THE SEMINOLE IND,
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[Tat rpriatd fratn'S t Docanth 314,
The text of this Survey is reprinted from
Senate Document 314, 71st Congress, 3d
Session, and the pages coincide with the
original reprint but there has been added
a bibliography and the map has been reduced
in size from the original.
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THE FLORIDA SEMINOLE AND HIS ENVIRONMENT
I. A Typical Camp of 1930 -----------------_____.___._---- 3
Section 1. Guava Camp ...----------------------------- 4
Section 2, Seminole Fire -----... .___ ..------- -__------- 4
Section 3. Seminole House ------------------------------ 5
Section 4. The Hunter --------.------------------------- 5
Section 5. The Squaw-------- -------------------------- 6
Section 6. Children of the Cypress-------------------- 7
Section 7. Billy Fewell --_---------------------------- 8
Section 8. Inventory of Property ---------------- 8
Section 9. Clothing-------------------------------------- 9
Section 10. Focd---------------------------------- 9
Section 11. Sleeping -- ------------------10
Section 12. Cash Income ------------------ 10
Section 13. The-Trend of 50 Years ------------------------ 11
II. The Physical Environment --------------------------13
Section 1. Natural Regions ------------------------------- 13
Section 2. Climate ---------------------------- 16
Section 3. Fauna ------------------------- 16
Section 4. The Changes of 50 Years---------------------. 18
III. The Florida Seminoles -----------------_--------------------- 20
Section 1. Retreat .--- --------------..-----...-------. 20
Section 2. Seminole Camps of 1930 --------_- __ 20
Section 3. Population ---------------------------------- 22
Section 4. Tribal Organization__------------------------ 25
Section 5. Health ---.-------------------------.27
Section 6. Intellectual Ability and Education---------- 34
Section 7. Economic Facts---.----------------.___---__---- 35
Section 8. A Half Century of Disintegration ---------------- 41
IV. The Social Environment ----------------_------------------ 42
Section 1. Legal Status of the Seminole ------------____ 42
Section 2. The Race Question .__. ....---------------- __ 46
Section 3. White Contacts --------------------. -- ____ 46
Section 4. Liquor -------------------__----------------. 46
MINISTRATION AND ADMINISTRATION
V. Missionaries and Friends------------------------------------- 53
Section 1. The Rev. Mr. Frost-------- -------------------. 53
Section 2. The Immokalee Mission------------------- --- 53
Section 3. The Mission at Glade Cross---------.----------- 53
Section 4. Indian Missionaries.-----.-------------------- 54
Section 5. Result of Missionary Activities------_-------__ 54
Section 6. Friends of the Seminole ----------____ -------_ 54
VI. State and Local Administration ----_---------------------_ 55
Section 1. Crime and Punishment ------------------------ 55
Section 2. Enforcement of Game Laws---------- 56
Section 3. State Board of Health-------------------------- 57
Section 4. Taxation_----------------------- ----57
Section 5. The Monroe County Reservation. ---------57
VII. Federal Administration--------------------------------_----- 60
Section 1. Federal Action Previous to 1891-----------------. 60
Section 2. The Administration of Doctor Brecht ----------.. 60
Section 3. Federal Reservations ___------ ---------------__ 62
Section 4. Report of F. C. Churchill, 1909 _---------------- 63
Section 5. Report of L. D. Creel, 1911--------------- ---- 64
Section 6. First Administration of L. D. Spencer-...- ------ 65
Section 7. Hendry County Reservation-------------------- 66
Section 8. Coleman's Plan ---------------------- 66
Section 9. Administration of F. E. Brandon -------- 68
Section 10. Second Administration of L. D. Spencer--_..--__. 68
WHICH WAY OUT OF THE WILDERNESS?
VIII. Conclusions-----.. -----------..------------ 75
Section 1. The Ultimate Goal-------------------- ------- 75
Section 2. Fifty Years Hence .-------- ------------ 75
Section 3. The Immediate Goal------------ -------------_ 76
Section 4. Economic Actuality ---------------------------- 76
Section 5. Liquor Control -------------------_-_----- 77
Section 6. New Sources of Income------------------------ 78
Cattle -------------------------------- 78
Hogs -------------------------------- 79
Section 7. The Gateway to Industrial Pursuits-------------- 79
Section %, Segregation by Force -------------- -------- 80
Section 9. Concentration-------------------------------- 80
Section 10. The School at Dania-------------------------- 80
Section 11. The Indigent and Sick------------------------ 81
Section 12. The Commercial Villages --------------------- 81
Section 13. Lands--------------------------------------- 81
Section 14. When Shall the United States Withdraw? ------- 82
IX. Recommendations------------------------------------------ 83
Section 1. Carry On------------------------------------- 83
Section 2. Alienate No Land ---------------------------- 83
Section 3. Seminole Agent ------------------------------ 83
Section 4. Economic Considerations First ------------------ 83
Section 5. Public Health Nurse-------------------------- 83
Section 6. Teacher----------------------------------- 84
Section 7. Caretaker at Hendry County Reservation ------- 84
Section 8. Abolish Position of Farmer-Laborer --------- -- 84
Section 9. Instructor in Handicrafts----------------------- 84
Section 10. Medical Personnel---------------------------- 84
Section 11. No Medical Services for Amusement Camps-----. 84
Section 12. Dental Work .------------------------------- 84
Section 13. Hospitalization ------- ----------------- 84
Section 14. Cooperation with State Board of Health-------- 84
Section 15. Cooperation with Other Agencies-------------- 85
Section 16. Location of Headquarters.--------------------- 85
Section 17. Transportation------------------------------- 85
Section 18. Cattle----------- -------------------------- 85
Section 19. Liquor --------------------------------- 85
Section 20. Law re Commercial Indian Villages ------------- 85
Section 21. Advisory Council------------------------- 86
Section 22. Tropic Everglades National Park -------------- 86
Appendix A. List of Reserved Seminole Lands------------------------ 87
REPORT TO THE COMMISSIONER
OF INDIAN AFFAIRS CONCERNING CONDITIONS
AMONG THE SEMINOLE INDIANS
SURVEY AND REPORT MADE IN 193Q.
THE FLORIDA SEMINOLE AND HIS
SEMINOLE SURVEY OF 1930
By ROY NASH
A TYPICAL CAMP OF 1930
The starting point in time of this 1930 survey is the year 1880.
Just half a century ago Clay MacCauley, of the Bureau of American
Ethnology, sojourned in the camps of the Florida Seminoles; in the
fifth annual report of that bureau appears the record of the first
study of these Indians made without political bias. Two points 50
years apart may indicate the trend of a slowly moving body wiih
The starting point in space is Miami. From the gold coasts of
pleasure the Tamiami Trail runs west across the Everglades. With-
n 30 miles of the city hall one encounters an astounding anachronism:
In the canal a dugout canoe; standing in the stern, a man with poised
spear. He wears neither shoes nor hat. He wears nothing that is
worn in the city 40 minutes away. His only garment is a knee-
length shirt, belted at the waist. Like Joseph's coat, it is of many
colors, bright, vivid, marking the wearer as a man apart from the
metropolis of 110,000 which has sprung up like magic on the edge of
his wilderness. A primitive hunter 30 miles from a center of industrial
civilization where airplanes purr and ocean-going liners dock and a
hundred thousand idlers bask in the sun-the Seminole.
At the junction with the north and south road from Everglades to
La Belle we turn from the pavement to a gravel road that parallels
the rails of the Atlantic Coast Line, and motor north through the
Big Cypress Swamp to Immokalee. Two stores, a hotel, a filling
station, a boarding house, two or three bootleggers. and an Indian
camp out beyond the railroad station.
Gaava Camp, our immediate destination, lies 35 miles southeast of
Immokalee. No proper appreciation of the camp, however, can be
had without mention of the 45 miles to be traversed after one leaves
anything that might be called a road. We load an Indian bull cart
with camp duffel and get it started by 3 in the afternoon. Young
Ivey Byrd has come in from the Hendry County Reservation in a
Ford truck, but as the month is August and hot he waits until evening
to make a start in order to spare the litter of pigs which are to share
the vehicle with us. In the wet season four-fifths of the trail from
Immokalee to the Reservation is covered with from 2 to 6 inches of
water. Byrd belongs to the school of marsh drivers that holds chains
and ropes worse than useless, because of the tendency of rear ends to
bury themselves in the mud. Our normal mode of progression was
for me to ride on the running board until the wheels began to spin,
then jump off and push before the car lost momentum; sit down for
200 yards in high across a hammock; jump and push across half a
mile of water and mud. Then stop for 15 minutes to let the engine
cool. As luck would have it, we overtook the Indian just west of
Okaloacoochee Slough, where the water runs 2 feet deep. So we
transferred certain precious perishables to the bull cart while navigat-
ing the Ford across. Thus leisurely progressing through the mud and
the moonlight, we arrived within half a mile of the reservation at 3 in
the morning, when we bogged down completely, abandoned the Ford
and the pigs, and waded to the reservation buildings which perch on
half an acre of comparatively dry land.
Wading back at daylight, we pried up the Ford with poles, crammed
palmetto and brush into tle ruts, and brought the load home under
power-a typical wet-wealier trip, nine hours to cover 37 miles. At
midnight of the second day the ox team arrived. Beyond the reserva-
tion buildings the water deepens and the ground softens so that even
an empty Ford, at this season, could not traverse the last 8 miles.
We footed it, the water being 8 to 10 inches deep a large part of the
way. Three hours for an automobile to cover the 110 miles from
Miami to Immokalee; three days for an ox team to negotiate the 45
miles from Immokalee to Guava Camp.
SECTION 1. GUAVA CAMP
Guava Camp lies precisely on the western margin of the Ever-
glades, 50 miles northwest of Miami. With the camp fire as a center,
a 50-foot radius would inscribe the dry land at the height of the wet
season. No circle of equal size in Florida can yield more interesting
SECTION 2. SEMINOLE FIRE
I have made camp in Luzon and Negros, in Bahia and Matto
Grosso, on the Lievre River in Ontario and beside the Salmon in
Idaho-the Seminole makes the best camp fire I have ever seen. He
takes 8 or 10 dry logs, of any length that a man can conveniently carry
and any diameter he can conveniently cut, and arranges them as the
spokes of a wheel. At the hub he kindles his fire. To brighten it, he
pushes in a couple of logsi when it grows too hot he pulls them apart.
Three points to support pan or kettle may be arranged by the merest
touch. The elements of-the fire themselves furnish a seat for whom-
ever stirs the pot, let the wind blow whither it will. Dogs, chickens,
pigs, lie between the logs at night sheltered from the wind and warmed
by the embers.
Above this fireplace the Seminole erects a roof supported by foui
uprights say 10 feet apart, thatched with palmetto leaves. From the
rafters the squaw hangs her pots and pans, her drying venison, heI
condiments and herbs, out of reach of the livestock. The whole
arrangement is one of those perfect adaptations of means to end
which characterize a competent people.
~ __ I
SEMINOLE INDIANS 5
SECTION 3. SEMINOLE HOUSE
About the fireplace, here at Guava Camp, are grouped four dwellings,
the nearest one 15 feet from the fire, the farthest extending to the
very edge of the 50-foot circle of dry land. The largest is perhaps 12
by 20 feet. It is essentially a plaftorm 3 feet from the ground covered
by an overhanging roof, the generous eaves of which, curved wide about
each end, extend down to within 3 feet of the platform. The roof is
supported by 10 or a dozen durable hardwood posts set in the ground,
notched at the top to receive the girder. Upon a frame of light poles
thus supported is thatched an exquisite roof of palmetto leaves, the
thatch weighted by logs tied together and slung across the ridge.
A separate set of short posts supports the platform, which is floored
with hand-hewn planks leveled and smoothed to a degree worthy of
honest workmanship. In this particular long house there are three
sections to the platform, one for dining and two for sleeping, with
narrow alleys between.
The suitability of this house for hot weather is manifest. Visibility
is perfect. As a protection against a driving rain it is not so good;
in very cold weather one would naturally quit it to sit by the fire.
Its great merits are a floor that is out of the mud, that is high enough
to sit upon and let the legs swing clear, a floor from which crumbs
and dirt are easily swept; and an absolutely tight roof directly under
which, upon the beams and suspended from the rafters, can be stored
clothing, guns, food, buckskin, whatever it is desired to keep dry.
Two other houses are in nowise different except that they have
undivided platforms and are somewhat smaller. But it should be
noted that ridgepoles do not all run one way, so that if one building
is flooded by a driving storm, there is likely another comparatively
dry. The fourth is framed and floored, but not roofed; it is used for
drying skins and cutting up meat; two days, wBrk would convert it
into a habitable dwelling.
Certain other structures deserve mention. There is a high table
where dishes are washed and dried in the sun; a stockade around some
banana plants; a movable pen 3 feet square for holding a pig or an
alligator. The mortar and pestle, the former hollowed in the head of
an 18-inch log, are highly important in the domestic economy, being
used for hashing dried venison as well as for pounding corn.
The garden at this time of year is wet and full of weeds; inclosing
it is a tight fence of palmetto stems and logs. The hole for drinking
water is within 70 feet of the fireplace. Not much farther away in
another direction is the depression where clothing is washed, with a
post set in the ground surmounted by a broad board by way of a
table. A high line of clean poles takes the place of a clothes line.
The construction of these houses is identical with the typical con-
struction described by Clay MacCauley 50 years ago with one excep-
tion; nails are now so cheap and easily procured that they are used
in fastening the thatch; formerly the framework was lashed together
and the thatch tied on with any of half a dozen easily procurable
SECTION 4. THE HUNTER
Those who occupied Guava camp in August of 1930 were eight.
Whitney Cypress is the head of the family, a position carrying more
duties than rights. Six feet tall, lean, muscular, upstanding, he carries
6 SEMINOLE INDIANS
his 50 years unmarred by abdominal deformation or fallen arches
and with a vigor which the average white man of 30 well might
envy. It is his custom to roll out of bed shortly after dawn, pull over
his shirt of many colors a pair of cheap cotton trousers tied with cord
about the ankles, stow shotgun and shells in the bow of his cypress
canoe, and start off on his daily hunt without eating a mouthful of
breakfast. In the wet season one can push a dugout most anywhere
through the Everglades. Where the water is shallow, he wades;
when it deepens to 8 or 10 inches he steps in and poles. Shoving a
canoe through water all day is something that any man in good
condition can do; shoving all day through the mixture of grass and
water which is the Everglades is something which only a Seminole
He poles across these infinite marshes until bent grass, perhaps,
arrests his attention, telling him not only which way the deer went
but how long ago. Only a clever hunter like the Seminole can stalk
deer in glades which afford no cover. If no fresh signs of deer are
seen, or if the camp be stocked with meat, Whitney shoves on to an
alligator hole in the edge of a hammock. Water 4 or 5 feet deep, per-
haps. He pokes about with a pole to locate his prey. Failing to
find him that way, the hunter holds his nose and imitates the grunt of
the beast. To amuse me, Whitney one day called an 8-foot alligator
to the surface four times in the course of half an hour. It seemed a
bit indecent thus to play upon reptilian passion. In the operation of
skinning, his movements were swift, sure, clever.
Generally this Indian returned to camp around noon, for the mid-
day August heat was intense. One day he brought home a buck,
another a turtle and some duck eggs, sometimes nothing at all. Cur-
lew and turkeys were abundant, but the food problem was so easily
settled that he preferred to put in his time hunting for things with a
cash value-alligator hides, buckskin, coon skins. I have known him
to stay out all day without eating.
At whatever hour he returned to camp, Whitney would pull off
his wet trousers, eat, then stretch out for a siesta. It is the mark of
a man that whatever he does, he does with a will. The Seminole,
after four or five hours of vigorous exercise, can loaf for half a day
with zest. But usually the necessity to fetch firewood, or some
puttering job about camp or garden, kept this worker fairly busy.
SECTION 5. THE SQUAW
Sally Cypress, the squaw, is a woman of 38, a tall woman 5 feet 9
or 10. Although she has given birth nine times, she still carries her-
self erect; generously fleshed, she yet moves with vigor and alertness.
Her costume consists of a skirt, a chemise with sleeves, and a cape.
Neither shoes nor stockings nor hats are worn. The skirt sweeps the
ground. The chemise slips over the head and hangs down just enough
to cover the breasts. The cape covers the elbows and meets the
waistband of the skirt. A costume dictated by a modesty veritably
mid-Victorian. Its structure marks the Seminole as a human being
altogether original and unique. In making a gown, or a shirt for her
husband, the Seminole woman starts with cotton cloths of many
colors, but for the most part solid colors, not patterns. These she
tears into strips from a quarter of an inch to 3 inches wide. With
her Singer sewing machine she concocts a marvelous confection. The
strips run horizontally; but within the strip may be diamonds, ver-
tical elements, and rarely decorations in curves. I have before me a
skirt in nowise unusual where 44 bands of color meet the eye between
hem and waistband.
It sounds horrible; actually it is magnificent, a thing of barbaric
splendor. His costume is the reaction of a strong man against
monotony. Driven by force of superior arms and numbers to the
dreariest of all North American environments, the Seminole has
made himself as gay as the parrots in the Amazon jungle.
"Life shall be colorful, even in the Big Cypress Swamp," his soul
has proclaimed, and deft fingers have executed the mandate.
There is yet another element of the squaw's costume as remark-
able as her gown. I refer not to the fact of beads about her neck
but to the quantity of beads. String after string after string, until a
solid pyramid extends from shoulder blades to chin. Twenty-five
pounds and a few ounces one set was found to weigh. She takes
most of them off at night, but she would no more appear in camp with-
out them in the morning than she would without her skirt.
Now a skirt that sweeps the ground and 25 pounds of decoration
about the neck would seem but poor preparation for a hard day's
work. Yet I have seen this Sally Cypress leave camp at 9 in the
morning with an umbrella in one hand and 2 feet of quarter-inch rope
in the other and be gone until 9 at night, long after dark. On in-
quiring where she had been, I learned that she had been catching her
young pigs, marking and castrating. For the Seminole woman is
absolute mistress of her own property, and is frequently wealthier in
the matter of hogs than her husband.
Built of such stuff, it is not surprising to find that childbirth with
this woman is no such ordeal of prolonged agony as with white
women. As the day approaches, she builds a.palmetto shelter where-
ever she can find a dry bit of land a hundred yards or two from camp,
drives a stake in the ground to grasp with her hands, and if none of
her women folk are about to assist, she goes off alone and has her
SECTION 6. CHILDREN OF THE CYPRESS
Of the 9 children born to Whitney and Sally Cypress, 5 live and 4
have paid the penalty of being born to primitive parents crouched on
the edge of the Big Cypress Swamp. The living are Suc-la-ti-kee, a
daughter of 16; See-ho-kee, her sister, two years younger; Che-na-see,
a girl of 9; a son and heir aged 11; and a lad of 7.
The competence of the two older girls is admirable. Whitney
comes in from the hunt and throws down a great turtle. Suc-la-ti-kee
turns off the phonograph, finds a knife, dresses the turtle, and has it
roasting beside a slow fire within 10 minutes; no hurrying, no false
moves. I wanted a cape to go with a certain skirt that I was buying.
She sat down to a hand sewing machine and with deft fingers m
two hours time cut, sewed, and finished a garment which in work-
manship, in color combinations, in line was a delight. Al the
cooking is done by these girls with the same ease. Like all women
by the stream in warm climates, they make of washing clothes a lark.
And then they sit for hours on end and play the phonograph. They
differ from white girls of the same age m that they prefer cigars to
-- U -------
cigarettes, and in their ability to hitch up a yoke of oxen and walk,
unaccompanied by man, the 45 miles to Immokalee and back, camping
by the way.
All these children are as we would like our own to be in their good
nature, their playfulness, in the respect they show their elders, in
their essential modesty and good breeding. As we sat about the
campfire in the evening and I listened to their low voices or merry
laugh, I saw the appropriateness of the remark of Perley Poore
Sheehan, an Irish novelist who went into the Big Cypress with
Brandon 12 years ago:
And the Seminoles-say, they reminded me more than anything else of the
peasants on the west coast of Ireland, gentle mystics, with a great sense of
humor, believers in "the little people," in ghosts and signs, hearers of voices,
seers of visions.
SECTION 7. BILLY FEWELL
By far the most interesting member of Guava Camp remains to.
be mentioned, Billy Fewell, the father of Sally Cypress. Whether
he is 83, as the census states, or 100 as some of his many friends aver,
makes little difference. He is old. Old enough to remember that
May 4 in 1858 when the Grey Cloud, bearing Billy Bowlegs and 163
of his kinsmen., sailed out of Fort Myers bearing the last of the
Seminole emigrants into exile west of the Mississippi.
This grand old man was a famous character 50 years ago when
Clay MacCauley was here, for he had earned the name of "Key West
Billy' by paddling a dugout canoe-from Miami to Key West,
remaining a fortnight there among the whites.
I shall never forget the dignity, the courtesy with which he received
me, a stranger, as a guest in his camp. I had no claim upon his
hospitality, yet when Whitney hung up a carcass of venison the
second day of my visit, Billy came over to my tentand bade me
help myself. He speaks English fairly well and we had long talks
Of a morning Billy was usually the first one up and about. He
would cut a handful of brush, tie it together, and with this improvised
broom sweep the whole area between the buildings and about the
fire. He always ate at my table, and he seemed partial to my com-
fortable camp chairs, for the Seminole camp lacks this convenience.
I used to pass cigars after meals; old Billy's asthma was bothering
him too much for him to smoke, but he always took one and hid it
away in the thatch above his bed.
That cough. One night it rained in torrents. Old Billy stretched
a muslin sheet about his bed, but I knew the rain was driving through
upon him. And all night long above the tattoo upon my tight silk
tent I heard that cough.
He was in this camp by right of tribal custom. He was the father
of Sally Cypress. Yet I had the feeling that the burden of years, a
mouth to be fed after a man's hunting days are done, takes from old
age some of the kindness which from kin should be its due.
SECTION 8. INVENTORY OF PROPERTY
How does this family of eight live? What do they eat? Where
do they sleep? In what does their wealth consist? To understand
the life of Guava Camp is to understand nine-tenths of the Seminole
camps in Florida.
L ` a ill illll--- IIII -
An inventory of the property visible to the eye in this camp revealed
Livestock: 12 chickens, 2 dogs and a pup, 5 hogs about camp (probably 50
on the range), 2 oxen.
Transportation: 1 four-wheeled wagon with top, 1 ox yoke, 1 dugout cypress
Firearms: 1 double-barreled 12-gage shotgun, 1 combination 0.38 rifle and
Tools: 1 ax, 1 hoe, 1 machete, 2 sheath knives for skinning.
Kitchen equipment: 1 mortar and pestle, 2 large iron kettles for sofskee and
stew, 2 wooden sofskee spoons, 2 basket sieves, 1 Dutch oven, 2 water pails,
1 dish for bread, 2 fry pans, 2 coffee pots, 1 kettle, 6 cups, 1 brass-bound wooden
bucket, 3 five-gallon tin cans with covers.
Household equipment: 6 mosquito nets, 6 blankets, 2 movable benches, 1 foot-
pedal sewing machine, 1 hand sewing machine, 1 lantern, 1 umbrella, 1 phono-
graph (15 records), 1 long muslin sheet (used as windbreak), 1 pair scissors.
Toilet articles: 1 mirror, 2 combs, 1 bucket for washing.
Children's toys: 1 homemade toy wagon, 12 homemade dolls (2 inches long).
Clothing: 4 bundles in addition to clothes worn, 10 yards of calico in odd
Ornaments: 50 pounds of neck beads, 2 bead chains with silver coins, 1 bead
chain with gold coin, 12 silver cape ornaments, 4 silver crescents (Billy Fewell),
6 beaded hair nets.
SECTION 9. CLOTHING
I could make no detailed inventory of the quantity of clothing at
Guava camp, but it was adequate. On wash day there would be as
many.as half a dozen complete sets of garments on the rail, dresses as
brilliant as the spread of a peacock's tail, the only decorative washing
I have over seen drying in the sun. When I expressed a desire to buy
two or three costumes as souvenirs, the women brought out bundle
after bundle of new garments to choose from.
A white hunter would consider some kind of waterproof outer
garment desirable, but inasmuch as the rainy season is also the warm
season in south Florida, this lack is not serious.
SECTION 10. FOOD
Nor was there any shortage of food in this camp. In fact, it was
a feast from morning to night, for the Seminole is superior to regular
meal hours. On arising in the morning, one of the girls would kindle
the fire, heat up a kettle of meat stew, a kettle of hominy grits, a pot
of coffee, and bake a pan of biscuits. Dried venison was the staple
meat that went into the pot; occasionally curlew, whooping crane,
duck, chicken, pork, or wild turkey finds its way there. The grits
are boiled as a very thin gruel, which the Indians call sofskee.
These dishes, when hot, were placed on the dining platform. At
intervals all day long one or another (but rarely all at once) would sit
beside the pots, reach into the kettle for a morsel of meat, drink from
the great wooden sofskee ladle, dip a biscuit in the gravy, and wash it
down with coffee. There was a noticeable absence of salt in their
dishes, and their stock of sugar was nearly exhausted.
The only fruit available at the time I visited the family Cypress
was the guavas after which the camp is named. In season, however,
there is available to all these Indians sour oranges and limes, some
bananas, quantities of blueberries, and wild plums.
Their table in August was noticeably void of fresh vegetables.
That was from choice and not necessity, because there is always
available the tender bud of the cabbage palmetto, delicious either
raw or cooked. In the dry season, however, their little garden yields
corn, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, cowpeas, arid a few shoots of sugar-
SECTION 11. SLEEPING
When night descended and the sand flies and mosquitoes became
troublesome, mosquito bars made of a fine-meshed cotton cloth were
stretched over each bed. The father and mother and two older
daughters occupied one sleeping platform, rather a strange arrange-
ment, inasmuch as nothing but the thickness of bwo mosquito bars
separated the intimacies of married life from the daughters in the
other bed. The grandfather and younger children under separate
mosquito bars occupied another platform. A blanket or a buckskin
between the sleeper and his hard bed was all they asked. In the
cold weather of winter a blanket to roll up in suffices, although a
white man would experience bitter discomfort with so little in freezing
weather-I fancy an Indian could stand another blanket at times.
If the night were rainy, a long muslin sheet was stretched around the
house between the eaves and the sleeping platform to break the wind,
although it did not always keep out the rain. The dogs and the chick-
ens and the pigs found shelter under the platforms or near the fire.
