Indian Day celebrations came earliest for the youngest Tribal members Sept. 18 when preschool students tribalwide attended simultaneous events to honor culture, tradition and Seminole pride.
Thommy Doud, director of the Tribe’s preschools, said nearly 220 children participated in Indian Day happenings at the same time in Immokalee, Big Cypress, Hollywood and Brighton reservations.
In Hollywood, the Tribe’s tiniest students fashioned patchwork posters out of construction paper, petted a real alligator named Wally, tossed toy hatchets and competed for cardboard crowns in clothing contests.
The Rev. Paul Buster treated all the children, and plenty of grown-ups, to traditional storytelling.
In one story, Buster told of a talkative turtle’s adventure. The turtle lumbered on his way to finding food but stopped to chat with many creatures returning from dining on the same berry bush to which he was headed.
“He was taking his time and asking everyone coming back from the bush about the food. Was the food good? What did it taste like? By the time he got there, it was too late; all of the animals had eaten all the food except for one shriveled berry,” Buster said.
The moral of the story: Do not waste time; do not stop and just talk about goals. A person who doesn’t move forward will lose out.
“If there is something to do in life, just do it. Do your homework, practice your music or sport. Do it,” Buster said.
Preschoolers in Brighton celebrated with their hands, hearts and minds deep in Seminole culture.
The youngsters kneaded dough into frybread, tossed kid-size skillets and threw lightweight wooden hatchets. Together, they sang “The Numbers Song” sweetly in the Creek language of their ancestors.
Immokalee and Big Cypress events were also staged for children to mark the day.
Buster said the special day of activities just for preschoolers provided important educational opportunities – even if the pint-size participants did not realize it. Traditional and cultural lessons at any age can last a lifetime, he said.
“When I was little my mom said that I might not understand; but as I grew up at 10 years old, 20 and 30 – and probably when I am 100 years old, I still hear her voice and I still say to myself, ‘This is what my mother meant,’” Buster said. “Little children might not ingest the message yet but the mindset is there.”
Staff reporter Beverly Bidney contributed to this report.