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FGCIA Celebrates 25th Anniversary

By E. Bowers

TALLAHASSEE - The Florida Governor's Council on Indian Affairs (FGCIA) celebrated its 25th anniversary in grand style on April 14 with a reception that honored two of its founding board members, Robert L. Travis and Miccosukee Chairman Billy Cypress.

The FGCIA also held a Board meeting on April 14. Of interest was:

*The FGCIA approved a resolution asking the Governor's office to conduct an inquiry into the retaliatory actions of the Florida Athletic Commission. The Commission has sent letters to inspectors and judges that prohibit them from working any Miccosukee boxing events.

According to Chairman Cypress, a few judges and inspectors have already been fired for working at Miccosukee boxing events. "They are saying, 'you can work anywhere else but Miccosukee,'" said Chairman Cypress.

*Cypress also announced June 14 as the date of the grand opening for the 302-room Miccosukee Resort and Convention Center. The Miccosukees will also be hosting the United South and Eastern Tribes' (USET) 30th Anniversary conference at that time. Chairman Cypress stated the hotel would host a "soft" opening for Miccosukee Tribal members. They will spend a night and conduct a dry run of the staff and services of the hotel.

The hotel will have daycare facilities, beauty salon, indoor pool, Jacuzzi, helicopter pad, deli, airport shuttle, and a restaurant that will feature snook, buffalo, wild boar, and venison on the menu.

*Board member Patrick Smith gave an update on the Pioneer Days Festival, held at the Brevard Community College in Cocoa Beach, which was not held this year. "It just fell through the cracks of the new administration," said Smith. "When, or if, it will come back I don't know. It just flat fell through the cracks."

According to Smith, the two-day festival attracted crowds of up to 200,000 and was featured in numerous travel shows and magazines.

*Bob Kellam, FGCIA Employment and Training Director, announced that under the new Workforce Investment Act, the Florida Indian Youth Program will not receive any more direct funding. This year's program will not be affected, but the FGCIA will begin to look for alternative sources of funding.

*Guest Tom Gallaher, Museum Development and Promotions Coordinator for the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, announced that the Millenium Tourism Board of Greater Fort Lauderdale would designate February 2000 as Seminole Heritage Month and promote the Kissimmee Slough Shootout and the Tribal Fair in its Year 2000 activities.

Later, the FGCIA held its 25th Anniversary reception at the Florida League of Cities building in downtown Tallahassee. The site was arranged by Marlene Meiners with special thanks to Florida Representative Debby Sanderson (R-Fort Lauderdale), who graciously agreed to reschedule an event she had reserved for that night.

A few legislators stopped in to pay their respects and peruse the various displays set up by the Miccosukee Indian Village, Miccosukee Indian Gaming, the Billie Swamp Safari, Seminole Communications, and the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum.

Special guests of honor were Robert L. Travis and Chairman Billy Cypress, who have been FGCIA Board members since its inception in 1974. "Billy and I are the originals," said Travis. "I figure we're lifers here. Parole would be good," joked Cypress.

Travis was instrumental in obtaining the grant that created the Florida Governor's Council on Indian Affairs. Cypress, in addition to the FGCIA Board, has also served on the USET Board since its creation in 1969.

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