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Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida

Miccosukee Tribe of Indians is a federally recognized Indian Tribe residing in the historic Florida Everglades – an area referred to as a “River of Grass” by legendary environmental and social activist Marjory Stoneman Douglas. In their own Miccosukee language, the Tribe uses the word “Kahayatle” to refer to the shimmering waters of this natural treasure. In fact, Ms. Douglas traces the etymology of the word “Everglades” revealing that it originates from the same description of the quality of light glimmering on the grassy waters.

The Miccosukees strongly maintain their unique way of life, ancient customs, and spirituality. It is the goal of the Tribe to articulate its beliefs and values by transmitting the essence of their heritage to their descendants. This mission is also expressed in their form of government, which is inspired by centuries-old practices and traditions. A poetic metaphor for the Miccosukee philosophy can be found in the colors of their flag, an artistic image that represents the Circle of Life.

HISTORY

The Tribe has a proud history, which predates Columbus. The Miccosukee Indians were originally part of the Creek Nation, and then migrated to Florida before it became part of the United States.

During the Indian Wars of the 1800s, most of the Miccosukees were removed to the West, but about 100, mostly Mikasuki-speaking Creeks, never surrendered and hid out in the Everglades. Present Tribal members now number over 600 and are direct descendants of those who eluded capture.

To survive in this new environment, the Miccosukees had to adapt to living in small groups in temporary "hammock style" camps spread throughout the Everglades’ vast river of grass. The Miccosukees stayed to themselves in the Everglades for about 100 years, resisting efforts to become assimilated. Then, after the Tamiami Trail highway was built in 1928, the Tribe began to accept the New World’s concepts. To ensure that the federal government would formally recognize the Miccosukee Tribe, Buffalo Tiger led a group to Cuba in 1959, where they asked Fidel Castro for, and were granted international recognition as a sovereign country within the United States. On January 11, 1962, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior approved the Miccosukee Constitution and the Tribe was officially recognized as the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida. This legally established the Miccosukees’ tribal existence and their sovereign, domestic dependant nation status with the United States Government.

On March 6, 1971, the Miccosukee Corporation was formed to receive and administer funds from private foundations as well as county, state and federal agencies for a variety of educational, employment, housing and social programs for members of the Miccosukee community. The officers of the Corporation consist of a President, Secretary and a Treasurer. The Chairman of the General Council is also the President and the principal executive of the Corporation.

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LEADERS

According to the Miccosukee Constitution, the governing body of the Tribe is the Miccosukee General Council, which is composed of adult members 18 years of age or older. The officers of the General Council consist of the Chairman, Assistant Chairman, Treasurer, Secretary and Lawmaker. The officers are elected and seated during November and hold office for a term of four years.

The responsibilities of the General Council consist of development and management of resources and the day-to-day business activities of the Tribe including those involving membership, government, law and order, education, welfare, recreation and fiscal disbursement. This group is also known as the Business Council. It is a combination of traditional tribal government and modern management that form the organizational structure of the present day Miccosukee Tribe.

Miccosukee General Council
Chairman Colley Billie
Assistant Chairman Roy Cypress, Jr.
Secretary Gabriel Osceola
Lawmaker William Osceola
Treasurer Jerry Cypress

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TRIBAL PROGRAMS & BUSINESS

On May 4, 1971, officers of the Miccosukee Corporation, acting for the Miccosukee Tribe, signed a contract with the BIA authorizing the Corporation to operate all programs and services provided for the Miccosukee Community and formerly administered by the BIA. The Tribe's intent in negotiating this matter was clear; the people wished to decide their own fate and gradually develop total independence.

The Miccosukee Tribe now operates a Clinic; Police Department; Court System; Day Care Center; Senior Center; Community Action Agency and an Educational System ranging from the Head Start Pre-School Program through Senior High School, Adult, Vocational and Higher Education Programs and other Social Services. These programs incorporate both the traditional Miccosukee Indian ways and non-Indian ways into their system and are all located on the Tamiami Trail Reservation, where the Miccosukee community resides.

