Some readers of Shreds and Patches know that I just lost my father KBJ (1935-2020). Others know that I am presently returning to my studies of craft from the Native South after the conclusion of my Directorship (2013-2019) of the Mathers Museum of World Cultures. With my father on my mind and in a time in which my family has been spending a lot of time looking at old family photographs, my father’s life and influence on me can be linked to my renewed studies.
While I was still in grade school (6th grade maybe?), my father brought me to the section of the Miccosukee Reservation on the Tamiami Trail west of Miami. We went at the time of the event presently called the Miccosukee Indian Arts and Crafts Festival. I recall watching a visiting Kevin Locke (Lakota) hoop dancing and seeing a lot of patchwork and other Seminole/Miccosukee crafts. In those days a would-be patchwork jacket buyer could sort through hundreds of off-the-rack examples. I recall eating sofkee for the first time–out of a paper cup from a food stand.
I do not know if he began collecting Seminole dolls on that visit or not, but in the years since that period, his collection grew and grew. After his collection was damaged in a house fire, he started again. A part of his second collection is shown below.
In taking me to Seminole/Miccosukee country, my dad was repeating an experience of his own youth. As shown in the other picture I share below, my dad was taken to a Seminole tourist camp when he was little. I do not know specifically where he was taken (by my step grandmother?), but this would have been in the Musa Isle era.
When I think about the path that my own life has taken, I think about how my father played a major role in leading me to the trailhead from which I departed. His own journey was remarkable and I am grateful beyond measure for the life course that he set me upon.