It has been an exciting year for the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation. For 11 consecutive months, Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum has reported a record number of visitors, who enjoyed exhibits such as “Guy LaBree: Painted Stories of the Seminoles” and “It’s Not a Costume: Modern Seminole Patchwork.” The newest exhibit, “Struggle for Survival,” arrived in December.
The Museum recently closed for a six-week renovation; the ceiling was painted, exhibits were refurbished and a reopening celebration was held on Indian Day, Sept. 25.
In November, more than 1,900 people attended the Museum’s American Indian Arts Celebration. The 18th annual event included selections from the acclaimed New York exhibit “Seminole Spirit” by Russell James. Festival-goers also enjoyed a variety of Native American vendors, dances by the Warriors of AniKituhwa, artwork by Leonard Peltier, music by Seminole Rita Youngman and an exciting wildlife and alligator show.
During the summer season, the Big Cypress RV Resort and Campground took on several beautification projects. Guests can now enjoy a new laundry facility, an addition to the club house with a full gym, remodeled cabins and renovated bath houses. The Resort has reported an increase in numbers for the past five years, with some months reaching full capacity.
The most remarkable enhancements happened at Billie Swamp Safari. Besides landscaping improvements and new sidewalks stamped with animal tracks, a dozen new animal exhibits were constructed. New critters include Artic wolves, Asian small-clawed otters, capybaras, African crested porcupines, warthogs, serval cat, bobcat and a spirited 17-foot tiger reticulated python. For the kids and kids-at-heart, a new petting zoo teems with whitetail deer that love to give kisses, pygmy goats, fuzzy miniature Highland calves, miniature horse and baby ostriches who will hang out at the zoo until big enough to move into the 2,200-acre preserve. A new bird of prey exhibit houses a rescue crested caracara named I-Lean, a barred owl and Harris’s hawk. Renovations to the quarter-mile boardwalk round out the upgrades.
New Swamp Water Café manager Jules Ayuso and sous chef Alicia Page bring with them more than 49 years of combined experience; they have turned the café into a destination, and people ride for miles to enjoy the exciting and fresh items they added to the menu. The group catering menu is also top notch.
The Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation has transformed into an enriching family fun destination full of culture, history and adventure. We look forward to seeing you on your next family vacation or day get-away and making new memories with your family and friends. If you haven’t been out in a while, please come and spend the day with the Seminoles on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation.