ContentsSecond Annual Ravine
2015 Writing Contest
2014 Ravine Judges
The Great Storm
Confederates and Federals
The Cypress Forest
The Cattle Drive
The Indian Warning
From Child to Chief: A Story of a Seminole Boy
The Hurricane of 1928
Life on The Everglades
A Tale of Two Brothers
The Way It Used To Be
Second Annual Ravine
The stories included in this collection are the result of the second annual 2014 Azalea Ravine writing contest, in collaboration with the Florida Azalea Festival. This year, we are highlighting the work of local students.
This year’s challenge was to write a fiction story about the people, history and beauty of Florida with a limit of five hundred words. Prizes were awarded for first, second and third place.
We are publishing all of our entries this year, to showcase the talent of our local kids! For privacy, only first names and initials are used.
2015 Writing ContestRead (Think) Books will offer the Azalea Ravine writing contest again in 2015. We will announce the writing contest format and subject in the fall on our website, Facebook page and by email. If you want to be on our email list, send us your email address to email@example.com.
2014 Ravine JudgesKristin Pegler
Mary K Swanson
by Justin A.As the bullet ripped through his calf, like the pain of a thousand stinging nettles attacking his leg, his thoughts were of his wife and children, unaware he was getting mutilated in battle. More men dropped beside him, biting the dirt hard.
It was the battle later to be known as the Battle of Olustee. He was wearing the common Confederate grayish-blue clothing, now stained dark red. Mark was confident they would achieve victory in this ‘exchanging of lead,’ as he called it. But without casualties, what is war? Mark and a few others were in the wrong place at the wrong time, although his other mates were starting to come out on top of the Union invaders.
His vision began to turn blurry as the yells and shouts of soldiers blended into one constant drone of noise. As another sharp pain entered his right shoulder, his thoughts circulated from his family, to his Florida cracker home, from his fellow soldiers, to hunting with Pat, and back again to his family. Mark clenched his teeth and shut his eyes, trying only to think about his family and not the blistering pain. The last thing he heard before slipping into unconsciousness was the distant boom of cannons, signaling victory.
One week earlier...
“Steady, now… steady”, Mark told his twelve year old son, Pat, as he aimed the Winchester. Bang!
The birds in the custard apple trees and the palms flapped away as fast as they could. Pat flew back about three feet, but the wild hog in front of the gun was the worst for wear, laying crumpled in a heap.
“Got ‘em Pa!” Pat told his father excitedly.
Hunting was Pat’s pastime since they moved to Florida. Pat began to drag his prize back to their homestead. They soon arrived, where Pat’s little sister Maggie ran up them, screaming “You got a pig!”
Clair, Mark’s wife, went up and kissed Pat on the cheek.
“Oh, my little boy is all grown up!”
While Pat began to blush as his mother smothered him with hugs and kisses, Mark went inside to prepare the pig.
Their home was sheltered beneath mighty cabbage-palm trees, providing shade. The sun’s rays shone through the trees as though they were pretending to be stars, peeking in and out of view between the forest greenery.
About an hour later, Mark heard Clair arguing with somebody outside, although only caught bits of sentences, like his wife saying “Yes, but we don’t live where no war is,” and “Sorry, ma’am, But I have orders, and my orders are to collect as many soldiers as possible.”
Mark came out, only to be grabbed by a man in his late thirties, saying “Son, you been called to arms.”
* * *
So there he was, lying in the dirt, staring up at a glistening oak as men wrapped bandages around his gunshot wounds.
His wife and kids stood over him, and then he suddenly knew everything would eventually be all right.
The Great Storm
by Jade C.Deep down in the custard apple trees, I could see beams of shimmering light coming down from the forest ceiling.
As I was starting my way back to the village, I heard a rustling noise in the brush. I looked over to see the biggest, most broadest deer I had ever seen, and I knew that it would provide enough food for the Seminole village. I swiftly drew an arrow to my bow. I pulled back and released, watching as the deer dropped dead.
I had to go back to the village to get help from my friend with the deer, due to its size. As I made my way thew the tangled vines back to the village I saw deep dark clouds coming into view. Many Indians were scrambling about, trying to make for better cover.
My little sister Mimi spotted me, ran towards me, and told me about the news.
“Tallon, Tallon! The Chief says that a great big storm is coming our way and it is to late to move to a new location. All we have is hope.” Tears were rolling down her face as she spoke.
I told her gently, “We have strong souls and we will do what we can to survive.”
The first flash of lightning was followed by roaring thunder. The sky was black and dark–rain hitting hard, stinging the flesh, and winds making the trees sway fiercely back and forth.
After a few minutes rain was half way to my knee, my parents and my sister Mimi were huddled together. We watched as the gardens were being destroyed, chickees torn from the ground and soaked in the water.
Soon the brown murky water was up to my waist and nearly to my sister’s chest. My sister hopped on my back and we all started to swim trying to make for a tree. The rain pounded against my face as we fought brutally against the clashing high winds.
My father climbed on first, helping my mother on, then me and my sister. My father held my mother tight to him, bracing himself to the tree. I held my sister as tight as I could but it seemed like something else was pulling her twice as big as me. Mimi screamed and cried as the winds ripped her from my arms tumbling down to the rushing waters below.
