Florida Seminole Tourism

It’s Here! How To Celebrate Earth Day the Native Way

Although Earth Day is April 22nd each year, the Seminole Tribe of Florida is kicking off the festivities next week with two “Earth Day the Native Way” events. Start the festivities on Tuesday, April 16th from 9:00am – 6:30 pm at Okalee Indian Village in Hollywood, FL. Then, drive out to the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum on Thursday, April 18th from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm for another, fun, free, earth-friendly event. Both will showcase live Indigenous cultural performances, earth-friendly activities, educational workshops, Seminole food and craft vendors, and nature tours. Read below for more details on each event, including the exciting 2024 Earth Day partners!

In addition to covering the Seminole Tribe’s 2024 Earth Day festivities, this week we will also take a peek into the past and highlight two men who both shared a deep connection with the Everglades. In our featured image, you can see Josie Billie’s personal garden in 1948. Josie Billie was a revered medicine man who recognized the importance of sharing Seminole culture.

Many Seminoles maintained and tended their own gardens, either next to their camps or in other hammocks. Particularly, being food secure was incredibly important, and gardens were a big part of that. So much so that during the Seminole War period, Seminoles would often hide and disguise their gardens to avoid raiding. Below, Billy Bowlegs tends his tobacco plants in 1958, a legacy passed down to him from his mother. Bowlegs nurtured an expansive garden throughout his lifetime.

2009.34.916, ATTK Museum

Seminoles and the Land

As we have discussed before on our blog, Seminole identity and culture are closely tied to the land. In years of struggle, oppression, and genocide, the wild Florida landscape sheltered them, fed them, and during the Seminole War period even hid them from hostile forces.

Thus, Seminole “cultural, religious, and recreational activities, as well as commercial endeavors, are dependent on a healthy Everglades ecosystem. In fact, the Tribe’s identity is so closely linked to the land that Tribal members believe that if the land dies, so will the Tribe.” For many Seminoles, the Everglades is more than just a place to hunt, fish, and gather. It is a core part of their cultural identity, and protecting it is of the utmost importance.

Below, you can see an image of Billy Bowlegs fishing in a canal in 1950. An extremely good hunter and fisherman, Bowlegs often also acted as a hunting guide. Bowlegs and Josie Billie were also well-known advocates for sharing Seminole culture. As a result, they helped fostering a better understanding of Seminole life, experiences, and traditions. Both were frequent attendees of the Florida Folk Festival, advocating for Seminoles, their legacy, and ways of life.

2009.34.784, ATTK Museum

Josie Billie’s Garden at Okalee

In March 1960, William Boehmer captured Josie Billie and Max Osceola, below, planting an herb garden. Osceola was the manager of Okalee Indian Village at the time, and invited Billie to start an herb garden at Okalee. The next image depicts Osceola and Billie discussing native herbs, as Billie plants the garden.

2009.34.328, ATTK Museum

Boehmer took this iconic image of Josie Billie planting herbs, below, during his time planting at Okalee with Osceola. The caption attached to the image shares a story about a pharmaceutical company contacting Billie trying to capitalize on his medicine. It reads;

“The Upjohn Company heard of his medicine and contracted with him to supply them with quantities of the medicine which was shipped to them in liquid form. They were successful in using the medicine on small animals. Then they asked Josie to ship them the dry herbs so they could mix the medicine themselves. This was done but their mixture was not potent. When Josie was told about it he said, ‘I knew that it wouldn’t work because they don’t know the songs. I can make strong medicine from swamp water because I put the power in the medicine with my songs.’”

The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum now uses this depiction of Billie for their contemporary Earth Day messaging!

2009.34.330, ATTK Museum

Climate Resiliency

In many of our recent posts, we have highlighted the close connection with the Seminole Tribe and the Everglades ecosystem. Last week, we talked about the Water Highway. This week, we looked at Billy Bowlegs and Josie Billie to further talk about this connection. These examples point a spotlight on the importance of protecting these natural (and cultural!) resources. They are more than swamp water and cypress trees; but rather, an intrinsic part of Seminole culture.

Recently, we have also touched on some of the efforts from the Seminole Tribe of Florida to prioritize Everglades restoration. At the forefront of these efforts is a culturally-focused framework that prioritizes resilience in the face of impending change. There is no way to stop change from happening, but we can adapt to survive while protecting both cultural and natural resources. Seminoles in particular know this lesson well; adaptation and resilience have been paramount to their survival. It can be seen even in the smallest things, like food and fashion.


Looking Forward

In 2022, STOF-HERO Climate Resiliency Coordinator Cody Motlow sat down with Samuel Tommie, Seminole artist and environmental activist. In their interview, they talked about climate change, food sovereignty, Tribal youth engagement, and also Tommie’s vision for the future. Tommie emphasized that we are all connected, saying “Our chiefs in the past have tried to communicate with the United States, and they all made it clear that we are all connected. We have to work together. We’re connected with each other. We’re connected with the environment, and we’re connected with Creator, and that is how it is.” Thus, the responsibility of mitigating the effects of climate change and taking care of our environment falls on all our shoulders.

Tommie also shared his warning if we don’t work towards protection and resilience. He states:

“Things like over-development in Florida should be reconsidered. Florida is very fragile and a piece of creation that should be respected. I feel that overdevelopment is the opposite of respect to the creation, and that is my message. That is the message from my parents. My grandparents. Your [Motlow’s] grandparents. I’m not here to change your mind. I’m here to say I believe in Creator. I love how he operates. I love how he does things and if things don’t change, things will change on their own beyond our own power.”

2009.34.101, ATTK Museum. Sam Huff working in the garden of the Brighton Indian Day School, 1939.

Earth Day the Native Way 2024

Earth Day is just one small way that we all can think critically about our role in mitigating climate change and encouraging a more resilient ecosystem. So next week, come out to one of the two events to learn more ways that you can affect positive change in your life and community! Below, we discuss some of the exciting Earth Day partners that will participate in this year’s two events. Take some time to check them out, understand their missions, and learn more about your local environment!


📍 Okalee Village, 3551 N. State Road 7, Hollywood, Florida

🗓️ Tuesday, April 16, 2024

🕘 9:00am – 6:30pm


📍 Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, 34725 W. Boundary Road, Clewiston, Florida

🗓️ Thursday, April 18, 2024

🕙 10:00am – 4:00pm


Ameyal Mexican Cultural Organization

Based in Miami, the Ameyal Mexican Cultural Organization will host an interactive music workshop as well as dance performances this Earth Day the Native Way celebration. They share Mexican indigenous knowledge through traditional Aztec ceremonial dancing. Artists and activists, the organization teaches the “balance of living in harmony with nature and the cosmos.” They will be performing at both events. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram!


Polynesian Proud Productions

Based in South Florida, Polynesian Proud Productions “shares their heritage and culture of the South Pacific, with moving storybooks from the islands of Hawaii, Tahiti, New Zealand, and Samoa!” They are dedicated to sharing the rich beauty of their homeland, Polynesia. During the event, guests will be able to “learn the basic steps of Hawaiian Hula and the exciting drum dances of Tahiti!” Polynesian Proud Productions will attend both locations. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram!


Artistic Soundscapes

Join the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum’s own Director Gordon Wareham and Seminole artist Elgin Jumper for a unique, in the moment artistic collaboration. The duo will make art and music together honoring the earth and beauty of the Everglades around us.


Tree Amigos Growers

Back for another exciting Earth Day event, Tree Amigos Growers is a nursery located in Davie, FL. They want to “inspire you to create your own food system in South Florida by making organic gardening easy.” At this event, they will host a booth where guests can learn how healthy soils grow healthy plants.

