A fun and informative place to visit near me is the Billie Swamp Safari located on the Seminole Reservation in the Big Cypress.
The Seminlole people are descendants of the Creek people. It was a diverse tribe that spoke seven languages. In the 1700’s, the Seminole Nation drew the attention of their white neighbors because of their vast land holdings and cattle herds.
Conflicts over land and cattle started sixty years of war against the Creek people. The Seminole Tribe is the only Native American Tribe that did not sign a peace treaty with the US government.
Spaniards called the indigenous people Cimarrones (free people) and by the mid 1800’s all native Florida people were called “Seminoles”
The Seminole Tribe of Florida is a self-governing people. Their constitution formed the Tribal Council which is the governing body that oversees the administration of business ventures, police and fire departments, utilities, human resources and education. Over one million dollars is spent by the Seminole Tribe on education each year in the form of scholarships and the operation of schools. You can learn more about the culture and history of the Seminoles on their website http://www.semtribe.com/
One of the first things we did after our arrival was take an air boat ride in the Everglades. This is me with our pilot, Mike, who grew up on the reservation. The views were spectacular. Tiny green plants cover the trees and the water.
Our guide, Mike who grew up in the Big Cypress
Billie Swamp Safari Seminole Nation Florida
Air Boat Rides at Billie Swamp Safari Seminole Nation Florida
After our air boat ride, we took in some nature shows featuring the animals who make the Big Cypress home. Igon the alligator is estimated to be over sixty years old. He lost his eyesight in a fight with another alligator.
Igon the Alligator at Billie Swamp Safari
Our swamp buggy driver, Isaiah, explained life in the swamp as he drove through a replica of a Seminole village. On a previous trip, not us, the swamp buggy jumped out of gear after hitting a bump and Isaiah had to crawl underneath and fix it. You can find a video of it on YouTube.
Swamp Buggy at Billie Swamp Safari Seminole Nation Florida
Isaiah our Swamp Buggy Driver Billie Swamp Safari
The cooking hut of a Seminole Camp. In modern times, we might call, text or leave a note if we have to go out for awhile and want to let our family members know. The Seminoles had their own unique message system. If the camp had to be evacuated in an emergency or for some other reason, the last one to leave would place a log at the edge of the fire pit pointing in the direction that they went.
Cooking Hut at the Billie Swamp Safari
Today, the Seminole Reservation is a modern community with a fire department, police station, museum and other amenities.
The on-site restaurant serves American style and traditional food. For lunch, we ate gator tail, frog legs and catfish along with Indian Tacos made with fry bread. Yummy! The restaurant had their own brand of water.
For more information about the Billie Swamp Safari visit http://www.billieswamp.com/