Native American Month

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By: Jessica Garret Modkins

National Native American Heritage Month is November and Miami has activities and places for you to explore.

It’s November and that means it is time to celebrate National Native American Heritage Month. This national month’s long tradition began in 1990 to honor Native Americans. It also serves as a way to preserve the unique culture and history of Native Americans through storytelling, music, festivals, arts, crafts and native dance. The diverse history of Native Americans is encapsulated in Miami through the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes of Florida, dating back to the 1800s.

The Miccosukee Tribe’s legacy lives on today at the historic Miccosukee Indian Village, a reserve located about 30 minutes west of the Florida Turnpike. Here you can live and breathe their culture, their history, and lifestyle which is celebrated 365 days a year. Located in the Florida Everglades, the Miccosukee Indian Village is a jewel. It is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and offers an array of activities in which to partake.

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At the Indian Village Museum, you will witness in an authentic setting, their culturally creative and rich way-of-life. The museum showcases artwork exhibits, tribal artifacts, government documents that gave them sovereignty in 1962, photographs of tribal members from past generations and highlights the relationship between the Miccosukee and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. This is your opportunity to get a first-hand view of unique native attire, native colorful paintings, special cooking utensils, and an account of the Tribe’s way of life as shown in a documentary. You can even view art by local artist Stephen Tiger.

The Miccosukee Indian Village offers a world-renowned alligator wrestling show—an absolute must see! Don’t forget to pull out your phone to capture every exhilarating moment. The show is full throttle, non-stop excitement. From the tribesman getting into a pit full of alligators to the tribesman who powers over a 7 to 9-foot long alligator, with a foot-long row of teeth.

You’ll be holding your breath as he sticks his hand into the gator’s mouth, but he doesn’t stop there. He also forces open the gator’s mouth and puts his head in to hold the gator’s jaws open. These are rituals that have been passed down for many generations. There is also an opportunity for guests to learn these skills and immediately put it to practice. But most people just opt to take a picture with a baby gator!

    Another adventure at the Miccosukee Indian Village is to experience an airboat ride through the historic Everglades—yes the Everglades. It is a breathtaking and beautiful sight. You will witness nature in the purest form. The vast landscape of the Everglades is a memorable sight. This guided air-boat ride tour will take you on a 30-minute ride where you’ll see alligators, crocodiles and birds in their natural habitat. From the ride through the vast “River of Grass”, you’ll stop at a hammock-style Indian Camp. Before leaving the Village, explore the gift shop where you’ll find authentic native souvenirs.

    If you’re interested in learning about Native Americans in more of a laid back setting, then check out the “Miami Circle”. It is located in Downtown Miami and is along the river front. What was once being planned as a luxury condo location ended up becoming a public park thanks to a Miami-Dade County archeologist, who, while doing a routine inspection, discovered a 38-foot circle that was indigenous to the Tequesta Indians. Stop by the site on a Tuesday night to hear a Native American shaman who conducts a candlelight ceremony.

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