Seminole  001Seminole  003In the Seminole language, Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki means a place to learn.  And that is the name of the Seminole Indian museum at the Seminole Indian reservation in Big Cypress Community, which was directly west of our campground in Sunrise, Florida.  The mission of the museum is “To collect, preserve, protect and interpret Seminole culture and history – inspiring an appreciation and understanding of the Seminole language. “

The members of the Tequesta and the Calusa tribes, the original residents of South Florida and the Everglades, had no resistance to the diseases brought by European explorers.  Entire civilizations throughout Florida died of measles, fevers and influenzas.

Seminole  004Seminole  010Seminole  011Seminole  012The Seminole people are the descendants of the Creek people. The ancestral lands of the Creek culture encompassed parts of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee.

The early history of the Creek people into Florida is not well understood.  By the 18th century, Creeks began moving south into Florida.  They banded with any remaining aboriginals and were joined by escaped slaves to become the Seminoles, a word that means runaways.  They continually escaped from the white man, survived three Seminole Indian Wars and are the only native American tribe that never signed a peace treaty with the government.

“After the wars, the few remaining Seminoles retreated deeper south into the Everglades and made their living as hunters, guides and sometimes, curiosities for the tourists. They were also able to make a living while maintaining a distance from the influences that tried so hard to change them.

The 1950’s were a turning point in the history of the Florida Seminole people.  Tribal leaders moved forward and by 1957 had drafted a Tribal constitution. They attained self government through the formation of a governing body, the Tribal Council.

Seminole  007The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Seminole Indian Museum officially opened its doors to the public August 21, 1997 helping to commemorate the 40th anniversary of federal recognition of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. It is home to over 30,000 unique artifacts and archival items.  The Museum also boasts one and a half miles of elevated boardwalk through a 66 acre cypress dome. The boardwalk offers educational placards in English, as well as the two languages of the Seminole (Mikasuki and Creek), identifying 67 different plant species and their traditional Tribal uses. The boardwalk leads to a recreated Living Village wherein Tribal artisans demonstrate the traditional arts and crafts of woodcarving, beadwork, basketry and the distinctive Seminole patchwork.

Seminole  008Seminole  013In April of 2009, the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Seminole Indian Museum was awarded full accreditation from the American Association of Museums (AAM). This designation is largely significant in that the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki is the first tribally-governed museum to have received accreditation.”


The museum was only four years old when we left Florida in 2001 to live in Denver, and we’d not been aware of it previously.   There is obviously still much that we have to learn about the history of Florida, and I’m more fascinated by it now than I’ve ever been.  We thoroughly enjoyed the museum and the boardwalk and learning the history of this very resilient tribe “the unconquered Seminole Indians”.

~ Brenda

5 thoughts on “Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki

  1. I am thoroughly enjoying your adventures vicariously through your site. I love the pictures and comments. Having traveled very little in the places you have been so far, it has been a real learning experience, We saw your friend Michael recently and he said they will visiting you soon in your current location. We will miss you at our March 16th winetasting. Scott is making his renowned lasangne, accompanied by Italian reds. His wine buddy from New York will be here. Looking forward to your future posts. Mary

    Too bad this doesn’t have spell check!

    • HI MARY!! We miss you guys soooo much … but as you can see, the walkabout is going great so far 🙂

      Glad you are enjoying the blog. Look for several more posts soon as we’ve been in the Everglades and connectivity was very limited. We just arrived in Key West and are back amongst the connected …

  2. Hi Brenda! Hi Hector! Thanks for sharing your adventure! Fascinating stuff! Enjoy the Keys! I was there with Steven in the early 2000s and it was so very cool! If you’re in Key West, check out Hog’s Breath…very interesting place. ; )
    Sending hugs to you both and to Angel Girl, too, Rebecca

    • Will check out Hog’s Breath for sure. We’re also in catch up on the blog as we were without Wi-fi. The Everglades were incredible, I thought of you and how you use your art to educate people about nature – would be a great place for you to visit I think. Miss you lots, call me sometime when you get a chance. Take care, Brenda

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *