“Chickee” is the word Seminoles use for “house.” The first Seminoles to live in North Florida are known to have constructed log cabin-type homes, some two stories tall, with sleeping quarters upstairs. The chickee style of architecture – palmetto thatch over a cypress log frame – was born during the early 1800s when Seminole Indians, pursued by U.S. troops, needed fast, disposable shelter while on the run. Though indigenous peoples in other parts of North and South America have developed similar dwellings, it is generally agreed that the Seminole Indian technique and product are far superior. So popular, efficient and functional is the chickee that such Seminole architecture can be seen all over South Florida. The chickee structure should last about ten years and needs to be re-thatched every five years. Several Seminole Tribal members make a living building custom chickees for both commercial and private interests.
*Thank you to Beachhouse.com homeowner and property manager, Sarah Rapp, with Beach Vacation 4 Me, for contributing this article.
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