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Greco seeks park art to honor Indians

A sculpture would signify the friendship now between the Seminoles and non-Indians.

By BABITA PERSAUD, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 24, 2002

TAMPA -- Mayor Dick Greco wants to put a public art sculpture at the new Fort Brooke Park embodying "the peace and friendship that characterize the relationship between the Seminole Indians and non-Indian Floridians today."

"No one had ever done anything to acknowledge the Seminoles in this state especially," Greco said Friday, making a national call to sculptors to submit designs.

The winning design will be selected by city officials, Seminoles and art professionals. State and federal grants will pay for the sculpture.

The 4-acre Fort Brooke Park is under construction along the waterfront near the Ice Palace and the Marriott Waterside Hotel.

A memorial with bronze panels telling the story of Fort Brooke and the Seminole Wars of Removal is already planned. The Seminole Tribe of Florida has donated $225,000 for the construction of the memorial.

On Friday, at Greco's suggestion, tribe members proposed a new name for the park: Cotanchobee, which means the long shoreline, a big place where the water meets the sand, said Bobby Henry, the tribe's local spiritual leader. The City Council still has to approve a name for the park. "Our history should not be erased, but we should learn from it," Henry said. "This was a place where we met as enemies and fought and died. Today, finally, we can come here as friends and meet in peace."

In the mid 1800s, the park land was part of a military installation called Fort Brooke. Along with Fort King near Ocala, it anchored the U.S. Army's offensive line during the Seminole Wars.

Settlers looked at this line as a defense. The Seminole Indians saw it as a way "to find all Seminoles, round them up and push them out of Florida," said Patricia Wickman, an anthropologist with the Seminole tribe.

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