Miami-Dade County

Miccosukee Tribe reveals private side to public, opening doors to their culture

Nelis Mir, left, takes a picture of her friend Rosa Garcia, right, as she holds a alligator, and Rocky Jim, center, of the Miccosukee tribe looks on. The Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the annual Miccosukee Indian Arts & Crafts Festival at the Miccosukee Indian Village, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2014. The Miccosukee Tribe is set on highlighting the very best of Native American entertainment in celebration of this anniversary. The festival runs till Thursday, Jan. 1.
Nelis Mir, left, takes a picture of her friend Rosa Garcia, right, as she holds a alligator, and Rocky Jim, center, of the Miccosukee tribe looks on. The Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the annual Miccosukee Indian Arts & Crafts Festival at the Miccosukee Indian Village, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2014. The Miccosukee Tribe is set on highlighting the very best of Native American entertainment in celebration of this anniversary. The festival runs till Thursday, Jan. 1. Miami Herald staff

For the first time, the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida shared one of their most sacred dances to the public, signaling they are opening the doors to their culture and traditions.

During the 40th annual Miccosukee Indian Arts & Crafts Festival at the tribe’s Indian village west of Miami-Dade County, the public got to see tribe members perform a stomp dance.

Master of ceremonies Althea Frye, 26, said this is a sign that the tribe wants to share more of their culture with the public.

“In the past, we weren’t allowed to show it,” the tribe member said. “It’s a dance restricted to tribal members. It is sacred to us. Tribe members perform the dance. They pay homage to the creator.”

The dances vary from five minutes to a half hour.

The event takes place from Dec. 26 till New Year’s Day, and it features several authentic Miccosukee arts and crafts.

Pete Osceola Jr., Miccosukee Tribe chairman’s administrative advisor, said it is a great opportunity for others to learn about the close to 600-member tribe.

“It’s a time for people to come down and enjoy what we have to offer,” he said. “We offer unique things like great native dancers from all over the United States. We want to expose Native Americans. Not all Native Americans are the same. We have different languages and religion.”

The event has always taken place after Christmas since that is the heaviest traffic in the area, Osceola said.

About 12 different tribes from North America participated in the event. Guests also danced with tribe members.

Bridget Morman of Pinecrest made her first trip to the Indian Village. She has lived in South Florida for 35 years.

“I like to watch the dancing and learn from other cultures,” she said while looking at jewelry. “It’s a great family day."

Two-time world champion hoop dancer Jasmine Pickner-Bell, her native name being Good Road Woman of the Crow Creek Sioux, flew from Wyoming to perform for the first time in South Florida.

Those who attended also got to see a live fashion show featuring native clothing, which has changed over the years, and had a chance to purchase native American clothing and jewelry.

“Before it was skirts for women and baggy pants for men,” Frye referred to the native’s clothing. “Now, we have scarves and bow ties and ties. The clothes now is modernized, but with the patch work touch.”

Frye said the Miccosukee tribe is changing with the times thanks to the young natives. So much so, that the tribe started using social media for the first time in 2014.

“The next generation is speaking out and wants to share more,” she said. “We are proud of our culture. We weren’t sure of our restrictions. There are a lot of changes occurring at the same time.”

If you go

▪ What: 40th annual Miccosukee Indian Arts & Crafts Festival

▪ Where: Miccosukee Indian Village, 500 SW 177 Ave.,

▪ When: Through Friday, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

▪ Cost: Tickets start at $10 for adult tickets. Tickets for kids 7 to 12 and senior citizens are $6. Groups of 10 will be only $80 for the group.

▪ For more information: www.miccosukee.com.

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