It’s that special time of year in Miami: a hint of cool air breaks its way through the wall of humidity, turkey vultures migrating north swoop in ominous circles around Brickell, and the license plates begin to change colors on the highway. Yes, it’s fall in Miami. And while the rest of the country is going apple picking and searching for the Great Pumpkin, the change to cooler temperatures signals it’s time for our annual family tradition: a trip to the Florida Everglades.
Normally we make it as far as Shark Valley, but this year we missed the turn and ended up about 150 feet further down the Tamiami Trail, to a Miami gem that will now become our new tradition.
The Miccosukee Indian Village
The Miccosukee Indian Village celebrates how the Miccosukee Indian Tribe lived and still lives in ‘The Heart of the Florida Everglades.’ We started off our visit with an alligator wrestling show led by Reptile Riff which totally enthralled our kids. He was a true showman and left us all on the edge of our seats as he wrangled the giant reptiles and explained the Miccosukee’s relationship with the alligator in the Everglades.
Only slightly more miraculous than the fact he still had all his appendages at the end of the show was the fact that he then immediately assumed the role of tour guide. Riff led us through the Indian Village to meet the talented resident artisans that showcase their talents in different Miccosukee chickee huts throughout the grounds.
We learned about traditional art techniques demonstrated by not only Miccosukee, but other Native American tribes including woodcarving, Navajo beading and silversmithing, and Mayan beadwork.
Our favorite chickee hut to visit was the cooking chickee where we learned that a traditional hut has a fire going 24/7. Our hostess shared some awesome fresh fry bread that she cooked up and explained the importance of a cooking chickee in the Miccosukee culture today. You may have noticed a grouping of thatched roof pavilions when you drive down Tamaimi. Those are most likely some of the cooking or sleeping chickees that are such a central part of family life for the Miccosukee.
She also told us about the beautiful Miccosukee fire skirt she was wearing, handmade by her grandmother, which uses quilting to communicate a story. We learned how the Miccosukee are taught to look at the world with a good heart and to consider what you can do as an individual to make the world a better place.
With the day after Thanksgiving being Native American Heritage Day, it’s the perfect opportunity to learn about the rich heritage of the Miccosukee, just a short drive from Miami. Head on over to the Miccosukee Indian Village so they can wish you Chehantamo, Welcome, too!
Stroller friendly: YES
Food: Available for purchase, picnic area is outside the grounds
Restrooms: Facilities in the gift shop, but there are huge ones located inside the Indian Village
Dates: Daily from 9-5, Tours start on the hour at 11am
Cost: $15.00 Adults, $8.00 Children (6-12), 5 & under Free
Location: Mile Marker 36 Heading West on US Highway 41