May 31, 2011

Seminoles Initiate Native American Veterans Memorial Statue – Part 1

Click here to view the embedded video.

Stephen Bowers, liaison for the Seminole Indian Tribe of Florida Office of Veteran Affairs recently sat down with Kimberlie Acosta and IndianCountryTV to discuss an initiative headed by the Seminole Tribe.

The initiative, known as The Native American Veterans Memorial Initiative, is a push to have an American Indian soldier added to the existing statue at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall.

“Frederick Hart, who was the sculpture and artist behind the three servicemen pictured that the three servicemen should be the Caucasian, meaning the white person, and the African-American for the black servicemen and the Hispanic of course for the Spanish segment of our population across the country. … Where is the Native American? It’s well known, it’s well documented that the American Indian soldier has served more in the armed forces of the United States than any other ethnic group in the country,” said Bowers.

More info on the initiative can be found here.

Read more @ Indian Country Today Media Network.com.

June 2, 2011

Micki Free and the Seminole Tribe of Florida Rock the Future of Native Music

Veteran rocker Micki Free, Cherokee and Comanche, won a Grammy for songwriting with the ’80s pop group Shalamar and has worked with members of Kiss, Yes, Cheap Trick and Queen. Yet his best days may be ahead of him. In an interview with Crawdaddy! a buoyant Free spoke of his ongoing projects with the Hard Rock Cafe chain.

Free began working with the Hard Rock soon after the Seminole Tribe of Florida bought it (all save the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas) in 2005; today he is instrumental to projects that aim to promote Native music and give rez youth a shot at a career in the business. Free, who grew up mainly in Europe, is thankful for the rich rich musical upbringing “My stepdad was in the Army and gave me the platform to experience life and music outside of the States,” he told j. poet of Crawdaddy! “I didn’t grow up on the Rez. I saw Jimi Hendrix in Germany, along with Clapton and the Stones. When I visited Oklahoma, my father’s people kept me in tune with my Native side.”

The three principal projects Free is now involved with are Native Music Rocks!, the Seminole Star Search talent competitions, and the Native Music Rocks Educational Bus. “We book the Native Music Rocks shows into Hard Rock Cafés to showcase the best Native musicians around,” Free says. “We call it Native Music Rocks, not Native Rock, for a reason—because all Native music rocks! We’ve got blues artists, rappers, drum groups, singer/songwriters, rock ‘n rollers—you name it.” The Star Search talent competitions, held on Seminole reservations, are intensive one-day workshops followed by an evening performance at which winners are chosen American Idol-style—”but without the negative feedback.”

“We show kids what they need to make it, besides luck,” Free told poet. “Markie D of the Fat Boys teaches hip-hop songwriting, Jon Brant (formerly of Cheap Trick) teaches guitar, and we groom the contestants for the Star Search finale. It’s open to all Seminole Tribal members. It used to be, on the Rez, you had two choices—sports or drugs. … I want the choice to be between sports and music and the performing arts, and, so far, it seems to be working.”

Finally, the newest addition to Free’s empire is the Native Music Rocks Educational Bus. Modeled on the John Lennon Educational Music Bus, it will provide a state-of-the-art recording facility to kids who otherwise wouldn’t have access to one. “With the power of Hard Rock International behind us, we can go where the Lennon Bus won’t go,” he says. “We’ll use the bus as a launching pad to start Native Music Rocks programs in schools for Native kids. That excites me more than winning another Grammy. Giving back to my people is my number one job right now.”

Read more @ Indian Country Today Media Network.com.

January 17, 2012

‘The Senator’ Burns Down: One of the World’s Oldest Trees Destroyed by Fire

A 118-foot, 3,500-year-old bald cypress tree named “The Senator” burned to the ground yesterday morning.  Located in Big Tree Park in Longwood, Florida, the Senator is thought to have been set on fire by a lightning strike two weeks ago.

 ‘The Senator’ Burns Down: One of the World’s Oldest Trees Destroyed by Fire

The Senator, in happier times

Although arson was initially suspected, Steve Wright, a spokesman for the Seminole County Fire Rescue, told ABC News, ““The thought now is that the fire was due to a lighting strike about two weeks ago. We think it was smoldering inside the tree and we only saw the blaze today, when it reached the top.”

The Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board called for steps to be taken immediately to protect another majestic cypress tree at Big Tree Park, Lady Liberty.  Lady Liberty is young compared to the late Senator, a mere 2,000 years old. As the Sentinel put it, protecting Lady Liberty must be done because, “we owe it to future generations.”

Firefighters now believe that the Senator burned down due a sort of  ”chimney effect,” in which the fire burned up through the hollow middle of the tree.

senator big tree park fire center 0116 615x414 ‘The Senator’ Burns Down: One of the World’s Oldest Trees Destroyed by Fire

The fire appears to have raged from the inside-out

“No one knew until it came up at the top,” Wright told ABC News. “It’s hard to reach the inside of a 118-foot tree. At one point, it began to collapse on top of us and we had to pull back and try again.”

The Senator is believed to be one of the oldest trees in the world.  It was donated to Seminole County by it’s namesake, Senator M.O. Overstreet in 1927, and became a national historic landmark two years later by the stroke of Calvin Coolidge’s pen.

As the Sentinel puts it, the Senator has been a part of Florida longer than the state’s most recognizable icons, from Walt Disney to Henry Flagler.  The Senator has stood in Florida long before Columbus landed, long before Christ was born, and long before the Roman Empire rose and fell.  In it’s 3,500 year life, the Senator had withstood everything nature could throw its way. The tree used to be even taller, standing at a eye-popping 165 feet before a hurricane in 1925 tore off the top.  It’s astounding to think after three millennia of withstanding countless natural disasters, a simple lightning storm could fell such a mighty tree.

“It burned like a shuttle’s solid rocket booster with flames shooting through its hollow core,” the Sentinel wrote. The Associated Press reports that firefighters arrived at around 5:50 a.m. yesterday morning and pulled more than 800 feet of hose through the woods to the fire. Steve Wright said that a 20-foot section of the tree fell to the ground at around 7:45 a.m., and the Senator collapsed a half-hour later.

The San Francisco Chronicle notes that the Senator was considered the largest tree of any species east of the Mississippi River.

For a video of the fire, click here.

For a list of the world’s oldest trees (the Senator was ranked 8th oldest in the world on this site), click here.

Read more @ Indian Country Today Media Network.comIn Nome, Fuel Begins to Flow - ICTMN.com.

February 29, 2012

‘The Senator’ Felled by Arson! Woman Arrested for Fire That Burned 3,500 Year Old Tree to the Ground

Filed under: Environment,News Alerts — Tags: , , — ICTMN Staff @ 8:29 pm

The Orlando Sentinel reports that a mysterious fire that burned down ‘The Senator,’ one of the world’s oldest cypress trees, was started by a 26-year old alleged methamphetamine addict.

The 118-foot, 3,500-year-old bald cypress tree was initially believed to have been set ablaze by a lightning strike at the beginning of this year.  Located in Big Tree Park in Longwood, Florida, ‘The Senator’ was one of the oldest trees in the world, donated to Seminole County by its namesake, Senator M.O. Overstreet in 1927.  It was considered the largest tree of any species east of the Mississippi River, and, according to the Sentinel, was the fifth-oldest tree on the planet.

The Sentinel reports that Florida police have busted Sara Barnes, of Winter Park Florida, arresting her yesterday and charging her with setting the fire that felled the majestic, ancient tree.

Barnes admitted to the police that she frequently hid out in Big Tree Park to get high. This past January 16, she lit a fire so she could see better, starting a blaze that eventually took hold of the state treasure.

Firefighters dragged more than 800 feet of hose through a mile of dense forest thicket to fight the blaze, but the hollow tree was burning from the inside out, which created a chimney effect that caused it to collapse.

Barnes had told some friends about the fire, which led to a tipster alerting the police, the Sentinel reports.  When the police raided her apartment on Tuesday, they found methamphetamine, a glass pipe, and, to make matters even worse, pictures of the tree burning on both her laptop and cell phone.

A source told WFTV in Florida that Barnes had bragged to friends, saying, “I can’t believe I burned down a tree older than Jesus.”

Read more @ Indian Country Today Media Network.comIs Chris Brown Native American? Grammy-Winning Singer Tweets Heritage, Names Tribe - ICTMN.com.

