Thatched Roofs and Open Sides: The Architecture of Chickees by Carrie Dilley

By Carrie Dilley

“Takes us on a trip to the guts and soul of Seminole life—the chickee. Dilley ably navigates archaeology, structure, and oral heritage to inform the tale of the Seminole condo, from its origins, via its patience within the face of modernization, and finishing with a glimpse into the future.”—Ryan Wheeler, director, Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology
“Here we now have as shut as we will get to an inside of view of existence in a chickee and the folk who made them.”—Brent Weisman, co-editor of The Florida Journals of Frank Hamilton Cushing

earlier than and through the Seminole Wars, the Seminoles often used chickee huts as hideouts and shelters. yet within the 20th century, the govt. deemed the abodes “primitive” and “unfit.” instead of stream into non-chickee housing, the Seminoles started to modernize and feature persisted to conform the thatched roof buildings to satisfy the wishes in their present lifestyles.

this present day, chickees can nonetheless be stumbled on all through tribal land, yet they're now not basic flats. as a substitute, they're outfitted to coach humans approximately Seminole existence and background and to inspire tribal formative years to mirror on that element in their tradition. In Thatched Roofs and Open Sides, Carrie Dilley finds the layout, development, heritage, and cultural importance of the chickee, the original Seminole constitution made up of palmetto and cypress.

Dilley interviews developers and surveys over chickees at the sizeable Cypress Indian Reservation, illustrating how the multipurpose constitution has constructed over the years to fulfill the altering wishes of the Seminole Tribe.

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Extra info for Thatched Roofs and Open Sides: The Architecture of Chickees and Their Changing Role in Seminole Society

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8 Not only did he build chickees throughout Florida during that time, but while serving in the Vietnam War he used his thatching skills to help the Vietnamese build huts from coconut palm trees. James Billie served as the chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida from 1979 to 2001 and again from 2011 to the present. When he was out of office, he fell back on his chickee building business for income. The name “Jim Billie Seminole Indian Chiki Huts” became synonymous with quality. Billie said in 2005, “A lot of people try, but only a Seminole Indian can build chickees correctly.

3. Chickee with upright posts painted with the Seminole medicine colors (white, black, red, and yellow). Photo by the author, Big Cypress Reservation, 2009. eventually become overharvested due to the commercial chickee building industry: We could not identify any areas of the preserve as primary sources of cypress poles; generally in the BCNP they are harvested near villages or along secondary roadways, wherever the trees are readily accessible. We saw Indians cutting cypress near the intersection of US 41 and Loop Road.

He went on to say that “every time in my life I’ve gotten down financially, I went back to building chickees and it brought me back up. . ”9 And “back up” he soon went, back to being the chairman of the Seminole Tribe. Many other Seminoles looked to chickee building for financial stability during the last few decades of the twentieth century, including tribal elder Bobby Henry. The popularity of commercial chickee building has brought notoriety and wealth to many Seminoles but has come with its share of issues, particularly imitations.

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