i iA 1I I I1
Copy of painting by noted artist, George Catlin, now in Smithsonian
Institution, Washington, D. C. Posed at Fort Moultrie, S. C., three
days before Osceola's death.
THE SEMINOLE INDIANS IN FLORIDA
Compiled by workers of the Writers' Program
Work Projects Administration in the State of Florida
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
State-wide Sponsor of the Florida Writers' Project
FEDERAL WORKS AGENCY
JOHN M. CARMODY, Administrator
WORK PROJECTS ADMINISTRATION
HOWARD O. HUNTER, Acting Commissioner
FLORENCE KERR, Assistant Commissioner
WILBUR E. HARKNESS, State Administrator
The Florida State Department of Agriculture
NATHAN MAYO, Commissioner
The Florida Writers' Project is indebted to Mrs. Ethel
Cutler Freeman, Special Field Assistant, Department of
Anthropology of the American Museum of Natural History,
who spends her winters among the Seminoles of the Big
Cypress country, for her valuable criticism of the manu-
script, additional information, and the introduction.
We are grateful to Dr. Clark Wissler, Curator, Depart-
ment of Anthropology, who approved Mrs. Freeman's copy,
and to Dwight R. Gardin, Superintendent of Indian Affairs,
Seminole Indian Agency, Dania, Florida, for his helpful
suggestions and assistance in preparing the map.
The interesting report, Survey of the Seminole Indians
in Florida, by Roy Nash, Special Commissioner to investi-
gate Indian Affairs, was used as a guide in the prepara-
tion of this newer work which it is hoped will bring the
subject up to date and waken the general public to a better
understanding of the Seminole.
In compiling this book, particular credit is due Mary
H. Sheppy and Barbara B. Darsay, members of the Florida
Rolla A. Southworth Carita Doggett Corse
State Director State Supervisor
Community Service Programs Florida Writers' Project
WORK PROJECTS ADMINISTRATION
INTRODUCTION . Ethel Cutler Freeman
HISTORY .-.......-.................------------ 1
THE SEMINOLE TODAY.................-........... ............. 8
Brighton Reservation .................. ............--- ......13
Seminole Cookery ..........-....... .....-------- 18
Hunting and Fishing -....-. ................. .... 21
Snakes ................. ----------------..22
Seminole Dress ..-............--- ............- 24
Houses and Housekeeping ..................-......-- 28
Arms and Tools............. .-----------.. 30
Children ...----.....------------..-----....-...- 31
Games .---- -----.......... ... --------- 33
SEMINOLE TRADITION AND CHARACTER................34
Muscogees and Micosukees-----.................----34
Two Tribes-Two Tongues -----------.. ...... 35
Commercial Camp Seminoles ................--.38
Obscure Customs and Rites ..--------....... ... 39
Religion ....---..... ..-------------------40
Superstitions ------------ ....41
Burial Rites ---------.........----.--------- 42
Punishment --............... .. ... ----------- .... 44
Seminole Law versus State Law -------- 45
Story of Charlie Billy.. -............------45
Ocelopee's Last Days ....----- ---.--..- -----....46
Josie Billie, Medicine Man ------- 47
Seminole Characteristics ............-..............--- -.... 48
Seminole Legends ......-..-..------------------ 50
Two Seminole Heroes -----.....--------.... ... 57
"Chi," Indian Outcast-........... ..---------- 61
LAWS, CUSTOMS, AND OCCUPATIONS.-..-.......-..--.....61
Tribal Government .----.... ...... ..... ..............61
Green Corn Dance....------.............. ......... ...62
Canoe Building Ceremonies.....-..--- ..------------.66
Seminole Songs .---......-... ----------........- 67
Seminole W omen .............- ....-- -.... ........ 68
Marriage and Divorce --.---..............-... ...- 68
Care of the Aged..--- ----- ---.-........... ... 69
Means of Livelihood---...-........... --.... .... 69
Seminole and White Hunters .-------... ...........-. 72
Economic Status --..........-......-- ...... ....72
.................-- -- 73
INDIAN PLACE NAMES IN FLORIDA --...-..........- 79
BIBLIOGRAPHY --------.-----. .... -- ........ .- 82
IN DEX ..-- -----................... .... ............ 85
MAP OF EVERGLADES
Showing Sites of Seminole Indian Camps Inserted in Back
Florida is a country that has long stirred the imagina-
tion. Her great springs, mangrove-covered tropical keys,
and the vast untamed Everglades are widely publicized;
however no inanimate object has the appeal of an untamed
living thing and none makes such a profound impression
as the colorful Seminole Indian. The tales that are told
of these people vary greatly and are often contradictory.
Why does one man report them to be an honorable, digni-
fied and cleanly race, while another says that they are
dirty, squalid loafers, who teach their children to beg?
