Going Tribal

What was the best way to get the U.S. government’s attention in the ‘60s? Pay a visit to Fidel Castro. That’s what Buffalo Tiger did in 1959, and three years later, his tribe, the Miccosukees, were recognized by the federal government. Tiger was born in 1920, right before the Tamiami Trail linked Tampa and Miami. Sprinkled along the stretch of road were communities of Native American Indians who spoke Mikasuki and were once part of the Seminole tribe. In Buffalo Tiger: A Life in the Everglades, the Miccosukee elder remembers his young days in chickee camps, drinking sofkee made from corn, and hunting with men in his family. But the good days have passed, he writes, and “the young people are not taught what earth means in their lives. Land is more important than money.”

The craps tables at Miccosukee Resort & Gaming are a far cry from the agrarian life of Tiger’s youth. But this weekend, the tribe pays homage to its heritage with the 36th annual Miccosukee Indian Arts Festival. Running Sunday through January 2, it features storytellers, singers, and dancers. There will be alligator wrestling, authentic Miccosukee cuisine, and a patchwork fashion show. All proceeds benefit the Miccosukee educational fund. Tickets cost $13 for adults and $9 for kids ages 7 to 12. The arts festival opens daily at 9:30 a.m. at Miccosukee Indian Village (Mile Marker 70, U.S. Highway 41 [Tamiami Trail], Miami). Call 305-925-2555, or visit miccosukee.com.
Dec. 26-Jan. 2, 9:30 a.m., 2010

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Amanda McCorquodale