Sleep was generally preceded by hours of low-voiced conversation
interspersed with music from a phonograph. And so long as I was
there to supply them, all-from the boy of 7 to his father, and partic-
ularly the girls and their mother-puffed with evident pleasure on
cigars. The Seminole does not grow tobacco, and the camp seemed
to have none on hand.
SECTION 12. CASH INCOME
It is evident that many items listed as contributing-to the comfort
of this household on the edge of the Everglades imply dealings with the
white world of commerce at Immokalee or Fort Myers. The cash
income of this family is derived almost entirely from the sale of raccoon
and alligator skins, buckskin, and an occasional otter. The women
make a few dollars from the sale of Seminole dolls and a little very
indifferent beadwork. Whitney is an unusually industrious hunter
and probably takes in $300 a year from his pelts. In addition, he may
get an opportunity to guide hunters for a couple of weeks each fall in
the open season, at $6 a day for himself and oxcart, with a bonus of a
ten dollar bill and a quart of liquor for killing the buck his employer.
could not hit.
Small as this cash income is, it would be ample if the bootleggers'
portion could be converted into a fund to tide over the lean months of
Whoever, in North America, earns his bread by hard manual effort
in the lonely spots of the earth is prone to go on a spree when he hits
town. This is true of lumberjacks, of miners, of cowboys, of trappers.
It is painfully true of the Seminole. I never heard of Billy Fewell
getting drunk, and the daughters are too young to have begun, but
it is not uncommon for Whitney Cypress and his splendid squaw to
come reeling into the Hendry County Reservation on their way home
Immokalee. Not even a moving-picture show. Where the very
pinnacle of excitement is attained by peeping in the door of the pool-
room, or watching country gawks shuffle through the figures of a
quadrille to the accompaniment of a mouth organ and a discordant
fddle, where "All Indians are pigs." What else is there to do except
get drunk at Immokalee?
What goes for liquor does not go for food, and it sometimes happens
that they completely run out of grits or coffee or sugar. In the closed
season, which is also the season of high water, the family Cypress has
been known to come into the Hendry County Reservation outward
bound with empty bellies. In either case, drunk or hungry, good old
Ivey Byrd, the caretaker, looks after them out of his munificent salary
of $25 a month.
SECTION 13. THE TREND OF 50 YEARS
How does Guava camp differ from the camps in the same locality
described by Clay MacCauley 50 years ago?
In the matter of dress, the great Seminole turban formerly worn by
the men has been discarded; buckskin leggins are never seen, mocassins
rarely. The white man's breeches are an acquisition since MacCau-
ley's time. In 1880 the women habitually wore only a skirt and the
chemise; 4 or 5 inches of brown belly showed between the two gar-
ments, and he says they were forever "pulling down their vests."
A half cape was occasionally worn even 50 years ago, but the full
cape now worn by the women is a development in the direction of
modesty achieved in the half century.
Styles in coiffures have changed for both men and women. In
* the men cut all their hair close to the head except a strip about an
inch wide, running over the front of the scalp from temple to temple, and another
strip of about the same width, perpendicularly to the former, crossing the crown
of the head to the nape of the neck. At each temple a heavy tuft is allowed to
hang to the bottom of the lobe of the ear. The long hair of the strip crossing to
the neck is generally gathered and braided into two ornamental queues.
To-day men generally follow white fashions, although I did see
Charlie Cypress in Fort Myers with his hair trimmed exactly in the
old mode, except that the queue was lacking. Seminole women in
1880 wrought their hair into an elongated cone with bangs in front;
to-day they pile it high on their heads, comb the front into a pompa-
dour instead of bangs, slick it down with grease, and confine it under
Sewing machines were great rarities in MacCauley's day; to-day
every camp has them. The rifle and double-barreled shotgun have
replaced the muzzle-loader. The second hand Ford is a modern
curse of which MacCauley never dreamed.
In 1880 the Seminole's cash income came from hides and pelts plus
the plumes of the egret, now banned by law. Game was more plen-
tiful; markets not so good and farther away. Wages for guiding
hunters and picking beans are new sources of revenue since the
When MacCauley made his survey, the only Seminole he could
find who spoke any English was Billy Fewell's brother, Ko-nip-ha-tco,
who was staying in Fort Myers with Captain Hendry. To-day prac-
12 SEMINOLE INDIANS
tically every male Indian speaks at least a few words of English, many
can carry on a hesitant conversation. Eight or ten are in school.
In 1880 Billy Motlo came into Fort Myers and told captain Hendry
the Indians were going to kill Ko-nip-ha-tco because he was adopting
the white man's ways; in 1930 I met this same Billy Motlo, now an
old, old man, come to Miami to receive treatment from the physician
paid by his former arch enemy, the Government.
This last is the significant change. At Guava camp is the same type
of house, the same campfire as of old; but the Indian who builds it
knows at least that he is in Florida to stay.
With these facts about a typical camp in mind, we are in position
to consider the distribution of camps, the deviations from type, and
the collective life of the Florida Seminoles. Before proceeding with
that interesting subject, however, a word about their habitat.
THE PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT
SECTION 1. NATURAL REGIONS
Seminoles in Florida range from the headwaters of the St. Johns to
Cape Sable, 180 miles from north to south.
The core of this region is the Everglades, a marsh about the size of
Connecticut, 40 miles wide by 140 long, extending in majestic sweep
from the head of Lake Okeechobee to the Bay of Flonda and the
Ten Thousand Islands. The boundaries of this region are not
everywhere definite, but as mapped by the Florida Geological
Survey it embraces approximately 3,000,000 acres.
The northern end of this region is a shallow saucer 35 miles across
occupied by the second largest lake in the United States, Okeechobee.
Five canals now connect Okeechobee with the Atlantic on the east;
the Caloosahatchee River connects it with the Gulf.
In spite of this tremendous diversion of water which formerly
spilled over the brim of the saucer in the wet season, there is an out-
pouring at the southern end of the Everglades-through streams
emptying into the Bay of Florida as well as through the Shark, the
Harney, Rodgers, and Lostmans Rivers above Cape Sable-alto-
gether too large to be accounted for by precipitation. The whole
region is underlaid by limestone, and much of the water of the
Everglades must be attributed to subterranean sources.
There is no configuration to the surface of the Everglades; it is as
flat as the surface of the ocean on a calm day. An ascent'of 18 feet
from sea level will bring one to Okeechobee.
In the older, northern, part of this great plain, the Pliocene shell
marl and limestone are overlaid by six or eight feet of peaty muck.
This depth of muck is the basis for local settlers distinguishing the
"Upper Glades" from the "Lower Glades," for in the southern
portion a layer of Pleistocene limestone crops out at the surface or is
covered by a very shallow deposition of muck.
The most characteristic vegetation of the Everglades is saw grass,
a sedge with leaves 6 or 7 feet long, edged with teeth capable of
tearing a man and his clothing to tatters. In the Upper Glades, say,
for half the distance between Okeechobee and the Bay of Florida,
this plant occupies such extensive areas that the Seminoles rarely
attempt to cross. The Lower Glades are dotted with hammocks
capable of cultivation in the dry season aid affording sites for a few
permanent camps. And the margins of the Everglades are fringed
with plant associations as various as pinelands, prairies, and ham-
mocks where. cypress, maple, ash, and elm can (or could) be found.
43095-S. Doc. 314, 71-3---2 13
14 SEMINOLE INDIANS
The incredible fertility of the deep muck led to schemes for its
utilization. It is too early to say clearly what the outcome is to be.
Sugar is grown around the south shore of Lake Okeechobee from
Canal Point on the east to Moore Haven on the west, and quantities
of garden truck. Garden truck and some citrus cultivation has
penetrated the eastern margin of the Everglades.
Roland M. Harper, of the Florida Geological Survey, says:
Possibly 2 per cent of the Everglades area, and other saw-prass marshes, has
been cultivated in recent years. But in wet seasons it is difficult to get rid of
the water and in dry seasons the drained peat sometimes catches on fire and
the soil then goes up in smoke.
Dr. John K. Small, of the New York Botanical Garden, who has
studied and written about south Florida constantly for the last 26
years, looks upon the drainage advocates as a herd of wild asses in
the wilderness. In the Scientific Monthly of January, 1929, he
Various minds have conceived various schemes for the development of the
Everglades, or developmentt" as interpreted by some. Among these ideas
"drainage" and "farming" have been prominent excuses for tampering with
the Everglades, ravishing directly the "glades" and indirectly the whole of the
southern part of the Florida Peninsula.
Since the beginning of this century five water highways, preliminary to the
dredging of drainage canals, have been added to the natural outlets for the
enormous amount of water of this spring. The sudden upsetting of nature's
routine of ages did not better matters, to say the least. Droughts and "freezes"
are said to be now more frequent than formerly. Large areas of land between
the Everglades and the ocean are said on good authority to have been rendered
worthless for farming by seriously lowering the water table and eliminating the
capillary water supply necessary for the existence of vegetation, particularly
cultivated crops. Thousands of acres of humus, deprived of the moisture natu-
rally covering the rocky or sandy foundation of the Everglades, have completely
disappeared in smoke, gases, and scant ashes, thus turning the Everglades back
to a desert just as it was when it was first elevated from the sea.
The Everglades were made for plants and animals to inhabit and delight in;
not for man to occupy. This fact should have been evident to a mere tyro.
Aside from any indirect devastation caused by drainage, fire has destroyed the
humus on many thousand acres. When once started in the dry humus, fire eats
in and down, and burns until it reaches water or sand. Fires aerial and subter-
ranean have eaten away many thousands of acres of pure humus in the Ever-
glades during the past decade and the fires are still burning. The Everglades
can safely be termed the "Land of Ten Thousand Smokes." Would it not
have been a better plan to have closed this land to developmentt" and had it
appear on the maps of Florida as "Lake Okeechobee-Everglades National
THE TEN THOUSAND ISLANDS
Where the Everglades emerge from the sea down in Monroe County
a labyrinth of channels breaks the land into the Ten Thousand
Islands. The delta of the Everglades, as it were; mangrove bordered
areas which are neither land nor water, in the process of becoming
terra firma, now merely a sportman's paradise.
Zane Grey once felt the quality of these appalling solitudes.
I had come to the Ten Thousand Islands and the Everglades to fish and to
photograph. And I was finding myself slowly awakening to a profound realiza-
tion of the tremendousness of this last and wildest region of America *
The Everglade region was great through its aloofness. It could not be possessed.
It would continue to provide sanctuary to the fugutive from justice, the outlaw,
the egret hunter. Assuredly the Seminole had been absorbed by it, as proven
by his lonely, secretive, self-sufficient existence.
THE BIG CYPRESS SWAMP
West of the Everglades in Collier County lies the Big Cypress
Swamp. No geographer, so far as I know, has attempted to indicate
the precise limits of this region. It is the very essence of dreariness.
Along the Tamiami Trail and beside the road which runs north from
the town of Everglades is a fringe of truck gardens. Some cattle are
grazed in its northern portion. Otherwise the Big Cypress is waste
and water. A wilderness where cypress heads, clumps of slash pine,
and occasional high hammocks vary the monotony of open prairies.
The saw palmetto is abundant; soil is not. Limestone outcrops over
much of the region.
Most of the Big Cypress is so flooded in the wet season as to be
impenetrable except to a man on foot or by ox team. The Indians
shove their canoes along the eastern margin when the water is high.
In the driest part of the dry season the Cypress can be traversed in a
That is, if one knows his crossings. For Okaloacoochee Slough
traverses the Cypress from north to south, and Okaloacoochee is
treacherous always. A bog 60 miles long. If the Big Cypress is
desolation, Okaloacoochee is the depth of despair. Between Okaloa-
coochee and the Everglades the bulk of the Seminoles have their
The flatwoods consist of open forests of long-leaf or slash pine, with
a rather dense undergrowth in which saw palmetto predominates.
The soil is usually a fine grayish sand. Not more than 5 per cent of
the flatwoods have been cultivated.
North and northwest of the Everglades are comparatively dry
prairies. The soil appears to be the same gray sand as in the flat-
woods, the only readily apparent difference being the comparative
absence of trees. Shrubs and herbs make up the bulk of the vegeta-
tion, with an occasional cabbage palmetto or slash pine. The prairies
bordering the Kissimmee River pasture large numbers of cattle.
It was to a cracker running cattle on the Kissimmee Prairie that a
Chicago packing house recently wired for a carload of 3-year-olds
averaging 900. The reply went back, "Don't raise any 3-year-olds
averaging 900, but can deliver a thousand head of 9-year-olds aver-
Not 1 per cent of prairie acreage is cultivated.
Indian Prairie, to the south of the Kissimmee River prairies, is
wetter. Islands of pine and high hammock vegetation are more
frequent than in the northern prairies, but the outstanding feature is
extensive areas of almost pure cabbage palmetto. Some cattle are
grazed on Indian prairie; it is not cultivated by the white man except
or a bit around Brighton.
SECTION 2. CLIMATE
No part of the Seminole's habitat is free from occasional frosts.
The lowest temperatures on record are Arcadia 21, Fort Myers 24,
Marco 30, Flamingo 29, Miami 27, Fort Pierce 24, and Ritta (on Lake
Okeechobee) 29. Absolute maxima rarely reach 100 anywhere in
The rainfall at Arcadia, Fort Myers, and Fort Pierce amounts to a
trifle over 50 inches a year; Miami gets 65. The four months from
June to September will account for half that amount; not less than
70 per cent of the year's rain, considering the region as a whole, falls
during the six months from May to October. It is a seasonal rain.
There is a distinct wet season and dry season. This seasonal character
of the precipitation accounts for the fact that the Everglades, the
Big Cypress, and the Cow Creek country northeast of Okeechobee
are all but impassable morasses for five months of the year.
The relative humidity is about 80 per cent over most of south
Florida, and does not vary much with the seasons, heavier summer
precipitation tending to balance the heat of the sun.
The habitat of 4be Seminole lies squarely in the track of the great
West Indian hurricanes. Every few years they crack him some-
where. All he can be reasonably sure of is that they-will strike
during August, September, or October; and that after the visitation,
many of his chattels will have departed along with the roofs of his
Although he is far from the main tornado belt of the United States,
a tornado did strike Hialeah (just outside Miami) on April 5, 1925,
and small ones struck farther up the east coast in the spring of
1926. So there is some chance of wind in the spring as well as in
SECTION 3. FAUNA
A scientist is concerned with everything; an Indian is concerned
with anything he can make use of. I shall discuss the Floridian
fauna only from the Indian's viewpoint: Things he can eat, things
he can wear, things he can sell, and things that menace him or his
Of the mammals which furnish the Seminole pelts which can be
converted into cash, the raccoon is the most important. One otter
is worth many coon skins, but otter are getting scarce. Mink in the
extreme south are fairly common but do not figure in the exchequer.
Buckskin brings him in some money; deer, however, are worth more
for their meat than for their hides. Skunks he does not bother with.
The red and gray fox, wolf, wildcat, bobcat, and panther he kills too
infrequently to count as assets. Black bear are fairly common in
the Big Cypress and there are some north of Okeechobee, but they
are not worth much.
Venison is the Seminole's chief article of meat diet derived from
the wilds. Deer are still fairly plentiful in the Everglades,. the Big
Cypress,, and north of Okeechobee. If he were approaching the
limit of his food supply, the Seminole easily could add great quan-
tities of rabbits which to-day he does not consider worth expending
Opossum, moles, shrews, bats, weasels, squirrels, mice, and rats
exist but do not enter into the Indian's domestic economy.
The avifauna is the glory and the grace of these dismal swamps
where dwell the Seminoles. Herons, bitterns, coots, ducks, the
cormorant, the Everglade kite brighten the monotony of these
dreary wastes, gay things like autumn leaves sailing down the wind.
Gohe, however, are the brightest of the lot, the flamingo, the. scarlet
ibis the roseate spoonbill-too bright to be tolerated by the master
of the signboards, the motor car, and moonshine.
So far as sustaining life goes, the Seminole could supply himself
abundantly with most delicate meat if the deer were exterminated;
wild turkeys, curlew, the whooping cranes, quail, duck, and other
luxurious morsels would still suffice.
The. egret, once a considerable source of Seminole revenue, no
longer can legally be killed for its plumage; the number is increasing,
and this bird is no longer in danger of extinction.
The reptile fauna of south Florida includes the crocodile, alligator,
9 lizards, 30 snakes, and 14 turtles. Alligators furnish the Seminole
with the one source of cash income which can legally be hunted the
year round; they are, however, no longer abundant. Large turtles
furnish a delicate item of diet. The water moccasin and rattlesnake
occasionally, but not often, ring down the final curtain upon his
One fine thing which has resulted from the drainage canals in
south Florida is the concentration of the finny tribes in waters where
they can readily be caught. The Tamiami is always lined with
fishermen. Fresh-water-pecies include large and small-mouth black
bass, pike, perch, jack, bream, shell cracker, redbreast, stump-
knocker. Harper, of the Geological Survey, says a million dollars'
worth of catfish are shipped annually from Okeechobee alone. In the
commercial side of fishing, howeve-, the Seminole takes no part; nor
are fish much of an item in his diet for the reason that his camps are
far from the canals and lakes for the most part. He is permitted
plenty of water-but not water that anybody else wants.
When the tourist lets his brain dwell upon the dangers that lurk
in the melancholy reaches through which he speeds on the Tamiami
Trail at 60 miles an hour, he is apt to fix upon the rattlesnake as the
black beast of the picture. The rattlesnake is a house pet compared
with sand flies, horseflies, or mosquitoes. Let me turn over the pen
for two paragraphs to Zane Grey:
On the afternoon of April 12 we anchored off. the mouth of Chatam River
* Before dusk had really shadowed the sea, mosquitoes arrived in force
from the mangroves. They arrived 10,000,000 strong. It was impossible to
keep them out of the saloon, and we were soon driven to our staterooms. * *
They darkened the outside of the window screens and kept up a loud whine.
* Ordinarily mosquitoes never interfered with my activity, if they
did sometimes hamper my enjoyment. But in the Everglades mosquitoes must
be reckoned with. At times they were terrible. On a windless night like this,
if a man were caught out unprotected, they would kill him.
All the way down (Lostmans River) the hot breeze blew on my face, with its
tidings of inscrutable things. And as I pondered I watched the huge horseflies
that swarmed like bumblebees round our speeding boat. They flew like a hum-
ming bird. They had the speed of a bullet, the irregular flight of a bat. They
were of many sizes and colors, and some were truly wonderful. I saw one fully
2 inches long. It alighted on my knee. It had a purple head, amber wings, and
a body that beggared description. It was veritably the king of all flies, beautiful,
yet somehow hideous. I shuddered as I saw it feeling for a place to bite through
my clothes. Finally I hit it with my hat-knocked it down hard in the boat;
yet it buzzed up and streaked away, high in the air. The Everglades bred that
fly; and there seemed something significant in the fact.
SECTION 4. THE CHANGES OF 50 YEARS
When Clay MacCauley made his Seminole survey in 1880, the
southern end of railroad construction was Orlando. Since then the
Florida East Coast has pushed rails to Key West, and down along the
eastern shore of Lake Okeechobee. The Seaboard Air Line has
crossed his habitat with a line through Seabring, Okeechobee City,
Palm Beach, and thence down the east coast; and with another line
down the west coast that runs through Arcadia and Fort Myers to
Naples. The Atlantic Coast Line has driven one line down the west
coast to Marco, and another south through the Big Cypress Swamp
to Everglades, with a branch which sweeps around the southwest
shore of Lake Okeechobee and taps the sugar country.
A hard-surface road now cuts the Indian country from Fort
Pierce through Okeechobee City to Arcadia and the west coast; the
Tamiami Trail cuts square across the southern end of the Everglades;
and a third transverse hard-surface road, already completed from
the east coast to Clewiston, will within a few years afford a swift
crossing from Palm Beach to Fort Myers. Hard-surface roads run
north and south along both coasts. A hard-surface road runs north
from Okeechobee 20 miles to Fort Drum. The Connors Highway
connects Okeechobee City with Palm Beach. A hard-surface road
runs out from Stuart to Indian Town. And it seems only a question
of time until the hard-surface road along the Miami Canal, already
built to the Dade County line, will be continued north to Lake
Okeechobee through the heart of the Everglades, becoming imme-
diately a main north and south thoroughfare.
A good gravel road now runs from Everglades through Immokalee
to La Belle; and a very wretched road continues north from Fort
Drum to connect with the Tampa-Melbourne hard-surface road.
Numerous trails which are all but impassable in the wet season, but
which afford ready entrance to the Indian country in the hunting
season, cut the Seminole's habitat in all directions.
Within this half century, too, have sprung up on the maritime
fringe of the Seminole's habitat the most popular winter resorts in
eastern United States; Fort Myers, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Palm
Beach, and a score of lesser names.
Miami had the largest numerical increase of any city in Florida
during the period from 1920 to 1930, with 81,000 additional citizens
on her roster for the last census. Miami now has 110,637 residents.
The population of the entire State of Florida is now 1,468,211, a
gain of 51.6 per cent in 10 years.
AGRICULTURAL AND ANIMAL HUSBANDRY
Northwest of the Kissimmee Prairies has developed in the last half
century what is the very heart and core of the Florida citrus industry.
Sugar and truck gardens have ringed nearly three-fourths of Lake
Okeechobee. The best of the land between the Atlantic Ocean and
the Everglades has been occupied by truck farms and citrus orchards.
All the good grazing lands have been stocked with the white man's
WHAT REMAINS TO THE SEMINOLE?
Having set down these facts, one unacquainted with the region
might imagine that nothing remains for a primitive hunter. Yet the
final fact-most important of all to him-is that there remains in the
year 1930 in South Florida an area as large as the State of Connecticut,
not less than 5,000 square miles, where the Seminole's only competi-
tors are white trappers living the same mode of life as himself. More
than half of this wilderness is so forbidding, so difficult, that the
Seminole is the only man in Florida who can wrest a living from it.
To his camps in the Big Cypress, the Everglades, Indian Prairie, and
along Cow Creek we shall now turn.
THE FLORIDA SEMINOLES
SECTION 1. RETREAT
For well over a hundred years now the Seminole has heard, and
perforce heeded, the command, "Move on, you dirty dogs!"
When Bartram traveled among them in 1774, Indians not only had
free range of the whole peninsula but in cypress canoes large enough
to hold 20 or 30 men they regularly crossed to Cuba and the Bahamas.
Before the Seminole War about 200 were in the habit of trading a
Indian Key, off lower Matacumbe. Now, no Seminole bathes in th
sea or navigates salt water, except one or two who occasionally drif
down into the Ten Thousand Islands.
When MacCauley traveled among them in 1880, 22 years after
Billy Bowlegs surrendered and went West, the camps of the Seminoles
were located in five main groups: (1) In the Devil's Garden southeast
of La Belle; (2) on Fisheating Creek, which flows into Lake, Okeecho-
bee from the west; (3) on Catfish Lake, which lies between Lakes
Pierce and Rosalie just east of the city of Lake Wales; (4) on the
Miami River; and (5) on Cow Creek, 10 or 15 miles northeast of
"The moving lines of the white population are closing in upon the
land of the Seminoles," wrote MacCauley. "There is no farther re-
treat to which they can go."
He was wrong.
The Devil's Garden, Fisheating Creek, Catfish Lake, the Miami
River, Cow Creek-that white men would ever want such remote
places did seem incredible. Yet the Seminoles in four of those five
regions have heard the word again, "Move on, you dirty dogs!"
Cattlemen from Fort Myers and hunters from La Belle crowded them
out of the Devil's Garden and compelled their retreat into the Big
Cypress Swamp. The Atlantic Coast Line, a hard-surface road, and
the sugar plantations around Moore Haven have crowded the Indians
off Fisheating Creek. The Bok Tower looks down upon the old Cat-
fish Lake settlement, from which Tallahaskee and his band were driven
in 1885, retreating across the Kissimmee prairies to Cow Creek. The
greatest city in Florida has grown up about the camps on the Miami
River, metamorphosing one of them into a catchpenny for tourists
where once upstanding men can now be viewed as exhibits coordinate
with rattlesnakes and alligators. Only the Cow Creeks occupied
swamps so little desirable that they have been suffered to remain
there 50 years.
SECTION 2. SEMINOLE CAMPS OF 1930
The location of present Seminole habitations is shown on my map
of "Permanent Seminole Camps." By permanent camps I mean
habitations which can not be packed up and moved many of them
SEMINOLE INDIANS 21
are occupied only a part of the year. In the nature of things, such a
map can lay claim neither to precision nor completeness; it does in-
dicate t!, extent of Seminole dispersal. Mr. Earl Anderson, Indian
enumnerattr for the 1930 census, says that in Monroe County there
are Irindiani- on Rock Creek and Shark River, with Chokoloskee as
their trading point. I found none as far south as Shark River.
Ingrain Billy has his camp on Lostmans River, Charlie Jumper (Chief
Charlie) has his permanent camp beside the road at Monte Carlo
Casino, and Jim Tiger camps down there somewhere. In Collier
County there is Charlie Tigertail's camp on Turner River and a score
or more in the Big Cypress and on the edge of the Everglades, all of
them east of the Ex erglades-Immokalee Road. From this group a
band of 30 or 40 under Josie Billy migrated to St. Petersburg last
winter to exhibit themselves in an amusement park.
The few camps in Hendry County are all south of the Devil's
Garden; white hunters and trappers have preempted the territory
Between there and La Belle. The Indians from both Collier and
Hendry Counties trade at Everglades, Immokalee, and Fort Myers.
The Indians of Glades County live in three or four camps in the
"Cabbage Woods" south of Brighton, using Brighton and Okeechobee
Sas their trading points. I know of no permanent camps in Highlands
County, although the Indians hunt as far north as Lake Istokpoga.
The Cow Creek ciomps are 8 or 10-miles northeast of Okeechobee City,
chiefly in St. Lucie C-unty. Indians come into Kenansville, in Osce-
ola County, but so far as I can learn they camp on the Brevard
County side of the line, on Ten Mile Creek and the Blue Cypress.
This is right at the headwaters of the St. Johns River, 180 miles from
the camps in Monroe County. There are no Indians in Florida north
of the headwaters of the St. Johns.
Coming south along the. east coast, the venerable Billy Smith,
medicine man for all these Okeechobee Indians, has his camp in the
swamp 6 miles northeast of Fort Drum, in the southwest corner of
Indian River County. In western St. Lucie County there are a few
camps both north and south of che Fort Pierce-Okeechobee Road;
these Indians trade in both county seats. In Martin County there is
but one Indian family, living between Indian Town and the lake.
