Weaving a Community through a Common Thread: The Miccosukee and Seminole Tribes of Florida

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Material Information

Title:
Weaving a Community through a Common Thread: The Miccosukee and Seminole Tribes of Florida
Physical Description:
Mixed Material
Language:
English
Creator:
Bell, Austin
Publication Date:

Notes

Abstract:
Dreary from a long day of traveling, I trudged through a South Florida Airport terminal wondering where the summer had gone and how I could possibly make it through another semester of graduate school. Ideas for the Florida Ethnographic Collection at the Florida Museum of Natural History, my likely thesis project, fluttered through my head. That’s when I saw it: a vaguely marked, unflatteringly labeled display case containing beautiful Seminole artifacts…in an airport! I was simultaneously excited and uncertain. Where did these artifacts come from? What was their provenience? Do the Seminole or Miccosukee people know these are here? What would they think of being “on display” in an airport? Was this common in South Florida? Just how many Seminole artifacts like this are out there? When I returned to school, I was presented with the opportunity to answer some of those questions firsthand. As part of a semester-­‐long project in an Anthropological Museology course, I was allowed to create and distribute a comprehensive statewide collections survey, presumably the first of its kind, with the intent of locating as many Seminole and Miccosukee materials across Florida as possible. The reasoning behind such an ambitious (if not naïve) project was not simply to satiate my own curiosity, but to 1) raise awareness of the Seminole and Miccosukee Tribes, 2) facilitate collaboration between Florida museums and the Tribes and 3) serve as the common thread upon which new relationships and ideas could be formed between museums. This paper presents the results of that survey, the reasoning behind its creation and recommendations for future improvements, applicable to museum collections of all types.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All rights reserved by the source institution.
System ID:
AA00012887:00001


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________________________________ Florida Museum of Natural History Museum Road at Newe ll Drive Department of Natural History PO Box 117800 Anthropology Division Gainesville, FL 32611 7800 Phone: (605) 3664048 aube@ufl.edu Equal Opportunity / Affirmative Action Institution November 9 2011 To Whom It May Concern: I am writing your museum in hopes that you might consider participating in a brief collections survey. The Seminole and Miccosukee Tribe s of Florida represent a vital par t of our states cultural heritage and ha ve long been a subject of interest to museums. The ir material culture has found its way into a variety of institutions, both locally and nationally, by virtue of its exquisite craftsmanship and artistic beauty Popular e xhibits are displayed in all regions of Florida and the Seminole Tribe even has its own world class facility the outstanding Ah Tah Thi Ki Seminole Museum in Big Cypress. In the interest of both facilitating collaboration between museums and raising awareness of Seminole and Miccosukee coll ections I am conducting a survey to determine the relative distribution of this material across the state of Florida. This survey, while ambitious in its scope and objectives, is not a requirement of any kind for your museum. I am a Museum Studies graduate student at the University of Florida and am conducting this survey as part of a semester long project for a course in Anthropological Museology My thesis project, to be completed in December 2012, involves the curation of the Seminole and Miccosukee Ethnographic Collection at the Florida Museum of Natural History (FLMNH), where I have been employed for the past three years. The information I am seeking is strictly quantitative. For example, at FLMNH there are 795 items in the Seminole and Miccosukee E thnographic Collection, including 175 silver bangles, 154 photographs, 82 photographic slides, 75 dolls, 32 baskets, 26 postcards, 21 strings of beads/bracelets/necklaces, 19 wooden carvings, 16 rattles, 16 shirts, 14 stickball sticks, 11 skirts, 7 wooden spoons, 5 bandolier bags, 4 mortars, 4 pestles, 4 wooden knives, 4 arrows, 3 pairs of moccasins, 2 longbows, as well as a variety of other items not listed here. The numbers need not be precise, especially since some objects are difficult to categorize, bu t a rough estimate of each object type is sufficient. After compiling the results of this survey, I am eager to share them with interested participants. It is my hope that as a result, Florida museums will be encouraged to communicate further with the Seminole and Miccosukee Tribe s as well as each other, providing a common thread upon which new relationships can be formed and ideas, materials and resources shared. Thank you for your time and consideration. Sincerely, Austin J. Bell Collections Assistant, Florida Museum of Natural History Museum Studies Graduate Student, University of Florida

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________________________________ Florida Museum of Natural History Museum Road at Newell Drive Department of Natural History PO Box 117800 Anthropology Division Gainesville, FL 32611 7800 Phone: (605) 3664048 aube@ufl.edu Equal Oppor tunity / Affirmative Action Institution 2011 Seminole and Miccosukee Collections Inventory of Florida Thank you for participating! If possible, p lease return by December 9, 2011 to aube@ufl.edu or the mailing address listed above. The initial results of this survey will be returned to interested participants by January 1, 2012. Museum Information: Name of Participant: _______________________________________________________________________ _________________ Title: ____________________________________________ _______________________________________ ___________________ Name of Institution: _______________________________________________________________________ __________________ Institution Location: _______________________________________________________________________ __________________ Type of Museum (art, history, natural history, etc.): ______________________________________________ _______________ Collections Information: Are you aware of the presence of any materials associated with the Seminole or Micco sukee Tribes of Florid a in your permanent collections ? Yes No If you answered yes to the question above, please indicate the type ( s ) of materials present (wood, textiles, basketry, photographs, etc.) if known : ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ Approximately how many Seminole or Miccosukee items do you maintain in total? _________________________________ If possible, please provide a more detailed inventory below (or attach a separate sheet). _________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Survey Information: Would you like to receive the results of this survey? Yes No Would you like your museum to be an anonymous participant? If so, the name of your institution will not be included in the final shared survey, only the data you provide. Yes No