artists whose work is on display through Jan. 6, 2024.

It’s the 10th annual Native American heritage exhibition at History Fort Lauderdale. The show features a room filled with more than two-dozen contemporary pieces spanning generations of Seminole artists, including the late Elizabeth Buster. Another room has eight large panels provided by the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum that describe the history of the Seminole Wars.

“I think something that’s been developed through the years of doing this show has been new forms of media and a wider age range,” Blais-Billie said. “I think it’s really important and very representative of the tribe today.”

Blais-Billie has assisted with the shows over the years alongside History Fort Lauderdale curator Tara Chadwick. Her work on display this year is “Yaala,” which she said is a slang term for “come along.” Blais-Billie created it in a graphic abstract style that combines the work of four other Seminole artists – sister Durante Blais-Billie, Samuel Tommie, Gordon “Ollie” Wareham and Corrine Zepeda – to form the shape of a hand.

The annual exhibition has evolved and expanded over the years. It first began when Elgin Jumper and Wareham did a one-hour pop-up-style event on the museum’s veranda. The next year it was extended to a week, and the following year to a month. The late Jimmy Osceola soon joined Jumper and Wareham in assisting with the show. Today it’s a multi-month, multi-artist event that continues to grow in scope and in diversity of art and artist.

In addition to Blais-Billie, Buster, Tommie, Wareham and Zepeda, the other Seminole artists in “Chehantamo” are Wilson Bowers, Nicholas DiCarlo, Jumper, Danielle Nelson, Alyssa J. Osceola, Jacqueline Osceola, Tina Osceola, Victoria Osceola, Daniel Tommie and Shonayeh Shawnie Tommie.

“Part of this show is really to remind us about the importance of understanding history so we can chart a course for the future,” Chadwick said. “But for me, it’s to create space for Seminoles.”

Last year’s exhibit, “Chono Thlee: Sparking a new era in Seminole art,” featured 60 pieces by 20 Seminole artists. Seminole artists have also been featured outside of History Fort Lauderdale. The recently ended “Reclaiming Home: Contemporary Seminole Art” exhibition featured the work of seven Seminole artists at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, which was a first.

History Fort Lauderdale, which also has Seminole-related content in its permanent exhibitions, consists of three museums – the History Museum of Fort Lauderdale inside the 1905-built New River Inn, the 1907-built Pioneer House Museum and the 1899-built Ivy Cromartie Schoolhouse Museum. “Chehantamo” is in the History Museum.

History Fort Lauderdale is located at 231 SW Second Ave. in Fort Lauderdale. For more information, go to or call (954) 463-4431.

Wilson Bowers created this mixed media “Chehantamo” sign, the name of the exhibit. (Damon Scott)
Danielle Nelson’s “Skirt and Cape” is one of the featured pieces. (Damon Scott)
Tia Blais-Billie created “Yaala” in the shape of a hand. She said “Yaala” is a slang term for “come along.” (Damon Scott)
Tia Blais-Billie is one of 15 Seminole artists represented in the exhibit. (Damon Scott)
Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at