The American Indian Arts Celebration is Back November 4-5, 2022!
The American Indian Arts Celebration (AIAC) is almost here, are you ready? Hosted by the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, AIAC is one of the biggest Seminole events of the year. This is a great way to celebrate Native American Indian Heritage Month and it is one you don’t want to miss! This year’s event will commemorate the Museum’s 25th anniversary and a return to this beloved event after the pandemic.
This year’s American Indian Arts Celebration will be held Friday, November 4th and Saturday, November 5th. Gates will be open daily from 10am – 5pm. People of all cultures are encouraged to attend. So, stop by to celebrate Seminole and Indigenous art, music, culture, food, dance demonstrations, and more. Keep reading for everything you need to know about AIAC, how to get there, what to bring along, and exciting features!
In our featured photo, you can see Seminole dolls and baskets on sale from a vendor at a previous AIAC event.
Purchase your tickets in advance and save time at the gate! Admission is $10 for adults, $7.50 for seniors and students, and free for children 4 and under. Seminole Tribal Members and members of other federally recognized tribes receive complimentary admission. Are you a member of the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum? Be sure to bring your membership card to receive free admission, as well! For all attendees, Museum admission is included with event admission, which also includes the boardwalk. The mile-long raised boardwalk winds through a 60-acre cypress dome, and features a clan pavilion, village, ceremonial grounds and hunting camp. Take in the ambiance of the Everglades, just steps from the Museum.
Remember, November in Florida is still Florida! So, bring sunscreen, a hat, water, and bug spray with you for your visit. In addition, the festival is held at the festival grounds, right across from the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum. Wear comfortable walking shoes, as the event is held on grass. Most vendors only accept cash, so if you want to purchase arts, crafts, or food, bring cash on hand. Visit a previous blog post for all the essentials you need for a Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation visit.
Here (pictured), you can see a Great Plains dancer dancing at the 10th annual AIAC on November 9-11, 2007. Taken by Judy Weeks, it was featured in a Seminole Tribune article on December 14, 2007. The AIAC is a long-running annual festival, and we are so excited that this unique, exciting event is back!
One of the top festivals in Southeast, AIAC has something for everyone. An array of live demonstrations will catch your eye. From hatchet throwing and archery to woodcarving, there is something to see for all interests. If you are looking to shop, tribal craft vendors sell patchwork, Seminole dolls, woodcarvings, art, baskets, beadwork, jewelry, and much more. On schedule for the event is also a series of adult and youth fashion shows. Lenora Roberts is putting on the adult fashion show. Live music by Rez Jamz artists will round out the offerings.
Special features for this year include New Zealand’s HAKA Māori Cultural Experience. It will showcase traditional Indigenous demonstrations of the Traditional Māori Haka dance, Māori workshops, performing arts, music, visual arts and culture. Check out a video of the dance here. Osceola’s Warriors Legacy will be “demonstrating traditional weaponry of the Seminole for educational and historical posterity.” Tony Duncan Productions will also present a family dance presentation, as well as hoop dancing and hoop dance workshops. Craft opportunities for children and groups make this the perfect family-friendly event. Tribal food and craft vendors, native art displays, and more will fill the booths within the festival grounds. Make sure to snag yourself some fry bread while you are walking around! You won’t regret it.
What Else Can You Do?
In addition to the many unique festival offerings, the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum offers an opportunity to learn and explore Seminole history and culture. With complimentary admission to the Museum with the event, you can take your time perusing the permanent and rotating exhibits. Be one of the first people to see the Osceola exhibit for a rare opportunity to see Osceola’s sash! This object is very fragile and will only be on exhibit for three weeks. For those who are lovers of artwork, Jimmy Osceola’s collection is bold and colorful, featuring unforgettable paintings of native life. In addition, The Art of the Seminole Craft displays some of the best handcrafts from Seminoles through the years.
How to Get There
The American Indian Arts Celebration is held on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation, and is hosted by the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Depending on if you are traveling from the east or west Coast, travel times will be different. But, each route holds its own scenic beauty! You are sure to be impressed by the stunning landscape. Keep your eyes open for birds, alligators, Spanish moss, tree islands, and more natural Florida beauty. Below, you can see a convenient map provided by the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum about possible routes!
From the East
The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum is approximately 66 miles from Fort Lauderdale, which will take about one hour and 15 minutes of drive time. Take I-75 east until exit 49 (Snake Road). Continue for 17 miles as you enter the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation. The Museum will be on your left at the intersection of Josie Billie Hwy and West Boundary Rd.
From the West
If you are coming from Fort Myers, the Museum is about 70 miles to the southeast, and will take about an hour and a half of travel. From Fort Myers, take FL 82-E for about 19 miles. Keep right to turn on FL-29. Continue on FL-29 through Immokalee. Turn left onto E Main, and then almost immediately turn left onto County Rd 846. Take County Rd 846 for 20 miles. You will come to an intersection where you will take a sharp right onto County Rd 833 S. You will take 833 S for another 16 miles, and end up right on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation.
For the best family-friendly festival around, swing by the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation on November 4th and 5th. Grab an Indian taco, check out these exciting offerings, and take in all the culture and adventure the American Indian Arts Celebration has to offer. The 2022 American Indian Arts Celebration will not disappoint!
Originally from Washington state, Deanna Butler received her BA in Archaeological Sciences from the University of Washington in 2014. Deanna moved to South Florida in 2016. Soon, she began working for the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Tribal Historic Preservation Office. Deanna was the THPO’s Archaeological Collections Assistant from 2017-2021. While at the THPO, Deanna worked to preserve, support, and process the Tribe’s archaeological collection. She often wrote the popular Artifact of the Month series, and worked on many community and educational outreach programs. She lives in Fort Myers, FL with her husband, son, and dog.