I yelled as hard as I could, “Mimi, no!!” I wanted to do something but I couldn’t. Even if I tried to save her, I would die myself.
Trembling, I looked back toward where my parents were and tried to make my way to them. But it was too late. The wind pulled me down into the water. The last thing I remember was my mother screaming and the murky water that covered and drowned me.
Confederates and Federals
by Austin U.All of a sudden a blast shook the ceiling! I heard feet shuffling down the stairs and Lieutenant Maxwell rushed through the door screaming “The Federals they’re here, they’re here.” The Lieutenant ordered the soldiers to grab their rifles and ammo and head out onto the battlements.
When I got outside it was a terrifying sight, thousands of Federals marched along the rails that ran beside the fort and I wondered how we would fend them off a second time when we barely survived the first time. I loaded my rifle and ordered the men to load the cannons while I lined up a shot with my rifle, I spied an enemy cannon team and shot the first right between the eyes and downed the second and third quickly after.
After 5 hard hours of sniping and sword cutting, the Federals retreated back the way they came, probably back towards Jacksonville (one of the cities that the Federals captured) where they will probably train more troops and come again. Lieutenant Maxwell ordered the some of the soldiers to go gather supplies from the nearby towns.
I decided that I would go alone on the long 40 mile journey to Saint Augustine where I and the four other Generals would convene to discuss matters of the war’s strategy that would push the Federals back at least out of Florida so we could take the fight to the whole country instead of just a small state.
A few hours later......
I ran through the forest looking for signs of civilization then all of a sudden I stumbled over a root and suddenly everything went black. When I woke up I looked around and finally saw signs of civilization. I let go a sigh of relief because I was just about to run out of water and food supplies.
After I gathered some supplies from the local general store I headed up to the fort on the hill where I and the rest of the Generals would convene to discuss plans for the war. I tramped up the hill towards the fort where I would meet with the other generals. When I got up to the ancient wooden doors I spotted the two guards standing to attention at their post. I nodded to them and they opened the ancient wooden doors.
I walked down the brick corridor and headed towards the meeting room. When I entered the meeting room I was utterly surprised to find no one there except for General Grant who sat in a corner reading what looked to be a new newspaper.
After five hours of waiting the door opened and first came General Torah than Walt and last our more inexperienced of the bunch, General Jake. Finally, after six long hours of discussing and strategizing we finally came to a consensus. We would pull every soldier, every man to form five hundred thousand troops to march and beat the Federals back out of Florida.
The Cypress Forest
by Sarah G.The day was sunny, and bright. Marcella decided to venture down into forests near the Suwanee river. She packed her saddle bag and rode off with her horse, Linga. She ventured out about a mile towards the forest.
She came across a little clearing into the forest, calling her to come in and enjoy the wildlife. She and Linga trotted a little ways through the trees and cypress stands, when she could just make out faces through the trees. There was a woman, man, and a boy around her age. They were Indians. She slowly slithered toward them not trying to startle them.
By nightfall, Marcella had met the family and heard their story. They were lost, they couldn’t find their tribe, nor their village. They had no food, but they weren’t worried. Since they were Indians, they relied on nature, and Florida’s wildlife. Marcella found this peculiar. She should be headed home but she couldn’t leave these people alone.
“Why don’t you go on home,” the mother Lila said, “We will be fine.” I knew that I should but I couldn’t.
I said, “How ‘bout I leave at sunrise?”
“That is fine,” said Lila.
The next day I decided to stay. “ Let’s go fishing. ” I said to Teeli, the son.
“I’ll go.” Teeli said. When we got to the river we stayed all day. Watching the fish jump high over the water and then plunge down again. Enjoying the wildlife.
“Every time I’ve been with my Dad I never noticed how amazing this place is,” I said to Teeli.
“This is what my mother was talking about. We’ve lived so long because of Florida. We’ve survived almost off of nothing all these years and still do.” Teeli said.
“I’ve always had home cooked meals from my momma. I guess I’ve never appreciated what I have, and never actually got out and took in the air that was always around me.” Marcella announced.
After returning home, I think about Teeli and his family being able to live in one patch of trees.
* * *
Ever since that day in the woods, I’ve never been the same. The cypress forest is very helpful. Many animals and a lot of food sources. Florida provides so much just within a little patch of trees.
by Ethan G.I scurried down the tree and ran through the Florida scrub to our cabin for supper. After supper my Pa told me to go fetch a deer. After supper I grabbed my Pa’s old double barrel ten gauge shotgun. After scouting out a spot for hunting I sat down and waited.
Listening to he Carolina Parakeets sing in the trees, I slowly drifted asleep.
BANG! BANG! I woke up to the sound of gunshots. Suddenly, I felt a strong sting in my leg like I got bit by a rattler. When I looked down I saw my jean leg turned dark in color from the blood coming from the bullet wound. Then a cold hand slapped over my face.
I tried punching and thrashing, but there was nothing I could do. The last thing I felt was a blow to the head.
I woke up in the middle of a old barn, tied to the wall. My leg was stiff and caked in blood. My head throbbed. Then a big man came into the barn leading a herd of cows. The herd had hundreds of different brands. I even recognized some of our brands on the cows. The bushwhackers made me their slave. They made me tend to the stolen cows and their horses. They had me for about two weeks. Then, one night I made an escape plan.
