Art of the Florida Seminole and Miccosukee Indians

By Dorothy Downs | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 11 Men's Work: Village Construction and Wood Carving

The women's role in Seminole and Miccosukee arts and crafts was to create decorative objects of great beauty. It was the men's role to provide for the comfort of the family camp or village. Construction of the clan camp has always been a primary responsibility of the men living there. Seminole and Miccosukee boys traditionally were taught how to work with wood by their fathers, uncles, or other family members, for construction of the family camp is the most serious of a man's duties. As boys they learned how to build the chickee, an open-sided palmetto-thatched dwelling cleverly designed to accommodate life in the warm climate of south Florida. Many consider the chickee to be a work of art.

Men also carved the dugout canoes that were essential for family transportation, as well as making decorative objects such as the large, brightly painted totem poles that stood in front of villages. Men whittled smaller objects for household use or handles for the rattles used at ceremonial functions. Today, some men make a career of carving animal or bird figures or create large numbers of inexpensive wooden toys--hatchets, knives, canoe models, alligators, decorated rattles, and drums--for the tourist trade.


.Camp Construction and Community Layout

The population and size of a camp is generally determined by the number of people the group can support and feed. A comparison of eighteenthcentury Creek communities and early Seminole housing and living patterns with the lifestyle of Seminoles and Miccosukees in the late twentieth century reveals the many changes that resulted from a great decrease in

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