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November 4, 2022

FDOE Press Office
850-245-0413
DOEPressOffice@fldoe.org

Florida Department of Education and Volunteer Florida Partner with Seminole Tribe of Florida to Launch Inaugural Native American Heritage Month Contests

~Contest winners will receive prizes sponsored by the Seminole Tribe of Florida~

Tallahassee, Fla., November 4, 2022 – Today, the Florida Department of Education and Volunteer Florida announced the official launch of the Native American Heritage Month student contests in partnership with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. This year’s contests are focused on the theme of “Celebrating the Achievements of Native American Floridians.” Native American Heritage Month is recognized and celebrated in the United States from November 1 to November 30.

“I am proud to honor and celebrate Native American Heritage Month to showcase the rich culture and their contributions to our country,” said Volunteer Florida CEO Josie Tamayo. “We recognize the resiliency and strength of Native Americans and continue to empower their voices for future generations.”

“Native Americans in Florida have made incredible contributions to our state and nation,” said Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. "We are proud of our rich Native American history and look forward to celebrating their many achievements."

“The Seminole Tribe plays an important part in Florida’s history and culture, and we sincerely appreciate being included in this meaningful educational outreach program that reaches students across our state,” said Marcellus Osceola Jr., Chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. “We want to thank Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis, as well as Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr., for their continuing commitment to the Seminole Tribe and the native people of Florida.”

All Florida students are invited to participate in academic and creative contests based on this year's theme. Students in grades K-3 are invited to participate in an art contest, while students in grades 4-12 are invited to participate in an essay contest. Additionally, students, parents, teachers, and principals are invited to nominate full-time educators of all student grades for the Native American Heritage Month Excellence in Education Award. Prizes for contest winners are provided by the Seminole Tribe of Florida. All contest entries must be received by 5 p.m. (ET) on Thursday, November 17, 2022.

About the Student Art Contest

Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis’ Native American Heritage Month Art Contest is open to all Kindergarten through third-grade students in Florida. Each student will submit original, two-dimensional artwork based on this year's theme. Four statewide winners will be selected, and each winner will receive a $100 art supplies gift card and a 1-year pass to Florida state parks.

About the Student Essay Contest

Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis’ Native American Heritage Month Essay Contest is open to all fourth through twelfth-grade students in Florida. Each student will submit one essay no longer than 500 words based on this year’s theme. Six winners will be selected: two elementary school students (grades 4–5), two middle school students (grades 6–8), and two high school students (grades 9–12). Each winner will receive a 2–Year Florida College Plan scholarship and a $100 gift card for school supplies.

In the contest, students are encouraged to write about a Native American who has had an impactful and inspiring effect on their community whose story should be shared. The subject of the essay should be a Floridian. Some examples are:

  • Betty Mae Tiger Jumper, the first female chairwoman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Prior to being elected as the first female chief in 1967, Betty Mae Tiger Jumper was a nurse and was co-founder of the newspaper Seminole News, which has since become the Seminole Tribune.
  • Osceola, an outspoken advocate for Seminole rights in the 1800s, led the Seminoles against forced removal from their lands during the Second Seminole War.
  • Micanopy, born near St. Augustine in the late 1700s, became chief of the Seminoles in 1819. During his time as chief, the United States purchased Florida from Spain and he served as the Seminole chief during the Second Seminole War.
  • Billy Bowlegs III, born in 1862, was considered one of the greatest hunters and guides in Florida of all time. He lived to be nearly 103 years old, and was a spokesperson for the Seminoles, helping document and inform others about their history.

About the Excellence in Education Award

Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis’ Native American Heritage Month Excellence in Education Award Contest is open to all full-time educators in an elementary, middle, or high school in Florida. Four winners will be selected, and nominations may be submitted by a principal, teacher, parent/guardian, or student. Excellence in Education award winners will receive $2,500 and a set of classroom books.

Contest Entries and Nominating Forms and Guidelines

Student contest forms and educator nomination forms must be mailed to Volunteer Florida or submitted online at www.FloridaNativeAmericanHeritage.com.

Volunteer Florida

Native American Heritage Month Committee
1545 Raymond Diehl Road, Suite 250
Tallahassee, Florida 32308

All entries must be received by 5 p.m. (ET) on Thursday, November 17, 2022.

For more information about the contests, please visit www.FloridaNativeAmericanHeritage.com.

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