Since I had been at the camp for a while I got to know my surroundings. I figured that the area that I was in was right around lake Okeechobee. My family and I had come to be very great friends with the Seminoles that live in the apple custard forest that surrounded the area. I knew that if I could sneak off into the night I could sneak to the village. That night I slowly crept through the barn toward the door. I snuck out and mounted on one of the horses. I kicked the ribs of the horse and sped off toward the village.
When I came into the village I met up with the Chief. I told him of my situation and asked him if he could help me return home.
The Chief told me, “Take one of the marshtakies, they are the best horses there is, it should help you get home quick and safe.”
I picked a horse that looked like the best one and saddled it up. I left the village early the next morning. I rode swiftly non-stop for a day. That night I set up camp and made a fire and ate some dried jerky that the Seminoles gave to me for the trip.
I came into the clearing of the scrub that afternoon and saw a devastating sight.
The house was burned down and everything was destroyed. My family was gone. I wondered, “What do I do now?”
The Cattle Drive
by Angel A.“Get them cows out of here!” cried Louie from the cow pen.
Harris had been working at MM farm in Florida every summer after school because he loved working with cows and animals. It was in the year of 1888.
When Harris went back to the pen, he noticed Louie was holding a rope. “I need you to tie this rope around the cows neck so we can brand him,” said Louie.
Every cow they branded was put in a different pen. When they had enough they would drive them and sell them for gold doubloons.
It was the end of the day and Harris needed to get some rest.
Up the next morning, Harris went to MM farm and he noticed Louie had two horses, a shotgun, and canned food.
“Today we are going on a cattle drive,” Louie said excitedly. Harris was excited to go on his first cattle drive. They got on the horses and rode off.
They had been riding for no more than three hours when they heard a gun shot and one of the cows dropped dead. Louie got his shotgun out and an old guy came out. Louie jumped off of his horse, loaded his shotgun and aimed.
Then the old guy shouted “Don’t shoot, I was in the war.”
But Louie ignored his words and pulled the trigger. The man fell to the ground and Louie and Harris kept on riding. They had spent the night under a palmetto tree and it was very early in the morning when they got on their horses and drove off.
After about an hour and a half hour they arrived to this town called Punta Rassa.
Louie man walked into a dull brown building. A bearded man came out and gave Louie a sack filled with gold coins. Louie gave Harris his share for helping him.
Harris and Louie felt hungry after a while so they went in the cafe’ and grabbed something to eat. Harris ordered fried chicken and fries with some coffee. Louie ordered scrambled eggs with bacon and a cup of coffee.
After they ate Louie and Harris got on their horses and rode off. They decided to ride in the night so they kept going until they arrived at MM farm by early dawn.
That night Harris went down to MM farm and sat down next to the cow pen and thought about his memories about the past about all the fun he had in MM farm and he also was thinking about the future with Louie. After thinking for a while he got up and walked home waiting for his next adventure with Louie.
The Indian Warning
by Trevor S.Whoosh. I heard the sound of an arrow gliding past my ear. I ran, knowing that at any moment I could die. So here I am, lying on my bed, telling the story of how I got shot by an Indian while I was enjoying the Kissimmee hammock.
It started with me, Tommy Cyrus, going to my cabin. Earlier I had been enjoying the hammock and thought I would go fishing. I caught a big catfish and off I went exploring on my way home. While I was going home, I came upon a fat pygmy rattler.
While I was trying to shinny by, the snake struck fast as lightning, but for me luckily, he missed. So I went on acting like nothing had happened and I stumbled upon a big white tail buck. As I whipped my bow around, a noise startled me. I looked around. On my search for the animal or Indian, I found nothing.
I went on wondering what I had heard. I walked on to check my traps and snares. In one snare I had caught a rabbit. The other held a squirrel. As I went on to my last trap, I noticed that it was not in the spot where I had put it. Instead it had been moved.
Inside the trap, written on a piece of bark was a warning. It had said, “Foolish white man, do not cross the river. For if you do, you will not see the next day’s light.
Come across and you’ll never walk back.” Aware of the warning, I still did not think about what would happen if I crossed. So I went ahead and crossed the icy river.
I was on the other side of the river, wondering what might come next and as I walked ahead I heard a rustling noise coming out of the bushes. As I went on to the clump of bushes I found nothing then I felt a tingling pain in the back of my head and I blacked out.
When I came awake I found myself tied to custard apple tree. With much effort, I tried to reach my flint knife. But it was no use because I couldn’t reach. I was bound too tightly to the tree.
An Indian looking about my age walked up to me and said, “You foolish white man, I said do not cross the river or we will kill you.”
Then I thought if I ask to go to the bathroom, I could escape. So I did and they said yes. I walked quietly away and as I did so and an Indian followed behind me. I did not know that someone was following me so I waded across the icy river and ran for home. As I did, an arrow came out of the black night and embedded in my back. I managed to make it to my house but it was too late–I went unconscious.
by Sunny M.The smell of the beautiful flowers. The wonderful singing of the birds. The clear blue sky with the puffy white clouds. I don’t like it. It makes me sick. The only sight I am pleased with is the sight of blood. My name is Johnny Puckerman. I live in the Ten-Thousand Islands. I’ve been a bushwhacker since I was fifteen years old. Now I am thirty-two.
