New Alligator Wrestling Exhibit Opens at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum
The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum is well-known for providing a fun, educational Seminole experience. It is home to over 180,000 unique artifacts and numerous exhibits. Likewise, it also pays tribute to the Seminole Tribe and their storied history. However, there is something new at the museum. On December 16th, the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum unveiled their newest exhibit; Alligator Wrestling: Danger. Entertainment. Tradition. This exhibit will convey the importance of alligator wrestling, it’s evolving role in the Seminole Tribe and the explicit danger associated with it.
Alligator Wrestling History
Alligators and Seminoles have a long history together. Long ago, alligator wrestling was used practically, as opposed to showmanship. Alligators were caught for their hides and meat. These important functions would help the Seminoles thrive, particularly within the swampy Florida Everglades. They were important during ceremonial practices, with the relationship between alligator and Seminoles being one of respect. Later, alligators would play an integral role in trade. The first Seminole trading post opened in Fort Lauderdale in the late 19th century, igniting a new era of expansion for the Seminoles. Soon, trading posts in Fort Myers, Stuart, Miami and Tampa would follow. Here, handcrafted items and pelts, plumes and hides were sold, including that of the alligator, in exchange for ammunition, metal, guns and other provisions.
Shortly after 1900, alligators began to serve an entirely new purpose for the Seminoles with the expansion of tourism. The exact origin of alligator wrestling showmanship is still widely debated. Some believe an alligator farm tourist attraction in Miami merged with a nearby Seminole Camp. Others, that a passerby threw money to a Seminole during an alligator capturing encounter, telling them it “makes for a great show”. The reality is likely a combination of avenues that aligned at just the right time, leading to the development of the demonstrations we enjoy today.
About the Alligator Wrestling Exhibit and More
One of the best things about the upcoming Alligator Wrestling exhibit is the deep history shared about the alligator. The connection between alligator and Seminole goes back even further, wider and in more detail than touched upon in the blog. During the exhibit, you can expect to be accompanied by two young Seminole children. Curious about alligator wrestling, they learn about the alligator’s cultural significance, biology, the value of tradition, the dangers of wrestling, and more with the questions they ask. On this journey, it will become evident how alligator wrestling is so much more than just entertainment. For an even more interactive experience, a reception to celebrate the new opening will be held on Saturday, January 11th 2020, from 1 to 4pm. It will include a catered lunch, guest speakers, the screening of the documentary film ALLAPATAH, directed by Adam Piron & Adam Khalil, and, of course, an alligator wrestling show! Best of all, it is included in the price of the museum admission ticket.
Alligator wrestling holds a significant amount of history and meaning for the Seminole Tribe of Florida The Alligator Wrestling: Danger. Entertainment. Tradition. exhibit is another cultural experience to be shared with the public. Go and enjoy it! It will remain open until December 2020.