In Palm Beach County there is one camp. And in Broward County
there are the sick and indigent on the reservation at Dania, as well as
the Osceolas and Tommies who were crowded from their Fort Lauder-
dale hammock in the days of the boom and the Jumpers crowded from
the coast a few miles south. In Dade County there are the Indians
on exhibition at Musa Isle and in Coppinger's Tropical Gardens in
the city of Miami; also one camp 15 miles west of Homestead, and
perhaps two or three camps on islands in the Everglades north of the
Inasmuch as all Indian habitations on the east coast between the
head of Lake Okeechobee and Miami are the white man's creations,
this region can not be considered Indian country at all in the sense
that Cow Creek and the Big Cypress are Indian country. Number 6
of the Okeechobee camps represents a band of 8 or 10 Indians who live
in an old house on the farm of a friendly white man, Mr. Clarence
Sunimrrlin; they come and go, working for him when he has work
for then, hunting and berrying as the mood strikes them, distinctly a
Stransitin type. In No. 11 of the Okeechobee camps, Dan Parker
22 SEMINOLE INDIANS
houses his family in an old barn and makes a precarious living as a
casual laborer. Number 12 of the Okeechobee camps represents an
experiment in interracial friendship which is only 2 months old; Mrs.
Ella Montgomery, a sister of former Chief Justice White, by the gift
o a' Ford car persuaded the family of Charlie Cypress to abandon hi
i,,.me in the Big Cypress and build a camp adjoining Mrs. Mont-
goniery's home at Loxahatchee Farms, 10 miles west of Palm Beach.
The larger Seminole camps are simply multiples of the typical camp
described in Chapter 1. The largest group in the Cypress camping
at one place numbers between 40 and 50, and at the camp of Billi;
Stewart and Charlie Snow south of Brighton there were about 25
living when I was last there.
HOUSES AND TEMPORARY CAMPS
Except for the Indians at Summerlin's, Dan Parker in his old hbrn
those in Government mansions at the Seminole Agency, and one
possible additional exception to be mentioned below, all the Semi-
noles in Florida live in open, palm-thatched shelters like those at
This is the more interesting inasmuch as MacCauley noted at
tendency to break away from the open house in 1880: a
There are, I understand, five inclosed houses, which were built and own.rjad hi
Florida Indians. Four of these are covered with split cypress planks or ,I:;..-; g4
one is constructed of logs. Progressive "Key West Billy" (Billy Fewell) h1,F Rone 0
further than anyone, excepting perhaps Me-le, in the white man's ways (," ..u-.e
building. He has erected for his family, which consists of one wile and thr.:e g
children, a cypress board house, and furnished it with doors and windoan E, p: r-
titions, floors, and ceiling. In the house are one upper and one or two lower IlonJ
Outside he has a stairway to the upper floor, and from the upper room a balcony.
Sam Thompson of Immokalee says there is one such house still
standing in the Everglades, built, he believes, by Charlie Tigertail.
It should not be assumed that the stranger can go to these "perma-
uent camps" and find Indians there at all seasons. They move about
a good deal; they come in to Everglades or Immokalee or Fort Myer -
and visit for weeks at a time. After a death they sometimes abandon
a camp entirely and build afresh. But they keep within the same
broad areas defined above. P
Almost all Seminoles spend some part of the year in temporary
camps, where their shelter is a tent fly, and that not usually of water-
proof material. Camps of this sort can almost always be seen beside
the Tamiami Trail, noticeably so at the beginning of the hunting
season when there is expectation of obtaining employment as guides.
SECTION 3. POPULATION
Clay MacCauley's census of 1880 showed 208 Seminoles. In view
of the impossibility of achieving an accurate census to-day, I doubt
that an accurate count-considering the difficulties of transportation
to be overcome-could have been achieved in three months of the
year 1880. If MacCauley found 208, almost certainly there were
more than that in Florida.
The census upon which the Rev. Mr. Lucien Spencer, Seminole
S agent from 1913 to 1930, was ,::.,, ,e' at the time of his death last
spring shows 578. Mr. Earl Anderson's enumeration for the 1930
SEMINOLE INDIANS 23
Census was considerably less; Mr. Stanley Hanson, of Fort Myers, in
recent report to Senator Frazier, says the Indians themselves
laim only 520. All agree that the number is between five and six
The Okeechobee camps count about 125; at most 150.
The Seminole Agency at Dania accounts for 40.
Wherefore, the Everglades-Big Cypress group is close to 400
P strong, if the Rev. Mr. Spencer's enumeration be correct. Of this
Number, however, from 10 to 75, depending on the time of year, will
be found in the amusement camps in Miami and St. Petersburg.
But it is pertinent to point out that the great bulk of the Seminoles
live a hundred and twenty miles by road from the Seminole Agency.
Census recapitulation sheet, 1930
Md Full blood Total
Age group blood,
total Total Male Female Total Male Female
Under 1 year.... ---------.-------------.....----- 9 4 5 9 4 5
I to8years ....... ..... ..------------ ----- .---.. 31 18 13 31 18 13
to 9years..-------------------............ 3 72 35 37 75 37 38
to 19 years-.------------ ----.----- -....... 149 62 87 149 62 87
to 29 years ----------------------- ----- 5 96 46 50 101 50 51
S to 39 years. ------....------------- ---------- 100 50 50 100 50 50
40to49 years--.--------.------- ---- - --. .... 44 35 19 44 25 19
0 0to 69years....-----------..-- -------. 1 34 21 13 35 22 13
0to69years------------ ------- 1 19 14 5 20 14 6
0to 79years .------- ----..... 6 1 6 1 5
S to 89 years.... ...........................-----.. 7 7 0 7 7 0
0and over ------------ -- -- ..... .... 1 0 1 1 0 1
Total------------------..- ---------- 10 568 283 285 578 290 288
Certain facts indicated by this census deserve comment. The first
is the almost exact balance of the sexes. I mention this because
t MacCauley in 1880 reported 112 males to only 96 females, and Creel
in 1911 speaks of a great excess of males over females.
1 Another error which the figures definitely refute is Mr. Creel's
Supposition that "as long as no intermarriages with outsiders is
possible, the natural inference would be that the Seminoles of Florida
will rapidly decrease and that ultimate extinction is not many genera-
An increase from anything approximating 200 in 1880 to 500
(or 578) in 1930 is not race suicide.
THE MIXED BLOODS
The Rev. Mr. Spencer enumerates 10 mixed bloods. Charlie
Dixie in the Big Cypress is the son of a negress by an Indian father;
Ji-sling, his wife, is a full-blood Indian, so their 4 children have
nly one-fourth negro blood. At Dania there are 2 illegitimate
eildren whose fathers are known white men; and there is at least 1
their child who shows every evidence of a white father.
In MacCauley's day there were still 3 negro women living as
Sminole wives, relics of slavery days, and 7 mixed bloods, all
Indian-Negro crosses. At one time the Seminoles possessed a con-
siderable number of slaves, and all the negro blood in the tribe traces
...41im- m mM innHl.a I I 11 n nnnlil III II I il /l
24 SEMINOLE INDIANS
back to that fact. The males of a superior economic order never lhave i
difficulty in finding mates among the females of an inferior econonmir',
group; the Indian-Negro crosses were invariably Indian meni l I 'h
mated with negro women, never vice versa. No Indian woinlin. -o
far as I can learn, ever accepted a negro male as the father of her
children. Under present conditions the negro blood will shortly be
eliminated as a recognizable quantity.
Not so with the white blood that is creeping in.
In 1880 MacCauley says "the white half-breed does not exist
among the Florida Semindles Nowhere could I learn that t
the Seminole woman is other than virtuous and modest. The birth
of a white half-breed would be followed by the death of the Indian q
mother at the hands of her own people." And Creel in his 1911
report repeats that no infusion of white blood is tolerated.
In 1930 we have the best of evidence in the persons of the thrive
children mentioned, the oldest 9 years, that white half breeds have
come to be taken almost as a matter of course. In 1925 one Florida
Indian was married to a white girl with a strain of Seneca blood; thus
far this is the only case of intermarriage in recent years. A tlilrd g
arrow that indicates which way the wind is blowing is the fact that
two Seminole women last winter set up camp beside the Tamiami
Trail and discreetly offered their services as prostitutes.
There is nothing startling in this change of attitude. It could have
been predicted with mathematical certainty by one possessing the
slightest knowledge of history. Men of a dominant economic group
always have been able to possess the women of the decidedly inferior |:
economic group. Brown-skinned Moors had no difficulty in winning 5
the white, Christian women of Spain and Portugal when the star of
Islam was in the ascendant over the Iberian Peninsula. And now
that Florida has 500 primitive hunters surrounded by a civilization *
possessing wealth, luxury, and bootleg liquor, an increase of sexual
intimacy between white men and Seminole women is as inevitable as
the sequence of day and night. The painful part is that the process ^
should start with bastardy and prostitution.
While on the subject of blood, it may clarify thinking to point out
that the purest blooded Seminole in Florida is apt to be the bearer
of many strains. The Spaniards were in Florida before the Seminoles 6
split off from the Lower Creeks. If the Spaniard did not mate with
Seminole women his history in Florida belies the experience of the
whole continent 1 ing to the south. Osceola's mother, after her i
famous son was grown, married a Scotchman named Powell, and I
fancy it was not an isolated case.
Indians were in Florida before the Seminoles split off from the
Lower Creeks, and the Seminole most certainly took to wife the women :
of the Indians he conquered in battle, Yamasee and Yuchi remnants. ,
The only practical consequence of his historical origin is that two
languages have persisted among the Florida Indians down to the |
present day. Spencer says:
At least two-thirds of the Florida Indians are unable to speak the Seminole -
language. The southern tribe (i. e., Cypress-Everglades camps) speak a mongrel
tongue called Miecosukec
SEMINOLE INDIANS 25
I see no reason to call Miccosukee a mongrel tongue. Both
languai''i. are Muskhogean. Clark Wissler puts Miccosukee in the
southern division with Hitchiti, Apalachee, Yamasi, the Alabama
group, and the Choctaw group. Seminole he places in the northern
divi.i.in with Muskogee proper, or Creek; Upper Creek; and Lower
Neither Seminole nor Mikasuki is written. While many words are
the same, yet there is sufficient difference so that an Okeechobee
Indian sometimes has difficulty in understanding a Cypress Indian.
In this report I use the word Seminole as it is used generally to-day
to designate all Florida Indians. But be it not forgot that the
Okeechobee Indians and the Indians at Dania speak a language
quite different from that of the Big Cypress band.
Before quitting this section on population, a word about the con-
fusion of family names. All Seminoles have Indian names, but inas-
much as only two or three white men can pronounce them, each Indian
gets an English name, too-at least all the men do. In many cases
not a thing about relationship may be inferred therefrom. Billy
Bowlegs is the son of Billy Fewell. For this situation, white men
with a perverted sense .of humor are of course to blame.
SECTION 4. -TRIBAL ORGANIZATION
The unifying effect of war and a common danger brought forward
leaders strong enough to exercise authority in both northern and
southern camps, men who could properly be termed Seminole chiefs;
mince Bowlegs surrendered and went west in 1858 it is doubtful if any
man deserves the title. Certainly no man in the last 50 years has
exercised authority over both the Okeechobee and the Cypress
groups. Nothing more absurd in Seminole history than the habit of
Miami newspapers of conferring the title in these days of the twentieth
century on Tony Tommie.
THE GREEN CORN DANCE
The green corn dances held each year in June are to-day, as in
MacCauley's day, the annual business meetings. The Okeechobee
Indians hold their green corn dance and the Cypress Indians hold a
separate green corn dance; the smaller group may send delegates to
the Cypress, but the Cypress does not seem to bother to reciprocate.
As a legislative device the green corn dance seems to be a demo-
cratic body in which not only the men but all women over eighteen
have a voice, according to Spencer. Judicial functions are in the
hands of a council: for the Cypress this is at present composed of old
Billy Motlo, Cuffney Tiger, Ingram Billy, and Jose Billy, according
to Stanley Hanson. For the Okeechobee group, Billy Smith, the
medicine man, is the only one I can name. This tribal council de-
rees penalties for infractions of their code, and in years past un-
oubtedly has inflicted the death penalty. Spencer say it takes
gniza ne of marriage and divorce, although certainly much marriage
nd divorce takes no cognizance of it.
26 SEMINOLE INDIANS
Like all things Seminole, the green corn dance is in process of deca
through contact with the white man. Once attendance was mand
tory; now fewer and fewer attend. From the Dania Reservatio
where the white man's influence is most in evidence, the Indians sen
a man and his squaw to represent them at the green corn dance i a
1927; in 1928, no one went from Dania.
Of the feasting, drinking, scarification, purging, dancing, an
punishment which go on at this festival, it is not necessary to go int
detail; nothing objectionable has ever been reported. It is no long
unusual for whites having the Indians' confidence to be invited, an
some crowd in without invitation.
THE HUNTING DANCE
The only other regular tribal gathering is a hunting dance which
occurs in the fall of the year at 4-year intervals, according to Mrs
Minnie Moore-Willson, who once attended as an honored guest an
who describes it in detail in her book on the Seminoles.
MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE
That a man and woman desire to live together is not quite enough
the -t;-. Tr:-., must be satisfied, and the tribal council may take a han
in the matter. Some years ago an Iili.ii :-t-gr, half breed ra
amuck and killed several Indians before he was shot down; Brothe
Dunklin of Okecchobee told me that the council got together an
decreed no more Indian wives for the Indian-Negro half breeds, an
it sounds plausible. But that all marriages come before the counc
I seriously doubt.
Be that as it may, if there are no objections to a marriage the res
is simple. The women folk on the groom's side supply the meagr
trappings of a Seminole bed; some one on the bride's side of th
bargain sews him a gay new shirt; then he takes up residence with hi
bride and her family.
He may stay in the camp of his wife's people many years if th
hunting is good, or. 'is the new family increases, he may find himse
an unoccupied hammock in the same general region and build himself
a new camp.
There is some intermarriage between the Okeechobee and Cypre
groups; just how much I do not know.
Most of these marriages endure. In 1915 Spencer said there was
only one divorced couple among all the Seminoles. He thinks that
the tribal council would have the final word in divorce as in marriage.
There is no ceremony to separation-the husband gets out, the wife
and children remain with her own people.
I have a feeling that the generalizations in the Rev. Mr. Spencer's
annual reports should be qualified by the story of Rosalie Huff.
Rosalie married Sam Huff and bore him four children; the family
came to live at the Seminole Agency. Frenk Jim came along and
Rosalie moved into a house next door and lived with him, Sam ap-
parnrtly not objecting. Chief Charlie next appeared upon the m,'er:,
took Rosalie ,l.':l.- from Frank Jim, moved into a third house min :
Government group, and all .! husbands lived in the same c.nrip
amicably. I doubt if the tribal council geis m ig.-th..-r often enough to
kep -. breast cf _her movements
Duogamy, not uncommon in 1880, no longer exists,
SECTION 5. HEALTH
The first health and sanitary survey of the Florida Seminoles was
made by Dr. O. S. Phillips, special physician in the Indian Service,
in 1919. The Reverend r. Spencer, in his report for 1920, quotes
Doctor Phillips as follows:
The Seminole Indians suffer less from the ravages of disease and probably
enjoy better health than any tribe of Indians I have ever visited.
The only disease of any consequence found among them is hookworm.
The excellent health enjoyed by these people I believe to be due to the fact
that they live in the open air all of the time, day and night, making their living
by hunting, which requires a maximum amount of physical exerrcie, and that
all of them are more or less isolated.
* As a rule the Seminole Indians are fully as healthy as the white
people living in the same localities. The per cent dying of flu was no greater
Than among white people.
d Dr. Robert E. L. Newberne, chief medical supervisor of the Indianr
bService, wrote report on the Seminoles in 1921 which apparently
represents no original work. All he has to say on health conditions
The Seminoles of Florida is the most healthy tribe in the United States.
It is said that the Florida Seminoles are free from tuberculosis. I hope they
are, but the assertion is too good to accept without question. It is also said
that venereal disease is unknown among them. I can accept that as a fact.
Since the time of these two reports a large body f data has accu-
mulated through the record of cases treated by lon al physicians in
Miami, Everglades, Fort Myers, Okeechobee, and Hollywood, serv-
ices paid for by the Indian Service on a cass basis. In 1920 an
Indian woman for the first time accepted the services of a physician
S at the time of confinement. From then on the break from the tribal
medicine men is manifest.
In fiscal year-
1921 ---------------------------.. ......---------------- 37
S1922 ------------------------------------------------------ 64
S 1923 ------------------------------ ------------ 156
1924 -----------------------------------------.-------------- 250
1925 -------------------------------------------------- 259
1926 ----------------------------------------_--------------. 244
S 1927 -------------------------------------------------------- 126
S 1928--------------------------------------------------- 245
1929 -------------------------------------------.--------- 218
d 1930 .----------------------------------------------------_ 187
Total for 10-year period -------------- ----------------------- 1,786
In the nature of things an arrangement whereby the Indian can
e go to the nearest local doctor and receive free medical service results
P in the doctors doing everything in their power to cultivate the Indian's
S confidence and habituate him to bringing all his physical ailments
to them. I am not sure that in some cases Indians have not been
::-m j ,,-mm!iiL a A il II nil il Ii I Ii li il | 1
en ccoUtragd to bring in wholly imaginary ills. In any case, the tabu-
lation which follows constitutes a more inclusive picture of the ills
u alii ting this population group than hi been obtained for any other
S IroIp) of 500 in the rural population of Florida.
Cases treated during decade 19 21 1930 (fiscal yecr- )
More than 10 *r year:
Malaria_. -----. ---_- ------------____. ---------_- 279
Hookworm .._----_-_-________________ 209
La grippe --------------------_ 138
Rheumatism ----------------------------------. ______ 136
5 to 10 per year:
Influenza ----------------------- 77
Dysentery -------------------------------------------- 62
Gastritis --------------------------- 55
Auto intoxication -. _--------------- ---------.----_ 53
Accidents, wounds, lacerations ---------------- 50
1 to 4 per year:
Acute indigestion------------------------- -------------------._ 40
Bronchitis ---------- ------------- 36
Diarrhea -------------------- 32
Pneumonia ----------------- 29
Gonorrhea ----------------------- 25
Confinements ---- --- ----------- --------------------- 24
Infected feet----------------------------------------------- 24
Heart disease------------------------------------------------- 23
Under general term -- -- ---------------- 10
Mitral stenosis -------------------------------------------- 11
Mitral regurgitation--------------------------------------- 2 2
Abscess ----------------------------------------- 18
Cold__----- -- --------- -------- --- ------ 17
Biliousness----- ----- --- ----------------------- 16
Surgical -------------- ----------------------- 14
Pregnancy .-------. -----------------------------.------------- 14
Eczema-- ----------- 11
Less than 1 per year:
Coryza -- - - --- ----- --------- 9
Worms __.---------------------------- --------------------- 8
'rethritis ---- ----- ----------------------------------- 8
Stomatitis ------ -------- ---- -------- --------------- 8
Chronic indigestion --------------- ------ 7
St. Vitus dance -- 6
Miscarriage ------- ------------- 6
Ulcer ------------------- 6
Chicken pox-------------------- 6
Ulcerated ear -------------- 6
Sore eyes-------------------------- 6
Aortic stenosis--------------------------- ---------- 5
Infected finger --------------------------------- 5
Hernia --------------------- 5
Ptomaine poisoning----- -------- ------------- 5
Colitis .---- 5
Dengue fever ----------- ------------- 4
Endometritis --- --- 4
Co 'stipation ----.
General debility ---------------------- 4
Marasmus ----------------------------------------------- 4
rns ----------------------------------- 4
Neuritis----.. ----- --------------------------------------- 4
T lnsilitis .-------------------------- 3
S1 berculosis_ -.-- --- --------------------------- 3
SEMINOLE INDIANS 29
Less than 1 per year-Continued.
Kidney trouble----- -------- --- ---- 3
Inguinal adenitis-------------------------------------- 3
Conjunctivitis------------------------------- ---------- 3
Cystitis _------------- 3
Marasmus dentition ----- -------------------- 3
Ringworm___ ----------------- 3
Ground itch----------------------------- ----- ------- 3
Lumbago ..------------------------------ 3
Alopecia --------------------------------------------- 3
Enlarged gland--------------------------------------- 3
Uterine hemorrahage ----------------------- 3
Croup ------------------------------ 3
Hemorrhage -------------------------------------------------- 3
Psoriasis ------------ 3
Alligator bite ------- 3
Metrigia _------ -- 2
Headache --------------- ---------- 2
Monorgegia-- ----------- ------ 2
Uterine --------- 2
Malnutrition ------------------------------ 2
Ovaritis ---- ------ ----- ------------ 2
Polyarticular arthritis----- ------------ 2
Salpinigitis _------ 2
Hepetitis ---------- -------------- 2
Bad teeth-------- -- 2
Bowel trouble---- --- ---- -------- 2
Streptococcus infection --------------------- 2
Arthritis _----------- ----------- 2
Skin disease ------ --------- ----- ----
Dropsy -- -------------------------------------- 2
Infected mouth 1
Nephritis _--------------------------- 1
Sterile .----------------------------------------------- 1
Gastro enteritis ----------------------------------- 1
Hyperchloridia -.- 1
Hydrocephalus --------------------------- 1
Stomolitis pyorrhea ----.------------------- 1
Suppurating sinus ------------------------------------------ 1
Aortic insufficiency 1
Diphtheria --------------- 1
Measles ------------------------------ 1
Metrorrhagia-------- ------------- 1
Placenta removal ------------------------------- 1
Defective spine ---------------------------------------------- 1
Eye cataract 1
Menorhogis ------------------------------ 1
Vaginitism- ---------------- 1
Vertigo _--.------------------------- 1
Excessive mnenses ----------------- 1
Skin eruption --------------------------
Smallpox --------- ------------ -------- 1
43095-S. Doc. 314, 71-3--3
.,--,!i in | |in IIn ii i i [ I II l
Less than 1 per year-Continued.
Stricture ------ --------------------- 1
Otitis media ----------------------------------------- ----- 1
Peritonitis-------. --------- ----------------------------- 1
Sand spur in throat ---.----------------------------------- I
Urticarea--------------------------------------------- --- 1
Blindness ---------------- ----------------------------- I
Fits --------------------------------------------------- -- I
Muscular atrophy--------------------------------------- 1
Throat trouble .------------------------ ---------------------
Toxic poisoning ------------------------------------------- I
Pellagra .------------------ ---------------
Snake bite-------------------------------------------- 1
In addition to the above evidence, we have an excellent report on
conditions observed among the Seminole Indians of South Florida
during an inspection trip to some of the camps in August, 1930, by
Dr. W. A. Claxton, of the Florida State Board of Health. So we can
speak of health conditions with fair knowledge.
Exclusive of the Five Civilized Tribes, 1 Indian in 10 on tbe P1
western reservations has tuberculosis; in Arizona the death rate Iroin
this cause alone is li per thousand. It at once will be evident that
this, the greatest scourge of the western Indians, is no problem in
Florida. Three cases in 10 years!
From Dr. Du Puis and Mrs. Frank Stranahan I learn that Fink l b
Osceola, Sally (or Nancy) Osceola, and another brother whose nieiirn
has been forgotten, died of tuberculosis within a couple of years
some time about 1902 or 1903.
Tuberculosis made its appearance for the first time in the records
when Edna Tommie died in February, 1928, at one of the Mianri
amusement camps. Her husband, Tony Tommie, contracted the
disease and was sent west to the Shawnee Sanitarium in the fall of h
1928; he returned to Florida the next year with the progress of the
disease apparently arrested.
Coffee Gopher, from a camp on Indian Prairie, died of tuberculosis
in Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami, early in 1930. These are the
three cases that appear in the tabulation.
The second great Indian scourge, trachoma, has never made its
appearance among the Seminoles; the first case has yet to be reported.
Doctor Claxton says:
Granular conjunctivitis was common in most camps among the children. This
will arouse in some minds the question of trachoma, but examination of the eyes a
of young adults did not show any conjunctival lesions and there are no blind-
Indians in Florida (there is one), so, since it cures itself spontaneously it can not
The first case of venereal disease on record is a case of syphilis in
1923. Two other cases of syphilis appear in the reports for 1925 and
I ,r. ., i' I .. i :'.. must be due to snake bite, because there is certainly more than
I sU : ":-
SEMINOLE INDIANS 31
Gonorrhea made its appearance a year later. There were 2 cases
S1924, 2 in 1925, 4 in 1926, 2 in 1927, 1 in 1929, and 14 in 1930, a
total of 25. The epidemic of this year (fiscal, 1931) started with one
f the women in a Miami amusement park. She passed it on to a
arrived man who in turn infected his wife and baby. One boy had
a case complicated by arthritis in the ankle. There were 19 or 20
under treatment at one time this summer, a situation which indicates
a serious breakdown in the old standards of sexual morality.
The only case of typhoid ever reported was in 1925, which seems
proof enough that the water in the ditches and holes of these south
Florida swamps is potable.
Sixty-two cases of dysentery in 10 years offers no particular
INFECTIONS AND CONTAGIONS
There was an epidemic of Spanish influenza from October to De-
cember of 1918, with 66 cases and 10 deaths reported. In 1925 there
were 21 cases; in 1927, 18; and in December of 1928 an epidemic
broke out among the Big Cypress Indians with 34 cases reported,
only one of which resulted in death.
SOne Indian came down with smallpox in 1928, the only case re-
corded. The Seminoles have never been vaccinated.
A single case of measles, half a dozen of chicken pox, one of diph-
theria-isolation in the swamps has its advantages.
Mumps, scarlet fever, cerebrospinal meningitis, whooping cough
have never made their appearance.
No case of goiter has ever been seen among the Seminoles.
Only four cases of cancer have appeared.
The Seminole's chief afflictions, as evidenced by the cases treated,
are exactly what would be expected in a group of bare-footed, ignor-
ant people living in swamps. Malaria heads the list, with 279 cases
in 10 years treated by the doctors; undoubtedly a great many suffer
from malaria who never bring their troubles to town. This m spite
of the fact that it has been the custom of Seminoles to sleep under
ets certainly for the last 50 years. Doctor Claxton points out that
alaria exists at Okeechobee and Keenansville, and that wherever
there is a saw' rmlil employing colored hands there is almost certain to
be a focus of infection.
32 SEMINOLE INDIANS
The State board of health treated 154 Indians for hookworm in dv
In the decade 1921-1930 we have 209 cases treated.