In addition, they stress that they want to “empower you to reimagine land access for creating growing spaces that heal our current food system and secure independent production of organic food.” They are dedicated to furthering food sovereignty and resilience. Tree Amigos Growing is also gifting the Seminole Tribe of Florida fruit trees, which guests at the event can help transplant during the festivities. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram and stop by their nursery for all your plant-growing needs!


Mounts Botanical Garden of Palm Beach County

The Garden works to build on the legacy of its namesake, Marvin “Red” Mounts, who was Palm Beach County’s first assistant agricultural extension agent. Mounts preached crop diversity, resiliency, and improving land management practices. He “established and cared for the Garden’s collection of fruit trees to help produce new food resources that could help families overcome vitamin deficiencies.” Now, the Garden’s mission is to “inspire and educate through nature.”

Comprised of a 20-acre living plant museum, the Garden boasts 25 unique garden areas on site. Each of these gardens is intentional, as “Each garden within our collection is a living exhibit, with plants chosen specifically to tell a story to visitors about choices they can make within a challenging subtropical climate. The gardens illustrate what Palm Beach County residents can emulate in their own spaces, large or small.”

For Earth Day, Mounts will host an interactive booth. Guests can experiment with handheld digital microscopes to examine a variety of items ranging from soil, preserved bugs, and parts of flowers. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram!


Cosmic Gardens

Located in Davie, FL Cosmic Gardens is a hydroponic and garden supply store. They kindly donated lettuce plants for the 2024 Earth Day Events. The “collective purpose at Cosmic Gardens is to share our passion for creating sustainable organic growth of all varieties.”


Environmental Recourses Management Department

The Seminole Tribe of Florida’s own Environmental Resources Management Department will be on-site with several workshops and resources for Earth Day the Native Way attendees. At both locations, they will host rock painting under the main tent. In addition, they will host a drone obstacle course under the ERMD demonstration tent at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum on April 18th. 



The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) “explores the unknown in air and space, innovates for the benefit of humanity, and inspires the world through discovery.” Through this, they participate in a number of outreach programs, particularly designed to inspire children. There will be educational resources, programs for students, and activities for younger children available at the event. Additionally, they will host the presentation “Understanding Our Home” in the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum Theatre where guests can learn more about Earth through dazzling NASA imagery. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram!


Florida Trail Association

The Happy Hoofer’s Chapter of the Florida Trail Association will have educational resources and activities for children under the main tent. The Happy Hoofers serve Broward County, and maintain a section of the Florida Trail from I-75 to Lake Okeechobee. Join their Facebook Group here!


The NSU Marine Environmental Education Center

The NSU Marine Environmental Education Center was developed in partnership with Broward County Parks and Recreation and Nova Southeastern University. Their mission “is to provide outstanding marine education, interactive learning, and research with a focus on endangered sea turtles.” The Center is located at the Carpenter House Marine Environmental Education Center, a historic house in Hollywood North Beach Park in Hollywood, FL.

At the Earth Day event, they will assist guests in learning all about sand, and how it impacts the world, from humans to migratory sea turtles. With the assistance of scientific instruments, guests will be able to explore sand samples from around the world and understand the significance of these tiny grains. MEEC will only be attending the Okalee event. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram!



In addition to the exciting activities from the 2024 Earth Day partners, Seminole Arts & Crafts and Tribal food vendors will also be on site to satisfy your stomach and your shopping needs! For those attending on the 18th at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, the Museum will have free admission for all Earth Day attendees.


This Earth Day, we encourage you to give back to your local environmental community and find ways for you to affect change. Earth Day also includes you! You are part of the natural environment, even if your connection is not the same as Billy Bowlegs, Josie Billie, or Samuel Tommie’s. So, it is our responsibility as a small piece of the puzzle to be responsible stewards of the earth and push change forward. How can you make a difference?


Author Bio

Originally from Washington state, Deanna Butler received her BA in Archaeological Sciences from the University of Washington in 2014. Deanna moved to 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 also often wrote the popular Artifact of the Month series and worked on many community and educational outreach programs. She lives in Lakeland, FL with her husband, two sons, and dog.

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