Seminoles and the South Florida Ecosystem
The Florida Everglades has existed for thousands of years – not only as home to thousands of animals and other natural plants, but also to the main water supply for eight-million people in south Florida. Over the last century, the Everglades landscape has changed dramatically. Urban development and drainage projects reduced the Everglades to nearly half its original size – this has greatly affected critical habitats, polluted waters and brought invasive species to the area.
In the early 1800’s, the ancestors of the Seminole Tribe of Florida were driven by the policies of the American military into the Everglades and Big Cypress Swamp of South Florida – later known as Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation. Never surrendering, the Seminoles took refuge in remote areas that the American government regarded as uninhabitable, living a life shaped by fluctuating water conditions. Today, more than ever, The Florida Everglades faces continuing challenges of outside development to a healthy ecosystem.
Seminoles and the Florida Everglades
Traditional Seminole cultural, religious, recreational and commercial endeavors are dependent on a healthy Florida Everglades. In fact, the Seminole Tribe’s identity is so closely linked to the land that many believe that if the land died, so will the Tribe. The Seminoles saw the Everglades in decline and decided they needed to do something about the effects of man on this natural system. Seminole environmental projects are designed to protect the land and the water systems within the 82 square miles that is the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation. It coincides with ensuring a sustainable economic and cultural future for the Tribe.
Everglades Restoration Initiative
Some time ago, the Seminole Tribe put in place an ambitious project known as the Seminole Everglades Restoration Initiative. This multi-year project was aimed at the water quality and quantity flowing off the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation and into the Florida Everglades. It was designed to mitigate the impacts of development on the environment; more specifically, to improve water quality, to increase water storage capacity, and to enhance hydroperiods. The $65 million program has received consistent support from the state and federal levels working to improve the South Florida Environment. The entire project has been in the Governor’s Commission for a Sustainable South Florida’s report.
The continuing saga over the Lake Okeechobee water runoff and algae situation remains unclear currently. While there have been numerous proposals from the Army Corps of Engineers, the Seminole Tribe has been in close contact with state leaders about concerns affecting both, the Brighton Seminole Indian Reservation and Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation. The land and the Seminoles are one, and they will always be concerned about preserving it’s past, protecting the present, and ensuring a future for the Seminoles and the Florida Everglades.
About Florida Seminole Tourism (FST)
The Seminole Tribe of Florida is a federally recognized Indian Tribe. FST is a top Florida Everglades adventure, learning and camping destination. We share the excitement and wonder of the Florida Everglades to visitors from around the globe. Our award-winning Everglades attractions including Billie Swamp Safari, Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, and Big Cypress RV Resort & Campground.