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Traditional meets modern at culture camp

Culture Camp10HOLLYWOOD — To help ensure the longevity of Seminole culture, a new community culture camp was erected in the shadow of Hollywood’s newest building just in time for the reservation’s Indian Day celebration Sept. 26.

Located on the east side of the Howard Tiger Recreation Center, the camp features one eating/meeting chickee, one cooking chickee and six smaller living chickees. It took nearly a month to complete.

“It was designed as a living camp and will teach our young ones how we used to live in the early days,” said Bobby Frank, Hollywood culture center manager. “We brought it here so they can see it and understand it.”

Miccosukee and Seminole Chickee Builders, owned by Trail Liaison Norman Huggins, built the cooking and eating/meeting chickees using raw materials from Big Cypress Reservation. The company used 160 cypress trees and about 9,300 palm fronds for the two chickees.

The 26-by-24-foot cooking chickee has an 8-foot area that can be used for storage. The 40-by-20-foot eating/meeting chickee can easily accommodate a hungry crowd, as demonstrated on Indian Day. During the daylong celebration, Tribal members prepared flat bread, lapale, frybread and pumpkin bread for the community in the cooking chickee, while residents escaped from the heat under the eating/meeting chickee.

The camp’s 12-by-12-foot living chickees were built by Frank Billie’s company.

It took 178 cypress trees and 5,600 palm fronds – also collected from Big Cypress – to build them.

Since the Seminole Wars in the 1800s, chickees have served as the heart of Tribal life, Frank said. As the traditional and modern worlds intersect, the chickee still serves as a symbol of the Tribe; it even has a prominent place on the Seminole flag.

The Hollywood culture camp will evolve, much like old villages when chickees were added as needed. There is space for two additional small chickees, and Frank plans to teach boys and men how to build them.

“Having it right next to the Culture Department makes it efficient and the availability is second to none,” Frank said. “We’re really going to utilize this.”


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