The American Adventure isn’t just about our Founding Fathers. It’s about the founding peoples of America, and within The American Heritage Gallery at The American Adventure in World Showcase, a fantastic new exhibit curated by the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum of Seminole culture and history is now on display.
Located on the Big Cypress Indian Reservation in the heart of the Florida Everglades, the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum is owned and operated by the Seminole Tribe of Florida and is a Smithsonian Institution affiliate. Let’s head on inside The American Adventure and check out the new display!
— Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum (@ahtahthiki1) October 5, 2019
You can find the exhibit inside The American Heritage Gallery:
The Gallery currently features the “Creating Tradition” exhibit, which celebrates “innovation and change in American Indian art.” In it, you’ll see displays on all Native American regions, but we’re here for the Southeast region, which includes the Seminole, Choctaw, and Miccosukee tribes.
The display shows traditional dress, woven baskets, as well as beaded belts and adornments.
It’s a well-curated display, with placards describing each item. For example, Seminole women began wearing patchwork clothing after the introduction of hand-operated sewing machines in the 1890s. The style became tradition by the 1920s and in modern day, Seminole people still wear patchwork clothing for special occasions and at tribal gatherings.
A gorgeous Seminole Princess jewelry set made of seed beads, animal hide, glass, shell, and nickel is also on display. You’ll notice this is a relatively newer piece as it’s dated to be from 2008. That’s because the Seminole Tribe has held Miss Florida Seminole Pageants since the 1950s, and the pageant has played an important role in the lives of young Seminole women since then.
An impressive beaded sash is also on display, and as noted on the descriptions, was used to show influence amongst and within the tribe.
An everyday shoulder sash for men from the Choctaw tribe is also on display. Keeping delicate beaded items intact after centuries is one of the most difficult aspects of curation and preservation.
On a personal note, many of my former professors and advisors have collaborated on exhibits with Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, so it’s exciting to see both my worlds merge. (Yes, I was an anthropologist before I started writing about Disney.) Make sure you drop in at The American Adventure next time you’re in World Showcase for some air conditioning and fascinating history of some of Florida’s original peoples.