Touchstones of Tradition

Insights From The Material Culture of Miccosukee and Seminole People

Non-Fiction - Historical
162 Pages
Reviewed on 09/16/2023
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    Book Review

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.

K.C. Finn

Touchstones of Tradition: Insights From The Material Culture of Miccosukee and Seminole People is a work of non-fiction in the historical and cultural subgenres. It is suitable for the general reading audience. This work penned by author William H. Marquardt offers a deep and insightful exploration of the cultural heritage of the Miccosukee and Seminole people, tracing their roots from renowned mound-building societies in the U.S. Southeast to their resilience and identity in the face of colonial challenges. The book is a collaborative effort by five scholars who draw on the rich collection of the Florida Museum of Natural History's Florida Ethnographic Collection. Through meticulous research and analysis, they shed light on various aspects of these indigenous cultures, from the history of turban-wearing to the clothing of Seminole warriors and the development of Seminole arts.

Author William H. Marquardt has crafted a celebration of the artistic sensibilities and resilience of the Miccosukee and Seminole people. What struck me most about this book is its ability to use museum objects as touchstones, guiding readers to a deeper understanding of the past and present of these proud and unconquered peoples through tangible objects and appearances. The colorful illustrations and figures complement the text, making it visually engaging and informative with a really engaging style. Overall, Touchstones of Tradition is a highly valuable resource for anyone interested in Native American history, culture, and art, and it serves as a testament to the enduring traditions of these remarkable communities. I would not hesitate to recommend it to any reader with an interest in the subject matter.

Foluso Falaye

William H. Marquardt's Touchstones of Tradition: Insights from the Material Culture of Miccosukee and Seminole People is a delightful study of the ancient objects produced and used by South Florida Native American people. Readers learn about the traditions of the Seminole and Miccosukee people from early times to the present. The objects provide a glimpse of cultures prevailing in the southeastern United States before the Europeans settled there. The book includes pictures and discussions of particular objects in the Florida Ethnographic Collection from the Florida Museum of Natural History and similar items from other sources, such as turbans, long coats, baskets, and Seminole dolls. The items reflect the conditions of their creators, who witnessed war, influences from foreigners, dwindling resources, and the other events that occurred during their time. Regardless of the unfavorable and chaotic territorial issues, the artists persevered in creating happiness and excitement with their intricate, skillfully produced arts and crafts.

A magical ability I've always wished for is to be able to touch something and know its history. Touchstones of Tradition gave me the strong feeling of knowing how specific objects are connected to different stages in history. I enjoyed all aspects of the book but especially loved the parts that explore the objects in a cultural context, such as the Southeastern Native American long coats that are linked to the trade shirts obtained from Europeans after contact with them. Information about museums, websites, and publications is included for readers interested in further research. William H. Marquardt's book is a must-read for all history fans and museum enthusiasts. It offers a colorful and culture-rich journey, as well as an elaborate presentation of the inevitable changes that are woven into every part of human history.