Florida Cattle Ranching: Five Centuries of Tradition

Photo of Seminole cowboy, Justin Gopher

Florida Cattle Ranching:
Five Centuries of Tradition

Western Folklife Center
Wiegand Gallery
Elko Nevada

January 18 through
July 24, 2010

Florida Ranching Exhibition, Photo by Meg Glaser

Florida Cattle Ranching: Five Centuries of Tradition  tells the story of one of Florida's oldest and most important cultural and occupational activities. Cattle ranching in what is now the United States began when Spanish explorers introduced horses and cattle to Florida in the 16th Century, and flourished in the hands of the Seminoles, Crackers, and other Floridians.

Today, ranching is an essential economic activity that preserves many aspects of the natural landscape, protects water resources and maintains areas used by wildlife or for recreation.

Florida Ranching Exhibition, photo by Meg Glaser 

Yet, few know about Florida's unique ranching traditions, which have been adapted to the subtropical climate and have influenced its distinctive history.

The exhibition traces cattle ranching from its early beginnings in Colonial Florida through present-day cattle ranching. Some of the topics included in the exhibition are Colonial Florida, Seminole cattle ranching, Cracker cowboys, Cracker horses, cow dogs, auctions, oral traditions, rodeos and material culture.

Included in the Florida Cattle Ranching:
Five Centuries of Tradition
exhibition are artifacts, archival photos, artwork by cowboy artists, cowboy poetry, audio and video components and images by guest photographers Jon Kral, Bob Montanaro, Jimmy Peters, and Carlton Ward, Jr.

The Western Folklife Center Gift Shop has books related to the exhibition; view what is available in our online catalog.

Elko Students at the Florida Exhibition, Photo by Meg GlaserFlorida Cattle Ranching: Five Centuries of Tradition was produced by the Florida Folklife Program, Florida Department of State, and Florida Cultural Resources, Inc: funding was provided by the National Endowment for the Arts /Folk & Traditional Arts, Florida Humanities Council, Florida Cattlemen's Association, Florida Cattlemen's Foundation, Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, Florida Cracker Cattle Association, Lalla Rook Tompkins, Iris Wall, and Susane and Pete Clemons.

The traveling exhibition was made possible by the Museum of Florida History.