MIAMI -- Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and members of the Miccosukee Tribe on Monday attended an event to celebrate the inaugural Miccosukee Day.
The event began shortly after noon at Lakeside Auditorium on the University of Miami campus, located at 1280 Stanford Drive in Coral Gables.
"For me, today is a signal that we are recognizing indigenous people," Cava said. "And are atoning for past wrongs and saying we want to go forward together."
The event came on the heels of a recent vote by the Miami-Dade County Commission that designated Oct. 9, 2023 as Miccosukee Day, and every second Monday of every October thereafter as Indigenous Peoples Day.
The move was meant to recognize the county's commitment to honoring the rich cultural heritage of the Miccosukee Tribe and recognizing their many contributions to Miami-Dade, officials said.
The participants who were scheduled to attend in addition to Cava include Miccosukee Tribe Chairman Talbert Cypress, Miccosukee Tribe Lawmaker Pete Osceola, Jr., Miccosukee Tribe Special Counsel on Environmental Affairs Edward Ornstein, University of Miami leaders and University of Miami Iron Arrow members.
Lucas Osceola is the Assistant Chairman of the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida. He says, "The tribe has been in Miami-Dade County for as long as the time has been. We're very honored that we've been able to have this partnership with new leadership in Miami Dade County that they recognize us."
Joseph Booner chairs the Iron Air Honor Society on the University of Miami's campus. "I think it's incredibly important to have that shift from Columbus Day to Indigenous People Day because it focuses on really the culture, history and tradition of the people as opposed to maybe a historical event that is not fully, you know, known in terms of what happened."
The Miccosukees say the designation is not just for them but for everyone to become aware of the contributions their tribe and others have made historically and present day to this country. Osceola says, "It's all about Miccosukee day and, you know, it's about making sure that the past is told correctly. So moving forward, that's what we're going to be talking about Mississippi Day and Indigenous People Day."
Bonner adds, "I think today is a moment in time to celebrate the unique aspects of a wonderful community that has been here in North America and through many parts of North America for a long period of time to recognize and honor their traditions and culture, and to make sure that we're paying homage to people that have really shaped so much of what we now know, as South Miami, Florida and really greater parts of the United States."
According to officials, the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida began as an independent tribal town along the banks of Lake Miccosukee in Leon County, with a range extending north through the Appalachians and south through the Florida Keys.
During the Seminole Wars of the 1800s, most of the Miccosukee were removed to the West, but a group eventually found refuge in the Everglades.
Throughout the next century, Miccosukee Leaders like its first Chairman, Buffalo Tiger, welcomed immigrants from throughout the Caribbean to the region, and went on to establish diplomatic ties with Miami-Dade County, the state of Florida, and eventually the Federal Government in 1962.
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