Jack Shealy Sr. at a traditional gladesmen camp in the Big Cypress National Preserve
People talked about Traditional Gladsmen like we are already gone..a thing of the past,There were times I felt like we were…..now with Eco Tourism my family has a way to preserve our traditonal culture and our Heritage.
Jack Shealy EAT Founder & Traditional Gladesmen.
Courtesy of US ARMY CORPS (GLADESMEN CULTURAL STUDY)
The Cultural heritage of the Gladesmen is one that dates back generations in south florida.The Gladesmen culture is characterized by a strong sense of community based on cultural, behavioral and ideological ties to the Everglades. Decades ago, Gladesmen often depended on the natural ecosystem for their livelihood. Many lived in or near the historic wetlands and uplands. Today, Gladesmen largely use the Everglades for recreational activities including fishing, hunting, camping and canoeing. Gladesmen (and women) come from all walks of life, but many can trace their roots back to generations of ancestors who lived in south or central Florida. Gladesmen have a strong appreciation for and understanding of the land and natural resources, and usually have spent a vast amount of time in the Everglades wetlands, uplands and coastal areas. As one Gladesmen said during the study, “You just can’t live without it.”
In 1947, the Gladesmen lost a great deal of the area they once used with the dedication of Everglades National Park. Today, the park covers 1.5 million acres and contains a large part of the remaining Everglades ecosystem. Many traditional uses such as hunting, trapping and commercial fishing are prohibited in the park. Now, Gladesmen are concerned that Everglades restoration will further limit their activities. On the other hand, most appreciate the efforts to restore and preserve this great natural treasure.”
Many of The remaining pioneer families have found tourism as a form of sustenance as opposed living off the land.Everglades Adventure Tours Pole Boat tours not only offer an amazing way to experience the Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve area , they preserve a founding part of America’s history,heritage, and culture.
To learn more about glademen folklife and culture please visit our friends at the Everglades City Museum and Smallwoods Store.