Big Cypress Reservation
Within the Big Cypress Reservation, you’ll find Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki, which means “a place to learn” in the Seminole language—an appropriate name for a museum where you can explore the culture and history of the Seminole Indians. Here, see how their ancestors lived in the Florida Everglades and swamps, by looking through exhibits and rare artifacts. You can also travel along nature trails through the stunning 60-acre (24-hectare cypress dome.
The largest of six reservations owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the Big Cypress Reservation allows visitors to experience the Seminole lifestyle with an on-site art gallery, a reconstructed village, and a research center that preserves artifacts. The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum’s film, “We Seminoles,” tells the Seminole story in their own words and chronicles their trials and tribulations to remain in Florida. The museum also contains interactive displays and a Native American gift shop. Plus, take guided tours of the landscape in airboats and swamp buggies through Billie Swamp Safari.
Things to know before you go
- Nearby lodging is located a few miles away at the Big Cypress RV Resort, which includes cabins and tent sites.
- The on-site restaurant serves Native American cuisine, such as fried bread filled with ground beef, catfish, and gator tail.
- Be on the lookout for wildlife such as bison, water buffalo, ostriches, and even zebras.
How to get there
The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum on the Big Cypress Reservation is located in Clewiston, not far from Fort Lauderdale. To get there, take I-75 to Exit 49 and continue for about 17 miles (27 kilometers) to the reservation. The museum on the reservation consists of three buildings, 5,000 square feet (464 square meters) of exhibition space, and a mile-long (1.6-kilometer) nature trail through a cypress dome.
When to get there
From late November through early April is the best time to visit because the weather is cooler and drier, but expect to encounter the biggest crowds then. Weekends are also typically busier. Airboat tours leave every 30 minutes and swamp buggy tours every hour. If it rains, the swamp buggies still run (as long as there’s no lightning), but the airboats don’t. They also don’t run if there are lightning threats in the area.
More about the Seminole Indians
They are among the 566 Native American tribes recognized by the US government, but they are the only ones to have never surrendered or signed a peace treaty. Instead, they retreated into the Everglades to try to avoid being forced to move to Oklahoma. The Seminoles continue traditions such as sewing, patchwork, chickee (house) building, and alligator wrestling.
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