The Miami Circle & Madden’s Hammock
A critical historiography of Florida’s ethnography and intervention into its anthropological discourse, illustrated through the process of attaining National Historic Landmark status for the Miami Circle & Madden’s Hammock.
If an earthwork is situated in a particular location, it is because someone in the past intentionally designated the place as special. But what exactly is meant by place? The question cuts to the very heart of experience. Archaeologist Ruth Van Dyke describes place as “the intersection of time, space, and self.” Self is interwoven with place. The meaning of a place is contingent upon a lived awareness or consciousness of it. In Miami, real estate developers have shaped that consciousness for centuries. Julia Tuttle and Henry Flagler invented their “infant city” by ignoring and burying the past. The resulting loss of memory of Miami’s earlier settlers, combined with clouded analysis by anthropologists, left the Seminole in a constant battle for their identities, sovereignty and land rights.
Anthropologists assumed to be objective have affected land claims, land ownership, and land stewardship. When we deny the Seminole their place we also deny them their sense of self. The relationship of the Seminole to Pa-hay-okee (the Everglades) is perhaps one of the most significant aspects of this group. The Seminole and their ancestors, the Tequesta, had an active role in the development of tree islands like Madden’s Hammock. In the process of attempting to preserve sites like the Miami Circle and Madden’s Hammock, these issues of identity, land claim, ownership, and stewardship all present themselves. These places are the historical ethnographic record being danced for all time in the heavens above, waiting for us to recall it.