When I wrote ‘Elfine’ in 1986, I didn’t know Ivan meant John. Ivan is the father of Elfine who is sixteen when she came into his life. My daughter was sixteen when I first lay eyes on her. Ivan is a Russian astronaut who goes on a join mission to the cat planet Felinia and falls in love with a beautiful alien.. On a flight to this planet Ivan builds a dome with a beautiful garden. At its center is the Enidu Tree. Consider the Lone Cypress and the Pond Cypress tree named the Senator and the Cypress Domes of the Everglades. This is a Genesis. Leslie Perin was Seminole Royalty.
“We sat under the Enidu Tree with the computer and went thru Ivan’a Bible. When Elfin would point to something she did not understand, its meaning would appear to me, just like she had done when she touched the flowers, the letters glowed. And when she cam across the changes, the original would be there. This was put within the ships computer, and it opened up to us.”
Above is a photo of me and my club I named ‘The Cheetahs’. I am on the left. Elfine is modeled after a Cheetah. My battle for the Lone Cypress and Planet Earth, has begun. Tomorrow I will solve the riddle of why they tried to kill Jesus when he came out of the wilderness. My Biblical knowledge was dictated by my female spirit guide.
In the early part of the 20th century, the Seminole were still mostly full bloods and had prohibitions against members going outside the tribe for marriage partners. In a 1999 interview, Betty Mae Tiger Jumper, chairwoman of the Tribe from 1967-1971, said that in the late 1920s, Seminole medicine men had threatened to kill her and her brother, then young children, because they were half-breeds with a white father. She learned that other half-breeds had been killed. Her great uncle moved her family to the Dania reservation for safety.
Similarly, Jim Billie, the current chairman, who also had a white father, recounted that, as an infant, he was threatened in 1944 by tribal men because he was a half-breed; his mother and Betty Mae Tiger, then a young woman, saved his life.
The tribe has become more open to intermarriage. It also permits non-tribal spouses (including white or black) to live on the reservations, unlike in earlier times. It requires tribal members to have a documented blood quantum of at least one-quarter Seminole ancestry.
As of 2000 there were around 2,000 enrolled members in the tribe, with over 1,300 living on the reservations. The Tribe includes some Black Seminoles, including 50 living on Fort Pierce Reservation.
In addition, they have created some new celebrations: the Big Shootout at Big Cypress, celebrated since 1997. A few years ago, they added an historical re-enactment to the annual Big Shootout, in which re-enactors take the part of Seminole, Black Seminole and US forces.
Losing one of the world’s oldest trees, The Senator
When The Senator, the world’s largest pond cypress, was a tiny sapling the pharaoh Tutankhamun was 50 years away from taking the throne in Egypt and Jesus would not be born for another 1400 years.
The Senator, at an estimated 3500 years old was not only the largest of its kind but was considered the 5th oldest living tree in the world when it was destroyed by fire. Before that fire it could be found in central Florida in the Big Tree Park.
Somehow it had been miraculously spared from the logger’s saw during the Florida lumber boom of the 1800s and 1900s and eventually had a park created around it in 1927. People had been visiting it for decades and WPA workers finally built a boardwalk so seeing didn’t include either wading or hopping from hammock to hammock to get to it.
Before a 1925 hurricane took the top off the Senator measured 165 feet tall with a circumference of 17.5 feet. After the storm the tree was still an impressive 118 feet tall. It was estimated to contain 5100 cubic feet of wood and was not only the largest pond cypress but also the largest tree east of the Mississippi in the United States.
Generations of Florida school kids poured out of yellow buses to stand at its base and look up and imagine what the state was like when it was filled with these giant trees. People picnicked and hiked and had romantic trysts in Big Tree Park located in Longwood, Florida.
But all that history, all those 3500 years came to an end on the night of Jan. 16, 2012 when 26 year-old Sara Barnes set the tree on fire while smoking crack. She had climbed inside a hollow part of the tree and then started a fire so she could see better. The Senator caught fire and burned for several hours. Barnes took photos of the burning tree and later showed friends, telling them she couldn’t believe she had destroyed a tree older than Jesus (according to newspaper and TV reports at the time of her arrest). She didn’t call anyone to report the fire. Her trial is still pending.
Now several Florida artisans have been given parts of the tree to turn into art. (See associated page for Bob Hughes.)
A clone of The Senator aptly named The Phoenix has been planted near the playground in the park. And a mere 40 feet away from where The Senator stood is another big pond cypress, Lady Liberty. She is not quite as big, standing 89 feet high and 10 feet in diameter, and not as old, estimated at having reached 2000 years but she is still very impressive and among the top 20 oldest individual trees in the world.
Taxodium ascendens, also known as Pond Cypress, is a deciduous conifer of the genus Taxodium, native to North America. Many botanists treat it as a variety of Bald Cypress, Taxodium distichum (as T. distichum var. imbricarium) rather than as a distinct species, but it differs in ecology, occurring mainly in still blackwater rivers, ponds and swamps without silt-rich flood deposits. It predominates in cypress dome habitats.
A cypress dome is a type of swamp, typically dominated by pond cypress (Taxodium ascendens). The trees at the center of the swamp grow higher than the trees at the edge, which forms a dome-like shape of treetops when viewed from a distance. Cypress domes form in flatland depressions in the Gulf coastal plain and southern Atlantic coastal plain, in the states of Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
Cypress domes form when pond cypress grow in shallow standing water. The ground level in the center of the dome may be several inches to a few feet lower than at the edge of the dome, but tree growth is more vigorous at the center of the dome. Thus, the treetops are higher at the center than at the edge of the dome.[
The Black Seminoles are Black Indians associated with the Seminole people in Florida and Oklahoma. They are the descendants of free blacks and escaped slaves – maroons – who allied with Seminole groups in Spanish Florida. Historically the Black Seminoles lived in distinct bands; some were slaves of particular Seminole leaders, but they experienced more freedom than in white society, including the right to bear arms.
Today, Black Seminole descendants live primarily in rural communities within the reservation of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma; its two Freedmen’s bands are represented on the General Council of the Nation. Other centers are in Florida, Texas, the Bahamas and Northern Mexico. Since the 1930s, the Seminole Freedmen have struggled with cycles of exclusion from the Seminole Tribe of Oklahoma. In 1990, the tribe received the majority of a $46 million judgment trust by the United States, for seizure of lands in Florida in 1823, and the Freedmen have worked to gain a share of it. In 2004 the US Supreme Court ruled the Seminole Freedmen could not bring suit without the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, which refused to join it on the claim issue. In 2000 the Seminole Nation voted to restrict membership to those who could prove descent from a Seminole Indian on the Dawes Rolls of the early 20th century, which excluded about 1200 Freedmen previously included as members.