I am walking through the woods looking for our next target. In the distance I can hear cows. Their deep moos are over powering the singing birds. Jackpot I think. So I keep walking through the woods till I think I am close enough. Then I bend down low into the bushes. I see a pen of five cows right at the tip of my nose.
I ran back to camp as faster than possible and headed the leader, Michel Brown, to report my find.
“I found some cows at the edge of the woods Master brown,” I said.
“Good. I have been waiting on you to come back,” answered Master Brown.
“There are no houses around so this should be an easy task,” I replied “I want you to lead a group of amateurs to the cows. And make sure they all come back alive. Even you!” he said in a serious voice.
And so I tried, but me saying this would be easy. Boy was I wrong! Only one person came back a live and I am telling you from my prospective before I went on to the heavenly place I went to.
And so here we begin we are going through the woods. I brought five kids with me. There names are Bronco, Gator, Knives, Diaper, and Puny We are almost there when I hear the crack of a whip. This was totally the wrong day to come because the farmers are out there.
I was guessing we would wait till dark. That is when I figured out why they are called amateurs. Diaper just barged out of the bushes running straight towards the ranchers. That was dumb I thought. But I wasn’t thinking. I have to do something fast.
Too late. He was already three quarters of the way there. Even if I could catch up to him it would only put me and the other kids in danger. So I just let him run. Next thing I heard was a gun shot. I couldn’t look. I heard screaming and yelling. Diaper was alive!
So I came out of the bushes. I shouldn’t have done that. There were seven men there waiting for me. By now I thought that all of the kids would have fled but they stuck with me. Their gun scopes leveled perfectly with their eyes. They all shot. They hit the ranchers. Bulls eye!
One more shot. The last thing I heard was the pop of my gun as I pulled the trigger.
From Child to Chief: A Story of a Seminole Boy
by Philip M.Little Wolf was fighting the bushwhackers, when “BOOM!” His father was shot by a Winchester rifle in the chest. As Little Wolf watched his father die, Flying eagle gave Little Wolf the biggest honor ever. Little Wolf started to remember the times they shared.
On one summer day the chief of the Seminole tribe, Flying Eagle and his wife Jumping Frog had a son and named him little wolf. The tribe had a celebration in honor of Little Wolf’s birth. They had a hog, some corn, and koontie bread. A couple years later Little Wolf learned how to ride a horse, throw a spear and shoot a bow and arrow.
Once, Little Wolf went fishing with his father and shot a 12 pound bass with a bow and arrow.
One day he met a bushwhackers son. Bo Duke was his name. They were friends from the start. The good thing is, their parents never met. They were hunting and they shot a 20 point buck with an bow and arrow. Then Bo heard his dad, the leader of the bushwhackers, call and Bo ran as fast as he could so their parents did not meet.
Bo’s dad saw him come out of the Indian village and said to his son, “If you ever see an Seminole I want you to kill it.’’
Later that day Bo’s dad went into the village when everybody was sleeping and kidnapped Little Wolf. Flying Eagle heard the scream of his son and grabbed a spear and the war began.
All of the Indians and bushwhackers came out and started fighting. Bo’s dad was running to their camp then he spotted a horse. He jumped on the horse and galloped away as fast as he could. Suddenly Little Wolf remembered something his father taught him. He untied the cloth around his mouth and whistled. The horse stopped right then and there. The bushwhacker flew of the horse and was knocked out when his head hit a cypress knee. Little Wolf jumped up and rode the horse back to the village.
When he arrived, there was dead bodies every were. He found a chickee with his father and most of the tribe. Flying Eagle stood and walked over to his son, when all of a sudden BAM, Flying Eagle was shot by a Winchester rifle in the chest. Little Wolf turned around and he was stunned. It was Bo. One off the warriors threw a spear to scare the boy away. As Little Wolf watched his father die, Flying Eagle bestowed the highest honor he could ever get.
Little Wolf was now the Seminole Chief. He led the Seminoles to a new land called the River of Grass. He did not allow the tribe to cut or kill unless necessary. He became the most trustworthy and reliable Chief in history because he never let go of the old Seminole ways.
by Olivia H.THWACK!
The deer limped forward and collapsed, dead on the ground. Butterflies formed in my stomach, I dragged the deer back to Miccosukee Indian Reservation. “They are going to be so excited!” I told myself, grinning from ear to ear.
* * *
“I can’t believe it,” said Father “ It’s enormous! I knew you were a good hunter, Navi!”
My thoughts raced in excitement as I skinned the deer, hoping Mother would make something out of it for me!
Mother walked out, looking beautiful as always. She walked with such grace I couldn’t help but stare in astonishment! Sometimes, Mother would tell me I am nothing but a mere spitting IMAGE of her.
GRACE? Not so much! I bump into everything and I am not quiet! When hunting with Father, I don’t watch where I am walking so I smack into trees, crunch on leaves, and scare away game!
“Oh Navi, I knew you were a great hunter! Shall I make something out of the hide for you?” Mother asked.
“Would you? Thank you so much, Mother!” I said, excited. She headed over to the next chickee, after I finished skinning the deer.
* * *
That night, Mother came to me. She gave me a traditional wraparound skirt and some moccasins. “After I made the wraparound skirt, I had enough left to make you some moccasins. Do you like them?” Mother asked. Yes! Thank you so much, Mother.” I said.
