Florida Native Rhythms Festival

Last weekend, we took a little trip down to Melbourne, Florida for the Eighth Annual Native Rhythms Festival sponsored by the Indian River Flute Circle and Native Heritage Gathering, Inc. It was set in Wickham Park, a lovely little wooded park in the midst of an enchanted forest, or so it seemed with the trills of the flutists wafting along on the breezes.

There was something magical about hearing Native Americans playing their tunes that most learned from their forefathers, legendary music passed down through generations, while wandering between the ancient live oaks that flanked the tall pine forest. It set me back in time.


While we were there we browsed the vendors and came across a very kind lady who hand makes drums with different animal skins stretched across the raw hide frames…buffalo hide, deer, and elk. Each drum has its own pitch and tone, depending upon the thickness of the animal skin. Drum circles are popular events around here, especially on the beaches. I wanted one, but I also wanted a new Keurig, and coffee won that battle.


Artists and craftsmen/women had their works displayed throughout the park and the vendors were very friendly, taking the time to teach people about their crafts. I tried to learn how to play a flute. I need a lot of work, but it was fun trying. No trading with beads and shells here, but they take VISA and MasterCard.


But, by far, the coolest exhibit was a real teepee.


The teepee was fashioned from dyed and painted animal hides braced on poles. We hesitated to go inside the tiny doorway, but the gentleman standing by the door told us it was not something we wanted to miss, so we went inside.


He was right. It was stunning, and much larger inside than it appeared from the outside. There were two cots, one on either side, and a large living space adorned with trophy furs and blankets.

The costumes were beautiful and colorful with leather, seed beads and bone. Don’t see too many feathered headdresses with the Florida native attire.


There is a short clip of some of the sort of flute and drum music we heard playing. The weather was perfect and it was a nice day out. omanyteBTW, the park is an Omanyte nest right now for all you Pokemon Go players. That’s a very rare and ancient fossilized snail.

24 thoughts on “Florida Native Rhythms Festival

        1. Seminole.
          Ais & Apalachee.
          Timucua & Yemassee.
          The Seminole are not one tribe, but a conglomerate of other tribes that came together about the time the settlers were moving the tribes out west and consigning them to reservations. Seminole history begins with bands of Creek Indians from Georgia and Alabama who migrated to Florida in the 1700s. Conflicts with Europeans and other tribes caused them to seek new lands to live in peace.The Seminoles of Florida call themselves the “Unconquered People,” descendants of just 300 Indians who managed to elude capture by the U.S. army in the 19th century.

          Today, more than 2,000 live on six reservations in the state – located in Hollywood, Big Cypress, Brighton, Immokalee, Ft. Pierce, and Tampa…and about 4000 live in Florida off the reservations. In addition to Creeks, Seminoles included Yuchis, Yamasses and a few aboriginal remnants. The population also increased with runaway slaves who found refuge among the Indians.They are the only tribe in the U.S. that refused to sign the Peace Treaty…they say they never have and never will and have strong convictions that the lands should remain undeveloped. They’ve actually hooked up with the local ranchers “Cracker Cowboys” in an effort to stop encroachment by developers.

            1. The Native Americans down here are a very proud people, but there is some racism among them. The tribe encourages Native Americans to only marry Native Americnas. There are a few reasons among the Seminole. They want to keep their culture alive. They also get a tremendous paycheck from the gambling Casinos based on their heritage and their offspring gets it as well, provided they are 25% Native American. Families will start losing that income if and when the tribe is diluted. It’s already maximized in the hands of a few and their children. (About 400) They became instant millionaires…we’re not talking chump change here. At age 21 they begin receiving a huge allotment…and, unfortunately, many aren’t ready for that.

                1. Florida only from what I gather. Contracts made with the FL government. There is dissent among the locals. Many want the monies diverted to the reservations for group benefit and usage rather than individuals. But the Elders, in control, say the Government dictated the terms and they can’t do that.

        1. One of my dogs can jump pretty high. The lady made bags for them that you can sling over your shoulder that carries the drum and stick. I could always put it on a hanger in the closet, but they’re just so pretty.

    1. It was the most relaxing day trip we’ve had in a while. I came away with only a couple of sage sticks, so I did real good not to spend on this one. It was more a spiritual experience than any music/arts and crafts fair I have been to.

    1. Indigenous people of every country should be recognized. I know countries and continents have been conquered for as long as mankind has developed borders, but I hate to see cultures lost into modern societies. What we have learned recently about even the most ancient of cultures is fascinating and proves they were much less “barbaric” than Europeans would like for the world to believe.

  1. I finished your book!! Woohoo! I loved it. Gonna post a very brief review, but not for about 9 days yet. Then I’ll put it on Amazon and Goodreads.
    By the way, not sure I wrote about your post here, but it looks like a fabulous experience.

  2. That music is so beautiful! I bet it seems so otherworldly listening to it out in the forest. I never knew teepees were so big or so brightly painted. 😊

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