In the 1990s I saw many familiar faces disappear, and new ones appeared. I miss some that I haven’t seen in a few years, but I enjoy seeing new faces. We always need new recruits in the camp. I’m a lot older now and don’t run around like I use too. One interesting thing that I have seen among our new recruits, is where they are coming from. In the beginning, a lot of reenactors came from either buckskinners & mountainmen groups, or the boy scouts. Now our new faces are coming from the general public, and from a diverse background. I see a lot of people that don’t have association with any particular group joining us, and it is very encouraging that we have a wide and diverse appeal.
In the mid-1990s many people were getting hooked up to the internet. This was very important, because a new network developed. Information became available at our fingertips. Instead of expensive postal mail and long distance phone calls, we are communicating by the internet.
Of course there was a negative side of the internet. A few individuals with the American Indian Movement (AIM) of Florida became very vocal on the internet. Most all these AIM members are not Florida natives, and follow a radical activist, socialist, or anti-American agenda. They were not out to make friends, have friendly dialog, or have peaceful co-existence with reenactors, or anyone else.
The sponsors of AIM’s events that they proudly declared on their web page include several different communist and anti-American protest groups. Here are a few of them: The All-African Peoples Revolutionary Party; a carbon copy of Muammar Quadafhi’s brand of Marxist-Leninism, and Islamic Extremist anti-Semitism, who are strong supporters of Fidel Castro of Cuba, and of course, Muammar Quadafhi of Libya. The International Workers of the World, who supported IRA terrorism in Ireland. The African Peoples Socialist Party/National Peoples Democratic Uhuru Movement; who want to create a separatist, all-African state inside the United States and advocate abolishing all government and police forces in the United States. With supporters and friends like those, it is easy to tell what kind of group AIM wanted to be. What I said in this paragraph was all clearly stated on the different group’s web pages.
These AIM individuals, called us “fake Indians“ or “wannabees,” personally attacking many of the reenactors on the internet. Fortunately these rude, belligerent, and obnoxious attacks eventually amounted to nothing. The rule that you can attract more people with honey than vinegar certainly applied here. AIM tried to get the support of the press and local political leaders, but I think people eventually got tired of their childish tirades, and decided not to listen to their venom anymore. I find it interesting that we knew the history of the Seminole Wars and presented history programs, made correct outfits, yet AIM could not present the same. If they called us wannabees, but what does that make them in their rock & roll t-shirts and sneakers? They never did understand why we do this, or what our motivation is behind it. I don’t feel like explaining it to them.
About 1998/99 was the beginning of the Southeastern Culture Society. This was the last attempt at trying to unify the Seminole reenactors. The problem is that our type of crowd is a unique, diverse crowd, and there was a lot of heated debate on what we should do, or how we should do it. Many of the reenactors are freethinking individuals who don’t always follow certain standards.
The Southeastern Culture Society was started by David Mott and Jason Wolz. Both individuals have done a tremendous amount of research into the Seminole clothing. They wanted to set up standards of dress, to try to get people to scale back some of the incorrect or erroneous things they were wearing. Like no synthetic fabrics, no “bone yard” camps, or no “fad” fashions like wearing Mississippian Mound era shell gorgets. I think these are still good ideas to pursue, but the individualistic reenactors took offense. People just don’t want to be told what is wrong with their outfits. Some unfortunate things were said back and forth, and I myself regret some of the thing I may have said or done back then myself.
I think that setting standards is not such a bad idea, because for a while we were getting reenactors showing up at events that looked pretty ridiculous. Face paint jobs looked like they came straight out of the Saturday morning cartoons, and looked like “Skeletor,” or “Darth Mal.” At one event I was at, there was a Seminole warrior running around with a Roman breastplate on—why, I will probably never know. I hope that by now, we are long past the stage where there was a video with a pale faced, white bearded guy wearing a kimono, saying that he will “keel all the white men.”
The good ending of the Southeastern Culture Society is that it still exists. There is a yahoo group where participation and membership is optional. There are no dues or newsletters. Whoever wants to participate can do so. The resources are now available, so if anyone wants to improve their own outfit and living history presentation, it can easily be pursued. Several photos and files are available on the yahoo group to aid research. And it makes a great opportunity to network with people all over the country by the internet.
I think that much of the state of reenacting today was established with the Southeastern Culture Society. The resources and networking are available.