* * *
The next day, we had to go off the reservation to get supplies. I saw a little girl with long blonde hair, sorrowful blue eyes, and clothes made of rags. While Mother and Father went in to get supplies, I stayed behind and sat next to the little girl.
“I wish I had warmer clothes, after all I am nothing but and orphan!” the little girl said, her voice trembling. I looked down at my wraparound skirt, fluffy jacket, and moccasins. I was warm, yet she was so cold.
* * *
The next day, I went hunting and got a deer about the same size as mine.
“Mother, could you make me a wraparound skirt, moccasins, and nice warm jacket but, smaller please?” I asked Mother, hoping she wouldn’t ask why.
When I got there, I saw the girl. I walked up to her and said “ My name is Navi. I have something for you!”
Her eyes lit up, “Really!?” she answered.
“Yes.” I gave the bag to her. She opened it and saw everything. I could tell she loved it.
“What’s your name?” I asked her.
“Okay, you are an orphan, right? Let’s go, you can live with me!” I replied.
“Thank you!” she said.
* * *
“Mother, this is Marie. She is an orphan. Can she live with us?” I asked.
“Of course!” Mother said.
“Thank you, I’ll try not to be bad!” Marie replied, giggling and hugging Mother.
The Hurricane of 1928
by Meonna N.I was running. Running from all this water. I needed to find them. I kept calling.
But they wouldn’t answer. “Mamma, and Papa!” It was 1928 and what used to be our Seminole village, was destroyed by the Great Hurricane. I haven’t found any of my family but I kept calling. Then suddenly I find my sister Red Jay outside of our chickee.
Inside, Mama and Papa were laying beside each other. I had a feeling something was wrong. They must have drowned in the storm. We said our goodbyes to them, then we left.
I went to go find some food for the two of us. For dinner, I hunted for two squirrels but it wont be enough to last. Now it was just Red Jay and me.
As we walked, all you could hear was our feet stepping onto the mushy grass. We walked until the sun went away, then we made a small camp by a big tree. We were sleeping when we heard it. Footsteps. Then we hear voices. We started to pack up and hide, but we were too late.
Two boys around our age were running from something. The two boys threw us in the bushes to hide from what was following them. There they were, a group of men that looked beat up and cruel. All we could see was bushwhackers running out of the trees calling what I think was the name of the two boys that threw us in the bushes.
When the bushwhackers left Red Jay and I asked enough questions to fill a hut.
All they told us was there names, Jack and Robin. Red Jay decided that right now they were the closest thing we have to living at this point. We also needed a place to stay.
When we got to the town the boys held their promise. We got a place to stay, but there still wasn’t much left of their town because of the hurricane. Most of the little houses were gone, but the ones that were standing, were in harsh condition. Though we often turned down meals from the family we were happy that we could eat. We would only took enough for a half of a meal. We learned how to not miss our family so much, and were thankful to have each other. The new family of the people that saved our lives where more than we could ask for. I don’t know how we could repay them, other then to help them build there town again.
We helped build houses again and clean up everywhere. We worked hard–long hours everyday and barely slept at night. When we were finished the town was beautiful again.
After helping the family, we knew the Seminole Way was for us, so we went back to the woods to make a new home for us.
Life on The Everglades
by Kylah M.Her mother smiled as she grew up. She was eight, and her younger brother was five. After she was born, her parents knew her name would be Kira Harmony. The whole Seminole village knew her name would fit well. Her brother’s name was Koda.
They loved to explore the vast wilderness.
As they walked to the lake, Kira pushed Koda into the muddy water and he didn’t come up. Kira rushed into the water, frantically searching for her brother. Suddenly, her foot slipped out from under her and she went down. She sank to the bottom and felt the sand beneath her. She attempted to open her eyes, but couldn’t. She tried to swim to the surface, but something held her down. She felt around, and then teeth gripped her leg. An alligator was holding her down. Seconds later, the gator swam away, leaving her behind.
Koda swam to the shore. He waited for Kira. He started to enter the lake, when he saw the water ripple. He saw a large mass of movement.
“Gator!” Koda screamed at the top of his lungs, and his mother came running toward him. They both saw Kira, bleeding. She would be fine with only a few wounds.
Their mother ran to get their father, and he came out with a long, bamboo pole. He poked the gator’s snout, and it swam into the lake.
Koda and his mother made their way to Kira. They helped her get up, and carried her to the village. They tried to hurry.
The Everglades continued to age just like Kira. She was fifteen now, and her brother was twelve. Another child was on the way, and Kira was excited to get to have another sibling. She thought they could spend time together. Her mother stayed at home, and her father hunted. Kira was expected to gather grains and fruits, but she was usually with her mother. Her brother helped her father hunt now, and after some time, he will be able to hunt on his own.
After the baby was born, Kira would cook, and Koda would hunt. Her father would devote all of his time to the baby, and her mother did too. Kira and Koda couldn’t wait until the baby girl could come with them. Kira wanted to take her on trips across the Everglades, and Koda wanted her to hunt.
Years passed, and Kira was twenty-seven, and Koda was twenty-four. They built two more huts near the lake. The huts were made with mostly bamboo poles and leaves.
