Broward County

On December 26, 1835, the Seminoles destroyed the Hillsboro lighthouse near present day Fort Lauderdale. On January 6, 1836, Seminoles killed the Cooley family in south Florida and burned their homestead. (Near present day Fort Lauderdale.)

The city of Fort Lauderdale is named after a fort established here in the Second Seminole War. The fort was an important port and supply depot for forces searching for Seminoles in the Everglades. The fort itself was nothing special compared to other forts of the time. During the war, Captain E.D. Keys called the fort, "A cluster of cane-built huts and a few Indian wigwams."

Governor Napoleon B. Broward started his effort to drain the Everglades in Broward County in 1906. This had a big impact with the Seminoles and changed their trading activity with the whites when they could no longer canoe across the Everglades. Efforts during the past few years have been trying to reverse the disastrous effects that this draining has had upon the Everglades.

Traditional Seminoles called him a traitor. It was hard for him to get an education at the time, because the United States was still technically at war with the Seminoles. But he prevailed, and used his education skills to be an advocate of the Seminoles in front of the state of Florida and the United States. Unfortunately he died of tuberculosis that he contracted while away at school. Although many of his own people rejected him, he helped lay the foundation of favorable treatment to the Seminoles by the U.S. government.

Sam Jones (Abiaka) Memorial Statue, Tree Tops Park: A major battle in the area was at Pine Island near Dania. During the Second Seminole war, the Army under Major Lauderdale found a large village here and destroyed it. Sam Jones was Miccosukee and one of the most powerful leaders in Florida from the 1830's until his death around 1866. (Exact year unknown.) He was said to have been one of the strongest Medicine Makers the Seminoles & Miccosukee ever had, and is credited for being responsible for them still being in Florida. The statue shows Sam Jones leading the women and children to safety during the time of the Pine Island attack. A small display in the office building nearby gives the history of the battle and Sam Jones. Tree Tops Park is in Davie off 100th Ave., and north of Griffin Road. (West of Fort Lauderdale.)

Seminole Okalee Indian Village and Museum: This museum includes artifacts, some excellent examples of Seminole clothing, and a multi-media presentations. It is well worth the visit to see the arts and crafts. This is a satellite museum of the larger Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum on Big Cypress Reservation. The park also includes, craft shops, and a traditional Seminole village with alligator shows and guided tours. The rodeo grounds next to the museum hold a craft fair in late December, and a large Pow Wow is held in mid-February. Local businessmen are working with the Seminoles to open a resort on the beach near Fort Lauderdale. During the past 20 years the Seminoles have created some very successful projects to improve their economy. This resort is at the former Diplomat hotel, renamed "Seminole Beach Family Resort". This resort includes a golf course and bingo hall.

Miccosukee Indian Reservation: The Miccosukee (also spelled Mikasuki), long thought of as Seminoles, are actually a distinct and separate tribe. They received recognition as independent from the Seminole Tribe in the 1960's. Miccosukees are descended from the Upper Creeks, but speak a different language (Hitchiti) than the Muskogee speaking Seminoles. Today, 3/4 Florida Seminoles speak Hitchiti, 1/4 Florida Seminoles speak Muskogee, and all Oklahoma Seminoles speak Muskogee. The Miccosukee were know as the fiercest warriors during the Seminole wars. Many of the famous leaders during the war period were actually Miccosukee or Hitchiti-speaking Red Sticks. The Miccosukees refer to themselves as the "i.laponki". This reservation on the western edge of the county is not to be confused with the tribal center on the Tamiami trail. This reservation was given to the Miccosukee by the state, but many of them do not choose to live in this area. There are some Miccosukees who still do not recognize any authority over them, and remain as independent native Floridians. They do not recognize the authority of the Seminole Tribe, nor the Miccosukee Tribe. They believe that they are owed all of Florida because it was forced from them in a state of war, and they themselves have never agreed to a settlement or peace treaty.

Stranahan House (Ft. Lauderdale): Frank Stranahan built the oldest house in the county in 1901. He traded with the Indians and made this house a popular trading post for the local Seminoles. Seminoles would trade alligator hides and egret plumes for such items as cast iron cooking pots and shotgun shells. The house soon became the local center of social life in the area. It is worth the visit, costs around $3 admission, and only open Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

Museum of Archaeology: A major museum of south Florida archaeology in Fort Lauderdale that includes artifacts from all periods of Native Florida history. On display are such items as pottery, shell tools, and cypress dugout canoes. Small admission charge; open during the week except Monday. I would like to say more, but I couldn't find it when I visited the area.

Graves Museum: Another good museum with an extensive artifact collection. Mostly on pre-Seminole Indians. This museum also holds the back issues of The Florida Anthropologist. Located at 481 S. Federal Highway, Dania.


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