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A Gathering of the Tribes Celebrates the Solstice at Mission San Luis

Tom Flanigan

People have been observing the Winter Solstice for nearly as long as there have been people. Tallahassee's Mission San Luis was marking the ancient occasion on Saturday and Sunday (Dec. 16-17).

Even before the Spanish settled on the site, the Mission's Jan Wiley said the Apalachees celebrated the Winter Solstice in the area and the weekend's happening simply continued that long tradition.

"We have tribes from all over the southeast doing dancing and music and crafts and all kinds of things," she explained as a constant parade of visitors spread out across the Mission grounds to investigate the various booths and exhibits.

Among the craftspeople was Tallahassee's own master shell carver, Dan Townsend whose work is known around the world.

"These large cases you see here, they were on display at the Smithsonian in 2004 for the grand opening of the Museum of the American Indian," he recalled proudly.

Also on hand for the celebration were descendants of some of the Apalachees who were forced to flee for their lives when the English seized and burned the Mission in 1704.

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Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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