DEEP INSIDE A lush South Florida hardwood hammock, leaders of the Great Seminole Nation of Oklahoma gathered Sunday morning for an emotional journey.
As some washed their heads in the smoke of burning sage, others wandered through a patch of cypress knees off the main trail at Jupiter’s Loxahatchee River Battlefield Park.
Standing at the edge of the Loxahatchee River, they soaked in the scenery, a view that must have been similar to what their ancestors saw 184 years ago when U.S. soldiers drove them off their homeland.
Minutes later, they bowed their heads in prayer and began walking through the mud and sawgrass, retracing the initial footsteps their ancestors took on the Trail of Tears.
“We know this is a hollow and sacred place amongst our people,” Chief Lewis Johnson said later to 100 people who gathered beneath the branches of a majestic oak after watching the Oklahoma Seminoles march along a roughly mile-long route.
“Even though this was a short walk for us,” he said, “we realize what took place upon these grounds.”
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