Folks may expect fry bread and alligator wrestling, but when they journey into the Everglades for the Seminoles American Indigenous Arts Celebration Nov. 3-4, 2023, they’re also going to see dancers, hear native musicians and meet some wildlife.
The Seminole’s annual cultural festival unfolds on the Big Cypress reservation, halfway between Naples and Fort Lauderdale off Alligator Alley, at the exceptional Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum.
Every year, the festival also brings in a special performance by indigenous artists from outside the area. This year’s festival includes the Native Pride dancers, who have performed all over the world in colorful regalia.
Event highlights will include adult and youth fashion shows, live alligator wrestling and the exciting return of New Zealand’s HAKA Māori Cultural Experience.
Even without the festival, the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum is worth a visit. It opens with a dramatic multi-screen media presentation and its well-designed dioramas and exhibits explain Seminole history and traditions.
Note: In 2023, the event is being renamed Seminoles American Indigenous Arts Celebration from its original name, the Seminoles American Indian Arts Celebration.
A highlight for many visitors is the one-and-a-half-mile boardwalk through a cypress swamp adjacent to the museum. About half way through the walk, visitors come to the village and ceremonial grounds with chickees where Seminole artists and craftsmen interact with visitors.
While the festival offers a full schedule of entertainment on its main stage, many come for the Native American vendors who bring silverwork, beadwork, woodwork, basketry, leatherwork, photography, paintings, jewelry and an array of food to the Indian market.
The event will take place on the festival grounds across from the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation.
The festival includes special activities for children, including a “take-away craft.” The festival always includes a Friday so that school groups can come on field trips.
More about the Seminoles American Indigenous Arts Celebration
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday
Where: The festival takes place on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation. From I-75 (Alligator Alley), take exit 49, Snake Road. Travel north about 17 miles. Snake Road becomes Josie Billie Highway as you enter the Seminole community. Approximately one mile past the water tower, Josie Billie Highway intersects with West Boundary Road. The museum is on the left at the corner of West Boundary Road and Josie Billie Highway. Museum parking is on the right, opposite the main entrance to museum.
Admission: $10 for adults, $7.50 for seniors, students and military with ID. Children 4 years and under are free. This include admission to the museum and the festival. (This is the same price as museum admission alone on other days.) There’s also a special group discount of $5 per person for parties of 10 or more who book in advance.
Note: Most vendors accept cash only.
Note: The Friday celebration is scheduled so that school groups can come on field trips. Teachers should contact Abena at [email protected] or call 863-902-1113 ext 12235.
About the Ah-Tha-Thi-Ki Museum: The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Seminole Indian Museum was awarded full accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) in 2009, the first tribally-governed museum to have received accreditation. The museum opened in 1997.
More from Florida Rambler: Six places to celebrate Native American Heritage Month this November
Stories related to Seminoles American Indigenous Arts Celebration
- Site for Ah-Tha-Thi-Ki Museum
- Reviews for Ah-Tha-Thi-Ki Museum on TripAdvisor
- Nearby: Billie Swamp Safari for airboat rides, eco-tours and camping in chickee huts
- The museum’s account of the story of alligator wrestling, including oral histories and videos.
For more information, call 863-902-1113 extension 12211 or contact Carrie Dilley at [email protected].
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The author, Bonnie Gross, travels with her husband David Blasco, discovering off-the-beaten path places to hike, kayak, bike, swim and explore. Florida Rambler was founded in 2010 by Bonnie and fellow journalist Bob Rountree, two long-time Florida residents who have spent decades exploring the Florida outdoors. Their articles have been published in the Sun Sentinel, the Miami Herald, the Orlando Sentinel, The Guardian and Visit Florida.