Miccosukee Tribe Works to Protect the Tree Islands of the Everglades

Tree Islands of the Everglades

The PBS documentary, The Secret Islands of the Everglades, filmed by Miccosukee Tribal elder Betty Osceola was released December 23, 2021. The film highlights the cultural and ecological importance of the tree islands of the Everglades.

Tree islands are patches of elevated lands that provide some of the only dry lands in the region. They serve as critical habitat for wildlife acting as safe havens for a diversity of plants, small mammals, and even large predators. In the 1800s, most of the Miccosukee people were forcefully removed to the West, but with the aid of these islands, some sought refuge in the Everglades. The descendants of these people are now the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida (

In the early 1900s, people began to alter the hydrology of the Everglades. By draining some lands for agriculture and development, others were flooded. Now tree islands are threatened by both drought and flooding. Long-term flooding can kill an island’s tree populations and the loss of root structures results in erosion causing the loss of the island completely.

These islands hold cultural importance for the Miccosukee and the Tribe’s scientists are doing some of the first work to understand the role of tree islands in the Everglades. Our team is looking forward to the opportunity to learn more about this work at our 39th Annual National Conference hosted by the Miccosukee Tribe May 9-12, 2022 in Miami, FL.

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