The baby girl, whose name was Tasha Rain, was now fourteen years old. She traveled with Kira, and she loved her family. She looked up to Kira, and admired her most of all.
The family loved each other. They all knew they were going to have a very happy life.
by Dylan K.On the reservation lived a Indian named Mack Hawk Eye. He was on his way back to the village, when a panther leaped on him. He reached for his knife but could not reach it, he struggled and struggled but could not reach it. Finally, Mack knocked the panther off and grabbed his knife and stabbed the panther.
When he regained strength, he collected the panther’s meat and went back to the village. When he arrived at the village everybody was proud of his kill. They then roasted the panther and ate. When he was done he went to his chickee to get some rest.
After he woke up he got ready to go hunting. He grabbed his bow and then his rifle. He got on his horse named Swift Wind and rode off in the woods. The woods looked so empty and alone. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a deer.
Slowly he pulled out his bow and fired. He missed, but the deer did not notice. So he took another shot and failed again. The deer still did not notice. He took one final shot and successfully shot the deer, then headed back to the camp.
When he got back to the village everybody was gone. He thought they had left without him so he looked around and saw a white man come out of the bushes and say,
“I found another Indian. Should I kill it?”
Mack was so scared he did not know what to do. So he chunked a rock at his head, jumped on Swift Wind and rode off to look for survivors.
Mack couldn’t find any survivors, so he planned to go to the Seminole Village. It took Mack several days to reach the Seminole Village. Once he got there, he told the Chief about the white men and about how there probably on their way to the village.
The Chief said, “Get ready for war, my people.”
Then his son Devon came out of the chickee and said,” I want to fight too, father.”
“Then we will ride in the morning.’’
When they woke up that morning, Mack grabbed his lucky rifle, bow, knife, and followed the Seminoles to the location were we would ambush them.
When they saw the white men, Devon screeched, “OWWW!” He had stepped on a thorn and gave away their cover. They charged on their horses.
Gun shots and hatchets were going everywhere. Devon threw a hatchet and hit a man in the head and killed him. Mack saw a man about to kill Devon and shot him.
The Indians had killed all of the white man except for one that ran off. They sent horses and men after him. Everyone thanked Mack for saving them.
On his way back to Swift Wind, Mack got shot by the one bushwhacker that had escaped. When Mack awoke, Devon was by his side, and took him to the Medicine Man who healed him.
by Hayden C.The sound of steel hitting steel, men screaming “Hurry it up,” and seeing the sight of white men’s faces stained black, well, this is rail road working for ya.
I’ve been workin’ out here on the railroads for about six months for Mr. Flagler.
His plan is to build railroads to St. Augustine, Palm Beach, and to Miami Beach for his enormous hotels. We were in east Florida in the late 1800s about fifty miles from Flagler beach when we could here a faint sound of a train. That sound was normal and all the men thought they were just droppin’ supplies off. But the sound got louder and louder, the train got faster, and we realized someone had stole the train.
“Thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk,” the train ripped the railroad right up from the ground causing ties to fly in the air like spooked dove. There were men running like jack rabbits, spreading out, trying not to get whipped from the ground by chunks of wood. Smack, I fell to the ground, knocked-out cold!
I woke up to palm meadows poking me in the face. I looked around calmly. But then I jumped up in terror, wondering where I was. Suddenly I heard a loud roar, I looked all around. I didn’t see anything, so I slowly looked up.
There was a giant black panther above me in a tree looking deep through my soul.
I backed up cautiously as it crept slowly my way until it jumped out of the tree and right in front of me. I stopped as it laid down right at my feet where I could not move. I stayed there until dusk trying to get out of the situation; finally I slipped my foot out from underneath the panther.
Once I got far enough I ran like the wind, not stopping, not looking back. It was hard to see anything but I could make out the trees and bushes. I could not see the roots, so I tripped quite a bit. I didn’t see any light besides the faint glow of the moon in the sky.
I was thinking of what would have brought me to the middle of the woods and why, but then the thought hit me: the panther dragged me back in the woods. Either it wanted to eat me, or it wanted to save me from the big chunk of wood that was in my leg that I just noticed. I was so worried about the panther I didn’t see the wood stuck in my leg, so I sat down on the nearest stump and tried to pull it out, but the searing pain was unbearable.
I limped through the woods for what seemed like the whole night and found a little town in the middle of nowhere. I started to the nearest house when a man ran out, grabbed me by the arm, and brought me inside.
A Tale of Two Brothers
by Ethan J.Adawa’le came rushing from the fields screaming at Ratanakheoan, “They’ve destroyed the village!” Ratanakheoan then said “Who”, Adawa’le then said Those slavers they have taken many who were in the village come quick”. By the time they had gotten there the village had been ransacked and destroyed. There were few who remained alive from the attack or had not been kidnapped.
Ratanakheoan then spoke to one of the elderly who looked like they had been stabbed “Who did this to you?”
He replied, “Those devils,” and he pointed toward the St. Augustine area, then died. Ratanakheoan then said to Adawa’le mount up, as they rode together on the last two horses in the pen alive. As they were riding through the forest green trees with flowers surrounded them, though they had to change paths many times, due to the leaves and branches on the ground.
They eventually found their way out of the forest. The two fell and collapsed from exhaustion.
