Betty Osceola

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Betty Osceola
Betty Osceola 2019.jpg
Osceola at Lake Okeechobee (2019) by Lisette Morales
Born
Betty Osceola

(1967-08-08) August 8, 1967 (age 55)
OccupationAirboat Captain and Everglades Educator
Known forEverglades education and conservation, clean water advocacy
Websitebuffalotigersairboattours.com

Betty Osceola (born August 8, 1967) is a Native American Everglades educator, conservationist,[1] anti-fracking[2] and clean water worker.[3] She is a member of the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida from the Panther Clan.[4] Osceola was born and raised in the Everglades. She is an airboat captain.[5] She is also the operator of Buffalo Tiger Airboat Tours on Tamiami Trail near Miami, Florida.

Early life[change | change source]

In January 2019, Osceola revealed information about her childhood in an interview for the American Experience.[6] In The Swamp series produced by PBS, she said that while she was growing up in the Everglades she lived in a chickee hut with four walls with her family. Her mother would move around Florida for employment sometimes working picking citrus around Lake Okeechobee and at tourist attractions making baskets and sewing quilts. She also shared that her people had once lived off the land planting corn and pumpkin in the islands. However, these days the waters are so polluted that they are not able to do that anymore.

Walk for Mother Earth[change | change source]

2015-2017: Prayer Walk on U.S. Highway 41 (Ochopee to Naples, Ochopee to Miami)[change | change source]

Osceola and her uncle Bobby C. Billie (1946-2018)[7] founded the Walk for Mother Earth. It is a grassroots organization attracting people of other First Nations, Glades people, scientists, environmentalists, and concerned citizens. Billie, a spiritual and clan leader (whose official title was Council of the Original Miccosukee Simanolee Nation Aboriginal Peoples). Osceola led an annual multi-day prayer walk along a proposed bike path.[8] It was to be built on Florida State Route 41 between Naples and Miami. It was designated as the River of Grass Greenway (ROGG) project. Osceola and Billie opposed this construction and set out to educate the public and government officials about the negative repercussions this project. It would bring negative impact to the Everglades ecosystem. Eventually, they spoke at public hearings at the Collier County Board of Commissioners' meeting. It was followed by the Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners. It concluded in both counties rescinding the project. After Billie's passing, Osceola continues the prayer walks in South Florida.

2016: Standing Rock - Dakota Access Pipeline[change | change source]

Osceola made two trips.[9] One was from the Everglades to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation to deliver supplies to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.

2019: Prayer Walk around Lake Okeechobee January 26-February 3[change | change source]

Osceola and Holley Rauen organized and lead a group of six participants during a seven-day long and 118-mile prayer walk.[10] They brought attention to the water quality issues. During the entire walk, she carried a red bandanna attached to her walking stick. It brought attention to the missing and murdered Indigenous women. Rauen lead the online prayer group.

2019: Prayer Walk on Historic Loop Road December 7–8[change | change source]

Osceola and Reverend Houston R. Cypress from the Otter Clan,[11] organized and lead a group of over 60 participants. It was during a two-day long and 31-mile prayer walk in the historic Loop Road in Ochopee, Florida.

2021: Prayer Walk on U.S. Highway 41 January 2-3[change | change source]

Osceola and Reverend Houston R. Cypress[10] organized and lead a group of 41 participants. It was during a two-day long and 36-mile prayer walk on State Road 41, from East to West, in Big Cypress National Preserve. They were in opposition to the EPA State Assumption of Dredge and Fill Permitting under Section 404 of the Clean Water. The group started on East entrance of Loop Road and ended on the second day in Carnestown, Florida.

2021: Prayer Walk around Lake Okeechobee February 6–12[change | change source]

Osceola and Reverend Houston R. Cypress organized a second walk around the perimeter of Lake Okeechobee.[12] It was with a group of 26 participants for a seven-day long and 118-mile prayer. They were praying for the healing of Mother Earth. The walk was in opposition to the EPA State Assumption of Dredge and Fill Permitting under Section 404 of the Clean Water.

2021: Big Cypress Hike and Signs Across the Alley Action[change | change source]

Osceola organized and lead a group of concerns citizens for a one day hike.[13] There was hiking into Big Cypress National Preserve to educate the public and to protest a proposed oil drilling plan. After the hike protesters lined up on the side of Interstate 75.

Awards[change | change source]

In January 2018, Osceola was given the John V. Kabler Grassroots Organizing Award.[14] It was during the Everglades Coalition annual summit.

References[change | change source]

  1. "People of the Everglades after Hurricane Irma". News Press. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  2. "Video interview with Betty Osceola by Julie Dermansky". Desmog. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  3. "Photo Essay Poisoning The River of Green Grass". The Intercept. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  4. "Grandmothers Rising Up for Mother Earth". Natural Awakenings. Archived from the original on February 4, 2019. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  5. "Matty's Airboat Tour of the Everglades". Vice. Archived from the original on April 24, 2019. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  6. "The Swamp Stories: Betty Osceola". PBS. Archived from the original on November 26, 2020. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  7. "Indigenous leader Bobby C. Billie dies". News-Press. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  8. "Bike path through the Everglades". BPB. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  9. "Grandmother drives to North Dakota Reservation". BPB. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Defending the Sacred". The News-Press. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  11. "Everglades Activists Plan Prayer Walk". MutComm. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  12. "Lake O Prayer Walk". WGCU. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  13. "Hikers Protest Proposed oil Drilling". TheNewsPress.
  14. "Betty Osceola receives award". Treasure Coast. Retrieved February 3, 2019.