In addition, the Miccosukee Tribe owns and operates a Restaurant; Gift Shop; General Store; Service Station and Indian Village on the Tamiami Trail Reservation; an Indian Gaming Facility and Tobacco Shop on the Krome Avenue Reservation; and a full-service Gas Station and Service Plaza on Alligator Alley Reservation.

Population
Membership in the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida is open to individuals who have Miccosukee mothers and are not enrolled in any other Tribe. The Miccosukee Service Area is composed of Tribal members and their families, independent Miccosukees, Seminoles and other Indian families residing along the Tamiami Trail from Miami to Naples. The total population of the Miccosukee Service area is about 640.

Future Plans
Planning for the Miccosukee Tribe is an ongoing process. It is a tool used by Tribal and community leaders in the continuous pursuit of the goals of economic self-sufficiency and self-determination. The Miccosukee Tribe realizes that to protect and preserve the resources available to them, they must be fully aware of the social, economic and environmental conditions of their resources. Therefore, efforts are constantly underway to monitor and update data on the population, housing, economy and natural resources of the Tribe.

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RESERVATION AREAS

Currently, the Tribe has four distinct Reservation Areas in the State of Florida: Tamiami Trail, Alligator Alley and two at Krome Avenue and U.S. 41.

On the reservations, the Tribe operates the following:

Tamiami Trail Reservation
The Tamiami Trail Reservation Area, which consists of four parcels of land, is located forty miles west of Miami and is presently the site of most Tribal operations. The Tamiami Trail Reservation is also the center of the Miccosukee Indian population.

The first parcel is 33.3 acres (5 miles long, 500 feet deep) and is under a 50-year use permit from the National Park Service, which expires on January 24, 2014. The other three parcels of land, which are roughly 600' x 65' are on the north side of Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41). These small plots of land were originally dedicated to the Miccosukees by the State of Florida and have since acquired federal reservation status. These areas are used for commercial development, which is prohibited in the National Park Service Use Permit Area.

The Tribe also has a perpetual lease from the State of Florida for 189,000 acres, which is part of the South Florida Water Management District's Water Conservation Area 3A South. The Tribe is allowed to use this land for the purpose of hunting, fishing, frogging, and subsistence agriculture to carry on the traditional Miccosukee way of life.

On this reservation, the Tribe operates the following: health clinic, police department, court system, day care center; senior center, community action agency, educational system (ranging from the Head Start preschool program through senior high school, adult, vocational and higher education programs), Tribal administration offices, restaurant, general store, service station; Indian Village and museum.

Alligator Alley Reservation

Alligator Alley is the largest of the Tribe's reservations, comprising 74,812.37 acres. It is located west of Ft. Lauderdale, lying north and south of State Highway 84 (Alligator Alley). This land consists of 20,000 acres with potential for development and 55,000 acres of wetlands.

The 20,000 acres of lands for development contain a modern service station plaza that was built and operated by the Tribe to accommodate those traveling along SR 84, a Miccosukee police substation, and 13,000 acres of land that is leased for cattle grazing.

The Tribe has also issued temporary Occupancy and Access Permits to non-Indians for the purpose of maintaining their hunting camps on 15,000 acres of Tribal wetlands. Plans are currently underway for additional commercial and agricultural development as well as community facilities and home sites.

Two Krome Avenue Reservations

There are two reservations located at the intersection of Krome Avenue and Tamiami Trail. The first reservation area is comprised of 25 acres located on the northwest corner of the intersection and is the site of the 56,000 square foot, state-of-the-art Miccosukee Indian Gaming Facility and Miccosukee Resort & Gaming.

The second reservation area is .92 acres located on the southwest corner of the intersection and is the site of the Miccosukee Tobacco Shop.

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POLICE DEPARTMENT

Serve and protect our people.

Miccosukee Police Department was established in 1976. Each Miccosukee Police officer, upon completing all of the State of Florida Law Enforcement Officer certification requirements, is commissioned as a United States Dept. of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Special Deputy Officer. This commission allows the police officer to enforce all of the U.S. Title 18 crimes on the Indian Reservation.

Each Miccosukee police officer is also commissioned by the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. All of these commissions allow the police officer to make federal arrests, within the jurisdiction of the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida.