Rantanakheoan the suggested that they look for survivors of the attack that left the village. After searching for about an hour they found a man and a woman dragging themselves along. Rantanakheoan noticed the women was carrying a baby.
Rantanakheoan saw the baby was hurt badly, so he said they should ride to Fort Lauderdale, the man and the woman agreed. Later that night Rantanakheoan was laying in the grass, then he noticed all the wildlife around him, the wild foxes running, harmonizing with the rabbits, the wolves, and all the wildlife putting away their hate for one another.
Rantanakheoan thought little of buying weapons, for the threat of the slavers in the St. Augustine area. But Adawa’le said they should, Adawa’le then told Rantanakheoan “Those men could come after us at anytime.”
Rantanakheoan then said “I know but it is better for us to get to safety first.”
Adawa’le then said “The only way to get to safety is we protect ourselves first.” Rantanakheoan then said “We will get weapons on the way to St. Augustine ,”
Adawa’le agreed so they went to a gun shop.
Rantanakheoan then said to the shopkeeper. “We would like two flintlocks please”.
The store keeper handed them the guns and they rode off. Soon after Adawa’le said he wanted a drink, so they headed to a nearby tavern, when they reached it, two men approached them both asking who they were Adawa’le asked why they want to know.
One of the men answered, “Because our new slaves need a name do they not”
Adawa’le pulled out his guns before Rantnakheoan could react and shot them both.The two of them then rode off into the Florida scrub.
The Way It Used To Be
by Emily S.It’s 1846. My Mamma and Daddy came to the wild wilderness of Florida from Alabama. They found themselves a place to live in an open saw grass field around the rim of Lake Okeechobee.
Daddy built my Mamma and him a log cabin out of cypress trees logs. He cut and made cypress shingles. It took him almost two years to make it. It was a little one-bed room cabin with a kitchen and dinning room.
It was a good life at the cabin, I learned to hunt, fish, and ride horses. Daddy learned to live off the land and started capturing cattle in the scrubs of Florida.
I was only seven when my Daddy died. Those dang rustlers shot and killed him herding three cows back to a corral about a mile from the house. By the time we found him, the buzzards were feeding on his flesh. We buried him ten yards from the cabin.
My Mamma cried her eyes out a month after he died.
It was a hard life without my Daddy around. Before he had died he taught me as much as he knew here in Florida. Such as hunting raccoons, squirrels, and rabbits. He also left behind a gun and about a hundred dollars in cash.
By the time I was seventeen, Mamma was still going strong. I had caught enough cows to buy two dogs to help with food and keep away varmints from the garden.
Well I found out that the dogs were really good at chasing anything from squirrels to people. So, the dogs and me went hunting almost ever day and caught at least five cows a day. We were getting so many cattle, I could herd them all the way to Fort Myers. When I was twenty-three mamma had died and the dogs where on their last life. I had over two thousand dollars from the cows and still collecting. I was not able to herd the cows any more because people where putting up fences and starting plant orange trees and crops around here. So we started shipping them on trains.
The rustlers where stealing cattle faster than a jackrabbit running from a dog.
So, I found a trail and I thought to myself, “What and dummy I would be to follow a rustlers trail…I would get my self-killed.” But, it was worth the try.
When I found their camp, they were sleeping. I walked in to the camp and it took me off guard when a bullet flew by my head. I looked were it had came from but I didn’t have time when a bullet struck me in the chest.
As I bled out, I think my Mama and Daddy. It was very painful but the pain stopped as I closed my eyes and fell into a deep sleep that I will never wake from again.
I wish it was the way it used to be.
by Donya R.My name is Jay Tigerlily. I’m a Seminole Indian. Our village was in the middle of the apple custard forest, before white man found us and burned our home. Now we live in the Everglades. But the Indians are refugees, fleeing the white men.
I was born in a small chickee, south of the Everglades. My mother Rose Tigerlily and my father Keith Tigerlily were killed by the white men while they were roaming the forest. Before my parents died, my father was tribe leader and my mother was a gatherer.
I wasn’t like the other girls - I didn’t gather, cook food, or weave baskets. I mostly did men’s stuff like hunt and ride horses.
My uncle took me in at age eight. Ever since then my uncle has been teaching me the ways of the Indian.
My friend Marco, a nice white boy I secretly meet up with, was waiting by the old oak tree. “Hi Jay, what took you so long?” He said with an exasperated tone.
“I had to shake my uncle, it looks like he’s getting onto me,” I replied.
Marco was leaning on the old oak tree but stood up after my reply. “So, where are we going?” He asked.
“To the Everglades,” I said.
“Again? We went there last time too,” he said eyeing me carefully. “Are you sure there isn’t an Indian army waiting for me?”
“When has here ever been one?” I laugh. Marco’s long auburn hair flowed in the wind as we walked to the Everglades. I hear the bushes rustle, I flinch but keep walking.
“Why are you so jumpy today?” he asked.
“Oh, it’s nothing,” I attempt to reassure him. We walked until we reached a vast marshland. I listened to the wind in the trees as we walked through the marshland. We walked past evergreen trees. I looked at the lush greens as we passed, admiring their beauty. Marco just stared ahead, knowing the path exactly, like he was born an Indian.
