History of Seminole Reenacting part 4
The rise and fall of the reenactor antichrist.
In Christian folklore, the antichrist is someone born of unnatural birth, comes out of nowhere and takes over, controls as group of people, clandestinely commits sinful acts and organizes a false religion centered around himself, the true faithful people don’t want anything to do with him, and reigns a few years until God comes down and destroys him. We had such a person, and in this case, God was the court system and a felony conviction. That about sums it up for this chapter.
Sometimes in the late 1980s, a group formed near Dade City on the Withlacoochee River, known commonly as Panther Bend. It was a community of people of Creek descent and several reenactors. They started an annual pow wow in December, and a battle reenactment in February with a nighttime battle. They created a Square Ground on their site that was straight out of John Swanton’s book on Creek ceremonial practices, and several impressive chickees.
One person arose who did not start the group, but became their leader, and after a couple years, full-blown cult leader. His father was British, mother Hispanic, and he attended Leon County High School in Tallahassee. Over the next few years he tried to gather support of other reenactors, but was really powerless outside his group of supporters. One time he went down and tried to get support from the Miccosukees, but had the tar beat out of him. Many things he claimed and had the group present did not agree with written history and culture, with the excuse that if they white man wrote it, then it must be wrong. At the time, Florida had a Creek Indian Council that was created to disburse funds to Creek descendants, resulting from court settlement of Creek lands taken. This individual infiltrated the Florida Creek Council and took charge, and three hundred thousand dollars under his care disappeared. Other people who knew this individual closely told of drug addictions and fathering children from teenage groupies. Panther Bend and the cult leader are long-gone by now. The group split up, property sold, and the cult leader ended up in jail.
To me, the whole Panther Bend thing was the saddest part of the history of Seminole reenacting. People were divided, and it almost destroyed all of our efforts in the previous ten years for reenactments. Some people I knew disappeared from the reenactment scene. All because of one Napoleon who wanted to extend his control beyond Panther Bend to the Seminole reenactments in general.
I truly feel sorry for the people who got caught up in the events at Panther Bend. Many of them were people of Native American descent, but felt a need to create a community and place where they could get together and find common bonds with each other. People of similar backgrounds like to create groups or villages of other people like themselves, and this started out as an attempt at that, but quickly fell apart because of one person.
and do you know that mess still rears its ugly head form time to time? i was at the Chambers pow wow (no comment. that's currently another can of worms) where a group of us were trying to start stomp dances at night after the main dances were over, the time when the "49's" start. (49's being a time for the youth to get together after formal dancing and cut up and have fun. another can of worms to comment on later)
there was actually a good start with the idea, and the people in charge allowed an area to be set aside where no one camped or parked (at the time) to be the dance square. a proper entrance-way was laid out, along with the four sides. we had lawn chairs for arbors, but we did things right. there were people there representing several different groups of followers of Creek traditions. we even had a couple of Cherokee join us with their stomps as well. we told the proper stories, sang the songs, greeted the fire,
then some started questioning what we were doing. after i started questioning them in return, trying to determine their motives, it finally came out that they were afraid of what your "anti-creek" would think. afraid that he would object to another fire being brought into existence. afraid that we were trying to start another village. this set me right off, and i gave it back with both barrels. they claimed he had resources and could hurt people. i told them that he was welcome to try. i told them that this was my county, and that i was the one with friends in the local law enforcement there, that he had no authority and no business being even mentioned there. it really set me off that someone would allow another to have that much power over them, especially one who was so obviously in the wrong. and all over a simple gathering of creek people and friends.
i did not know of the final ending of the fiasco, with jail time being involved. i wish i had known then. but to think that the trouble is still there...
I started to avoid pow wows. I loved them in Arizona, but not Florida. Full of too many people who have mixed up heads.
The first year your Dad and myself showed up at Chambers wearing southeastern, it seems like we created at stir. I think this was 1994; maybe 1993, and when we first met. People seemed afraid of us. Maybe we knew what we were doing, and needed to exert our local roots. To show what the real local native traditions looked like.
The 49 tradition came from the Kiowa's powwows, I think. Somewhere I have a tape from Indian House music. I had fun in the past with folks 49'in, too.
Tell you what CC, people get funny ideas, especially when they were not raised in the Creek or Seminole culture they now claim, or want to claim. They think it is all cut and dried, or have absolutes that you must follow and do it a certain way, and it is not. That is the whiteman's world, not the redman's. We are not anal or tight laced.
