Home sweet home on the River of Grass

Photos by Vanessa Castillo

John Tigertail, guardian of the Everglades

John Tigertail, a 34-year-old Miccosukee Indian Tribe member, considers the Everglades to be his home, his castle, his grocery store, his everything. “It is my whole life,’’ says Tigertail, who inherited the family business of airboat rides after his father died. “I have baby pictures of me on my father’s airboat. At 7 years old, I would sit on my father’s lap and steer the airboat.’’

Tigertail, who lives on the edge of the Everglades National Park, was born in Baptist Hospital in suburban Miami, and was brought to the Everglades as an infant, where he has spent the rest of his life. Among the photographs in this slide show are photos of “Tigertail Airboat Tours’’ 16 miles west of Krome Avenue in a rural region west of Miami, and tikis, made of cypress wood and cabbage palm leaves, in one of the Everglades campsites. On his farm, Tigertail keeps alligators, turtles and hogs.

He prefers hunting or bow fishing to provide his own food for the family. “I don’t like going into the city much, especially not for the grocery store, though I will start traveling soon for the sake of my wife.” Hunting targets today include turtles, deer, alligators and fish. “We call our God breath maker, and He made all kinds of people. When we hunt, we make sure we’re not going to waste any of breath maker’s naturalizations, so we eat it.’’

More like this: Everglades Camera Stories

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One response to “Home sweet home on the River of Grass”

  1. Shayna Batya says:

    Writen well, great story… strong photos! I especially love the one of the gator on the tree hiding