Out of the blue, an army of white men step out of the bushes. I look with fear and ask, ”Marco what’s going on?” Marco was walking behind the other white men as I asked.
“Typical Injun’,” he said bitterly.
“What?” I ask confused. “What are you talking about?”
“You’ve been deceived,” he replied more bitter than before. The white men inched closer by the minute.
“How could you, Marco?” I said, in a pleading tone. He ignored me and disappeared into the woods. One of the white men holds a rifle against my shoulder. I look at the man, his hatred was obvious.
“Kill me if you must, but spare my village,” I say.
“Shush up, Injun’,” he hisses, some spit flying onto my face. I see his finger twitch on the trigger and the last I hear is the violent sound of a gunshot.
by Devon H.My name is Bob Mitchell and I have agreed to test an invention called a Biolex Theatre. The Biolex Theater lets people relive their ancestor’s lives and learn about the past. I’m going to relive my Seminole ancestor’s life.
Date: July 10, 1872
Location: Lake Okeechobee
Ancestor’s name: Billy Deerhide
Activity: Learning how to hunt.
Billy pulls his bow out and grabs an arrow from his quiver. He shoots an arrow through the air, piercing a deer’s chest. After the meat and pelt were collected, Billy set out for his chickee to cook the meat for supper.
The next day Billy set out for Miami to learn where to find cattle. Billy arrived at a homestead with a field full of cattle and a big garden with an abundance of vegetables.
Billy knocked on the door to the homestead, and was startled by a man’s booming voice
“Get the door Nick!”.
A little boy opened the door and said, “Hello, I’m Nick and my father is Dylan. He is a professional in cattle business.”
“I want to learn your ways’’ Billy said.
“Okay, here’s a tent. You can sleep behind the barn.” Nick replied.
The next morning Billy woke up early and went to hunt a deer. After a while he saw a group of deer grazing in a field south of Nick’s homestead. Billy pulled his bow and arrow out and let the arrow fly. It hit a deer clean in the heart, killing it instantly.
When Billy got back, Nick was out collecting eggs from the chicken coop. When all the meat was taken off the deer, Dylan put it in the frying pan and started cooking.
Everyone’s stomach was emptier than a piggy bank after Christmas!
The next day Dylan took Billy into the woods to show him where to find cattle. As they walked through the forest, they finally made it to a swamp. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a cotton mouth bit into Dylan’s leg. Billy took the six shooter out of Dylan’s pocket and blasted the snake’s head off! Billy tried to suck the poison out of Dylan’s leg, but he had died anyway.
When Billy returned, he told Nick of the tragedy. Nick had no family now.
Billy took Nick back to the village to learn the ways of the my people, the Seminoles.
* * *
When I arrived back in 2014, I realized how much I learned a lot about my past and the history of Florida, and how hard it was to exist back then.
by Cady Y.It’s been four months since the hurricane. Families are devastated about the many losses of the children, parents, and friends. This horrific hurricane blasted us all with sadness.
My family lives in Miami 1926, my brother Jason got deeply injured from a stab wound from a flying piece of plywood. My sister Kelly, my Dad Dean, and me, Candy Blasten, nearly got our heads chopped off like a crazy woman with a hatchet.
Lets just go way back to the beginning. Jason and I were playing tag and I tripped. I have always been a little clumsy in my time.
“I’m going to get a drink, I’m out of breath” I said exhausted.
“Hey, where’s your sister Kelly?” Dad said unsurprisingly
“ She’s talking to the cow again” Jason said scarfing down his drink.
The clouds are starting to roll over us. It looks like we are going to get rain, not some, but a lot.
“Dad, why did we have to name the cow T- Bone? It’s not a right name for an animal!” Kelly said whiningly.
“Because he is going to be a T-bone, and he is not a pet, so stop treating him like one.” Dad gently muttered to her.
I could hear Kelly whining about the calf again. These clouds have been around for a while and Jason thinks that there’s going to be a really bad hurricane. My Dad is 32 years of age, Kelly is 13 years old, Jason and I are 12 years old. And some how we can take care of our selves. But dad says we can’t just wander off.
BOOM... BANG! The thunder and lightning is getting worse.
“DAD, DAD, DAD!” Kelly started screaming into the middle of the night and we all start cramming through her door,
“What? What’s wrong?” Dad started shouting.
“The thunder.” BOOM...BANG “The thunder its so loud and there’s water starting to crack the window” Kelly started crying.
“What do you mean water starting to crack your window?” Dad said to himself. (Kelly lives on the bottom floor. Dad, Jason and I live upstairs.)
“KIDS RUN AND HIDE” Dad started screaming.
Then all of a sudden... “AH!” I turned around and there was blood gushing out of Jason’s leg.
“Hold on Jason!”.
“DAD! COME! HURRY! JASON’S HURT!” There was a piece of plywood stuck in Jason’s leg.
Dad came rushing down. Dad, Kelly, and I were standing up and WHOOM, another piece of wood came at us. Dad pushed us down so we wouldn’t get hurt.
Suddenly it grew dark and stopped raining,”Dad what’s going to happen now?”
“I don’t know” Dad said sadly.
I must of fallen asleep and when I woke up everybody was awake, but they were all outside. There were bodies everywhere and I also heard weeping. That was the day of the tragedy, of the horrific hurricane.
In memory of those who died.
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