The lighthouse at Jupiter Inlet in Palm Beach County is celebrating its 150th anniversary. It was lit on July 10th, 1860. If you are a lighthouse climber, this one is a must-see. The Loxahatchee River Historical Society Museum here is also worth visiting, and has some Seminole stuff.
In 1854, Army Engineer Lt. George Meade selected the present site where the lighthouse stands. Interesting enough, is that we just celebrated the anniversary of Gettysburg, which General Meade was famous for winning.
The Third Seminole War caused construction to halt, but after the war it resumed, and was finally lit 150 years. Less than a year later, the Confederates disabled or removed the lens, but it was relit again in 1866. It is still an active lighthouse, and an active coast guard reservation. (With a BX / PX / CGX exchange, for all you active servicemen.) To go up the lighthouse, you have to go on one of the guided tours from the museum nearby.
Work is being done to spruce-up the old lighthouse. It has fresh paint, I could smell fresh paint on the steps, and concrete was still being poured for the commemorative plaque in front.
There are two mounds visible here, and the lighthouse is on the top of one. Maybe this is why it is one of the more attractive lighthouses in Florida, seeing it on top of the mound with the grass and the palm trees, amidst the contrasting urban Palm Beach.
There are 105 steps going up, and it is a spectacular view. The first-order Fresnel lens still shines at night. So the last tour leaves at 4:00 p.m. Make enough time to see it.
Looking down below, you can see the graves of some of the children of lighthouse keeper Captain James Armour. He served as keeper for 42 years after the Civil War. Four children are buried here. Three graves are marked; the fourth is unknown.
Seminoles always came and traded with Captain Armour, and were frequent visitors. There are a couple nice interpretive signs and a very large chickee. Neither the captain and his family, nor the Seminoles, spoke each other’s language. But they seemed to get along fine.
From one of the interpretive signs: Minnie Moore-Willson and some of the local Seminoles. (Although they didn't spell her name right—it has two L's.)
The tour also includes the Tyndall house; a cracker-style homestead built here in 1892.
The tour was nice, but when I stopped to read the interpretive sign on the Seminoles, I found that the tour quickly left and I was locked inside the compound. I didn't mind, and if it wasn't a hot July day, I would have stayed longer.
Below: Warning to people climbing up the lighthouse. Well I got three out of five, and still climbed. (Who from Florida isn't afraid of heights?)
Make sure you check out the museum, too. It has some good Seminole stuff.
In the Seminole gallery, there are several objects on loan from the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum and Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainville. There are some Seminole dolls, carved wooden toys, soffkee spoons, and a pack basket. In another case is a 1910 big shirt, a pair of stickball sticks, some leather leggings, and two pairs of nicely beaded moccasins.
There is the display case telling about Fort Jupiter, built after the battle of Jupiter Inlet in 1838. Here we see a pistol, some musket balls, and two disks I imagine are Seminole artifacts from the war period. (There were not any descriptions of labels given for them.) And a dragoon uniform.
The next room covers the many shipwrecks in the area, including the most famous, about Jonathan Dickinson who wrecked in 1696. He was traded among the local tribes for six months until he made it up to St. Augustine. His book is still in print, but under a mural of him is an original printing from 1791. You can still buy a modern publishing of the book in the gift shop. I have read it several times myself. It is one of my favorite books that I can't put down once I start.
There is a display case of treasure from some of the local Spanish wrecks. That silver bar is impressive.
Then there is the Durham collection, of some impressive beads and silverwork. Although I suspect that some of the silverwork may be reproductions. John Durham was a colorful character (and some found a bit too much so) who used to be involved in the reenactments. He passed away a few years ago. He had an extensive collection of beads and artifacts.
And other displays on WWII, Trapper Nelson, and the lighthouse service. It is worth a visit.
On July 19th, 2010 09:13 pm (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
I am actually writing about earlier posts of yours on the two Seminole languages. I'm very interested in the endangered languages of the Americas and, since I'm currently in Florida, Mikasuki and Muskogee are the ones at the forefront. While there seems to be a fair amount known about the structure, etc. of the languages, I haven't seen anything available for documenting or teaching the language (dictionaries, grammars, etc.). I'm assuming there are no such resources (though I could be wrong), and I'm assuming it's because, as you noted, the fluent speakers are loathe to allow outsiders access to the language.
I understand the guarding of the language as something of great value, and I don't wish to create access to it, if that is not desired. However, I would be very interested in talking with some of the/interviewing speakers about their feelings surrounding the language. Maybe get a general idea of how it is viewed by elders and youth (as a conduit for the culture, etc.), whether they feel it is in danger of being lost and if so what might go with it (songs, stories, histories, etc.), what is being done internally to maintain it, and what sort of hurdles have been encountered in attempting to maintain it (lack of a writing system?, etc.).
I don't know if anyone would be open to it, but I would also like to explore whether anything could possibly be done by outsiders to assist with maintenance without actually interfering or learning the language. I have no idea what, I'd just like to generate ideas, I guess, but maybe things like the sharing of lesson plans (and lessons learned) that have been used with the revitalization of other Native American languages, linguistic lessons to help speakers understand the distinct and special qualities of the language, support for creating "story" videos for youth, etc. I know that support has been provided for other indigenous languages internationally, without outsiders having to learn the language, so I feel sure there's something that can be done here.
My concern is that there are few speakers left, the languages may not be consistenly passed down, and there is not currently a written, standardized form (that I know of). With these factors converging, loss of the languages is likely, and I'd like to know what can be done about it. Maybe nothing can be, or will be, but it certainly won't be if no one bothers to ask... right?
Could you give me your thougths on this please? I would very much like to make contact with some speakers on this, but not if it is entirely unwelcome. Thank you for your consideration and insight.
-- A Ritter
Thank you for your interesting comment. I know there's some work being done to keep the languages alive, from what I see in the Seminole Tribune newspaper. And I know that Dr. Granberry did some work with the Miccosukee tribe not long ago to make up a dictionary or language lessons for them.
The problem with these languages is that they are oral and not written languages. Alphabets have been developed, but you cannot learn the language without speaking it. Dialects vary widely even among member of the same tribe who are from different geographical areas. The Miccosukee version of their language is different than the Seminole tribal members who speak the same language, but have had trouble even understanding each other, from what I have been told by them. So which version of the language should be preserved, if you have to choose?
For Muskogee, there has been some work among the schools at Brighton reservation, and it is looking very hopeful. But among them, there are still an alarming number of tribal members that are not fluent.
Then there is a third variation of Muskogee that is almost extinct in the southeast, and I know few who can still speak it. Mostly Muskogee, but a mix of Hitchiti. I will call it "Old Town" speak.
I think that the only way to preserve the language is for the native speakers to actively work towards preserving it.
The person you would want to pose your question towards, would be in charge of the oral history department at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum on Big Cypress Reservation.
Good luck, because it is a very important topic!