August 5, 2012

A Seminole Warrior Gets His Due in Osceola and the Great Seminole War

Osceola and the Great Seminole War: The Return of a Legend

Crazy Horse. Geronimo. Sitting Bull. Cochise. These are some of the names that spring to mind when one thinks of American Indian leaders.

But what about Osceola, the Seminole warrior who led one of the longest and costliest wars fought between a tribe and the United States? Though well known while he lived and also for a time following his death in 1838, he has since been sadly neglected by historians.

Now, in Osceola and the Great Seminole War: A Struggle for Justice and Freedom (St. Martin’s Press, 2012), award-winning author Thom Hatch aims to restore the legendary leader to his rightful place in history. In this 308-page biography, complete with impressive appendix and bibliography, Hatch takes the reader on an epic journey back to early 19th century Florida—a hot, swampy frontier that had become a haven for blacks escaping slavery and American Indians seeking refuge from the encroaching whites.

Osceola, born Billy Powell in 1804, was actually a mixed-blood Creek from Tallassee, Alabama. While still young he was forced southward with his family and other tribal members after their village was burned to the ground by U.S. soldiers. He was taken in by the Seminoles—who at the time, as Hatch notes, were a mix of Indians from other tribes, mainly Creek.

Osceola would find his new home anything but peaceful. He grew to manhood surrounded by oppression and strife. He witnessed the First Seminole War (1817–1818), which was waged against the Seminoles and their black allies. He bore witness, too, to the 1823 treaty signed at Moultrie Creek, whereby the tribe ceded 28 million acres in the establishment of a 4 million–acre reservation.

Osceola openly opposed the whites after two more treaties were signed—one at Payne’s Landing in 1832 that stipulated the removal of the Seminole from Florida, and another at Fort Gibson (in today’s Oklahoma) a year later. By that time, he had risen to a leadership position within the tribe. Though married, a father and unwilling to leave his homeland, Osceola nonetheless declared hostilities in 1835, sparking the Second Seminole War.

According to Hatch, the conflict cost $30 million to $40 million and thousands of lives on both sides over seven years. That the tribe achieved victory after victory was due to the courage and cunning of one man—Osceola.


LO RES BKS Photo Osceola and the Great Seminole War HI RES author Thom Hatch by Cimarron Hatch 2011 10 04 270x202 A Seminole Warrior Gets His Due in <em/>Osceola and the Great Seminole War

Thom Hatch

Not From Central Casting: The Eastern Warrior

Thom Hatch, author of The Blue, the Gray, and the Red: Indian Campaigns of the Civil War (Stackpole, 2003), discussed his research for Osceola and the Great Seminole War and explained why he turned his attention to Florida.

Your other books mainly deal with the history of Indian people west of the Mississippi. What drew you southeast?

Well, I have known the story for a long time. I was looking at writing another book, and I kept coming back to that. I discussed it with my late agent, and [he] fell in love with it. He said, “We got to do this.” It was just a void in history that cried out to be filled. To me, [Osceola] was the number one warrior in American history.

Why do you believe, despite his popularity when he lived, that he faded into obscurity?

I think, and I hate to say this, if you have a copy of the book and look at the picture of Osceola on it, which George Catlin painted and was supposedly a very striking resemblance, he does not look like a warrior. He looks more like you could put him in a tuxedo, and he would be a statesman—and he was known as a very handsome man. I think it was the ferociousness factor. You look at pictures of Sitting Bull, Geronimo—the defiant look they had. To me Osceola was defiant in action rather than looks. Also, he was [from the East]. A lot of Westerns in the 1950s and even before that were very big in the movies and on television. He did not fit into that mold.

How valuable was the Seminole Tribe of Florida in your research?

Well, I had some contacts, who don’t wish to be identified. So they were not identified in the book. I should probably leave it at that.

What hole did you desperately want to fill but could not?

His marriage or marriages. There really is no evidence. We know that he did get married. We know he did have children. There is a controversy over whether one or both of his wives were black or were partially black or descendants of slaves who had run away.

Of all of Osceola’s exploits, which one really gave you goose bumps?

That’s a very tough one, but I think the Battle of Withlacoochee. That is where they discovered they could fight—the Seminoles could match up with the army on their terms in a pitched battle—and that is the battle in which Osceola shed blood on the battlefield.

Read more @ Indian Country Today Media Network.comAlaska Philanthropist Mary Louise Rasmuson Walks On at 101 - ICTMN.com.

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