In November is the “Ocali Country” festival at Silver River Museum. Although the museum is at Silver River State Park, it is not governed by the park, but is run by the Marion County School System. The museum director is Scott Mitchell, who is organizing the above-mentioned festival.
One of the most well-known and respected Seminole reenactors is Earl DeBary. (Although we will all agree that Swamp Owl is our unofficial chief) Earl was told that he is not wanted and not needed at the Silver River festival, and that they do not want any Seminole reenactors there. There is a Seminole lady that has been scheduled to be a storyteller, and they only want her there to tell stories and to portray the Seminole side. (Earl is also a long-time member of the Ocala Story Telling Guild.) Keep in mind that this lady is a 21st century Seminole, and does not portray the 1830s Seminoles. Oh, they ticked off Swamp Owl last year too, and I can bet that he is not coming back there anytime soon.
Now Scott Mitchell is trying to recruit 1830s soldier reenactors for the festival. I guess he only wants one side portrayed for the 1830s.
I hear that there will be Confederate reenactors there. If so, then I do not want any Union soldiers there.
I know in the past there have been Timuquan reenactors at the festival. If they are there, then I don’t want Spanish reenactors allowed.
But if the Spanish reenactors are already scheduled to participate, then I don’t want anyone there to portray the Native side. No Timuquan, Calusa, or Mound Builder reenactors.
So it is only fair, that since I am a veteran of the U.S. Army, as well as being a war veteran, than I must insist that all soldiers that they have portrayed at this festival must be current, active members of the U.S. Army. I know the reenactors portraying soldiers in the 1830s probably know more about life as a soldier during the Second Seminole war than anyone else alive, but I must insist that all the soldiers at the festival be active U.S. Army soldiers.
And I know that the Confederates were not members of the U.S. Army. They were members of a different army, and a different country. They fought under a different flag. I must insist that all those reenactors who portray Confederate soldiers be authentic veterans of the Confederate Army of the Confederate States of America.
And if anyone is portraying black people from before 1865, then I insist that they be slaves. No freedman should be allowed to portray a slave.
If there are reenactors portraying Spanish from Colonial Spanish Florida, I must insist that they only be portrayed by actual Spaniards. They can be Spaniards born in Florida, but they must have confessed their faith in the Catholic Church, and sworn allegiance to the Kind of Spain. This is a requirement of all Spanish citizens in the Florida colony.
And if the Spanish are not there, and you have reenactors portraying the Timuquans instead, then I insist that these are actual Timuquan Indians. Not assimilated into a European culture either. These must be the Timuqans who built these shell middens and mounds along the Silver River or Oklawaha River. Or to be more specific, the Ocali or Patano sub-groups of the Timuquans.
That is how I want this living history event to be run. No substitutes. No actors or stand-ins.
Oh, and I know that pirates are popular right now from the movies and everything. It is possible that there are pirates from the history of Marion County. If there is anyone there that is portraying a pirate, then I insist that they are real pirates. None of this fake Hollywood stuff. Johnny Depp will not do either. It has to be a real pirate.
Shiver me timbers!
On October 6th, 2006 11:42 am (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
I used to get calls from teachers asking if I knew any Seminoles who could come and talk to their classes about Seminole history. I'd ask the caller her last name. and then ask her how much she knew about (English/ German/ Italian) history and culture. Then I'd tell her that it's the same thing with Seminoles. Just because they're of Seminole (English/ German/ Italian) descent doen't mean they're knowledgeable about it. - Rick O.
I agree Rick. My Kimball ancestors landed in Massachusetts colony in 1634. I have no idea what kind of clothes they wore, or what they were like. Both my father and mother's genealogy have been traced back to about the year 1200, which is pretty impressive. But they are only names and dates to me. And the only ancestors I know anything about their character and life beyond my memory of them was one who wrote a few letters when he was part of Pawnee Bill's Wild West Show around 1900. So I know a lot more about Seminoles in the last 250 years than my own family.
On October 13th, 2006 03:59 am (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
You should take the time to visit our festival before making such claims. The Seminole Tribe as represented by Mary Jeane Koenes of the Big Cypress Reservation has asked that we limit our Seminole history interpretation to certain individuals. As the event organizer, I respected this request and asked Earl if he would participate as a story teller instead. He declined my offer. I actually apologized to Earl and his family for this unfortunate situation. I am sure you never heard that part of the story.
You should also know that we have Black Seminoles, Black Union Soldiers (and white ones as well), Black story tellers, Confederates, and a huge assortment of very cool reenactors from Florida's history who take part in the event. By the way, Swamp Owl is coming and wanted to last year but his truck broke down. No, he was not upset at anyone, just his truck.
We also see about 5,000 school kids before the festival even opens to the public. Over the weekend, we typically see another 3,000-3,500 people.
Don't believe everything you hear and come see with your own eyes before making such hasty judgments.
As a fellow veteran (USMC) and a third generation Floridian, I salute you for your service and your zest for Florida history.
Scott Mitchell, Director
Silver River Museum