I would be against someone establishing a new Square Ground, especially when they don't know what they are doing. You can't start a Square Ground simply by removing the grass. There is much more involved, and if people knew what was involved; well I have said enough. But that is not the same as doing a simple arbor and social square. You were not starting a new Fire; just building a social area in the way you thought was the proper manner. It is easy to document that families had their own family square at their own homes. I set up my own campfire area outside my trailer when I lived out at Fakahatchee, and had some amazing and wonderful experiences and visitors. I had my own way of doing things at my private little campfire, and found that there are many friends in the hammock and swamp who responded favorably. It really put me at peace and established a firm foundation with where I lived. If I had sat inside and watched tv all the time, that would not have happened. I am sad that I had to move out, but my truck is saved from a few miles down those unpaved roads each day. Wherever I am at next year, I hope that I have to opportunity to do the same.
first of all, i was a member of panther bend from the very beginning when the first chickee went up. i was married to the "head warrior" and i don't mean jerry gaskins. sorry for name dropping i just want to make sure that there are no mistakes. that marriage did not last long because of abuse and the dirty dealings that took place in that filth of a 'village'. my mother was 'tribal mother'. we were 'wind clan'. which i don't believe you can get any higher status than this. i left that place because it was disgusting. randy king was not the anti-christ i wont give him that credit but he was filth. however he did not have access to the funds you're claiming he had access to either. i dont know where you got your information. he was a drug addict. he did creep from chickee to chickee. he got to two of my closest friends who were there. when he couldn't creep to mine, *and he did try* i was ridiculed and 'ousted' so to speak. i was often teased and made fun of for being considered a 'little girl' and not a 'woman' because i wouldn't allow him his way, i was also a christian girl then too so it just wasn't going to happen (and mind you i was 18 when i joined that village and had gotten married at 19). when i was 21 years old is when i decided i had enough and i told my husband i was leaving. i will save you the details of what he did. ironically i AM of creek and cherokee decent my husband didn't have a drop of anything which was the funny thing and so you know how technically a woman is supposed to be the one to put a man's belongings outside her chickee when she's done with him, well he brought a woman from hollywood/brighton reservation (who will remain nameless) back to my chickee and moved her into it. it was in such bad taste that i left panther bend for good because the village just turned their heads and allowed it. yes even my own mom. a few months later i was nearly killed in a near fatal car accident and the fool that was my soon to be ex husband told me that had i stayed with him i wouldn't have been in the accident. yea i guess he's right, i probably would have been knocked up with one of randy's illegitimates. these men took those types of things without asking anyway. they also ran through the village at night nude as the day they were born. when i left, i became involved with another group of unsavories. that was the likes of the people at chambers farm. the anderson folks. michael lininger and jim anderson. however because of that, i was adopted kiowa by blossom quoetone who was an absolute precious soul and took me in as her daughter in carnegie oklahoma and of everyone i had ever met she was the REAL DEAL! that's the truth of it all right there. thus far, no one, but she, to this day, bares any substance. in my opinion unless you're a card carrier, you're playing dress up. i stopped in 1999 going to dances. i gave up my head lady dancing to become a mother. i met a man who gave me three beautiful little girls but who has become a nightmare and a half to live with i suppose with everything i've been through i just haven't figured out yet how to find someone with some assemblance of goodness to them.
i'm about to embark on a divorce now and finally get that chance to become whole again.
maybe i can get rid of this past of finding horrible people. i just found out blossom is doing well, i might go see her out in oklahoma.
anyway i saw this article. my mom and i were searching for stuff about florida creek council and this came up. i thought i would interject what i knew about it since i was there first hand. if you'd like to message me about it you can.
have a good one.
I am sorry to hear of the hard times that have burdened you, but am glad to hear that you finally met someone who is a true human being with a shining soul like Blossom to help you out. If you ever come back to Florida, I would like to meet you with my friend Earl in Ocala. Earl is retired and follows the Muskogee way like almost nobody else I know. When we were at Big Cypress Reservation last February, the Seminole children ran up to him and asked him to tell them a story. We were very moved by them coming up to us like this. I think it was the most moving moment of all the 22 years that I have been doing the living history.
We have to follow our own spiritual past. Unfortunately there are bad people along the way who take advantage of others. I was debating if I should edit down some of the post or hide it, but decided to leave it. Everything you say of Panther Bend has been said by other people. I know nothing of the stories behind Chambers, but knew there were problems there too.
Because of these bad people, I have taken my spiritual journey on my own for the past few years. And I have done much better that way and learned a lot of things. I am under control of no one, but free to explore the universe. I have explored many major beliefs and mysticisms in Christianity, Judeaism, Buddism, and Native American beliefs. And I have learned some amazing things about the world, the universe, and world above and the world below. Also the afterlife and worlds unseen.
I had a strong Christian upbringing, but follow the Muskogee Way now. I do not feel that I have left the Christian upbringing, but surpassed it more than I could have imagined if I didn't take this road.
Peace and love to you, you are a true seeker with the soul of a true human being.