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Reviewed by Kimberlee J Benart for Readers' Favorite
Touchstones of Tradition: Insights From The Material Culture of Miccosukee and Seminole People is a collection of five pieces on South Florida Native American artistic traditions edited by William H. Marquardt. Inspired by artifacts in the Florida Ethnographic Collection, they address the development of Seminole art, dollmaking, and the wearing of traditional turbans and clothing. Each narrative is illustrated with photographs, diagrams, tables, or maps. The contributing authors are museologist Sandra Starr, archaeologist Brent Weisman, textile historian Stacey Huber, historian Patsy West, and anthropologist Austin Bell. Marquardt, curator emeritus of South Florida archaeology and ethnography at the Florida Museum of Natural History, contributes a chapter on the collaboration with the tribes. Each author provides applicable notes, references, or appendices, and an index is included.
In Touchstones of Tradition, William H. Marquardt gives us a beautifully illustrated, utterly engaging, and well-researched collection that highlights the creativity, culture, history, and craftsmanship of the native peoples of South Florida. I was impressed not only by the variety of the artifacts which can be enjoyed for their own artistic value but by the history and cultural value they signify. As an amateur fabric artist, I especially enjoyed the presentations on turban wear among native peoples in the Americas and other clothing and dollmaking topics, but the article about the Glade Cross Mission and the Seminole Arts and Crafts Guild was equally fascinating. This is an exceptional collection appealing to a wide readership, and it would make a wonderful gift to anyone interested in arts, crafts, indigenous cultures, or the history of Florida.