Locations

Miami-Dade County
Main Station - Miccosukee Indian Reservation, Tamiami Trail (SR-90) and approximately 20 miles west of Krome Avenue (SR-997)

Krome Substation - Miccosukee Resort & Gaming


500 SW 177 Ave, Miami,
FL 33194

Broward County
Alley Substation - Miccosukee Indian Reservation, I-75 exit 49

Specialized Units

Color Guard

The Color Guard team consists of 5-6 members (2 flag bearers, 2 riflemen and a commander) who perform drill exhibitions or serve as escorts on ceremonial occasions such as memorials and funerals.

Wildlife

Staff of the Miccosukee Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement Unit is comprised of highly trained police officers with specialized skills in resource conservation. Utilizing airboats, helicopters and ATVs, the officers patrol nearly 300,000 acres of Tribal lands in six different counties to enforce federal, state, and tribal hunting and fishing laws.

Dive Team

Miccosukee Dive Team serves the police department and the community by conducting rescue operations and searching the waterways within the Tribe’s jurisdiction to recover vehicles, weapons, persons, and criminal evidence.

K-9 Unit

Police dogs are often referred to as "K-9s", derived from the word “canine.” Utilizing highly trained police dogs, the Miccosukee Police Department is able to uncover criminal activity including evidence leading to arrests.

C.S.I. Unit

Crime Scene Investigations Unit provides crime scene processing through the collection of physical evidence through photography, physical crime scene search, recovery of latent fingerprints, and the collection of physical evidence.

G.I.U.

Detectives assigned to the General Investigations Unit (GIU) are responsible for investigating a variety of criminal activity. The division's core objectives are to identify crime, solve criminal cases, and obtain convictions thereby enhancing the quality of life for the community, visitors, and the transient population traveling through the Tribe’s jurisdiction.

SWAT Team

A SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team is an elite paramilitary tactical unit that is trained to perform high-risk operations that fall outside of the abilities and/or capabilities of the standard officer. The main goal of the SWAT Team is to provide protection and safety for the community it serves and to help reduce the possibility of injuries or death at high-risk incidents.

School Resources Officer

Programs under the supervision of this police officer, typically focus their functions on the "Triad Model" consisting of law enforcement, student counseling, and law-related education. The working relationship between the School Resources Officer and school-law enforcement relationships are the first line of prevention, with the primary goal of informing and educating teachers and students to reduce infractions of the law and arrests.

To contact the Miccosukee Police Department (non-emergency), please call 305.223.1600.

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ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

WEBSITE: PRESS RELEASE

Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida Does Not Endorse The Skyway Project

The proposed Skyway Project in Miami-Dade County identifies alterations to the Tamiami Trail, which would result in the creation of a 10.7 mile long elevated roadway, from the intersection of Krome Avenue and Tamiami Trail at Water Control Structure S-334 to Water Control Structure S-333.

With regard to this issue, the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida subscribes to the position of the United States Congress, which requires the completion of the Modified Water Deliveries Project (MWD), prior to embarking on the construction of any bridges. To this end, the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida neither supports the Skyway Project nor any other alternatives, which propose the construction of bridges on the Tamiami Trail, prior to the completion of MWD.

The Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida is extremely concerned about the adverse impact of the proposed Skyway Project. The consequences include, but are not limited to, the following:

(1) Delay in the restoration of the Everglades. According to a report produced by the Office of Inspector General, for each year of delay, the Tribal Everglades in WCA 3A is losing 8.4 tree islands or approximately 246 acres. This area is the critical habitat of the endangered Snail Kite.

(2) Invasion of the privacy of the Tribal members and interference with their traditional practices and way of life.

(3) Potential to destroy two traditional Indian Camps, through flooding.

(4) Negative economic impact on businesses, which are located along the Tamiami Trail, inclusive of Tribal businesses.

(5) Modifying of the Tamiami Trail, which has been identified as a historic, cultural resource.

To address the issue of water flow through the Tamiami Trail, the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida advocates a reasonable and financially prudent approach, which commences with the clearing, enlarging, and if necessary, constructing of additional culverts to increase water flow to a practicable extent through the Tamiami Trail. To achieve this, MDW must be completed.

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