Seminole Tribe "Living Village"
Hidden Treasure In Rural Hendry County
CLEWISTON, FL. -- The Seminole Tribe Of Florida's Museum at the Big Cypress Reservation in Hendry County, Florida is one of the least discovered treasures of Southwest Florida.
(Video: The museum's boardwalk through a Cypress Swamp and the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum)
The tribe's Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki museum and tribal reservation is located southwest of Clewiston, Florida. Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki means "A place to learn and remember."
The museum, 15 years old now, was financed primarily through earnings from the Seminole Tribe's gaming ventures in Hollywood, Florida, Immokalee in Collier county, and on the Brighton Reservation in Glades county.
The museum is an excellent showcase of the tribe's history, and adjoining it is a mile-long well marked boardwalk through a Cypress Swamp leading to a "living village" where traditional craft work is presented by tribal members, a "ceremonial grounds" and a "clan pavilion."
The museum includes several galleries dedicated to traveling exhibits on Seminole and Native American history and culture, a library, and theater showing a tribally produced film "We Seminoles."
The Tribe's Casinos Around The World
The tribe also operates gambling facilities in the Tampa area as well as owns 175 Hard Rock Cafes, Hotels and Casinos around the world in 53 countries. The largest is in Orlando.
To win approval for "Vegas Style" table games at the tribe's casinos, which were barred under Florida law, the Seminole Tribe paid the State of Florida $100 million as part of a 25-year pact signed by Governor Charlie Crist.
On July 3, 2008, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the governor's agreement was unconstitutional, but table gambling games continue to operate because the Federal Department of the Interior approved the now-invalid pact with the state.