Doctor Claxton reports that when he made his examinations itis TI
year he found many children so heavily infested that their hearts er
showed valvular leaks. Undoubtedly the Indian who is free from b3
hookworm is the exception and not the rule. m
The Seminole is going to go barefooted so long as he lives in the dc
swamps; shoes are impossible for a man who walks from 10 to 20 sa
miles a day through water which in the summer becomes insufferably
hot-heat, water, and sand take the hide right off. A barefooted ea
population in Florida is going to harbor hookworms until it can be or
made to appreciate the necessity of latrines, and that is an idea at es
present beyond the Seminole. The International Health Board has
demonstrated all over the Tropics how whole populations of the illit-
erate can temporarily be freed from hookworm; to prevent reinfection i
is another matter. n(
In Doctor Claxton's opinion-
It is impracticable to order hookworm treatment in the camps because the bi
children could not be trusted to refrain from foods during the necessary period. V4
The 113 cases of anemia treated result inevitably from the malaria ai
and hookworm. b
All observers agree that the Seminoles' teeth are shockingly bad.
Ten years ago Doctor Phillips wrote:
In as many cases as possible I made oral examinations, and the number found
with decayed teeth was Isr.e The upper incisors appeared to be the ones most
frequently attacked, but il:l..iugh I made a careful inspection, I found no typical
Doctor Claxton found conditions worse this summer: i
Everyone has pyorrhea, even children around 8 years of age. The women n
after 20 years of age begin to loose their teeth; in fact, beginning decay was h
marked at 10 and 12 years. These teeth gradually rot off and the roots are b
eventually pulled out. Toothache is common. The fact that these people never b
drink milk or eat green vegetables would account for the early tooth decay.
Toothbrushes are entirely unknown. d
It should be mentioned that the great wooden aofskee spoon,
which in all camps perpetually passes from mouth to mouth, is one of
the most perfect vehicles ever invented for the transfer of oral infec-
GENERAL FACTORS AFFECTING HEALTH
Turning from the question of disease to such matters as food, drink,
clothing, and sanitary habits, which condition the health of all, the
picture is much :!_'. The adult Seminole is personally , :''-.
He bathes frequently enough so that body odors are not ..i
noticeable. i1. l.ncer,'d and aired in the suin cat proer
inte rivals. d'', a e n ,i c: l oor u .- per-
sons; Icany, '.i B '. Z
SEMINOLE INDIANS 33
The clothing is loose and sufficient most of the year; in the occa-
sional cold snaps the Seminole, as well as the winter visitor in unheated
Dwellings, shivers a bit. The only objectionable feature of costume
is the enormous weight of beads worn by the women.
There is no crowding in Seminole camps and sunlight has full access.
s The exceptions to this statement are the houses erected by the Gov-
s ernment at the Seminole Agency; these are 1-room affairs about 10
n by 10 feet, with a screened porch of equal size-the interiors com-
monly are both dirty and crowded. That camps are lightly aban-
e doned at the time of a death, or for other reason, is an additional
0 sanitary safeguard.
S The water supply derived from any old hole in the swamp could
easily be bettered by the use of a pump with a sand point driven 10
e or 12 feet, and made cooler in summer time by the device of porous
t earthenware used so commonly in the Tropics.
s Although proper disposal of body waste remains a great problem,
Garbage takes care of itself-there is always a dog or a pig handy to
I dispose of whatever is thrown over the shoulder. Wherefore flies are
not in evidence.
The sleeping arrangements high off the ground could hardly be
e bettered. Beds and mattresses would certainly bring with them
That the present diet of the Seminole is a bit overloaded with meat
Sand starch would be the opinion of most dietitians. No milk, no
butter is consumed, and fresh vegetables but sparingly. Undoubtedly
a great part of his dental trouble derives from the very soft nature of
the bulk of his food, stews and water-thin grits, nothing to bite on.
t Inbreeding by a small population group simply tends to intensify
Whatever hereditary characteristics there may be to pass on. If the
stock be sound to start with, inbreeding makes it stockier; a race of
idiots by close inbreeding will rapidly fill an asylum. Physically, I see
Sno evidence of deterioration, because Seminoles have been forced
heretofore to choose their mates from a rather limited group, unless it
8 be in this matter of wretched teeth. What will result from the
r hybridism of Seminole girls with the bootleggers, knaves, and swin-
dlers who are likely to become the fathers of the first generation of
Indian-white halfbreeds is not so hopeful.
ALCOHOL AND DRUG HABITS
The Seminole is not addicted to any of the habit-forming drugs.
He is inordinately fond of alcohol. He always has been. Just
now he is getting the worst liquor guzzled in a hundred years, a woe-
ful fact from the standpoint of health.
SThere have been only 24 confinements attended by physicians in
10 years, a misfortune incident to topography and isolation. While
t is picturesque to think of a woman able to go off in the brush by *
34 SEMINOLE INDIANS
herself and tear or bite her own umbilical connection, "it is also true,"
as Doctor Claxton points out, "that gynecological examinations
would reveal many prolapsed uteri and other abnormalities due to
improper exercise directly after childbirth."
The health work carried on by the Government thus far has been
purely curative. Although the day of the medicine man is done, the
work of white doctors is greatly handicapped by the barrier of language
and by transportation difficulties which practically limit medical aid
to those who come in to the towns. Educational and preventive
aspects lie entirely in the future.
Seminole Indians requiring hospitalization are taken either to the
small hospital in Everglades, to Lee Memorial in Fort Myers, or to
the Jackson Memorial in Miami.
I end this statement of health conditions where normally it should
begin, with a discussion of vital statistics. The record of births and
deaths I do not consider worth tabulating. Deaths of adults are easy
to ascertain, the news passes by word of mouth. But no one during
the past 10"years has been sufficiently in touch with many outlying
Seminole camps to give an accurate picture of births and infant deaths.
No less than 68 individuals are taken up on the 1930 census rolls be-
cause of omission from the roll of 1929.
A high birth rate, high death rate, with excessive infant mortality,
giving as a net result a vigorously increasing population is the proper
picture, one that would be blurred by publication of the vital statistics
SECTION 6. INTELLECTUAL ABILITY AND EDUCATION
The record of Seminole education is a short horse soon curried.
Writing in 1915, the Reverend Mr. Spencer says:
Tony B. M. Tommie completed the work of two grades in the public school at
Fort Lauderdale during the past year. The fact that we have one boy in school
by tribal permission is an advance. * The time is not far distant when
the tribal law forbidding education and providing that all persons learning to
read and write shall have their ears cropped will be repealed.
The law must have been repealed, for in 1920 we read that-
The Fort Lauderdale camp for several years has had representation in the pub-
lic schools; the county school at Indian Town has also enrolled several Indian
And then on February 1 of 1927, the little school at the Seminole
Agency near Dania was opened:
On the Sunday preceding Tony Tommie, a self-styled chief of all the Seminoles,
and certain white friends professing great friendship for and interest in these
Indians. visited the camp in my absence and impressed upon the Indians that the
children would all have to submit to vaccination as the first step when 5th school
i,-;.e:Tr! Terer"cr all the Indians fled from the camp except one family and the
.- but three pupils.
SEMINOLE INDIANS 35
S The Dania School goes on in 1930 with seven or eight pupils. The
Ls net result of all this education, formal and informal, is perhaps four
SSeminoles who can carry on a conversation in fairly fluent English;
three who can write an understandable though ungrammatical letter
and keep simple accounts.
If the Seminole as an educated man must be rated at zero, it is
altogether otherwise if we attempt to place him from the quite dif-
n feyint and altogether more important standpoint of native intellectual
e ability. Seminoles impress me as alert and active mentally, as close
e observers with retentive memories. They are not inventive, not
i noticeably curious, downright stupid only when drugged with alcohol.
e They will stand comparison with the average illiterate white man in
the same environment.
Mr. Lorenzo D. Creel, one of the ablest men the Indian Service ever
sent down here, said, "I think in comparison with other Indians the
Seminoles easily stand in the first class."
o SECTION 7. ECONOMIC FACTS
Have you food?
Are you supplied with clothing?
Have you a shelter against the storm?
I These are the fundamental questions. Answered in the affirmative,
1 life goes on. If the answer be "Enough and to spare," we have the
y economic prerequisite to cultural advance.
g Let it be said at once that the Seminole stands on his own feet.
g Six very old Indians receive rations to the value of $10 a month, and
two widows with children receive $15 monthly; all receive free medical
service. But unlike many western Indians, the Seminole is the
recipient of no unearned income; he gets nothing from tribal funds;
he receives nothing from the sale or rental of individually or collec-
r tively owned property. How, then, with no education, the merest
s smattering of English, business experience limited to buying over a
counter and bargaining with fur dealers and bootleggers, does he
make a living?
The third question can be answered with a word, yes. A Seminole
family can erect a shelter in three days that will last him 30 years
S with an occasional renewal of thatch. There are sentimentalists
1 infesting Florida who pity the poor Indian because he lives in an open
house. Fresh air and an occasional- wetting never killed anybody.
The Seminole lives in an open house because he likes an open house.
If a man can thatch a roof exquisitely, can he not also thatch a wall?
Compare the clean, airy quarters at Guava Camp with the dog
kennels provided for Indians at the Seminole Agency, and say which
way is best.
HUNTING AND TRAPPING
Hunting and trapping are still the principal occupations of the
Cypress and Everglades Indians. While all run hogs, their pork is
not yet a necessity; every Indian in the 1.' e'., -: L group is com-
petent with his gun to Tjr"-- his table ." i y- with meat, at
times of che year. only possible complaint -ouId resemble tLh
*. of the cracker on the coast, "Nothing to eat but pompano and
Which reminds me of a letter written to the Seminoles, then on the
SWithlacoochee Reservation north of Tampa, by a President of the
United States in 1835:
My Children: * The white people are settling around you. The game
has disappeared from your country. Your people are poor and hungry. * *
i A hundred years later white people are still settling around him.
He is still poor. But he is seldom hungry. And south Florida is
still a sportsman's paradise. A hundred years hence, with intelligent
S conservation, there should be more game in south Florida than to-day.
FUR BUYERS AND PRICES
While death in recent years has erased the names of many men who
made their fortunes in the Florida fur trade---Girtman Bros., of
Miami; Frank Stranahan, of Fort Lauderdale; Judge Storter, of
Everglades; Brown, of Immokalee-a new generation of fur buyers
S has taken their places. A. A. Harrington, of Arcadia, and his associ-
ate, J. E. Carter, of Canal Point; William Poole, of La Belle; John J.
S Fohl, of Fort Myers; R. L. Pierce, Calvin Drawdy, and Nate Zel-
S' menovitz, of Okeechohee; Evan Kenzie, of Dania; Bert,Lasher and
Kiser, of Miami. Some of these men trade directly with the Indians;
Harrington and Fohl deal more through local men such as Sam
Thompson, at Immokalce, and Billy House, on the Trail, who in turn
buy from the Indian.
The Indian is a minority factor in the Florida fur trade. Fohl says
he gets 65 per cent of his skins from the whites, only 35 per cent from
Indians. His total business, he says, amounts annually to about
5,000 raccoon skins, 400 otter, 8,000 to 10,000 alligator skins. The
opossum and skunk he regards as valueless, and he complains that the
Indians stretch their raccoon skins too much.
i Mr. Harrington, of Areadia, tells me that he and Carter together
do a business of $6,000 to $7,000 a year with the Indians. He corn-
plains, rightly, against the taking of fur in summer. Mr. Harrington
is my i1.1 lt.ity for saying that white men have preempted entirely
the territory between La Belle and the Devils Garden; but that from
i the Big Cypress south of the Garden the Indians bring in two-thirds
of the fur and hides.
These buyers pay for raccoon skins from 35 cents to $2.50. Alliga-
tor skins vary in price from 25 cents for a 3-foot hide to $3 for one 7
S feet long. Otter are worth $12 to $15. Tanned buckskin sells by the
S pound at $1.50 to $2. Live alligators, caught very young, bring the
Indian from 15 to 30 cents apiece. The live-alligator trade is very
'Ivey B: jr., a white trapper, says he gets better prices than do
the Indians by mailing his fur direct to Sears, Roebuck & Co., in
Philadelphia: and that he receives >.1 :.1' to $4 for a 7-foot alligator.
The Seminolo in the f;.: of 1930 for the first time shipped direct to
Sears, Roebuck & Co.
It should be noted that, present prices are much better than 20 years
ago. Creel in his 1911 report quotes the following prices then
received by the Seminole"
SEMINOLE INDIANS 37
1 Otter_-------------------------- --------- ------ $.... 7. 00-$9. 00
Raccoon .._-------------------.-..... _ .35- .50
Alligator------------------------..------------ .35- 75
S Diminishing supplies in a measure are compensated by rising prices.
INCOME FROM FUR AND SKINS
An attempt to calculate how much the Seminoles receive from this,
their principal source of cash income, is fraught with many chances
for error. Nevertheless it is worth attempting. We can arrive at the
s approximate value of Fohl's trade, for example, as follows:
t 5,000 raccoon skins, at an average of $1.50------------------------- $7, 500
400 otter skins, at an average of $12 ----------------------------4, 800
10,000 alligator skins, at an average of $1 ---------------------__ 10, 000
S Of this total, the Indian trade is 35 per cent, or $7,805. By such
f rough approximations and after discussing the matter with several
f local people whose opinion is considerably better than a guess, I
Compute the total value of fur and skins taken by Seminoles thus:
Annual value of Indian trade
JohnFohl, Fort Myers------------------------------------ $8,000
Harrington & Carter, Arcadia -------------------.------------.--6, 000
Bert Lasher, Miami -----------------------________ _----- 5,000
iser, Miami ----------------------------------------------- 5, 000
1 Other Miami buyers- ----------------------------------------- 4, 000
SThree Okeechobee buyers---------------------- ------------- 3,000
Evan Kenzie, Dania.------------------------------------ 1, 000
2 La Belle buyers -..-------------. ---------..---.----..---.---. 2,000
1 Total__ . . . . . . 34, 000
S Total-------------------------------------------- ---- 34,000
S The Indian does not receive all of this $34,000, however. As
pointed out above, there frequently is a middleman between the
Indian and these dealers. Dire necessity or desire for whisky fre-
quently induces the Indian to sell far below the market. The
Seminole receives at the outside not more than 75 per cent of this
total, or in round numbers $25,000.
Another source of income based on the hunt is derived from the
illegal sale of venison, in season and out. The Indian can get 50 cents
a pound for it, more or less. If hard up, he is likely to go to a store-
keeper and exchange a whole carcass for a five dollar bill-the store-
keeper then sends the bootlegger around to complete the transaction
and keep the money in circulation.
Or a car speeds along the Tamiami Trail and pulls up beside an
"John, I go Fort Myers, come back 4 o'clock. Pennawaw, $2?"
On his way back to Miami, the white man receives a wild turkey
and the Indian his $2. Also an illegal transaction.
Although hunting is the Seminole's chief industry, he is regularly
beaten at his own game by white men. Zane Grey tells of meeting
an Indian on Broad River who had killed 11 alligators the night
before, using a torch. Alphonso Lopez, of Everglades, who piloted
ie up all the large rivers in Monroe County, said that he and his
brother in a lake at Cape Sable killed 103 in two nights, using a
S powerful reflector. It is the difference between a dugout canoe and a
I W----- ----------------------
S SEMINOLE INDIANS
gasoline launch. Lopez also told me that he and his brother will
average 500 skins each, mostly raccoon, in two months' trapping on
the Monroe County Reservation. White men buy better traps and
they take more pains in handling their pelts.
If hunting is the Seminole's foremost industry, stock raising is
his second. With the Okeechobee Indians probably three-fourths
of their meat is pork and not more than one-quarter game.
Cattle.-In Bartram's day, just before the American Revolution,
the Seminoles had big herds of cattle. In the days when Andrew
Jackson was an Indian baiter and a cattle rustler, he stole as many as
a thousand head from the Mikasukis near Tallahassee. Creel,
writing in 1911, says:
There are about 50 head.of stock cattle and 12 yoke of oxen in the Cow Creek
country. Also a large number of hogs. The Big Cypress Indians have 29 hi-ad
of stock cattle'and 10 yoke of oxen. All have a few hogs, but panthers and hear
are plentiful and prevent their increase. The group at Fort Lauderdale had no
domestic animals except chickens, the raising of which is a leading industry
among the Seminoles.
Even this pitifully small number of cattle was destined to disappear.
On open range white cattlemen stole on all occasions and the Indians
had no redress. A few years ago Ada Tiger kept 30 or 40 head on
the Martin County Reservation, but with the 1926 boom came the
end of the open range up there and she was forced to sell out. I can
not learn of a single beef or cow owned by the Seminoles in 1930.
There are about the same number of oxen in the Big Cypress as in
Creel's day; north of Okeechobee they have been abandoned.
Horses.-Perhaps 20 saddle ponies are owned by the Okeechobee
Hogs.-Hogs are the backbone of the Indian's livestock industry.
They have free run of the open range and get almost no attention
beyond castration and marking until ready to be butchered, when
they are shot down like any other wild thing. Razorbacks pre-
dominate. Hog raising, like the cattle industry, shows the effect of
the white man's withering touch. In 1915 Mr. Spencer reported
that the Indians were supplying Stuart with pork. In 1917-
Considerable money was made at one time from pork, but so many hogs have
been stolen since war prices have prevailed that the Indians have reduced the
size of their herds to a number that can be kept near the camp.
In 1930 I find hogs kept about all the Indian camps to supply them-
selves with food; practically none are sold. White men shoot the
Indians' hogs with no more concern for property rights than if they
were deer; this breed of vermin has been known to shoot an Indian
hog, cut off a ham, and leave the rest for the buzzards. Nature
raises enough to cover this marginal loss, but all the bacon in the
world would not poultice the outraged feelings.
In the winter and early spring when garden truck is to be harvested,
the Seminoles make fair wages for perhaps 45 days a year. Trhfe
receive $2 a day for picking tomatoes and eggplant; picking beans
SEMINOLE INDIANS 39
1 at 2( to 30 cents a bushel pays them $4 to $5 a day. Children gener-
n ly help their parents and receive no individual wage. A man or
d woman thus employed makes approximately-
80 days picking eggplant and tomatoes, at $2 -------------------- $60.00
15 days picking beans, at $4.50-------------------------------- 67. 50
is 50 individuals each making $127.50 ...----_ .......-........_ ....- 6, 37. 00
o When the hunting season opens in November, a few Indians guide
at $4 per day; a guide with an ox team gets $6 and food. Whitney
Cypress, Wilson Cypress, Cuffney Tiger, and Bird Fraser, of the
SCypress Indians, guide and furnish teams; Billy Bowlegs of the
s Okeechobee Indians is in demand; and from 10 to 15 guides along the
Tamiami Trail get in a couple of trips a season. Ten days a year is
a fair average for these guides.
k men working 10 days, guide and oxen, at $6-----.-------------.. ---. $240
d 15men working 10 days, at $4------_------------..............---- 600
STotal from guiding----------- -------.......--- -....--...-- 840
Indians at the Seminole Agency are given three days of work per
week at $2.50 a day; this totaled for the last fiscal year $530.
i Joe Bowers and Jim Gopher have steady work tending orange
, proves; Joe gets $10 a week, Jim $13.75; their combined annual
come is $1,200.
n SEMINOLE CRAFTS
Of handicrafts with much cash value the Seminole is innocent.
n e weaves no rugs or blankets, fashions no pottery; the silver he
beats into ornaments is for his own use only; the beadwork of the
women runs mostly to watch fobs without means of attachment, a
few belts, an occasional necklace. They do make a good many dolls,
Some purely decorative, others intended for doorstops. Cash sales
- from dolls, beadwork, moccasins, and Seminole dresses totals around
STHE SHOW BUSINESS
d In the two amusement parks in Miami and one in St. Petersburg,
certain Indians make a pitiful living by exhibiting themselves to
serious tourists. The Indians come and go from these places; some-
S times there will be 50 in a camp, sometimes a single family. In the
summer time the Miami camps are almost deserted, St. Petersburg
1- dosed entirely. Five months is a fair average. Seven families are
e Aired for about this period by Musa Isle at about $6 per week per
T family plus food, according to the acting Seminole agent; Coppinger's
a Tropical Gardens employ about 4 families and St. Petersburg 4 or 5.
re 16familiea2 weeks, at $6 per week................................ $1, 800
Mr. John Marshall, the acting agent, considers that this is too
high, that $1,000 is nearer the proper figure for cash received. Food,
of course, is the big item to the Indian.
S Indigent Indians receive rations to the value of $1,200 a year from
the United States Government.
J - 1. 1.i Ui, .,i,-----
SE SEMINOLE INDIANS
Hiucki. -, r: it-, at from 12/ to 35 cents a quart may yield $500.
Along the Tamiami Trail some who have learned to ask half a
dollar for permitting themselves to be photographed, who have
taught their children to approach with outstretched hands, and if
the dole be a copper, throw it into the canal, may pick up another
THE TRIBAL BUDGET
Annual cash income for the 578 Seminoles would then total some-
thing like this:
Sale of furs and skins ------------------------------------- $25, 000
Of casual laborers.---.-----------------------.-_ $6,375
Of laborers at agency ._--------- ---.------_________ 530
Of Bowers and Gopher ---. ------_--...._ ...------- .. 1, 200
Of guides --------------__ ------------____----- ... 840
Sale of dolls, dresses, moccasins, beads---------------------------- 1, 500
Cash income from the show business------------- -- 1, 500
Illegal sale of venison and turkey. ------------.______________-_ 500
Sale of huckleberries' ---------------------- .------ ----------- 500
Gifts to Tamiami beggars _--------------------------_..-------- 200
Total cash income ----------- --------------------------- 38, 145
50 per cent tribute to bootleggers_-----------------------------_ 19, 073
Total cash income available for Seminole use----.------------ 19, 072
The population of 578 represents, say, 115 families of five members
each. The average annual cash income available for use would then
be $166 per family of five, or $33.20 per capital.
Some will question the statement that half of the Seminoles' cash
income goes for whisky. Mrs. Lucien Spencer, who was associated
with her husband in the work of Seminole administration for 17
years, regards 50 per cent as low. Mr. John Marshall, the acting
superintendent, says 60 per cent for the adult Indians and 75 per
cent for young men and boys without family responsibilities would
be nearer correct.
* Where does this $166 per family go?
Cotton for clothing, guns and ammunition, Singer sewing machines,
phonographs and records, second-hand Fords and gasoline, beads,
coffee, grits, salt, sugar, tobacco.
Two of our three fundamental questions are now answered-shelter
and clothing. There remains to discuss food.
THE BOUNTY OF THE WILDERNESS
The meat supply is at the moment abundant. The two sources
of flour which the Seminole inherited from the aborigines who pre-
ceded him, coontie and the chinabrier (Smilax), are failing; at least
Dania seems to' be the only place where much coontie flour is still
Both the saw palmetto and cabbage tree yield delicious edible buds
which are fully as good as the domestic cabbage. Huckleberries,
the coco-plum, seagrape, pigeon plum, gopher apple, prickly-pears.
and sour oranges in season are to be had for the picking
SEMINOLE INDIANS 41
The balance of his food the Seminole derives from his planted crops.
His gardening is of the simplest. Either near his camp or on some
rich hammock in the vicinity, he clears a half acre or an acre at most,
using no tools but the ax and hoe, fences it to keep out hogs, and grows
his corn, sweet potatoes, squash, melons, and some cowpeas.
In addition to garden truck, the Seminole formerly planted a good
deal of sugarcane. In 1915 Mr. Spencer wrote:
Billie Johns made 150 gallons of cane sirup which on my advice he put in tin
cans. He sold the same at $1.10 the gallon. Naha Tiger made 50 gallons and
found a ready sale for it. Lewis Tucker also canned a few gallons and sold it.
The patches of cane have diminished much since then. Charlie
Tigertail, on Turner River, has an acre in cane and some is grown in
the Big Cypress camps, but the total acreage is insignificant. Why is
it that even his gardens shrivel?
SECTION 8. A HALF CENTURY OF DISINTEGRATION
"Human progress marches only when children excel their parents,"
Said President Hoover in his speech opening the White House confer-
Sence on child welfare. What progress have Seminoles made in half
They have been .driven into the most inhospitable swamps in
They have been robbed of all security of possessions.
They have been forced to abandon their cattle.
They have been driven from groves and fields to which their only
title was that of creator.
With diminishing game, their economic position has become in-
Tribal organization and authority have suffered a progressive decay.
Long and rightly regarded as one of the most moral groups in the
world, there is observable a definite drift toward promiscuity.
Education has made no mark upon their minds.
Syphilis and gonorrhea have made their appearance.
The children of warriors have become drunkards and beggars.
THE SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT
SECTION 1. LEGAL STATUS OF THE SEMINOLE
The State of Florida recognized the Seminole in the Constitution
of 1868, Article XVI:
SEC. 7. The tribe of Indians located in the southern portion of the State, and
known as the Seminole Indians, shall be entitled to one member in each house of
the legislature. Such member shall have all the rights, privileges, and remunera-
tion as other members of the legislature. Such members shall be elected by the
members of their tribes in the manner prescribed for all elections by this constitu-
tion. The tribe shall be represented only by a member of the same and in no case
by a white man: Provided, That the representative of the Seminole Indians shall
not be a bar to the representation of any county by citizens thereof.
SEc. 8. The legislature may at any time impose such tax on the Indians as it
may deem proper and such imposition of tax shall constitute the Indians citizens
and they shall thence forward be entitled to all the privileges of other citizens and
thereafter be barred of special representation.
In the constitution adopted by the convention of 1885 the Seminole
is not mentioned. The Indian of those days was as likely to exercise
his right of special representation at Tallahassee as he would be to lie
down with a rattlesnake. In an effort to determine the status of the
Indian in Florida law at the present time I asked the attorney general
for an authoritative statement. He replied under date of September
15, 1930, as follows:
IN RE STATUS OF INDIANS UNDER CONSTITUTION AND LAWS OF FLORIDA
Under section 1994 of the Compiled General Laws, certain lands in Monroe
County were set aside and given to the Seminole Indians as a reservation. Fur-
ther than this, Indians are not mentioned in our statutes. The State of Florida
has no court decision or statute that I am aware of which deals with the status of
Indians as citizens of Florida, but I might state that the Seminole Indians have
never been regarded in law as citizens of this State, although there are no court
decisions to that effect. The Indians when off the reservation set aside for them
by the State have generally been held liable for the ordinary tax required by the
State, such as automobile license, whether regarded as citizens or not.
FnED H. DAVIS, Attorney General.
In a letter dated November 27, 1930, I put the following question
to the attorney general:
Congress, by the act of June 2, 1924, conferred citizenship on all Indians born
within the territorial limits of the United States. (43 Stat. L., 253.)
