Comparative Studies in Society and History

Florida Seminole Housing and the Social Meanings of Sovereignty

Jessica Cattelino a1
a1 Anthropology, University of Chicago

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cattelino j   [Google Scholar] 


Driving past the strip malls of Hollywood, Florida, visitors know they have entered the Seminole Reservation when they approach blocks of modest houses punctuated by the thatched roofs of backyard chickees (from chiki, or home, in Mikasuki). On Seminoles' rural Big Cypress Reservation, chickees dot the landscape as storage sheds, front yard spots to sit and socialize, and shelters for taking lunch breaks away from the punishing Florida sunshine. Chickees also convey “Seminoleness” in some tribal casinos' interior design, as vendors' booths at Seminole festivals (figure 1), and even on the Seminole tribal flag, with its chickee logo (figure 2). More than any other element of the built environment, chickees mark space as distinctly Seminole.