Miccosukee Mythology: Feel the Spirit of the Everglades
When staring into the expansive swamp and endless sky of the Florida Everglades, it’s easy to feel in touch with nature and the people who have built their lives in the area for thousands of years. The Miccosukee Tribe, a branch of the Lower Creek/ Seminole Tribe, is one of the most prominent tribes in the history of the Everglades. They feel a strong connection to the land and believe in many ancient myths that have been carried down for thousands of years across many generations.
Most Miccosukee myths and legends center around the natural world and local wildlife. Tales about the Milky Way being used as a pathway for the fallen, a Florida Panther acting as a favored companion to ‘The Creator” and more tales about Alligators than we can count!
The tale of The Alligator and The Eagle is the perfect example of how Native Americans used folklore to explain the happenings of the world around them. According to the legend, when the world first began, animals were able to talk to each other. One day, the birds had arranged to play ball and took turns throwing the ball. A nearby jealous alligator, upset because he wasn’t invited to play, used magic to hold the ball thrown by a large bird in the air. After a period of time, the birds began fluttering around the alligator asking him to release the ball. An eagle took note of what was going on and flew down and pinched the alligator with his talons. The alligator’s concentration was broken and his mouth flew open and hissed “Ah-ah-ah!” at the eagle. According to the legend, this is why alligators make the exact same noise, even in current times, when they are surprised.
It was not uncommon for tribes to use myths to explain the everyday happenings of their lives. Living in such a beautiful and awe-inspiring place was sure to provide local tribes with plenty of inspiration that they were able to use to praise and worship the lands that provided for them.