Making the Indians citizens of the United States automatically by virtue of the
fourteenth amendment makes them citizens of the State wherein they reside.
(See Piper v. Big Pine School District, 226 Pac. 926, Cal. 9124.)
Every male person of the age of 21 years and upwards that shall, at the time of
registration, be a citizen of the United States, and that shall have resided and had
his habitation, domicile, home, and place of permanent abode in Florida for one
year and in the county for six months, shall in such county be deemed a qualified
elector at all elections under this constitution. (Art. VI, sec. 1, Constitution of
Why are not Florida Seminole Indians citizens of Florida and qualified to regis-
ter and vote?
SEMINOLE INDIANS 43
To this question the attorney general replied on November 29,
IN RE STATUS OF INDIANS AS CITIZENS
This is in acknowledgement of your letter of November 27 regarding the above
I might be inclined to agree with your contention that the Federal statute of
June 2, 1924, has the effect of making Indians citizens of Florida as well as citizens
of the United States. At the same time, no one having jurisdiction in the premises
has raised such a question for my decision and therefore anything that I might say
about it would be wholly unofficial at this time.
I might state, however, that the United States Supreme Court has definitely
held that Congress has no authority to pass laws prescribing the qualification of
electors in the several States.
FRED H. DAVIS, Attorney General.
On August 30, 1930, I wrote the State game commissioner as
Whatever the law, it seems that Seminole Indians are permitted to take any
species of game at any time of the year. Is that attitude on the part of your
department likely to continue indefinitely?
I imagine you will be likely to shut down on the Indian's selling game out of
season long before you bother him about killing for his own consumption. Is that
In asking these questions, I am not trying to put you on record, but merely
to ascertain if the Indian's source of livelihood, in so far as he lives by hunting,
is likely to change in the next 20 years, say, through any radical tightening of
the game laws as applied to him.
To this the commissioner replied on September 2, 1930:
Indians have been allowed to hunt at will in the past, but in recent years they
have been debauched by a certain white element and have been hunting a great
deal out of season and selling the game. This we are going to use every effort
to stop. We feel that the Indians should be placed in a reservation and be
required to stay there and allowed to hunt in this reservation for their own use,
but not for the market.
The sentiment of our people is growing toward the curbing of their activities
in the woods on account of their recent depredations. We have never charged
the Indians hunting licenses, although Mr. Fred H. Davis, our attorney general,
has ruled that they are citizens and should be treated just as other citizens of
Florida. We are going to endeavor to stop them from hunting and selling game,
and hope some method can be devised by which they can live without making
infractions of our game law.
C. C. WOODWARD,
State Game Commissioner.
In response to a request for copy of the attorney general's ruling
mentioned in the preceding letter, I received the following, dated
September 19, 1930:
Answering your letter of September 17, I am inclosing herewith copy of Attor
ney General Davis's opinion, written March 31, 1929.
The department of game and fresh-water fish has no desire to make it hard
for the Indians,. but we are going to insist that they quit killing and selling game.
They are not to blame for this condition nearly as much as certain depraved white
men who are using them for this purpose.
C. C. WOODWARD,
State Game Commissioner.
The ruling of the attorney general mentioned follows:
MARCH 31, 1929.
on. C. C. WOODWARD,
Game and Fresh-Water Fish Commissioner,
DEAR SIR: Sections 1994.and 1995, Compiled Laws of 1927, provide for the
tting apart of certain landsin Monroe County as a Seminole Indian Reservaj
on. The description of the lands will be found in section 1994.
Chapter 11838, acts of 1927, is a general law providing for the regulation of
hunting and fishing in the State of Florida and no exceptions are contained therein
exempting Indians from the operations thereof, and I am, therefore, of the
opinion that Indians are as much subject to the provisions of said chapter 11838,
acts of 1927, as are any other persons in the State of Florida. It is probable
that the act would not be construed as covering the territory comprising the
Seminole Indian Reservation above referred to, but I express no opinion on this
subject at this time, in view of the fact that recent laws of the United States
have made Indians citizens of the United States the same as all other persons,
and it is likely that the special privileges and immunities which formerly attended
Indians as such have now been abrogated.
FRED H. DAVIS,
JURISDICTION OVER COMMERCIAL VILLAGES
The question of the legal status of the Seminole came up again
regarding jurisdiction over the amusement parks. On September
11, 1930, I addressed the Commissioner of Indian Affairs:
For years there have been Seminole Indian villages in amusement parks within
the city limits of Miami and St. Petersburg. Undesirable from every point of
view, they are particularly. so as foci of venereal infection.
Has the United States any jurisdiction?
It seems to me wholly a question for the local police power and State health
The assistant commissioner concurred, September 23, 1930:
As you say, this is a question for the local and State health-authorities to handle,
because the United States has no jurisdiction unless some Federal law is violated.
However, it would be entirely proper to take up the matter with the local authori-
ties with the view of having them do what is practicable to remedy the undesir-
able conditions which exist.
J. HENRY SCATTERGOOD,
On November 1, 1930, after a preliminary conference with Mr.
Reeder, in order to get the matter before the Miami City Commis-
sioners I stated the case as follows:
HOLLYWOOD, FLA., November 1, 1930.
C. H. REEDER, Esq.,
Mayor of Miami, Miami, Fla.
MY DEAR MAYOR REEDER: In my survey of the Seminole Indians for the
United States Indian Service, I have encountered a serious situation which
directly concerns the city of Miami.
All testimony agrees that up to the year 1930 the Seminole Indians have been
practically free of venereal disease. Within the past 10 months Dr. J. G. Du Puis;
of Lemon City, has treated 4 Seminole women and 6 men for gonorrhea; Dr.
George S. Stone, of Fort Myers, has treated 3 men and 2 women, a total of 15
Both doctors name the two camps maintained in the city of Miami for show
purposes, namely, Musa Isle and Coppinger's Tropical Gardens, as the source of
infection. I'inclose statements from the two doctors.
With a people as ignorant of elementary sanitation as are the Seminoles, with
individuals constantly passing from these villages back to the camps in the Big
Cypress, a source of venereal infection such as this constitutes a health menace
the seriousness of which is difficult to exaggerate. The infection must be stopped
at the source, or the tribe will become rotted through and through.
The United States Government has no jurisdiction.
It would be a splendid thing if the city of Miami would prohibit Indian Villages
for show purposes within her borders.
Special Commissioner to Negotiate with Indians.
SEMINOLE INDIANS 45
The medical affidavits supporting my charge belong in the record:
FORT MYERS, FLA., October 30, 1930.
MY DEAR MR. NASH: Answering your inquiry of this date as to the possible
source of gonorrhea infection of the Seminole Indians of Florida. Those that
I have treated in the past 6 months give a history that traces back to a camp in
the city of Miami, Fla., as the source of infection. Number treated, 3 males, 2
GEO. S. STONE, M. D.
DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR,
Division of Indian Affairs, Washington, D. C.
GENTLEMEN: Having practiced medicine and surgery for the past 30 years for
the Seminole Indians, the tribe has remained practically free of venereal diseases
until the past 12 months, it is with regret that I have observed many cases of
gonorrhea in both males and females of the Seminoles.
Their recent custom of harboring in miscellaneously operated camps close in to
our cities give opportunity to the immoral class of white people to take advantage
of these confiding innocent people and plant vice and disease amongst them.
J. D. Du Puis, M. D.
IMiami Herald, November 11, 1930]
COMMISSION TO VIEW SEMINOLE VILLAGES-MUSA ISLE OPERATOR AND
INDIAN PROTEST STATEMENT ALLEGING SPREAD OF DISEASE
City commissioners will inspect Musa Isle and other Seminole Indian villages
in Miami this week it was decided yesterday when Mrs. Bert Lashe,yoperator
of Musa Isle and Corey Osceola, Seminole, from her village, appeared before
the commission to protest against a statement made recently by Ray Nash,
special commissioner of the Indian Field Service.
Nash in a communication to the city last week charged that by reason of
living in commercial villages several of the Indians had contracted diseases
and that the camps were insanitary. He suggested that all Indian camps within
the city limits be abolished.
Mrs. Lasher said that a number of Indians had contracted diseases, but they
were Indians which never had come to the camp before. She appealed to the
commission to instruct the police department to prohibit the Indians from
visiting the negro section, where, she said, they were sold bootleg liquor which
made them irresponsible.
Dr. John W. Shisler, welfare director, reported that on instruction from Frank
H. Wharton, city manager, he had visited the Indian camps and found them t(
Commissioners were of the opinion that the camps were assets to the city
and beneficial to the Indians because they provided them with trading posts
for the furs and skins they obtained in the Everglades. Commissioner E. G.
Sewell praised the Musa Isle Camp as historical as well as an attraction for
winter visitors. No official action was taken pending the visit to the camps.
Mayor Reeder placed my letter before the city commissioners.
Their attitude is sufficiently indicated in the foregoing clipping from
the Miami Herald. At a later hearing before the commission, Mrs.
Hicks Allen, president of the Miami Women's Club, headed a dele-
gation of women who added their protest against these places. The
camps go on as before.
43095-S. Doe. 314, 71-3---4
__ ~__~_~~_. ----
SECTION 2. THE RACE QUESTION
In a society which draws the color line, it is highly interesting to
note the position of the Indian, who, so far as epidermal pigmenta-
tion goes, is frequently darker than many classified as negroes. The
Seminole is a "white man." He can travel on the railroad in coaches
reserved for whites. He enters hotels and eats at the same table
S with whites. He is admitted to white wards in local hospitals.
Although no Seminole children at the present moment are in white
schools, in years past they have been admitted to white schools both
S at Fort Lauderdale and Indian Town.
While the laws of Florida specify that only white children may
attend the white schools, the intent was clearly to separate white
and negro children; there was no intent to discriminate against the
Indian, he was entirely overlooked. Captain Spencer writes on this
This law technically places the Indian children in the colored schools, which
can not be done as the Indian draws the color line more strictly than do the
SECTION 3. WHITE CONTACTS
Since the written word is unable to make its impress upon the mind
of illiteracy, the Seminole must gather his entire impressiofl of the
civilization to which he must adjust himself from what he can see
and through the white men he knows. He sees the stills of moon-
shiners hidden in the depths of his own wilderness. He sees an
endless stream of motor cars whizzing madly across the Tamiami
Trail, a people to whom motion has become an occupation. He sees
Miami, where lying in the sunshine is an occupation, where the horse
race and the dog race are the most important concerns of the human
The habitat of the bulk of the Seminoles in Florida is one of the
most lawless regions in the United States. So it happens that the
Seminole is being ushered into the presence of the great American
mysteries by a curious and Catholic group: Crackers; crooks who shoot
his hogs; murderers and missionaries; game wardens and sheriffs;
S storekeepers in Immokalee, fur buyers, trappers, hunters; rich women
whose hearts yearn to remove the barbs from the saw grass; census
enumerators, Indian agents, congressional committees, investigators.
Making more impress upon the Seminole than all of these combined,
the recipient of one-half his cash income, agent provacateur of all
his crimes, stands that liaison officer between the dismal swamp and
the realm of delerious forgetting, the bootlegger.
SECTION 4. LIQUOR
"Bootlegger" is the twentieth century name for a breed of vermin
that has been systematically debauching the Indian since 1492.
SViewing the plight to which the Seminole has been reduced through
its abuse, I find something infinitely pathetic in the evidence that
originally his forefathers recognized liquor as their arch enemy.
The Travels of William Bartram is the best description extant of
Florida just previous to the American Revolution. It contains this
The Muscogulges, with their confederates, the Choctaws, Chickasaws, and
perhaps the Cherokees, eminently deserve the encomium of all nations, for their
wisdom and virtue in resisting and even repelling the greatest, and even the
common enemy of mankind, at least of most of the European nations, I mean
The first and most cogent article in all their treaties with the white people, is,
that there shall not be any kind of spirituous liquors sold or brought into their
towns; and the traders are allowed but two kegs (5 gallons each) which is supposed
to be sufficient for a company, to serve them on the road; and if any of this remains
on their approaching the towns, they must spill it on the ground or secrete it on
the road, for it must not come into the town.
On my journey from Mobile to the nation, just after we had passed the
junction of the Pensacola Road with our path, two young traders overtook us
on their way to the nation. We inquired what news? They informed us that
they were running about 40 kegs of Jamaica spirits (which by dashing would
have made at least 80 kegs) to the nation; and after having left the town three
or four days, they were surprised on the road in the evening, just after they had
come to camp, by a party of Creeks, who discovering their species of merchandise,
they forthwith struck their tomahawks into every keg, giving the liquor to the
thirsty sand, not tasting a drop of it themselves; and they had enough to do to
keep the tomahawks from their own skulls.
Woodbourne, in Causes of the Florida War, narrates the next
chapter in this contemptible American history:
The appointment of Gen. Wiley Thompson as agent for the Seminole Indians,
was made in November, 1833, in place of Major Phagan, who was dismissed in
consequence of his numerous frauds upon the Indians. Several fatal rencontres
had taken place about this period and in the early part of 1834, all of which
were clearly traced to the effects of intemperance. Two negroes belonging to
General Clinch were forcibly seized by the intoxicated Indians, and while en-
deavoring to effect their escape, they received such severe injuries as to cause
their death almost immediately. General Thompson writes to the Commissioner
of Indian Affairs:
"My personal safety has been more than once endangered by the intoxication
of Indians, and I consider myself no more safe from the proprietors of the num-
erous dirty little whisky doggeries located around the Indian borders, on whom
I have been as severe as I have power to be. I have been so provoked, as to be
almost tempted to order the chiefs to demolish the little log huts and rude
shanties hovering upon the Indian border, in which the Indian's bane is kept for
In his report to the commissioner for 1895, Dr. J. E. Brecht says:
Our opposers--whisky men, etc.-had a clearer field during 1895. They
watched my movements and, waiting their chance, would rush to the Indian -
camps as soon as they learned I was not there, and as matters were I could not
spend much time in visiting among these Indians during the fiscal year 1895.
The whisky sold among the Indians was of such a poor quality that several of
them came near dying from the effects of the stuff.
Twenty years later the liquor problem looks very bright, at least
in Captain Spencer's 1915 report:
At present, owing to the fact that the Indians have very little money, there is
no regular traffic in intoxicants. No liquor whatever is taken on Indian lands.
There is only one place where the sale of liquor becomes a problem and that
is at Miami. A decoction made from red pepper, a little whisky, and a drop or
two of cocaine to the quart, is sometimes made in the negro quarters of the town
and sold to the Indians. Also, the steamers from Nassau smuggle in a certain
amount of Holland gin, and certain negroes sell this to the Indians.
There are no licensed saloons in any of the counties in which Indians are
living at present.
Certain of the Indians resent the fact that the Government discriminates
"against them in the matter of intoxicants.
Billie Buster has forbidden the use of intoxicants in his camp. Willie Jumler
the same. He said:
"Thinkso whyoma make Injun big d- n fool. Last year 1 catch $350
worth of otter and drink it all."
SBut in 1922 a new note of sadness creeps into his narrative of what
is going on south of the Devil's Garden:
Considerable illicit liquor is made in Lee County, and while the Indian lands
are kept clear, the surrounding country undoubtedly has many stills. Certain
moonshiners unquestionably supply Indians in this work. It'is proposed to ask
for the services of a special officer as soon as the summer rains cease. By getting
a man that is unknown in this locality and posing as a tourist hunter these stills
can be located. The trouble now is that in this vast unsettled country the
sheriff and his deputies as well as the members of the Indian Service are all well
known to all the inhabitants. It is impossible effectively to police a
territory of 2,579,840 acres which contains a population of less than 7,000.
From that date onward the music of this comic opera sweeps onward
in a great crescendo to the fortissimo of 1930. In 1924:
Florida is an ideal landing place for liquor smugglers. Its inaccessible swamps
contain many moonshine stills. Drunkenness is on the increase and this applies
to the Indians as wells as whites.
Captain Spencer reports in 1927:
There has been practically no disorder on the reservation. Drunkenness is
rife but a semblance of order has been maintained.
At this reservation (Seminole Agency at Dania) liquor conditions are the worst
that could be imagined. Liquor is procured from many sources adjacent to the
reservation and apparently no attempt is made by State nor National officers
to enforce the liquor laws. During the past year the sheriff of this county,
several of his deputies, and several policemen were arrested by Federal agents
for being directly implicated in bootlegging operations. The evidence was said
to establish the fact, but United States Commissioner Spitler at Miami -refused
to hold them and they were accordingly set free without trial.
Liquor conditions place me in a very embarrassing position. We are inducing
these Indians to settle on these lands and are thereby making an advance for the
first time in the history of this work. It would be suicidal to the work to begin to
arrest and punish them for drunkenness as soon as they settle on these Indian
lands. The bootlegging operations should be curbed by the civil and Federal
authorities. I have reported to both locations of these places where liquor is
easily obtainable but, to date, nothing has been done.
Liquor (1928) can be purchased in close proximity to the reservation (Seminole
Agency) and such minor disorder as is experienced is due to Indians entering the
reservation in an intoxicated condition. No remedy can be suggested as long as
the Civil and Federal authorities make no effort to curb the liquor traffic among
either the whites or Indians.
The quality of illicit liquor (1929) procured is such that it drives the Indian
crazy which has resulted in three death* during the past year, two murders and
On December 15, 1928, a band of drunken Indians were on the Tamiami Trail
engaged in a fi,ht in which Nuff-kee, Mrs. Billie Roberts, was fatally stabbed.
On February 20, 1929, two Indians, Charlie Lee and Philip Billie, procured a
gallon of liquor in La Belle and started for the Hendry County Reservation. While
intoxicated, they engaged in a scuffle with hunting knives, resulting in Charlie
Lee being disemboweled.
On May 14, 1929, Carney Billie found a still and quantity of liquor on the bank
of the Miami Canal. He stole a quantity of the liquor, resulting in his falling
from the canoe and being drowned.
In the year of Our Lord 1930 three more drunken Seminoles went
to their death.
SEMINOLE INDIANS 49
In 1930, whether it be the dark of the moon or bright moonlight,
shallow-draft boats bring Bimini liquor up Turner River and load onto
trucks on the Tamiami Trail. The stills of moonshiners are spotted
all through the Indian country.
In 1930 the Indian buys liquor in Immokalee, Fort Myers, La Belle,
Okeechobee, Davie, Dania, Miami.
In 1930 the Seminole buys liquor whenever he has 25 cents.
In 1930 it is a weekly occurrence for Seminole Indians to receive a
check for $7.50 from the United States Government for casual labor,
buy $3 worth of groceries and $4 worth of the most terrific rotgut a
man may pour down his throat, come home drunk, and go to bed in
quarters erected for him by the United States Government within a
hundred yards of the Seminole Agency.
But although seemingly doomed to progressive alcoholic degenera-
tion by the vicious civilization which encompasses him with the
slimy embrace of an octopus, there is a bright side to the picture
which reveals what a fine fellow at bottom the Seminole is. Thirty
years ago it was an annual event for 20 or 25 canoes loaded with
Seminoles, their pigs, chickens, children, and the pelts from a year's
hunting, to glide down the North New River and tie up to the trading
post of Frank Stranahan in Fort Lauderdale. They did their trading,
then they went on a spree. Two were delegated to keep sober.
Guns and knives were piled up in Stranahan's store; ropes were made
ready to tie the obstreperous. They got drunk like gentlemen.
In this year of our Lord 1930 watchers of the weak are still appointed,
and the drunken Seminole is seldom a menace to anyone but himself.
MINISTRATION AND ADMINISTRATION
MISSIONARIES AND FRIEND
SECTION 1. THE REVEREND MR. FROST
For at least 60 years the waves of organized Christianity have
been lapping on Seminole shores. At the end as in the beginning,
the Seminole stands like the Rock of Gibraltar unshaken in pagan
,pride. A Reverend Mr. Frost endeavored to establish a school among
the Seminoles as far back as 1870; the project was soon abandoned as
SECTION 2. THE IMMOKALEE MISSION
Beginning in 1888, the missionary committee of the Women's
National Indian Association, and particularly the association's presi-
dent, Mrs. Amelia S. Quinton, began investigating the Florida Semi-
noles. In March of 1891 she, with two other ladies, accompanied by
Capt. Francis A. Hendry, visited camps on the western edge of the
Everglades. Before returning to civilization, Mrs. Quinton bought
400 acres for the association, just west of the present village of
Immokalee (sec. 4, T. 47 S., R. 29 E.); and in June of the same year
Dr. and Mrs. J. E. Brecht, of St. Louis, came on to establish the
Inasmuch as Doctor Brecht was shortly appointed Seminole agent
for the Indian Service, his work will be discussed under Federal
After two and a half years, the mission was turned over as a gift
to the Missionary Board of the Protestant Episcopal Church, the
work of which in South Florida was directed by Bishop William
Crane Gray. In the summer of 1895 a Rev. Mr. Gibbs with his wife
took up residence at Immokalee. He and others working under
Bishop Gray carried on at the Immokalee Mission for some 20 years,
right up to the time of the appointment of Mr. Spencer as Seminole
agent in 1913.
SECTION 3. THE MISSION AT GLADE CROSS
The Episcopal Church also bought the 640 acres in section 8, town-
ship 48 south, range 34 east, and established a mission out on the
edge of the Everglades which they called Glade Cross. It being
rumored that the store at the boat landing in section 15 was a source
of liquor for the Indians, the bishop also bought the storekeeper out.
The Glade Cross Mission was built in 1898 or 1899, and was at first
manned for a part of each year by the missionaries from Immokalee.
They built a dwelling, a store, a small hospital, with outhouses and
sheds; dug drainage ditches and fenced some fields; grew corn, cane,
potatoes, bananas, and citrus fruits on some of the islands and
hammocks. For many long and lonely years, Glade Cross or the
boat landing was the home of an English missionary, "Dr." W. J.
Godden, a pharmacist. He died out there quite alone on October 1,
1914. This plant was abandoned at the death of Doctor Godden,
and, like the Immokalee Mission, has quite gone to decay.
SECTION 4. INDIAN MISSIONARIES
In the fall of 1910 a delegation of 11 headed by the Rev. Mr. A. J.
Brown was sent on by seven native Baptist churches of the Seminole
Nation in Oklahoma to look over the Florida evangelical field.
Although they had no reason to be encouraged by their canvass,
these western Seminoles sent on a full blood and his wife to open
missionary work at Bower's store, the site of the present Indian town.
As they saw only five or six Indians in three months, this venture was
likewise abandoned. But again and again these western Indians
returned to the Florida field. They were here in 1929.
This is but a partial list of missionary activities. "The Catholics,
Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and Episcopalians have had the
field in turn, and all have abandoned it except the latter," Creel
wrote in 1911. The Presbyterians are still in the field, although more
as friends than as missionaries.
SECTION 5. RESULT OF MISSIONARY ACTIVITIES
The Reverend Mr. Spencer, Seminole agent from 1913 until his
death in 1930, was dean of the Episcopal Cathedral in Orlando before
he entered the Indian Service, so he hardly can be accused of prejudice
against the church. His opinion of missionary activities was not
During the entire 24 years of my association with the Florida Seminoles I have
never known of the case of a missionary working among them whose influence
was not decidedly harmful. The Indian is naturally a very religious person and
the detrimental effect of the missionary comes from the fact that they do not try
to build up and enlarge the Indian's belief but proceed to destroy what religion
he has and then leave the field without giving him anything in return. It is an
. indisputable fact that in every instance the Indian shows a lower standard of
honesty and morality after coming in contact with the missionary.
SECTION 6. FRIENDS OF THE SEMINOLE
If genuine, the quality of friendship makes itself felt even through
barriers of race and language. It is difficult to overestimate what the
friendship of people like the Stranahans of Fort Lauderdale, the
Hendrys and Hansons of Fort Myers, and the Willsons of Kissimmee
meant to the Seminoles during the years when they distrusted the
Government and hated the missionary. They had one of the domi-
nant race to whom they could turn for disinterested advice. Where
could a Seminole stay in a town like Fort Myers were it not for the
hospitable Hendry or Hanson back yard? Many of his neighbors
wondered why Frank Stranahan kept a horse long after the automobile
had relegated most stables to the past. Few knew of his trips in the
dead of night with that old horse to bury some Indian baby or friend
who' had died in the camps c, the edge of the town. The Seminole
can' iill count to-day as a heavy asset the interest of many stanch
STATE AND LOCAL ADMINISTRATION
Florida sheriffs and courts have dealings with the Seminole occasion-
ally, game wardens and health officers rarely, tax collectors only in
the matter of automobile licenses. The Florida Legislature has con-
cerned itself with the Indian only to the extent of setting aside a
reservation for his use.
SECTION 1. CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Inasmuch as no court of Indian offenses is maintained, any in-
fraction of law in Florida is tried in the civil courts. These have
invariably shown the utmost leniency toward the Seminole who has
transgressed the law.
CRIMES COMMITTED BY INDIANS
On February 14, 1915, while raiding the home of a bootlegger, the sheriff of
Dade County undertook to hold up John Tiger on a public road and the Indian,
not knowing the sheriff, fired. He was arrested, but after I (Captain Spencer)
explained the circumstances, the charge was not pressed and he was released.
On December 15, 1928, a band of drunken Indians engaged in a
fight in which Nuff-kee, Mrs. Billie Roberts, was fatally stabbed by
Josie Billie. On February 20, 1929, Philip Billie disemboweled
Charlie Lee*in a drunken brawl. The civil authorities did not bring
either murderer to trial.
The attitude of the courts toward drunken Indians is well illus-
trated by the following from Mr. Spencer's 1928 report:
I hold a commission as deputy special officer but am placed in an embarrassing
condition due to the fact that I am inducing these Indians to move onto reserva-
tion lands and can hardly arrest them on their arrival because they have been
furnished liquor by some bootlegger outside the reservation. If an intoxicated
Indian becomes boisterous, I arrest him and place him in the. county jail. The
judge tries him and sentences him to 60 days on the county roads but paroles
him to me until such time as he is found intoxicated again, when the sentence is
to be enforced. In this way we are able to hold a semblance of order. I usually
leave the Indian in jail for two or three days before bringing him to trial and the
lesson is sufficient.
Local judges recognize the fact that Seminoles in general are
orderly and that infractions of the law are usually due to ignorance.
Case after case could be cited where the judge explained the law to
the Indian offender, told him to spread the word among his people,
and dismissed the case.
CRIMES AGAINST INDIANS
In the days before national prohibition, people thought twice
before selling liquor to Indians. Mr. Spencer's 1915 report narrates
The State authorities are at present lending every possible assistance to the
suppression of the liquor traffic. On November 27, 1914, Rosa Portier was
arrested for selling gin to Indians. She was convicted and paid a fine of $1,000.
