Continuing on our tour of Florida, we left the Keys behind us and headed left up the western coast of the state. The land is flat and wet and for the most part marshland, the perfect habitat for crocodiles. There is also an Indian tribe in residence called the Miccosukee. We were to meet the most respected and famous tribal leader Buffalo Tiger.
For me this was a true honour and one of the highlights of my trip. My dad had told me many tales of his time with the American Indians whom he had spent time with in the US. Those moments were my dad’s spiritual highlights of his life and they comforted him tremendously when he went through the darker periods that would hit him later on in life.
Buffalo Tiger was born in 1920, he lived in a ‘chickee’ with his parents. He has had an amazing life and achieved so much it’s worth a read up here in Wikipedia but the part I am going to tell you about today is the business he developed Buffalo Tiger Airboat Tours
We drove all the way from Key West to the Everglades Florida with one short break and we arrived at a wooden barn like structure on the roadside. There was a short pier and two airboats waiting for us. Buffalo Tiger, although 87, was still working the rides of which he took great pride.
Once all onboard he set off slowly and as we passed the trails cut out of the long grass he pointed out various plants and told us there names. He gave us an overview of the history of his land and his tribe. He talked with much love and passion about how he had fought hard to retain this land.
He took us into thick crocodile terrain and we watched mesmerised as they came right up to the boat spying us lazily from their position. People were standing to take photos and the airboat was swaying lightly under the movement, everyone was happy to be up close with the crocs but respectful of their strength and fearful of what could happen.
We were taken a bit further into the thick of the Everglades and Buffalo Tiger showed us the sacred island on which his tribe celebrated many rituals together, for a moment I wished we could go and visit up close this special area but it wasn’t to be, rightfully so.
Plus it could have been a bit of a nightmare with no visible pier and the crocs keeping a sly eye on us.
Once back at the start we were chaperoned into the barn where Buffalo Tiger’s much younger wife awaited us with plenty of handmade crafts to buy for souvenirs. I bought Buffalo Tiger’s book to bring back home with me as I wanted to find out more about this remarkable man.
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