The Apalachicola Creeks of Pine Arbor Tribal Town
In North Florida


 

General Remarks for the Reader

The (eastern) Apalachicola Creeks and their ancient southeastern ceremonial complex remain a viable entity today. Although well known in their home community, their existence is a surprise to many others. Times change. So do people and their culture—so did they. Unlike many Native American nations, their culture is not worn so visibly on their sleeves. They possess no great feathered war bonnets, beaded moccasins, buckskin dresses and ghost shirts. They do not use the stereotypical Indian accouterments often seen on television, in movies or written about in countless volumes of questionable accuracy or repute. Actually, they do have a few of these things--in their community museum in a culturally appropriate display. Their visible culture is simple but not antiquated. Nowadays, they make use of the modern materials readily available. They use them in expressions evolved from ancient forms. Apalachicola's ancient foundation still flourishes. Its culture adapted, survived and continues today.

If you encountered a Pine Arbor ceremonial and observed it quietly from afar, what might you see? It would probably be--a ragged folk reeking of strong coffee, wood smoke and sweat, with exhaustion etched on every face. Or, you could see something entirely different if you were able to observe with your heart and not your intellect—if you could see the centuries of cultural beliefs, philosophy and daily life practices embedded within each and every visible action.  If you watched Pine Arbor's Ribbon Dance from afar as an outsider, you would only see ancient women, middle-aged matrons and young girls, don ribbon-laden granny styled dresses and tromp around in a circle sixteen times. Occasionally, some might jump up and down. Sound silly? It could certainly appear so. For the poorly informed, that is about all they see. Those who know southeastern culture experience something different, something magical.

Appearances are deceiving, as you will soon discover.  As looks go, The Apalachicola are a plain people and somewhat proud of it. However, they do have a spiritually rich but quiet way of life. Their culture's beauty and dignity is worn inside, privately. Outside ornamentation is left to those who place a higher value on such things.

The Ribbon Dance, and other writings contained in this volume (on the web) represent only one collective model of thoughts, beliefs and mythological explanations Apalachicola Creeks of Pine Arbor Tribal Town have of themselves, their history, social and political structure, cosmos and unique way of life. These articles represent not just the views of one, but one collective view of many. Truthfully, these words are weighted more to the cultural ideal--how things should be, than to the actual. These writings express goals, teachings and desired achievements for which the Apalachicola strive, struggle and occasionally reach. These articles will share their Elders’ ways, that is, the understandings of lessons intuitively felt, personally known or learned long and hard through and with perseverance. It is said things spiritual change and endure through time. All others change and fade with time. An internalized spiritual life is not subject to the destructive disintegration all things external must suffer in physical form. Apalachicola dance steps aren’t executed with exact precision or their dress sewn with perfect seams. Nor, is their singing equal to those Oklahoma Tribal Towns with hundreds of participants—not even close! However, they are firmly anchored in their past yet modern without being too materialistic. As they quote, “We are children of the past, who live in the present and are co-authors of our future; we are Apalachicola, The People of One Fire, Pine Arbor Tribal Town. “
 

For the Apalachicola, and indeed all American Indians, every action or any occasion potentially generates a story. They like to tell stories—all in their proper season, of course. Take time to visit the Folktales page and meet Ol’ Rabbit and Mr. Fox, two of their favorite characters who are introduced in The Fox and The Fry Bread. You will not want them for neighbors!
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