On November 27, 1914, G. Johnson was arrested charged with giving liquor
to Indians. He plead guilty and served seven months on the county roads.
On February 14, 1915, William Miles was arrested for selling whisky to
Indians. He was convicted and is now serving a sentence of one year at hard
Contrast the above with this paragraph from Mr. Spencer's 1928
It would be hard to conceive worse conditions than exist here regarding
liquor conditions. Liquor is procured from many sources adjacent to the
reservation (Dania) and small effort is made to enforce the liquor laws. The
county sheriff, several deputy sheriffs, several policemen, etc., are at present
under indictment for being implicated in bootlegging operations.
Various white men charged with murdering Indians have been
brought to trial and the cases pressed with quite as much energy as
if the victim were white. When Jack Tigertail was murdered near
Coppinger's Tropical Gardens in 1922, the people of Miami not only
raised a considerable sum, which was placed in trust for his wife and
children, but they hired additional counsel to assist the prosecuting
attorney. Vebber was convicted of the murder, but the verdict was
set aside on a technicality.
On January 8, 1923, three white men were brought to trial for the
rape of two Indian girls. Mr. Spencer says they were acquitted only
because the death penalty is mandatory.
In July of 1893 a gentleman named Alderman who had just returned
from the Federal penitentiary at Atlanta got Josie Billie drunk and
relieved him of $110. Alderman was given two years in the State
penitentiary, and a taxi driver implicated in the robbery got $100
We can say, then, that in prosecuting those who commit crimes
against the Indian Florida authorities are as diligent as in prosecuting
crimes against white citizens; while the Indian criminal is treated with
a leniency altogether too great for his own good.
SECTION 2. ENFORCEMENT OF GAME LAWS
If the Indian in Florida is treated with the utmost leniency as
regards ordinary crimes and misdemeanors, he has thus far enjoyed
an altogether privileged status in respect to the game laws. In
another connection I pointed out that the Seminole kills for his own
use at all seasons of the year, he traps fur in the summer time, he
sells a small amount of venison and turkey in and out of season.
A couple of Indians have been tried in Collier County, I believe,
for the last offense. Otherwise the only infraction of game laws for
which the Seminole ever has been arrested, so far as I can learn, has
been for selling aigrette plumes. On March 20, 1915, Wilson Cypress
and Henry Clay, when coming in to West Palm Beach to attend the
trial of John Ashley, were arrested and charged with having plumes in
their possession. Mr. Spencer entered a plea of guilty; the Indians
were released and fines and costs remitted.
In the spring of 1920 Willie Willie, the Beau Brummel of the tribe,
and Lake Wilson, of the Okeechobee Indians, were brought to trial
in the United States district court charged with having plumes of
migratory birds in their possession. Willie was fined $5 and Wilson
SECTION 3. STATE BOARD OF HEALTH
Besides local police and game wardens, the only Florida officials
who have dealings with the Indians are the officers of the State board
of health. This, I believe, has been limited to some work at hook-
worm eradication many years ago, and the survey made by Doctor
Claxton in the summer of 1930.
SECTION 4. TAXATION
The Indian is required to pay his automobile tax and license fee.
He does not pay for the hunting licenses required of all other citizens,
nor does he pay any other form of taxation.
SECTION 5. THE MONROE COUNTY RESERVATION
Agitation for the reservation of State lands for the Seminoles began
in 1891. At the end of a quarter of a century the agitation bore fruit.
In 1917 Mr. J. W. Willson in conference with Mr. Matthew K.
Sniffen, secretary of the Indian Rights Association, drew a bill setting
aside 99,200 acres in Monroe County as a Seminole Indian reservation.
The law provides that
The trustees of the internal improvement fund are hereby directed to convey
toqhe board of commissioners of State institutions the title to said described lands,
in -trust, however, for the perpetual use and benefit of the Indians aforesaid, and
as a reservation for them.
This large tract of land lies north of Shark River where the Ever-
glades break up into the Ten Thousand Islands. Its average elevation
above sea level is 13 inches, and in the evening there are 13 mosquitoes
to the cubic inch of atmosphere. In the wet season it is very wet, and
in years like 1930 the dry season is also very wet. Men who know
South Florida better than I say that in average years much of the
Monroe County Reservation would grow fine truck. Havingwitnessed
$2,000,000 worth of tomatoes washed out yesterday afternoon
in Collier County, I confess to some pessimism on this score.
As a game preserve the State reservation has undoubted value.
These lands are cut by the finest fishing streams in Florida. If the
Everglades National Park becomes a reality, as now seems certain,
and game is protected therein, the Monroe County Reservation should
become a famous hunting ground. The nature of the country) how-
ever, makes it probable that poachers will reap more benefit from this
fact than Indians.
On my inspection of this reservation I was accompanied by the
venerable Charles Torrey Simpson, author of In Lower Florida Wilds
and Out of Doors in Florida, easily the foremost naturalist in the
State and an internationally famous conchologist; and by Dr. John C.
Gifford, president of the Morris Plan Bank of Miami, a German-
trained forester, one-time professor of forestry in Cornell, a south
Floridian for the past quarter of a century. They speak for them-
LITTLE RIVER, FLA., November 26, 1930.
MY DEAR MR. NASH: In accordance with your request for my opinion regard-
ing the lower southwest coast and the reservation in that region for the Seminole
Indians I submit the following: In company with yourself and Dr. John Gifford,
expert forester, I recently cruised along the southwest coast of Florida, entering
58 SiMINOLE INDIANS
Lostmans, Rodgers, Harney, and Shark Rivers; and we ran as far up them as was
possible with our shallow-draft boat. The first three of these streams run
through the Seminole Indian Reservation and the last along its south border.
Everywhere along the sea and for some distance inland there is a dense and
lofty growth of mangrove forest which continues for several miles up the streams,
gradually giving way to lower and more open growth with finally patches of
prairie. Lower Shark River is an archipelago of small islands and winding
channels; Lostmans River has numerous lagoons, while Harney and Rodgers
are comparatively free from islands.
Here and there were hammocks with cabbage palmetto and other dry-land
trees, and some of the prairies appeared to be dry. Everywhere a short distance
in from the sea the water was perfectly fresh and fine for drinking.
Mr. Alphonso Lopez, captain of our boat and well acquainted with the region,
told us that bears and raccoons were abundant and that there were deer, mink,
and otter throughout the reservation. We found the streams everywhere full
of the choicest fish and were told that they were abundantin the sea. In many
places there were countless birds which flew up and onward as we cruised along.
In my judgment this reservation is a good place for a home of the Seminoles,
as everything they need from the wild is here abundant, and from all that I learn
they are rapidly being contaminated here near Miami by contact with the
CHARLES TORREY SIMPSON.
COCONUT GROVE, MIAMI, FLA.,
December 6, 1980.
DEAR MR. NAsH: In compliance with your request, the following is my impres-
sion of the Seminole Indian Reservation in Monroe County on the west coast:
I consider it ideal as an Indian hunting and fishing reservation; although game
is not as abundant as formerly, I know of no place in Florida where it is more
plentiful. If white hunters could be excluded from this reservation there would
probably always be sufficient game to support all the Seminole hunters. The
reservation contains a hundred thousand acres and is bordered on the north by a
large hiatus of unsurveyed land. The area per person is large. On the Gulf
coast there is an abundance of shellfish, especially clams, which are now being dug
by dredges and canned for shipment north. There is an abundance of fish of
many kinds. These rivers connect with many lakes and creeks with good fresh
water for drinking and protected in case of storm. The white natives seek
shelter up these rivers in hurricane times.' In fact the whole reservation is a
veritable labyrinth of wide and narrow waterways with countless islands of
characteristic salt-water, brackish water, and fresh-water flora.
This reservation is flooded in very wet seasons, but, like many thousands of
acres of glade land in south Florida, is dry in winter and can be used successfully
in the production of several kinds of vegetables. The mosquitoes are bad on the
Gulf coast in summer, but inland on the glades are not troublesome. Good
permanent camping places are scarce but the Indian is peripatetic by nature and
probably never would stay long in any place. This reservation is adapted to the
old Indian canoe life, and, of course, not fitted for the automobile which he is
trying to conquer, much to his misfortune. This region was once the home of
the only settlement of Arawaks or West Indians in the United States, and some
of the higher points of land were formed from the cast off shells of many years of
feasting on clams, oysters, and conchs.
Although apparently remote, the headwaters of these rivers run close to the
Tamiami Trail and a short canal from the Tamiami Canal to the headwaters of
Harneys River would connect it for all seasons of the year for boats of considerable
size with the east coast and Lake Okeechobee section. From Harneys River
across the glades was the main Indian canoe route to the east coast before the
construction of the Tamiami Canal and Trail.
It is useless to provide the Indian with agricultural land because he is no farmer
and probably never will be. It is useless to give him religious instruction. Many
years uf missionary work along these lines have accomplished nothing. Many
would be benefited, no doubt, by instruction in the English language. He is, how-
ever, quite self-sufficient and an adept in doing whatever he wants to do.
All he needs is a place to hunt and fish to suit his needs regardless of game laws.
No oil leases should be allowed on this reservation and white hunters and fisher-
sen should be excluded. Indians are not allowed to hunt on posted land belong-
L v ..
SEMINOLE INDIANS 59
ing to white men and there is no reason why this rule should not apply to the
Indian's reservation. This should be a wholehearted, simon-pure Indian reserva-
tion or nothing.
There are no mountains and no deserts in Florida, but there are many miles
of green glades and prairies dotted with glistening lakes and traversed by broad
water courses. This is home to the Seminole and he is really homesick when he
leaves it. There are countless islands of verdure in this region and many forms
of wild animal life everywhere, but the picture will lose a vital part when the
Seminole with his little family in his dugout canoe quits it. The Royal Palm,
the mahogany, the flamingo, the parakeet, the ibis, and countless other choice
products of nature have gone or are going and the Seminole will go, too, soon after
he is removed from his natural setting.
The only way to preserve him as such is to give him an exclusive hunting
ground, and the one already assigned to him is ideal in this respect. If it becomes
surrounded by a national park, let him become a part of it like the other unusual
things which belong there. In time he would become very useful as a guide, and
guides in that section will be needed for years to come. I know of no place on
earth where it is easier to get hopelessly lost. Your only company for days might
be little Florida deer grazing on freshly burned areas, little black bear climbing
the palmettoes to eat the cabbage, alligators splashing into the water, rattle-
snakes swimming from bank to bank, clouds of wild water fowl and tarpon
rolling, pompano and mullet and many other fishes too numerous to mention. It
is one of our last frontiers where the relics of an old sugar plantation and man-
grove bark mill attest the failure of the white man to conquer it. If these Indians
are left alone to paddle their own canoes over their own exclusive domain they
will probably remain good Indians and a picturesque part of the landscape or
waterscape, but if taught the white man's ways they will develop ultimately into
very mediocre half-breeds and hover around the outskirts of our towns and mingle
with the negroes. The only way to preserve him as he is, if this is the better
plan, is to provide him with a good exclusive hunting ground, and for this purpose
I know of no better place than this reservation in Monroe County. If not this,
then let him fight his own battle and finally completely merge with white and black
until he is no more.
JOHN C. GIFFORD.
There is, of course, a long history of Federal administration of
Seminole affairs previous to the removal west of the Mississippi with
which this survey has no concern.
SECTION 1. FEDERAL ACTION PREVIOUS TO 1891
In the year 1872 rumors of an impending outbreak induced the
Commissioner of Indian Affairs to send an agent to Florida. He
found that the Seminoles "were peaceable and lived together by them-
In 1875 the commissioner urged that public lands be set aside for
the Seminoles while there were-still good lands to be had, "to save
them from the fate of the Mission Indians of California." Nothing
In 1879 Capt. H. R. Pratt, a noted Indian educator, was detailed
to investigate "with a view to the institution of such measures as
might lead to the civilization of the Florida Seminole." Capt. F. A.
Hendry, of La Belle, took him among the camps and introduced him
to the head men in the Cypress. The Indians declined all offers, and
Pratt reported that nothing could be accomplished.
The publication of the MacCauley report in 1884 reawakened an
interest in the Seminoles and perhaps caused a twinge or two of con-
science. Congress that same year appropriated $6,000 to "enable
the Seminoles in Florida to obtain homesteads upon the public lands
of Florida, and to establish themselves thereon," but when an agent
was sent to help the Indians take advantage of the act it was found
that the hammocks they were cultivating were owned either by the
State or by improvement companies.
In 1886 another Federal agent was sent to look up suitable public
lands; he could find none. In that same year, on the suggestion of
the governor, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs recommended that
the Federal Government should purchase lands from the State.
In 1888 Miss Lily Pierpont, of Winter Haven, Fla., was appointed
Seminole agent. Unable to accomplish anything, she resigned the
next year. Nor could her successor in office make any headway.
The commissioner now reported that he could do nothing unless
authorized to purchase lands from the State. Year after year Con-
gress appropriated $6,000 for the Seminoles; year after year the
appropriation reverted to the Treasury, unused.
SECTION 2. THE ADMINISTRATION OF DOCTOR BRECHT
With the initiation of the Immokalee experiment by Mrs. Quinton
in 1891, the modern period in Seminole admini>m tion may be said
to have begun. Of the 400 acres selected by the Women's National
SEMINOLE INDIANS 61
Indian Association, 80 were sold to the Upited States, and Dr. J. E.
Brecht was appointed Seminole agent.
In those days Fort Myers was the last outpost of civilization.
Immokalee lay 40 miles to the southeast over as bad a trail bs the
world tolerates, The site was chosen because of its great elevafion-
in a region of swamps so flat that water is often in doubt which way
to run, Immokalee stands full 20 feet higher than the mission at
Glade Cross, and 20 feet in Florida makes a mountain. Note well
that the nearest permanent Indian camps were from 20 to 40 miles
from this location.
Elevations above sea level
(Bench marks established by Department of Agriculture]
mark Location and description Elev-
1 Fort Myers, corner of Heitman's grocery.......--------.----..........---- 7.6
4 Travers House, 300 feet north of pens-------.-.-.. ---------- 43
6 Immokalee Road, east of Kennedy Carson house ---.... ----------- 490
6 Immokalee, 100 feet northwest of schoolhouse----....... ------- .----- -----
7 Glade Cross Road, one-half mile west of Leaning Oak ..----------- ----------...-.
8 Rocky Lake, west side ----------------.----------------------------- .
.9 Glade Cross Mission, south side of hammock--------- ... --------------------------17.86
10 Brown's store, edge of boat tral..........---- .. __..---------------------.... --_ _-- 17.
The Indian Service is not often served by a finer type of man than
Doctor Brecht. He was a physician. He was a humanitarian. He
wad helped by a wife whose heart was in the work 100 per cent. These
two devoted souls knew not the meaning of race prejudice; when In-
dians came to Immokalee they sat at Doctor Brecht's table as honored
guests. When he went among them in their camps, he treated the
sick and furnished medicines gratis and usually out of his own pocket.
The Government started him out in truly handsome style with a
sawmill, farming implements, 10 mules and a wagon, 10 oxen and a
cart, 2 logging carts. When the millhouse, planing mill, and a large
quantity of shingles went up in smoke in October, 1892, the loss was
made good immediately. The mission alongside this governmental
establishment kept a small store to supply the Indians at cost, buying
their skins and venison to prevent the Seminoles from being cheated by
Here was a set-up with every promise in the world of success.
What were the results?
Curiosity overcame fear to the extent that a few Indians sawed a
board at the mill or pulled the whistle cord. Then they went back
to the swamps. As Creel put it 10 years after the end of the
Commodious and comfortable buildings were erected, a sawmill including wood-
working machinery was installed, and an agent and a corps of employees sent to
the field. The Indians steadily refused to accept any of the freely offered benefits
of the school and other material aid, even so far as refusing to accept a board from
the mill or a handful of nails from the warehouse.
There is a deal to read between the lines in Doctor Brecht's reports.
I dislike asking the reader to pause over ancient history when we have
live Indians to deal with. Nevertheless, when many of the best
43095-S. Doc. 31.4, 71-----5
62 SEMNTOLE INDIANS
friends of the Seminole are eager to-day to repeat the Immokalee
experiment it is worth while looking into this matter a bit. In 1895
Doctor Brecht wrote:
I am sorry to say progress is much slower than one could wish, but they are not
standing still. More of the younger men are putting on citizen's
dress. The older Indians are holding back the young men and girls.
Many, especially the boys, seem anxious to learn to read, but have not the
cou-age to break away from the influences brought to bear upon them. *
A young Indian told me lately, "Indian boys work, old Indians kill us," meaning,
of course, regular white men's employment.
The plan and expectation was to draw the Indians from their swampy and
scattered camps to this better location where they might be grouped more closely
and thus more successfully drawn into industrial work, with school facilities, and
the making of better homes. For this reason, the first work done by the Gov
ernment was the furnishing of a sawmill, with the necessary accompaniments
and a crew of six employees, for the purpose of erecting the buildings required
for the establishment of an Indian industrial school and the attracting of the
Indians to this locality by the prospect of remunerative work and the securing
of lumber for thei: homes.
The hope that in this way the Indians might be drawn permanently to this
locality was not realized.
It seemed to hurt the good doctor that he was dealing with hunters
and not farmers. In 1898 he laments:
No organized school work has been carried on at the station owing
chiefly to the fact that there was a greater demand for the products of their
hunting, the Indiana keeping closely to their hunting grounds afld securing ample
supplies from the traders.
Sam sorry that. swing to their almost entire devotion to hunting, their fields
have, to a great extent, bee~sneglected. This, in my opinion, is a backward step
on their part. They are discouraged in their field work, not knowing
at what time they may be driven away by some white squatter. This is also the
case with their raisidg of hogs, the latter being stolen from them
There is ample evidence that Doctor Brecht was personally liked
by the Seminoles. He attended one green-corn dance as an honored
guest and was invited to another; there could be no stronger evidence
of their regard for him. As this good man in 1899 prepared to quit
his uphill fight and abandon Immokalee he set down his faith in the
In conclusion, I would say that, although the efforts of the earlier years of this
service to win the Indians to organized school work were not successful, the
evidence of the good result of the camp work was sufficient to make us feel that
persistent and continued effort in that line would accomplish the desired result,
and I have such faith in these Indians as to believe that by a constant mingling
among them of earnest workers they would be brought out of their aversion and
stolid indifference to education and progress. The very traits of character
which make them so independent, self-supporting, and clinging in their devotion
to the older Indians help to make them superior to many other tribes, and they are
so considered by all who have had any chance of comparing them. And now that
the important work of securing for their use the land to which they are entitled
is about to be accomplished, I trust renewed effort may be made by the Govern-
ment for work among them in their camps by a sufficient force of helpers, so that
whoever may be inicharge may not be hampered in the effort of civilizing and
SECTION 3. FEDERAL RESERVATIONS
Doctor Brecht's remark about lands referred to a belated awaken-
ing on the part of Congress. Beginning with 1894 it was stipulated
that one-half of the annual appropriation of $6,000 should be used
for the purchase of land. Up to the close of fiscal year 1897, Doctor
Brecht had located and secured nearly 10,000 acres in what is now
SEMINOLE INDIANS 63
Hendry County. In the fall of 1896 the Secretary of the Interior
declared the Everglades to be swamp land, which might be patented
to Florida under the swamp acts of 1848-1850. Doctor Brecht at
once appealed to the Indian Office to reserve the lands on which the
Seminoles were living. The legal advisors of the department decided
(in January, 1898) that the only right the Seminoles had was that of
occupancy, but that inasmuch as part of the lands could not be classed
as "swamp," the department had a right to revise the list of lands
In an effort to save something for the Seminoles, an inspector in
the Indian Service, Col. A. J. Duncan, brother-in-law of President
McKinley, was sent down in 1898 to look into the whole land question.
Through purchases over a long period of years and by President
Taft's Executive order of June 28, 1911, some 26,781 acres were
ultimately set aside for the Florida Indians. (See Appendix A.)
County Acres How obtained
Hendry ..---- --. -------------------------- --. 23,061.72 Government purchases.
Collier--------------- ------------------------------- 80 Government purchases (lmmokalee).
Do .------------------------------------- 960 Executive order of 1911.
Martin. 2, 200 Do.
Broward --- -------------------.--------------- 480 Do.
Total.----.. ---.-- ----...... -.................. 26,781.72
The 80 acres at Immokalee were sold in 1904 pursuant to the act
of March 3, 1903 (32 Sta. L., 1024); also a railroad right of way cut
34 acres from the Martin County lands, leaving the present Federal
holdings 26,667.72 acres.
SECTION 4. REPORT OF F. C. CHURCHILL, 1909
Mr. Frank C. Churchill, inspector in the Indian Service, spent three
months in Florida in the spring of 1909. Mr. Stranahan, of Fort
Lauderdale, took him to some of the camps.
It was considered best that the Indians should not know that I was in any way
connected with the Government, but by patience and the assistance .of their
friends- I met and talked with at least 25 individuals, and the interviews were all
in the hope of securing from them some intimation that they would be willing to
settle down, have schools, etc. They listened patiently but when it came to a
final answer to the direct'question: "Don't you think this would be best for the
Indians?" the reply was invariably the same, "Me don't know," and the best
friends of the Indians that I could find told me that that was about as far as they
had been able to induce the Indians to agree in regard to a new life.
It is not claimed that the prevailing sentiment in Florida has ever been friendly
to the Seminoles- and, beyond a mere handful of persons, they have few friends
who would sacrifice the profits they hope to make on their otter skins and other
output in carrying out any of their professed friendly relations.
It must be admitted from a humanitarian standpoint the Seminoles need look-
ing after to the extent that they be induced to settle down before they become a set
of roving vagabonds, as they surely will in a few years if developments in Florida
Having considered the question from all sides, I have come to the conclusions--
First. That it would be a waste of time and money to attempt to establish a
school for the Seminoles at present, as I believe it would be impossible to induce
them to attend any school in which the Government is known to be interested.
64 SEMINOLE INDIANS
Second. I am satisfied that the purchase of land by the Government was the
winent thing that has been done, and under no circumstances should any part of
this land be sold or leased except for the benefit of the Indians, as I am confident
ihat some day they will not only need the land, but that they will be very glad of
the privilege of occupying it unmolested.
Third. I see no way of reaching the Indians with civilizing influences except
tlroilgh Bishop Gray's mission, and his progress is quite likely to be slow and at
Fourth. Judging from the past and from all that I can hear of the prevailing
sentiment, I see no reason to hope that the State of Florida will undertake to do
anything for the relief of the Seminoles.
SECTION 5. REPORT OF L. D. CREEL, 1911
In 1911 the Office of Indian Affairs sent down a man with an
unusually penetrating mind to look over the whole Seminole situation.
No reconsideration of policy in 1930 can afford to disregard the findings
of able Special Agent Lorenzo D. Creel:
Whether such reservation should consist of 4 townships, which was once recom
mended by the bishop, or 40, as urged by Mr. A. W. Dimmock, in an article
upon this subject which appeared in the Outlook for February, 1911, the situation
remains the same so long as either collecting and keeping the Indians thereon on
securing title to enough land to cover the different camps is impossible. Even
were it advisable, it would be impossible to collect the Indians and place them on
such reservation, except by military force. * The physical nature of the
region and the character of the Indians renders it impossible to control or exercise
any authority over them or to protect them from outside interference. The Indians
are now living in their aboriginal way in small groups which are scattered at wide
intervals from the northern end of Lake Okeechobee to Cape Sable, on the Gulf of
Mexico, and have unrestricted range over an area equal in extent to the States of
Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Delaware combined. The physical character
of the region as effectively prevents the exercise of official authority and supervi-
sion as it embarrassed the military movements in the Seminole wars, and, fur-
thermore, officials would be hampered and powerless to restrain or assist their
wards or to protect them from evil influences.
Therefore, a reservation for the purpose of controlling or protecting all, or
even a part of. the Seminole Indians in Florida is, and always will be, an impos-
sibility, no matter how desirable it might be thought by their warmest and
In the case of the Florida Seminole, as I see it, the Government can only
offer him the opportunity to accept what goes with our civilization, as has been
frequently done in the past and has also been done in the present case. This
can not be forced upon him. He is not a menace to anyone, either in a physical,
a business, or a moral way. Nature has set a limit to a great extent beyond
which white settlement can invade the region in which he now lives.
No one would for an instant entertain the thought of attempting to collect
the Seminoles from their widely scattered palmetto-covered homes and placing
them within the boundaries of a reservation, which would change them from a
self-supporting, happy, virtuous, and contented people to everything decidedly
the opposite in the attempt to force them to adopt our civilization. The Sem-
inole is not now the uncivilized being which the literature of the present day
and his unique and picturesque costume would lead the reader and tourist to
believe. I believe that nowhere in the State of Florida could a like number of
people. be selected at random whose general character would rank higher or be
freer from the faults and vices of our civilization.
In this region no sudden and radical change is possible, and in the future, as
he has in the past, he will gradually adjust his life to such slight changes as
may come, and, although ultimately destined to disappear as a race, yet his
disappearance will come from natural causes from which no outside aid will be
able to shield him.
Instead of being hostile to the Government on account of past wrongs, he
simply resents all attempts from any outside force to interfere with his freedom
to follow his Indian life, and will submit to no restrictions and limitations except
those which nature puts upon him or such as he has been accustomed to from
tradition and ancient tribal law or those which he voluntarily assumes.
If the Everglades are successfully drained, the opportunity to secure employ-
ment upon the reclaimed lands will much more than offset the loss of hunting
privilege to the Indians and, by affording them a chance to enter regular em-
ployment, should have a civilizing and beneficial effect upon them. *
If the plan is a failure, the situation of the Seminole will be but little affected
thereby and, in any event, none will lose their homes by reason of this reela-
mation work, as is so often stated in newspaper articles touching them and their
SOME OF CREEL'S CONCLUSIONS
That no distress caused-by reason of insufficient food now exists in any camp,
nor is there any reason to think that such will be the case as long as present con-
litions prevail, which bid fair to continue indefinitely.
That the so-called fear of and hostility to the white man is a myth.
That the Indians are self-supporting, capable, and self-reliant.
That they are satisfied, happy, and contented with their mode of life and are
unanimously in favor of continuing therein.
That they are at peace with such of the white race as they cowe ii. contact
with, and their white neighbors have no complaints to make.
That the Government has in later years offered them schools and other ad-
vaintages which have been steadfastly refused. Therefore, the Government is
relieved from responsibility.
