EGMONT KEY – A re-enactment of the Seminole Indians’ “Trail of Tears” is planned Nov. 3-4, starting from Egmont Key.
James Billie, chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, is organizing the event and seeks all descendants of Polly Parker – the lone member of the tribe to escape the forced relocation – to join in the two-day event.
In 1858, the U.S. Army incarcerated the tribe on Egmont Key before they were transported to Oklahoma. On the first leg of the trip, the Seminoles were taken by the steamer Grey Cloud from Egmont Key to refuel at St. Marks in the Florida panhandle, on the way to the Mississippi River. From there, the “Trail of Tears” took the Indians westward to Oklahoma where they were resettled.
Parker escaped during the stop in St. Marks, evaded a search party and walked only at night. She trekked nearly 400 miles back to the Lake Okeechobee area, where she stayed in a remote camp, living beyond 100 years.
“I would like to recreate that voyage from Egmont to St. Mark’s, so her family can better understand what their ancestor went through to keep her freedom,” said Billie.
“A large number of the great leaders and thinkers of the Seminole Tribe have come from her family,” he said. “I can’t imagine what the Seminole Tribe of Florida would be today if she had been killed or sent out to Oklahoma.”
The Florida Fisherman, a 72-foot air-conditioned, double-decker catamaran licensed for 95 passengers and operated by Capt. Mark Hubbard of Madeira Beach, will leave with the group after a special bon voyage party at 3 p.m. on Sunday Nov. 3.
The boat will arrive at St. Mark’s around noon on Monday, Nov. 4 for a special welcome party. Buses will transport guests back to their homes, after staying overnight in Tallahassee and a visit to the state’s Museum of Florida History.
All descendants of Parker are encouraged to contact Brighton Cultural Education Director Lorene Gopher at 863-763-7501, ext. 14607 or Yvonne Roux at ext. 14605.
The event will take place in conjunction with the Egmont Key Alliance’s annual Discover The Island event Nov. 2-3.