November 06, 2010

13th annual Big Cypress celebration

American Indians celebrate cultural heritage at Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation

By Tristan SpinskiPreserving the cultural heritage of native people is the goal of the three-day festival sponsored by the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, says Dorian Lange, development officer with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The festival includes vendors, visual artists, dancers, musicians and archaeologists showcasing the cultural wonders of over 14 American Indian tribes from across the United States. Additional attractions include an alligator wrestling show, a critter show and performances by Martha Redbone, Hank Nelson, Jr. and Cowbone.

Martha Redbone, a New York City-based performer who is headlining the weekend celebration, says it’s important to know your past to get where you’re going. She says she draws on her Cherokee and Choctaw heritage for her music, which she describes as rhythm and blues infused with traditional native music.

“Most of America and the world doesn’t know Native Americans exist,” Redbone says, now in her fifth year as a performer at the event. “And we don’t exist like we’re depicted in Hollywood films.”
Comment:  For more on Seminole culture, see Swamp Men on National Geographic Wild and Seminoles Want Pro Alligator Wrestling.

Below:  "Doreen Duncan, left, with Yellow Bird Apache Dancers, a Native American dance troupe from Mesa, Ariz., holds hands with Carmela Sievers, right, 3, of Bonita Springs, during a group dance at the 13th Annual American Indian Arts Celebration at Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010." (Tristan Spinski/Staff)

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