That, owing to their attitude and the insurmountable obstacles of nature, any
attempt to establish an agency for their supervision, or to introduce schools or
other civilizing agencies will be not only useless and impracticable at this time
but an absolute waste of public money.
I, therefore, most respectfully recommend:
1. That the lands already purchased for their use and any others which the
President may hereafter set aside for their benefit * be held for them
Until the time shall come when such changes in present conditions will have
occurred that they may not only be willing but glad to avail themselves of the
good offices of the Government and express a desire to be allotted these lands in
2. That the department do not entirely abandon the field but send an occasioQal
representative there to ascertain whether conditions are materially changing.
3. That the work for the Seminoles in Florida be closed up as soon as possible
and the position of special agent abolished.
SECTION 6. FIRST ADMINISTRATION OF CAPT. L. A. SPENCER
The Office of Indian Affairs did not accept Mr. Creel's recommenda-
tion to close up work for the Seminoles in Florida. On March 1, 1913,
the Rev. Lucien A. Spencer entered upon his duties as special com-
missioner, duties which, with the exception of service during the war,
were to be his life work from that date until his death out in the Big
Cypress in April of the present year.
Here was another man bringing to the administration of Seminole
affairs the same idealism, the same devotion which Doctor Brecht
had brought to Immokalee 22 years before. Mr. Spencer's interest
4U Indians was of long standing; he had been a missionary among the
4Lhippewas on the Whisky Bay Reservation in Michigan back in 1897.
To accept the Seminole post he relinquished the post of dean of the
Episcopal Cathedral in Orlando, Fla., so that his appointment not
only grew out of but in a sense carried on the 20 years of work by
Mr. Spencer established his headquarters in Miami, from which
point he annually visited as many camps as he could reach. Trans-
portation difficulties were terrific. To approach the camps in the Big
Cypress it was necessary to take a launch up one of the canals into
66 SEMINOLE INDIANS
Lakc Okeechobee, cross the lake, descend the Caloosahatchee to
Fort Myers, and then make the long journey inland by ox cart. There
was little that could be done beyond proffering the hand of friendship.
The Seminoles at first would not even accept medical aid from the
Gradually, however, his persistent and genuine friendliness began
to break down their distrust. On the rare occasions when an Indian
ran afowl the law, Mr. Spencer was on hand to take the Seminole's
part. And within three years he had persuaded several pupils to
follow Tony Tommie into the Fort Lauderdale Public School.
If the fall of 1916 Mr. Spencer left for the Mexican border as a
chaplain in the Florida National Guard. Until his return in March
of 1917 his place was temporarily filled by Inspector W. S. Coleman.
SECTION 7. HENRY COUNTY RESERVATION
Inasmuch as Mr. Coleman's plan deals entirely with the Hendry
County Reservation, a word about these lands is necessary. There
are five separate parcels, the largest of which contains 27 sections, or
17,280 acres, lying partly within and partly on the western margin of
the Everglades. The four smaller parcels lying to the west are a bit
drier, a little better either for crops or for grazing, but inasmuch
as they have never entered into Seminole administration to the
slightest degree-no one in the Indian Service to-day can even point
out their location-I shall speak only of the 17,000-acre tract and
mean only that hereafter by the term "Hendry County Reservation."
That part of the reservation lying within the Everglades is typical
saw-grass marsh. hat bordering the Everglades is prairie broken
by hammocks of dense hardwood growth, cypress heads, ponds, and
a few islands of slash pine. Water stands from 4 to 6 inches deep over
the prairie in the wet season. Nevertheless, this tract is considered
good grazing land, capable of pasturing 2,000 head of cattle and a vast
number of hogs. Plenty of the hammocks are capable of producing
excellent crops of garden truck in the dry season. The hunting is so
good that bears and panthers are still a constant menace to hogs.
SECTION 8. COLEMAN'S PLAN FOR BENEVOLENT ASSIMILATION
Taking Frank Brown as guide, Mr. Coleman went through the
Hendry County Reservation and visited the camp of Billie Ko-nilp*
ha-tco (he spells it Conepatchie), the same who helped MauCauley,
Little Billie is a man 50 years of age speaks English very well fo;i an Indian9
and is about the most progressive and intelligent member of the Big Cypres*
bands. After exhausting my resources at friendly advances, I talked over fully
with him the matter cf the Indians moving to the Government reservation for a
permanent residence and letting the Government aid them in every way under
its benevolent purposes. I told him of what the Government is doing for the
Indian in the West, of how the red man there is accepting the supervision and
benefactions of the Government, and what great improvement over their present
condition the Seminole would derive under the plans for their segregation on the
reservations under the protection and care of the Government. Already the
Seminoles everywhere have heard of the five Indians at the Fort Lauderdale
Public School, and this seems to have made a favorable impression on the minds
of those in the jungles, the idea among them being that for the first time the
Government is really beginning to do something for these people. (Evidently
Mr. Coleman did not know of the Imhiokalee experiment?) The whites in the
'rEMINOLE INDIANS 67
towns are talking of this also, and they have Iunwittingly helped spread a feeling
of pacification and have helped to open the way for the cultivation of these
suspicious and resentful Indians.
The Seminoles have all the while feared that there was some scheme for their
removal to Oklahoma or somewhere in the West. * Not until I fully
assured and convinced Little Billie that the Government had no scheme of de"-
portation in mind would he talk freely and discuss frankly the present condition
of his people *
Confirming my belief that I have made substantial headway with Conepatchie
and that he is acting in good faith, he accompanied me about 16
miles through water and the roughest kind of cypress glades and swamps to a
temporary camp near the Everglades of his oldest brother, Billie Fewell, an
Indian nearly 69 years old, who has heretofore borne the reputation of being
among the most implacable and unapproachable of his tribe. It took an entire
day, threading our way in water sometimes 16 inches deep. *
I made no effort the first night in camp to cultivate the Billie Fewell band,
but left that task to our friendly Indian, Little Billie, who talked late into the
night with his stern and stubborn brother, long after my driver and self had
retired. I could see the solemn council between the brothers and noted on their
faces the conflict of spirit in the quiet Indian way as Little Billie in his own way
presented to his older brother the plan I had gone over with him for the friendly
assimilation on the Government reservation of these most seclusive Big Cypress
I did not derive any definite statement from Little Billie as to his older brother.
Billie Fewell, but the mere fact that this old austere Seminole, who, according
to my driver, would never even talk to Commissioner Spencer or communicate
in any way with any former Government representative, supped with me and
smoked cheroots around our campfire, demonstrated his mellowed
condition and his friendly disposition *
I find that they would value very much the establishment of a trading point
or Government store, their minds turning toward the Government reservation
as its natural location, and if such a store were maintained by the Indian Office
with a good honest man in charge, it would prove a great convenience and help.
Nothing short of a trustworthy and just man should be put in charge *
So suspicious and curious are these Indians that an agent, once deceiving them,
could never regain their confidence.
I, therefore, offer the following outline of a plan as the most practical scheme for
their cultivation, education, and general advancement by the Indian Office:
COLEMAN'S PLAN FOR HENDRY COUNTY RESERVATION
1. Locate Government headquarters and build a store to buy at top prices
and sell at cost to the Indian.
2. A Government farmer.
3. School and hospital, nurse, and doctor.
4. I do not know of a single milk cow employed by a single Indian for the sup-
port of their babies or older ones, although they are fond of milk. The only
stock they own are hardy steers, which run wild *. However, they are
fairly good hog raisers, capturing wild hogs and soon domesticating this ferocious
animal when they bring him to camp. In fact, with some camps their largest
money income in the fall of the year is from fattened hogs which thrive on tender
roots, berries, cypress balls, frogs, snakes, snails, and countless worms near the
surface. But neither stock or hog raising can ever prosper unless there is afforded
some protection for these animals.
5. Fence a large part of the reservation, grazing lands, and best hammocks.
6. Ditching would be necessary.
7. Except'for the dim roadway from Fort Myers, via Immokalee, to Brown's
store and the Glade Cross, there is no semblance of roads or highways on the
reservation, or south of it. Some crude roadways should be thrown up. This
could be done with little cost, as the country is level and the sand could easily
be thrown up with ordinary road machines on all prairie lands or areas covered
by shallow water.
8. No radical change in home structures. They need simple, honest,
treatment and human sympathy more than anything else.
9. Only a few could be expected to come at first. For the first time in their
history they have tolerated such a suggestion as their segregation on the Govern-
__~_ _ ___ _____ 1_1~_~_____ _I_
imint reservation; it would be unfortunate to delay. * Failure to act,
or the postponement of what seems the inevitable solution of this Seminole
problehm-segregation and a general scheme of benevolent cultivation on the
reservation, will he to them another evidence of neglect, or uncertain purpose,
and of indifference on behalf of the Government. They will simply distrust any
other representations made by successive representatives of the Indian Office.
In all work * the Indian should be employed on the same employment
basis as the white man, thus affording him a means of support for himself and
family, at the same time teaching him the lesson of industry and work as distinct
from hunting, trapping, or fishing, wherein they spend much time with often
\ery little results.
SECTION 9. ADMINISTRATION or F. E. BRANDON
Captain Spencer waH home in Florida after his service on the
Mexican border for but four or five months. When his regiment
made ready to take its place in the American Expeditionary Forces,
he considered the future in France so uncertain as to make it unfair
that he retain his connection with the Indian Service. He resigned
in August, 1917.
So that when Mr. Frank E. Brandon was placed in charge of Semi-
nole affairs, his appointment was not regarded as merely temporary.
Mr. Brandon arrived in Florida before Captain Spencer left.
If it was Mr. Coleman who first proposed the utilization of the
Hendry County Reservation, it was Mr. Brandon who took the first
steps toward making the idea effective. He moved the headquarters
of the agency from Miami to Fort Myers. The idea of fencing the
reservation and stocking it with cattle was approved by Washington,
and to begin work Brandon was given the largest appropriation ever
made for the Seminoles, some $20,000, I believe. Wire was purchased
and lumber for buildings, and the work just well begun when Captain
Spencer returned from the war.
Mr. Brandon generously insisted that Captain Spencer have back
his old job.
SEcTION 10. SECOND ADMINISTRATION OF CAPT. L. A. SPENCER
Captain Spencer resumed his duties as special commissioner in
charge of the Seminoles in November, 1919. Before the close of the
fiscal year 1920 a fence was completed inclosing 20 sections, 12,800
acres, as a cattle range-more than 20 miles of fence. The eastern
boundary is out in the Everglades, but excludes the extreme eastern-
most tier of sections as altogether too wet. Two sections more, 1,280
acres, were fenced as a hog range. In the extreme northwest corner of
the reservation a 4-room dwelling for the caretaker was erected, as well
as a small office building, warehouse, garage, stable, and Indian council
house. Fraik Brown was appointed caretaker at $900 a year.
And there the matter has rested until this day.
The Government bought a few hogs; the panthers killed 40 in two
nights. Not a cow or a steer was ever put on the place by the Indian
Wire for 20 miles of fence hauled in over 80 miles of the worst road
in the world. The labor of fencing 14,000 acres. Lumber for a
complete set of ranch buildings hauled in over the same 80 miles.
The labor of building to what purpose? To afford a home for a
There is nothing in (Captain Spencer's reports to indicate h.:t ihe
was not at first whole-heartedly in favor of the plan to stock the
range. In 1921 he wrote:
The policy being pursued is to establish an industrial center thai will mtk, ti t-
Florida Seminoles self-supporting. * As soon as the herd is well c.tab-
lished, these cattle will be sold to the Indians on the reimbursable Lpan.
The Indians will be encouraged to raise cattle and hogs. Crops are t ,o b
planted on a scale sufficiently extensive to provide foodstuffs for home consumIp-
tin. The industrial center is too remote to make the shipping of anything but
livestock impracticable and unprofitable. It is proposed to employ Indian labor
exclusively in making improvements at the industrial center in order to provide
them with necessary living expenses until such time as their crops and herds will
provide an income.
If proper appropriations are provided for this work, I believe it can be im(ade self-
supporting within five years.
In 1922 Mr. Spencer wrote:
The industrial station established for the Big Cypress Tribe has been at a stand.
still for the past year owing to lack of funds.
Many of these Indians are anxious to settle here, but owing to the fact that no
funds were available for the purchase of cattle or Indian employment it has been
necessary to keep them scattered on their old fields, which they are holding only
Owing to the failure of all their crops, it has been necessary to meet famine
conditions and we have been hard pressed finding places for them to labor among
the whites in order to carry them to the next crop.
Year after year went by and nothing was done. Captain Spencer
became opposed to the reimbursable plan; he thought that when a
Seminole wanted meat he would shoot the first heifer in sight and
would be constantly in trouble. In 1926 the project was definitely
Since 1919 no appropriation has been made from which the herds could be
purchased, and the necessary upkeep of fences and buildings has absorbed the
major part of the meager appropriations, leaving very little for the use and bene-
fit of the Indians.
In January, 1926, at a i ~eeting of several influential members of the tribe, it was
proposed to ask the Commiscioner of Indian Affairs to abandon this resXrvation
until such time as the Indians co!d acquire herdt of their own. It was also re-
quested that the money thus saved be used for the care of the sick and indigent
Indians thereby freeing the young and abic-bodied from the care of the sick and
helpless so that they might leave the camps and ent.r the employ meant of the
white farmers and cattlemen.
They maintained that the old Indians would never adopt white customs, but
that the younger generation should be self-supporting and woulJ advance more
rapidly by living and working among white people than would be possible if they
lived in Indian settlements.
At a conference in Washington late in January it was decided to cdopt this
suggestion of the Indians. The Hendry County Reservation was ordered closed
on June 30, 1926.
As a farewell to high hopes, Captain Spencer wrote:
The Indian lands will ultimately be stocked and products of the range will be
the leading industry of the Florida Indians. The Indians propose to utilize the
ranges as soon as they can acquire a sufficient number of cattle to warrant moving
there. They are opposed to going into debt and will not purchase on the reim-
The 22,400 acres of grazing lands in Hendry County have been leased for
grazing purposes until needed by the Florida Indians. (Acreage should be
The lease, which I believe was a grazing permit only, was issued
to Mr. C. W. Bartleson, a wholesale grocer in Fort Myers, who
agreed to keep fences and buildings in repair, prevent hunting on
8 MINOLE INDIANS
the lands, give the Indians all privileges previously enjoyed, and to
surrender on demand. Ostensibly Mr. Bartleson wanted the reser-
vation to run cattle; according to the present acting superintendent
he never put on a head. At Mr. Bartleson's death early in 1929 the
permit was canceled.
It is a pleasure to set down the last chapter in this sorry tale. On
March 1 of this year, just before his death, Captain Spencer appointed
William Ivey Byrd as caretaker at the munificent salary of $25 a
month. Byrd is a "cracker" who used to be a woods rider for the
cattle companies in the days when cattle rustlers were numerous on
the Kissimmee prairies. He requested me to get a letter from Wash-
ington telling him he is supposed to keep hunters off the reservation
at all times. Mr. Marshall, the acting superintendent, a former
sergeant of marines, posted the boundaries, visited the reservation
several times during the hunting season, and let it be known that
there would be no hunting there by white men this fall.
When the newspapers carried the story of how near the deputy
sheriff of Broward County came to having his brains blown out when
he tried to browbeat his way in with a hunting party, old Sheriff
Tippens, of Lee County, sent Byrd a 0.38 revolver and a box of shells
as a prize.
Two saddle horses. Day and night. Patrolling 20 miles of fence.
Sleeping with rattlesnakes in the palmettoes. Twenty-five dollars a
month. William Ivey Byrd, box 31, Immokalee.
BROWARD COUNTY RESERVATION
The year 1925 saw Florida in the. midst of her real estate boom.
Land everywhere was in demand, no land so poor but some specu-
lator could be found to buy it. Even the hammocks on the outskirts
of Fort Lauderdale where the east coast Indians camped were wanted
by new owners, and once again Seminoles heard the command to
move. Where should they go?
In Broward County, besides three scattered forties out in the Ever-
glades, there remained to the Indians a tract of 360 acres lying 4
miles west of Dania. All these reserved parcels had once been Indian
camps. The main body of land is a sandy stretch on the eastern
margin of the Everglades, most of it high and dry since the canals
have lowered the water table. Commercial truck gardens locate on
the muck soil east or west of this sandy belt; nevertheless, it is fair for
citrus cultivation. It lies at the intersection of two hard-surface
roads. To this reservation Mrs. Frank Stranahan, of Fort Lauder-
dale, with Captain Spencer's approval, persuaded the homeless east
coast Indians to migrate.
The same conference in Washington which closed the Hendry
County Reservation decided to open Dania as "a camp for sick and
indigent Indians." Ten 1-room cottages and a small administration
building were erected in 1926, just in time to have them completely
demolished in the hurricane of September 18. Within nine months
thereafter there had been completed a large administration building
containing offices and quarters for two families; an electric pumping
plant sufficient for all camp needs; a 4-vehicle garage, ten 2-room
Indian cottages, a school building, infirmary with hath, laundry,
The 10 cottages were occupied immediately by the Tommies, the
Osceolas, and the Jumpers. And in addition Indians occupied two
buildings formerly belonging to squatters. From the day the first
house was completed the Dania Reservation began to lose its intended
character as a refuge for the sick and indigent of the whole tribe, and
became to a large degree merely the home of the small east coast
group. The sick and indigent of the Big Cypress rarely go near the
All activities of the Seminole Agency from 1926 to date have con-
centrated on the development of Dania. The land was divided into
5-acre tracts, which Indians are permitted to work under occupancy
permits; three have availed themselves of the opportunity. Those
who want to work are given employment three days a week at $2.50
for eight hours.
The infirmary is not often used for the sick.
The schoolhouse is equipped with 25 desks. Captain Spencer's
daughter, Mrs. Marshall, has been the teacher since 1928. Two
sessions are held daily, one in the morning for half a dozen children
and two women; another in the evening for two men who are eager to
learn to read but too old to make much progress. The school term
is six months.
Mr. John Marshall, Captain Spencer's son-in-law, assisted in the
construction of the buildings and was then appointed as farmer. He
was raised on a farm in North Carolina and knows thoroughly the
art of working the land. Thirty-five acres have been cleared and a
good start made in planting citrus fruits. Most of Mr. Marshall's
time is necessarily spent in emergency services which range all the
way from assisting at confinements to burying dead Indians. Since
Captain Spencer's death last spring, Mr. Marshall has ably shouldered
the responsibilities of acting superintendent without receiving any
MARTIN COUNTY RESERVATION
For agriculture or for stock raising the 2,000 acres reserved in
Martin County are far and away the best held for the Seminoles in
Florida. The land lies outside the Everglades, just on the eastern
margin. Originally it produced a good stand of slash pine. Mr.
Henry Savage, of Indian Town, who guided me to this reserve ion,
considers it the best land in that part of the county for general ci ,ns;
he first learned that it was reserved when he tried to homestead .
portion. Mr. L. A. Wall, of Palm City, chairman of the board of
county commissioners, knows the land well and agrees that it is good.
The Seaboard Air Line passes through the reservation, and a hard
surface road .extends out from Indian Town to within 4 miles; a
dirt road continues on toward Okeechobee.
In 1929 a permit was granted to a lumber company to log this land.
Captain Spencer wrote:
The sale of certain dead timber is being negotiated on land held in trust for
these Indians in Martin County.
However, all the live timber of any value went along with the dead.
Before Captain Spencer moved the agency to Dania, Jim Gopher
and Ada Tiger, with her family, lived on the Martin County Reserva-
tion. Spencer desired to bring as many as possible under the civiliz-
72 SEMINOLE INDIANS
ing influences of Dania, and tried to persuade these Indians to move
do-wn, but certain of the Cow Creek headmen were opposed to edu-
cation. Captain Spencer wrote in 1927:
Tl..- Indian Town camp which I was preparing to move here refused to come on
account of the above interference, and I promptly cut off their ration supply.
At t Ihe end of three weeks of starvation they moved here and placed their children
Since then the Martin County Reservation has been deserted.
Last spring, while accompanying the Federal census enumerator to
the Hendry County Reservation, Captain Spencer's car bogged down.
Prying it out of the ruts was heavy work. Exhausted, the captain
lay down and died. Seminole Indians lost a friend who had roamed
these desolate marshes and worked for their welfare for 15 years.
WHICH WAY OUT OF THE WILDERNESS?
The Seminole survey thus far has been a statement of fact.
Necessarily only an approximation to truth in certain details, it is
yet sufficiently accurate so that few cognizant of actuality will quarrel
with the picture. I have purposely refrained from comment on the
facts. Honest men often start from the same premises and arrive at
different conclusions. What to me looks like missionary futility,
local apathy, and Federal incompetence, others may label by more
It now, however, becomes necessary to state my interpretation of
these facts and to point a way out of the wilderness. I shall have
no quarrel with him who reasons differently, provided he accepts as
his major premise that the foundation of fact which I have laid is a
structure essentially sound.
SECTION 1. THE ULTIMATE GOAL
Let us have definite objectives. What are we aiming at in this
particular problem of Indian administration?
At the last we, the dominant element in American civilization,
are not doing the aiming. Nature has decreed the ultimate goal.
It is amalgamation. Five hundred Seminoles surrounded by the
rapidly increasing white population of Florida are destined to be
absorbed as inevitably as a lump of salt thrown into Lake Okeechobee
is destined to be dissolved. A thousand years hence there will not
be a drop of recognizable Indian blood in the State of Florida.
SECTION 2. FIFTY YEARS HENCE
As to certain developments of the next half century we also can
prophesy with considerable surety. Fifty years hence no one will
question that Seminole Indians are full-fledged citizens of Florida.
Adult Indian men and women will go to the polls on election day
unchallenged; they will pay the taxes required of all citizens in
similar economic circumstances; Seminole children will attend the
public schools in the same classes with white children. All Indian
citizens under the age of 50 will speak English; they will have acquired
English from their increasing contacts with white Americans whether
or not they attend school. The number of Indian white half-breeds,
now counted on the fingers of one hand, will have markedly increased.
Most vestiges of tribal organization, except the Green Corn Dance
will have vanished. Seminoles, each standing on his own feet, will
have become Floridians. The original American, now a social out-
cast, will again be an American.
,I^ ^ ^_ __t ^
76 .SEMINOLE INDIANS
SECTION 3. THE IMMEDIATE GOAL
Ought we, then, attempt to make a "white man" out of the
Seminole as rapidly as possible, inasnmuch as absorption is his ultimate
There is something infinitely precious, vastly worth cherishing in
this remnant of primitive culture persisting into the 20th century
surrounded by industrial civilization. The metamorphosis will come
fast enough, do what we will. And the transition from a good Indian
to a poor white man is going to be a thing painful to look upon-
progress stumbling along by-paths of tribal disorganization, moral
degeneration, and the disintegration of personality.
Why do we set aside national parks? To preserve rare bits of
nature from development and devastation, that man of the machine
age may on occasion look up to a snowcapped mountain. Why do
we decree that egrets and flamingoes and the roseate spoonbill shall
not be quite exterminated? That all grace along the Tamiami Trail
shall not surrender to the signboard.
Now the Seminole and his culture are akin to the snowcapped
mountain and the roseate spoonbill. Let him be an Indian so long as
he may. What father wishes to see his son don long trousers and
turn his back on the old home? The Seminole represents the child-
hood of the race.
Let us help the Seminole maintain his unique qualities and virtues;
let us help him to stand on his own feet with dignity in the presence
of the civilization in which he is destined to blend; and let us always
keep open avenues by which the transition from a primitive hunter
to a unit in a society based on private property and the wage system
can be accomplished gradually and with ease.
Bilet us never, in pursuit of the desirable, lose sight of the actual.
SECTION 4. ECONOMIC ACTUALITY
Of present actualities, the most important with the Seminole as
with most people, is the economic situation. With something like
$330 of cash income annually for the average family of five, the Semi-
nole is not at the moment badly off. What actual want is experienced
results from two phases of the Indian's improvidence; the first is the
50 per cent of his income that goes for liquor; the second is the
seasonal character of his income.
In my computation of Seminole income (see p. 40) I arrived at a
grand total of $38,000. Of this, $25,000, or 66 per cent, derives from
the sale of fur and alligator skins. Now be it noted that the open
season for taking fur-bearing animals shall be from the 1st day of
December to the 1st day of March, three months of the year only (in
Collier County it is November 20 to February 15, until 1934). All
the fur taken by the Indian between March and December is trapped
illegally; the venison and turkey sold is in contravention of Florida law,
and letters from the State game commissioner indicate that the Semi-
nole can not hope to be permitted to break the law indefinitely. That
leaves alligator skins as the one legal all-year-round source of income
from his hunting, and alligators are getting scarcer and more scarce.
The Seminole, therefore, is in a precarious position economically,
SEMINOLE 'NDI;: -S '
inasmuch as 25 per cent of his pitifully meager cash income is likely
to be lost to him without notice-on the day the State game depart-
Sment shuts down on his illegal operations.
Can the Seminole reasonably expect to derive the major portion
Sof his income from hunting and trapping for another 50 years? I
Shave stated my belief that with proper conservation there should
be more game in south Florida 50 years hence than there is to-day.
The Science News Letter of December 20, 1930, states that-
Canada, renowned for its fur trade, is now surpassed by Louisiana in the
number of pelts produced.
The fur-bearing marshes of Florida are fully as extensive as those
S The Seminole's position as a primitive hunter could be secured to
him indefinitely if the proposed Tropic Everglades National Park
were extended to include that portion of the Big Cypress where most
of his camps are located, and he be given preferential rights therein.
What will undoubtedly happen, however, is that Indians as well as
whites will be denied all hunting rights within the national park.
The position of those Seminole hunters now dwelling in the Big
Cypress will remain fairly secure if the Monroe County Reservation,
which the National Park Service insists must be included in the pro-
posed national park, be exchanged for an equal acreage in Collier
County north of the Tamiami Trail, the title vested in the United
States, and this 100,000 acres kept for the exclusive use of the Indians.
If the national park is established, depriving the Indian of all hunting
rights south of the Tamiami Trail, this solution seems the only one
fair to the Seminoles.
S At best, however, dependence solely upon game is a poor gamble
for a man as near the margin of subsistence as is the Indian.
Another element in the situation which makes the Seminole's
economic position precarious is the fact that most Indians in Florida
have no right to the land on which they now live. Thirty Indians
make the agency at Dania their home and three or four families are
camped on the Hendry County Reservation. The rest are squatters.
They can be dispossessed at a moment's notice. Time after time
they have been driven from their homes and clearings, their hogs shot
down like wild animals. The Seminole to-day is a squatter making
a considerable part of his living by the breaking of game laws.
