Spring 2009 Issue

Billy Cypress ’00

Chairman, Miccosukee Tribe of Florida

For more than 20 years Billy Cypress has fought for the economic self-sufficiency and self-determination of the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida. The Miccosukee Tribe has a proud history, which pre-dates Columbus. The Miccosukee Indians were originally part of the Creek Nation, which was an association of clan villages that inhabited the areas now known as Alabama and Georgia.

On January 11, 1962, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior approved the Miccosukee Constitution and the tribe was officially recognized as the “Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida.” This legally established the Miccosukees’ tribal existence and their sovereign, domestic dependant nation status with the United States government.

As tribe chairman, Cypress develops and manages the tribe’s day-to-day business activities and works to protect their vital resources, especially their Everglades homeland and cultural identity.

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush commended his dedicated service to the Florida Governor’s Council on Indian Affairs, and in 2002 Cypress was named “Indian Leader of the Year” by the National Indian Business Association. He has also served as a member of the Board of Directors of the United South and Eastern Tribes since 1972.

In addition to his work fighting for the rights of Native Americans, Cypress received the President’s Medal from the University of Miami in 2005 for his contributions and service to South Florida. He has also been recognized for his work with the American Cancer Society’s Dade Unit and for his contributions to relief efforts for Hurricanes Katrina and Charley.