Words like Tallahassee, Okeechobee, Coacoohee, Cohedgo and Amathla are all from America’s Seminole Indian tradition. Some are the names of their proud warriors in history. In the annals of the Native Indian, pre-colonial America, the Seminoles were the indigenous tribe from the southern region, of what came to be called, Florida. They are important to Bahamian history. A group of Seminole Indians, settled in Andros, around 1821, influencing island history, for almost two hundred years. By the 1970s, remnants of their physical influences, as far as living descendants and sui generis architectural inspirations, were all but gone. Today however, exactly two hundred years after the first group of Seminoles landed in The Bahamas, something unique, may still remain.
Two Hundred Years (1821-2021) since the Seminoles landed in The Bahamas, something important still remains
The Bahamas is still the caretaker of the Seminole oral tradition of folklore and storytelling, introduced into Andros, way back in the early 1800s. What remains, for a modern Bahamas, is a rich history of folklore and superstitions. This invariably could be expanded on, through careful artistic consideration and expression, providing a new, reimagined volume, in the amazing, diverse history of the islands.
Modern interpretation of the mythical Chickcharney which originated during the time of the Seminole Indians in Andros
MONETISING ON HISTORY
As a way of monetising on its long, varied history, the modern Bahamas, has made innumerable efforts to capitalise on the traditions of its past inhabitants. These have been met with varying degrees of success. Of its pre-Columbus inhabitants, of over a thousand years, the Lucayan Indians, save for the use of a name or two, and the creation of a now defunct Columbus Day to attract tourists, little of this lost civilisation has been used, in a meaningful way, in the present day.
There were many attempts at connecting with Bahamas pirate history at the local level. Fashioned mostly after the notable Blackbeard, there were rums named after him, shops and taverns, books and pirate costumes incorporated at events.
In the years leading up to Majority Rule in January 1967, there were attempts at connecting with African history. These have largely fallen by the wayside as minority-led political dominance yielded to a majority-led liberal progressivism.
Bahamian-British history is enshrined in its legal and constitutional systems, as well as, in a number of architectural embodiments such as the forts and Queen’s Staircase. Monetising on the tourism aspect of visiting and telling the history of these incredible spaces has long been an important source of local entrepreneurial imagination, income and employment.
Bahamian-British history has been monetised into everything from collectable stamps to postcards to coinage to books and local tours.
Since 1967, Junkanoo, the annual street festival, remains the most successful endeavour at monetising Bahamian folklore and mythology. It’s origins have long been a hotly debated source of contention. There is compelling historical evidence however that Junkanoo’s roots are from African ritual observance traditions. It came to the Bahamas, by way of Jamaica, during the era of slavery.
LITTLE ATTEMPT TO MONETISE ON THE RICH HISTORY OF ANDROS FOLKLORE
In the early to mid 1900s, Androsians were keen to keep alive the folklore and mythology so unique to this island. In fact, in the 1954, you could rent a ghost for $23.
Much like the Lucayan Indian civilisation, the Seminole Indian habitation, remains a unique historical moment in history that The Bahamas has largely overlooked, as a rich, untapped source with which to expand and capitalise on the past.
Legend has it that if you meet a Yahoo in the bush, you must give the three finger hand signal, so that he knows to let you pass.