SECTION 5. LIQUOR CONTROL
Before considering possible new sources of income, a word about
the liquor situation. I stated that at least half of the cash income of
the Seminoles goes to bootleggers-a storekeeper at Immokalee last
week told me the figure should be 90 per cent. Is there any hope of
winning in a knockdown and drag-out fight with the liquor interests?
I am pessimistic. Law enforcement has made here an unconditional
surrender. The Seminoles are scattered all over South Florida and
South Florida is sopping wet. I feel that if liquor consumption on the
reservation at Dania, within a hundred yards of the agency head-
quarters, can not be ended, the buildings had better be burned down.
Elsewhere, until the Indian prohibits himself from excessive drinking,
the problem is likely to remain. The question then presents itself,
43095--S Doc. :314, 71-3--0
78 SEMINOLE INDIANS
What is the use of increasing the Seminole's income if increased wealth
is simply going to increase whisky consumption?
My answer is that there is a saturation point for bad liquor. Many
a man with an income of half a million drinks more liquor in a vear
than does a Seminole Indian, but he does not drink up the half million.
With an average income per family of $330, the Seminole drinks 50
per cent of it; if his annual income were increased to $1,000, he could
double his liquor consumption and still consume only a third of his
income. In my opinion, a society which has created this liquor situa-
tion is bound to help the Seminole better his economic position re-
gardless of whether, or to what extent, the bootlegger profits.
How, then, can it, be done?
SmCTION f6. NEW SORI'CES OF INCOME
TILLING( ; THE SOIL
In considering tiew souir'~s O'ihcome for the Seminoles, let us not
start out with the mistake of trying to make them over into dirt
farmers. These Indians are not by nature primarily tillers of the
soil. Agriculture in Florida is highly specialized-citrus, garden
truck, tropical fruits, florists' supplies-industries which must pay
dividends on from $500 to $3,000 per acre, industries requiring ferti-
lizers and sprays and a complicated technique. Many a white man
goes broke every year gambling on beans and tomatoes-this is a game
wherein the Indian is doomed to defeat.
By all means encourage him to cultivate garden truck for home
consumption: let him sell some if he can. But to make truck farming
4 citruss growing the goal of his economic ambition seems to me
t4-r hazardous advice.
Where, then, lies his hope of economic security if hunting and
trapping should fail? I have just three suggestions for bettering the
economic position of those Indians who elect to remain in the swamps:
(1) Cattle for the men, (2) handicrafts for the women, (3) better hogs
Two paragraphs in the problem of Indian administration (Institute
for Government Research, 1928) are particularly pertinent to the
Ample evidence demonstrates that stock raising is the most promising form of
agriculture and, in fact, the most promising of all pursuits for a large number of
Indians. Not only does the average Indian show considerable aptitude for this
work, but enormous areas of Indian land are of little value except for grazing.
By far the largest body of self-supporting Indians in the United States, the
Navajo, are dependent almost entirely upon their flocks for a living. If it is
possible for the Navajo to wring a living from their barren deserts by sheep
raising, it would seem that any tribe with a considerable area of grazing land
should be able to succeed with livestock, if only they could be induced to put
into the business a fraction of the energy, skill, and perseverance exhibited by
those desert dwellers of the Southwest.
A vast acreage of Indian land in the United States is at present leased to white
ranchmen 0o in some cases used very little, if at all, by anyone either Indian or
white The Indian Service should work out at once a long-time pro-
gram looking toward the eventual utilization of all these grazing resources by
individually owned livestock of the Indians. Such a program will include among
other features provision for instruction by competent livestock men, * *
the use of reimbursable funds, and the tribal flock or herd.
SEMINOLE INDIANS 79
Captain Spencer's objections to the reimbursable plan are readily
S understandable. If cattle were turned into the Hendry County
S Reservation and the Indian told, "They are yours," he would prob-
"All right, me kill 'em when want 'em."
Is that, then, the end of the matter? It seems to me that we, the
representatives of the civilization which drove the Seminole out of
S the cattle business, have got to start at the very beginning and
remake him into a cattleman. The Okeechobee Indians still ride
horses, otherwise the Seminoles in Florida have forgotten every
vestige of cattle technique. Mr. Byrd, the present caretaker on the
Hendry County Reservation is an experienced cattleman, perfectly
competent to handle the initiation of this development. Buy a few
S head of ordinary Florida range cattle, which can be had on occasion
at less than $20 a head, buy a beef-type bull, and let him begin to
build a Government herd. The Cypress Indians will probably look
on the first year or two. Then some of the boys will learn to ride and
use a rope. Take them into Government employ as the herd increases.
In the course of years some will surely develop enough business sense
so that cattle can safely be sold to them on terms they can meet.
I am aware that the Federal Government has for some years been
opposed to this general proposition. If the Government is unwilling
to take the risk, I believe private philanthropy will. There has
recently been organized in Miami a group of women under the
presidency of Mrs. Hicks Allen, president of the Miami Women's
Club, who are eager to be of practical assistance to the Seminoles;
here would be an excellent place to begin.
Seminole women are deft and clever with their fingers. The winter
tourists who flock to Florida constitute the finest market for artistic
Indian handicraft in the world; any amount can be marketed if it be
good in design, material, and workmanship. The economic pos-
sibilities of weaving, pottery, basketry, mats, beadwork, beaten
silver in markets like Miami and Palm Beach are endless. To-day
the Seminoles lack standards. Send down a woman expert in these
lines to instruct them, then help develop a market at fair prices.
Seminole women will work their hands off if shown the way.
It costs no more to raise a heavy lard-type hog than a razorback.
Those Indians who will consent to take up residence either on the
Hendry County Reservation or the Martin County Reservation,
where they can be protected in their rights, should be assisted to buy
boars of the better breeds.
SECTION 7. THE GATEWAY TO INDUSTRIAL PURSUITS
S With assistance in the livestock industry and handicrafts, the
economic future of those who elect life in the swamps will be secure
regardless of the future game supply.
In time there wili be others, young men and girls, who may elect
another cou',. I I them education must open another gateway.
:* . .
80 S.SMINOLE INDIANS
Bui, make no mistake, the moment you educate the Seminole beyond
elementary reading and writing you unfit him for the old life in the
swamps. Do not expect him to go back. Prepare him for an
entirely new life. Of this shift the Meriam Survey says:
Fortunately the evidence tends to.show that the Indians imake good workers
in industrial iprsuits This shift into ivduistly can rot ) i.c made hurriedly or as
a who!:sale movement if it in to be successful.
The practicable piPn would be to bring Indian .youlm. people direcity from the
reservation to th" minore promising occupations by neans of thorough training
in s.-hool, rather than by way of day labor and domestic service.
There is abundant evidence that the Seminole sh:)ws more aptitude
for mechanics than for dirt farming.
SECTION 8. EGI(IEGATIO.N HB FORCE .
How can education reach the Seminoles as now scattered? Ob-
vioulsly it can not, except through camp work. The difficulties of
doing anything for them in an educational way are so manifest that a
few sincere well-wishers advocate their segregation on an accessible
reservation. The late Hon. Clement S. Ucker, a member of the
Board of Indian Commissioners, was one of these.
I am convinced this end could not be attained without employing
force. The Okeechobee Indians would never consent to leave their
northern prairies and join with the Miccosukees of the Cypress; the
Miccosukees are thoroughly at home only in their Collier County
swamps. Coercion is ruled out; public opinion has progressed beyond
the ethical deformity of the Seminole wars. While present dispersal
makes certain problems enormously difficult, I can see no sufficient
virtues in compulsory education and social control to justify the
SECTION 9* CONCENTRATION
Concentration of the Seminoles gradually in three or four places
by appealing to their self interest is entirely justifiable. That is
what cattle on the Hendry County Reservation, security of tenure
on the Martin County lands, and the exclusion of white hunters from
the Monroe County Reservation (or an equal acreage north of the
Tamiami Trail) amounts to. Whether or not the effort will be
successful remains to be seen. It will, at best, require many years.
SECTION 10. THE SCHOOL AT DANIA
If physical barriers prevent the school from going to the Seminole
until concentration becomes a fact, Seminole children desiring an
education must be brought to the school. The Government now
maintains an elementary school at Dania. Although the history of
certain western boarding schools gives no occasion for optimism,
I see nothing for it but the conversion of Dania into a small boarding
school. I would not change its elementary character. As soon as
pupils acquire some proficiency in English, they can be transferred
to the public schools in Fort Lauderdale; after the eighth grade they
are ready for the trade schools in Miami or elsewhere.
This is a problem of the future. Scarcely a Seminole to-day could
be induced to let his children leave home; the matter should not he
SECTION 11. THE INDIGENT AND SICK
The Dania plant originally was intended for the sick and indigent.
It should be used primarily for that purpose, plus a boarding school
when the need arises. One can not very well drive off the able-bodied
who have already been encouraged to settle there, but in the future
able-bodied Indians had better be directed to the economic oppor-
tunities on the Martin County and Hendry County lands.
For those who do not require hospitalization, Dania already has
an infirmary. A woman died a couple of weeks ago in one of the
Okeechobee camps. She had been at Dania, where, if a public health
nurse were in charge, there would be every facility for looking after
her. A competent physician comes to Dania from Hollywood for
$5 a visit. The woman insisted on going back to her camp in the
swamps. There she was visited regularly until her death by the
physician from Okeechobee at $18 a visit. Very few are the cases
which can not be moved and treated at Dania better than in camp.
So long as the Indian Service pays the piper, it certainly should call
SECTION 12. THE COMMERCIAL VILLAGES
To the commercial villages in Miami, St. Petersburg, and others
which may spring up, I would grant no quarter. I am well aware
that there are things to be said in their favor-where could a Seminole
desiring to spend some time in Miami stay if Musa Isle and Coppin-
ger's Tropical Gardens were abolished? He would be welcome in no
hotel, he has not the money to go to a hotel if he were welcome. But
these places pointMht road to stagnation arid death. I am not so
concerned with the venereal problem as with the fact that earning
one's living in competition with rattlesnakes and alligators leads
Having come to that decision, what steps are open to the Federal
Government? At present the Indian Service pays all the medical
bills for these as for all other Seminoles. This medical service I
would cut off absolutely, forcing these camps to look after their own
During the past summer Coppinger's village was deserted, except
on the weekly occasion of the docking of a certain boat which brought
sightseers. Regularly a truck was sent to the reservation at Dania
to take a load of Indians down for the #ay. I consider that the
end justifies cutting off the rations of all Indians who accept this
SECTION 13. LANDS
So long as the lands in Hendry and Martin Counties are unused,
there is no land problem. What is needed is a feeling among the
Indians that they will be defended in their rights to these lands.
Many of them do not know that they have any rights; many of those
who know about the Hendry County fiasco are frankly scornful of
Government good faith. When I told Lewis Tucker of the Okee-
chobee band that Mr. Marshall was going to keep white hunters off
the Hendry County Reservation this fall, he replied with a sneer:
"Guess hunting season come, same old thing."
82 SEMINOLE INIANS
S:CTION 14. Wi.N SHALL TII L.in:T STAUEs WITrHDRAxW?
A very simple prograll; C(attle, hogs, the developmIent of handi-
crafts, all possible ciirtiailmnenit of liquor, and a gateway of education
through which Seminole children shall be permitted, hut not urged,
to pass out into industrial pursuits. Who shall lead along these
An illiterate, inoi-English-speaking squatter, without capital, set
down in a liquor-drenched environment, is going to make slow prog-
ress along these lines without assistance. The United States Indian
Service has been at this job now since 1891 and has barely taken the
first step along any one of these paths. Wherein would the Seminoles
in Florida be worse off to-day if the Government had taken Creel's
advice in 1911, "That the work for the Seminoles in Florida be closed
up as soon as possible and the position of special agent abolished"?
"We set aside lands, we built a fence, for 10 years we paid his
In that sentence you have the sum total of Federal achievement.
If the United States Government wants to quit with that record, well
and good. I shall have no quarrel if the Commissioner of Indian
Affairs and the Secretary of the Interior decide that the interests of
the Seminole will best be served by Federal withdrawal from Florida.
My recommendations, however, are based on the contrary assump-
tion that on the whole it is better to carry on for another quarter
Whathis best for the Florida Seminoles? I recommend:
1. That the Indian Service carry on in Florida for another quarter
century, but survey the whole question anew every 10 years.
ALIENATE NO LAND
2. That the title to no land be alienated by allotments or otherwise.
3. That the Seminole agent be a man of vigorous physique-none
other can get about these swamps-a man who can cooperate effeo-
tively with State agencies and capitalize the large amount of latent
good will which exists in Florida.
I should expect few tangible results from him within two years; it
will require two years of almost constant sojourning in the Seminole
camps to gain the confidence of these Indians. Everything hinges
upon the establishment of this personal relationship. The Seminole
nan be led by one he trusts, but can not be driven.
ECONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS FIRST
4. That, having gained their confidence, the agent devote himself
eniefly to'bettering the economic position of the Seminoles.
The first item would be throwing the Martin County lands open
to the Okeechobee Indians and doing everything possible to persuade
families to take up residence, where they can be guaranteed permanent
The second item would be helping Indian men to find top markets
S for their furs and Indian women for the products of their handicrafts.
The third would be the supervision of the cattle development on
:th*Hendry County Reservation, and later the encouragement of those
competent to own individual herds.
PUBLIC HEALTH NURSE
5. That the agent's principal assistant be a public health nurse, as
suggested by Doctor Claxton of the State board of health.
I-would place her in charge of the home for the sick and indigent
at Dania, where she may occupy quarters in the administration
b ', During the dry season of the year, whenever the needs of
the sick ,i Daiia permit, she should visit the camps and do such
public health work as the board of health maps out.
(6. That the elementary school at Dania be continued. If, or
when, the tune comes that Indians become willing to have their
children educated, this little school should be expanded to include
boarding pupils. But I should keep it as an elementary school,
transferring the pupils to the public schools as soon as they had
acquired d proficiency in English.
CARETAKER AT HENRY COUNTY RESERVATION
7. That the remuneration for the caretaker at the Hendry County
Reservation be increased from $25 to $75 a month. The isolation
of this post is so great that very few reliable men can be found to
accept it. Having found one such in Win. Ivey Byrd. I should
endeavor to keep him. A trading post there would save Indians
weary trips to Immokalee and cut down liquor consumption.
8. That the position of farmer-laborer at Dania be abolished.
INSTRUCTOR IN HANDICRAFTS
9. That a woman competent to give instruction in the camps in
weaving, basketry, pottery, and beadwork be sent for six months
during the dry season to the end that handicrafts may be developed
among Seminole women. This appointment would be purely tem-
porary; whether one or two seasons would be necessary can only be
determined by results.
10. That the services of Government physicians in Fort Myers
and Lemon City be dispensed with, retaining the services of physi-
cians in Everglades, Okeechobee, near Dania, and in one Miami
11. That the Government discontinue paying the doctor's bills for
Indians making their living in commercial amusement camps.
12. That some provision be made for a large amount of dental
work, either by sending down temporarily a Government dentist or
by contracting for the work here on the best terms obtainable.
13. That except in emergency cases, all hospitalization be concen-
trated in one of the Miami hospitals.
Any Indian requiring hospitalization must be moved in an auto-
mobile. Unless at the point of death, he can just as easily be trans-
ported to the best. The largest Miami hospital is the only one
which will accept an Indian venereal case.
COOPERATION WITH STATE BOARD OF HEALTH
14. That in all matters pertaining to medicine and hospitalization
the agent advise with the officers of the State board of health.
SEMINOLE INDIANS 85
COOPERATION WITH OTHER AGENCIES
15. That cooperation all along the line be trade a leading policy.
Seminoles are in Florida to stay. The day must soon come when
they assume all of the obligations and demand all of the rights of
Florida citizenship. Cooperation with all State agencies and local
governments is eminently desirable. I have no doubt but that the
demonstration agents of the department of home economics at Talla-
hassee would willingly lend assistance. In all problems of agriculture
and stock raising there are experts at the Gainesville Experiment
Station ready to lend a hand.
LOCATION OF HEADQUARTERS
16. That inasmuch as the bulk of the Indians live in the Big
Cypress, from which Dania is distant 130 miles--farther to most of
the camps-the headquarters of the Seminole Agency be moved to
Everglades, the county seat of Collier County, has telephone, tele-
graph, and rail service; there is an excellent hotel; civilized people
make it their home. The agent must do a vast deal of traveling in
any case, but the crux of the Seminole problem is where the bulk
of Seminoles live, and that is in Collier County.
17. That automobiles be furnished the agent, the public health
nurse, with a light truck f Jr the Hendry County caretaker.
The Ford is the best car now built to get through the swamps.
If the agent did not use up one Ford car a year, I should suspect
him of neglecting his work. I mean that the wear and tear on cars
off the highways is unimaginably brutal.
18. That the Hendry County Reservation again be put into shape
to pasture cattle. The fences, built in 1920, are in many places
As soon as the fence is repaired, a few range cattle should be pur-
cashed, either by the Government or by private philanthropy, and
the caretaker start building up an Indian herd. The whole propo-
sition must be treated as one in education, to the end that after some
years Indians may have acquired sufficient technique so that they
can begin building up herds of their own on the Henry County
19. That an undercover man or two be sent down to put half a
dozen of the more notorious bootleggers peddling liquor to the
Indians behind the bars.
COMMERCIAL INDIAN VILLAGES
20. That, inasmuch as the obnoxious commercial villages have
been organized in more than one Florida city, the." ri'.: Legislature
86 BMInOLE INDIANS
be asked for a law "making it a misdemeanor to harbor these Indians
for amusement purposes," as suggested by the late Hon. Clement S.
21. That Mr. Tucker's suggestion of an advisory council of six,
three white citizens and three Indians, also be adopted.
Whatever will increase local interest and participation in Indian
affairs is desirable; whatever will stimulate the Seminole to take a
long view of his own problems is to be desired. Transportation
would have to be furnished the Indian members of such a council.
TOPIC EVERHLADES NATIONAL PARK
22. That upon establishing the Tropic Everglades National Park
the Monroe County Reservation be exchanged for an equal acreage
in one solid block in Collier County north of the Tamiami Trail,
and title theieto be transferred from the State of Florida to the
I have omitted reference to the cost of Seminole administration,
which, in recent years, has amounted to about $12,000 annually.
This appropriation must be somewhat increased if my suggestions be
accepted. The problem goes deeper than dollars. The expenditure
of a billion would not rectify the wrongs of the Seminole wars, nor
pay the debts of a generation that is dead. The only proper approach
to Ahe problem is, what is best for the Florida Seminoles?
Special Commissioner to Negotiate with Indians.
Hon. CHARLES J. RHOADS,
Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
L -- II
LIST OF RESERVED SEMINOLE LANDS
The lands in Collier, Martin, and Broward Counties were reserved
in the following Executive order:
THE WHITE HOUSE,
June 58, 1911.
It is hereby ordered that the following-described lands in the State of Florida
be, and they are hereby, withdrawn from settlement, entry, sale, or other disposal
and set aside as a reservation for the Seminole Indians in southern Florida, pro-
vided that this withdrawal is subject to any existing valid rights or claims of any
SW. / of sec. 21, SE. 3 of NE. / of sec. 23, S. % of NW. Y of sec. 24, N. 6
of NW. 3 of sec. 25, NE. % of NE. Y of sec. 26, N. % of NW. Y of sec. 27, E. %
of NE. g and NW. 4 of SE. Y of sec. 28, SW. Y of SE. Y and SW. % of see. 29,
and SE. % of sec. 30, township 51 south, range 32 east.
All of sec. 1 except the W. % of lot 2 of NW. Y4, all of sec. 3, E. % of sec. 11 a
N. % of NW. %, SW. Y of NW. Y, and E. M of SW.- 4of sec. 11, NE. E. % d
SE. Y, NE. Y of NW. %, and SW. 4 of sec. 12, township 39 south, range 37 east
SE. 4 of SW. Y of sec. 23, and NW. Y of NE. Y of sec. 25, township 50 south,
range 40 east.
NE. Y of SW. Y of see. 20, township 50 south, range 41 east.
SW. Y of NE. Y, NW. Y of SE. ,, E. % of NW. V SW. Y of NW. and
N. 3 of SW. Y of sec. 1, and E. % of SE. Y of sec. 2, township 51 south, range
41 east, of the Tallahassee meridian.
WM. H. TArT.
The following-described areas were purchased for the Se'inole
Indians (see Annual Report for 1900 (p. 101) under the acts of:
August 15, 1894 (28 Stat. 303).
March 2, 1895 (28 Stat. 692).
June 10, 1896 (29 Stat. 337).
June 7, 1897 (30 Stat. 78).
March 1, 1899 (30 Stat. 938).
June 6, 1900 (31 Stat. 302).
April 4, 1910 (36 Stat. 274).
From- Section wn-p Range Acres Price
The Plant Investment Co---------------------... 25 47 32 640
23 48 32 640
25 48 32 640
35 48 32 640
1 2,560 $1,600.00
I I I 1 111
i.-' SEMINOLE INDIANS
From- Section own- Range Acrs Price
ship Rne Acrs Pric
Frank Q. Brown, trustee.---...._-- ---------....... 36 48 32
12 48 33
18 48 33
24 48 33
12 48 34
14 48 34
18 48 34
20 48 34
22 48 34
24 48 34
26 48 34
28 48 34
30 48 34
32 48 34
34 48 34
36 48 34
.- 10,240 $5, 760. 00
Tb Diaston Lead Co ..-- ------.. -------------... 7 48 34 ,70.00
13 48 34
16 48 34
17 48 34
19 49 34
21 48 34
23 48 34
26 48 34
27 48 34
29 48 34
31 48 34
38 48 34
36 48 34
-- 8,341.72 4,267.52
The Florida Commercial Co ------------------- 32 47 33 640 448.00
The Florida southern R. R. Co.------------------ 24 48 32
26 48 32
Total -------------------------------- ---------- ---- 23,061.72, 13;36. 52
The 80 acres purchased at Immokalee in 1891 was the south half
of the northeast quarter of section 4, township 47 south of range 29
MONROE COUNTY RESERVATION
(Compiled General Laws of Florida, 1927 annotated)
SEMINOLE INDIAN RESERVATION
1994 (1313). Land set aside; description.-The following described lands in the
county of Monroe, State of Florida, are hereby set aside and given to the Semi-
nole Indians of Florida as a reservation, to wit:
All of the lands now belonging to the State of Florida in township 56 south of
range 82 east, being all of sections 7 to 15, inclusive, and 17 to 36, inclusive,
containing 18,560 acres, more or less.
Also all of sections 1 to 4, inclusive; 10 to 15, inclusive; 22 to 24, inclusive;
and sections 35 and 36, in township 57 south of range 32 east, containing 9,600
acres, more or less.
Also all of sections 1 to 3, inclusive; 10 to 14, inclusive; 24, 25, 35, and 36, of
township 58 south of range 32 east, containing 7,680 acres, more or less.
Also all of sections 7 to 15, inclusive, and 17 to 36, inclusive, of township 56
south of range 33 east, containing 18,560 acres, more or less.
Also all of sections 1 to 15, inclusive, and 17 to 36, inclusive, of township 57
south of range 33 east, containing 22,400 acres, more or less.
Also all of sections 1 to 15, inclusive, and 17 to 36, inclusive, of township 58
south of range 33 east, containing 22,400 acres, more or less. (Ch. 7310, acts
1917, par. 1.)
1995 (1314). Trustees to convey to board of commissioners of State institutions
in trust for benefit of Indians.-The trustees of the internal improvement fund
are hereby directed to convey to the board of commissioners of State institutions
the title .to said described lands, in trust, however, for the perpetual use and
benefit of the Indians aforesaid, and as a reservation for them. (Id. par. 2.)
ma~i *-\. .*
BARR, JAMES, CAPT.:
BAUSKETT, J. S.:
BREVARD and BENNETT
COE, C. h.:
CORY, C. B.:
DRAKE, FRANCIS SAMU
GIDDINGS, J. R.:
GORDCN, H. R., COL.
FAIRBANKS, G. R.:
SPRAGUE, JOHN T., C
WILSCN, MINIE MOOR
CF SOCIAL WORK:
History of the American Indians. London: 1775.
A Correct and Authentic Narrative of the Indian War in
Florida. New York: 1836.
Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East
and West Florida, the Cherokee Country, the extensive ter-
ritories of the Muscogulges or Creek Confederacy, and the
Country of the Chactaws. Philadelphia: James & Johnson. 1791.
The Story of Florida. Dansville, N. Y.: F. A. Owen Pub. Co.,
and Chicago: Hall & McCreary Co. 1913.
SHistory and Government of Florida. New York: American Book
Red Patriots. Cincinnati: The Editor Pub. Co. 1898.
Seminole Indians. Boston: Estes & Lauriat. 1896.
EL: Indian History for Loung Folks. New iork: Harper & Bros.
The Exiles of Florida. Columbus (0.): Follett, Foster & Co.
: Osoeola, Chief of the Seminoles. New iork: E. P. Dutton
The Anthropology of Florida. DeLand (Fla.): Florida State
The Seminole Indians of Florida. (5th Annual Report, Bureau
of American Ethnology.) Washington: 1887.
A Forgotten Remnant. (Excerpt from Scribner's Magazine,
History of Florida. Jacksonville: Drew Co. 1904.
R.: Hietory of the Indian Tribes of the United States. Philadelphia:
J. B. Lippincott & Co. 185'. 6 vols.
;APT.: The Origin, Progress, and Conclusion of the Florida War,
etc. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Philadelphia: George S.
iE: The Seminoles of Florida. Kingaport (Tenn.): Kingsport
The War in Florida, being an exposition of its causes, and
an accurate history of the campaigns of Generals Clinch,
Gaines, and Scott. Baltimore: Lewis & Coleman. 1836.
(Lewis Meriam, W. Carson Ryan, Jr., Blanche La Du, Ruth
Muskrat Bronson). Minneapolis: June, 1931.
Clippings on the Seminole Indians from Sunniland The Magazine of Florida.
Florida's Seminoles, by Justine G. Jarris. 1925.
Newspaper Clippings: Clippings from Sunday Editions of the Florida Times Union,
1926, 1927, 1930, 1931.
BULLETINS: Office of Indian Affairs, Washington, D. C.:
Bulletin 1: Primitive Agriculture of the Indians.
Bulletin 14: Indian Wars and Local Disturbances in the U. S.
Bulletin 24: Indian Reservations.
Reports of Office of Indian Affairs.
Reports of War Department.
Reports and Bulletins of Bureau of American Ethnology.
Collections, State Historical Societies.
Niles Weekly Register.
American State Papers.
Reports and Documents of Congress.
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