The Enduring Seminoles: From Alligator Wrestling to Ecotourism


Early in this century, the Native Americans known as the Florida Seminoles struggled to survive in an environment altered by the drainage of the Everglades & a dwindling demand for hides. The author describes how they turned to tourism & discovered another marketable commodity - their own culture. Ironically, she shows, it was the reticent Mikasuki-speaking Seminoles (who call themselves i:laponathli:) who developed the tourist market so successfully. By the 1930s virtually all of the Florida Indian population was engaged in the business. They participated in fairs & expositions in Chicago, New York, & Canada. In large commercial Seminole villages in Miami & Ocala, the antigovernment i:laponathli: sewed brightly colored patchwork, wrestled alligators, & opened their palm-frond chickees to the public, attractions that visitors to the state have enjoyed for much of this century. Though their exhibition economy originally was condemned by the government, it provided income for families as well as a lasting cultural identity for the people. Today, the Seminole Tribe of Florida & the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida promote their tourist activities to worldwide markets as "cultural heritage & ecotourism." Illustrated with 30 evocative photographs, the author's book supplies an original & colorful social & economic history of an unconquered people. Often told in the words of the many Seminoles whom the author interviewed, this book is the only one available on the topic of the cultural tourism activities of an Indian tribe.

Additional information

Includes content by:
  • James L. Glenn
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Gainesville, FL
Publication year:
  • 1998