General Background Notes by Dr. Tina Bucuvalas
Four Corners of the Earth is a video recording (3/4 tape; 27:40 minutes) narrated by Jeannette Cypress. It was produced by Peggy A. Bulger and directed by Mike Dunn, with the fieldwork assistance by folklorists Merri Belland and Blanton Owen. It was the result of the Seminole Video Project (1983-1984), a joint project between the Florida Folklife Program and WFSU-TV, Tallahassee. Completed in Spring 1984 and financed by a Florida Endowment for the Humanities grant with the support of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the project culminated in a thirty-minute documentary entitled Four Corners of the Earth which profiled Ethel Santiago (1938-1993), a Seminole craftswoman and tribal representative.
The program addressed such issues as cultural retention within contemporary society; the role of women in Seminole society; traditional Seminole foods, arts, and medicine; and the changing emphasis on clan affiliations. The project covered Seminoles on the Big Cypress and Hollywood Reservations and at Immokalee, Florida. Raw video footage, interviews and images can be found in the Florida State Archives, Folklife Collection.
Ethel Santiago was in charge of the Seminole arts produced on the Immokalee Seminole Reservation in south Florida. In the late 1940s, she attended the Indian School in Cherokee, NC, since the Seminoles did not have a school at that time. Seminole sweetgrass basketry was a part of Santiago's family heritage for generations. The tourist industry, for which most baskets are made, allowed Santiago and many other Seminoles to continue traditional arts such as basketry. She served as a master artist in the Florida Folklife Apprenticeship Program in 1983-1984, during which time she taught Seminole sweetgrass basketry to Margaret Cypress.