Many a traveler has stored away these memories for future
investigation, so this book is a timely contribution for
those interested in this question. There is a real demand
for this information which explains these seemingly dis-
similar facts that so often bewilder the resident as well
as the tourist.
The reader will find here an excellent history of the
Seminole. The ancestors of the Florida Indians were
migrating groups, ever changing and intermingling. The
main threads in their backgrounds have been traced very
cleverly, and by omitting nonessentials, we have an easily
understandable, interesting and integrated picture of their
origins. The simplification of the complicated story of these
people is well done. The cultural data is accurate and well
chosen, and the description of the country of the Cow
Creeks is delightful.
The Seminole of Florida are divided into two main
branches, a grouping explained clearly in the second chapter.
In general, the book deals with the Cow Creek division,
which lives near Lake Okeechobee, rather than with the
Cypress, who inhabit the southerly part of the State, in
and around the Big Cypress country, the Everglades, and
the Tamiami Trail. The two groups vary somewhat in
customs and in tongues, as has been pointed out in the
text. These differences in culture often lead to a misin-
terpretation of acts, and the motives that inspire them.
Viewed against the background of the history and customs
here recorded, the Indian and his village take on another
aspect, and are more understandable to the white man.
People often ask me, "Do you go into the Everglades
and live among the Seminole in order to do them good?"
An attitude of spiritual superiority on the part of the
whites would be presumptuous. On the contrary the
thoughtful man feels humbled in the presence of native
virtues. Mr. Zimmerman of Washington, Assistant Com-
missioner of Indian Affairs, said to the Indian, "Do not
learn everything that the white man knows." It is evident
that he felt that many of the red man's traits, customs
and attitudes toward life are preferable to ours.
The question is: How will the Seminole be able to
adjust to our civilization when it impinges on them more
directly? Will they retain their admirable qualities of
honesty, truthfulness, sincerity and tolerance? We are
at a period when, because of economic changes, a greater
contact between whites and the Seminole is inevitable. This
should not necessarily create difficulties. One of the
Seminole young men visited us in our home this summer.
He had always lived far back in the Everglades and up to
that time had not been in touch with our civilization. He
knew nothing of our way of life, our houses, methods of
eating or sleeping or deportment. In a stay of several
weeks he met all these unusual situations with dignity,
good humor, and unselfconsciousness. He showed no em-
barrassment or awkwardness, but radiated his inner
serenity and security. All who met him were impressed
by this trait. He displayed no anxiety. If he did not
know what to do, he watched quietly and then acted with
In Seminole culture, the avoidance of conflict plays an
important role. Noninterference with the individual, his
rights and property, unless seriously detrimental to the
group, as a whole, seems to be a basic principle. Tribal
welfare lies at the root of their society, but individual
integrity and initiative are also stressed. These are the
fundamentals on which this group strength is built. Un-
desirable traits are not dealt with by force. The pugnacious
man is not acceptable to his clan or tribe. He is distrusted
and feared. lie is dangerous to the community and not
welcome in any village. Continual or serious infringements
of the cultural patterns are considered by the council, and
punishment, in this case, is meted out and enforced.
Seminole belief in cause and effect, exemplified in their
penal code, where unfailing retribution is the result of
breaking the tribal law, their assurance of absolute justice,
according to their lights, and the acceptance by all the
people, of the fundamental tenet that the community wel-
fare is more important than individual privilege, leads to
a stability in culture and character that may be derived
from their keen consciousness of the inevitable. Their
uncompromising attitude holds no brief for softness, le-
niency or extenuating circumstances. It may be that their
dependence on an inexorable, ruthless environment, has
built the same trait into their character. If a wrong has
been committed, the result will be punishment. I have
never heard of a Seminole rebelling against, or trying to
escape from, the sentence imposed on him by the Council.
He knows that he is receiving justice.
When one has actually lived in the Big Cypress and
the Everglades country, when the rain has made a morass
of the great wilderness, so that no matter what the
exigency, one is almost hopelessly marooned, when each
morning one awakens to a water-soaked, clammy, and
chilling world, when food is scarce, and the wind howls
mournfully through cracks in the tent, then one can un-
derstand the Seminole stoicism. They must accept these
conditions and they do so without murmuring. But this
does not mean that they are not inventive and adaptive,
and do not make themselves as comfortable as possible
under these conditions. The Seminole has few material
possessions. He does not desire them. They would be a
hindrance to him and not a help. To a person seeing
their mode of life for the first time, it is astonishing that
they could have adapted themselves so well to the condi-
tions under which they live. The palmetto roof, which in
itself is a work of great beauty, is eminently practical. The
palmetto fans are easy to gather and the roof is quickly
made. It hangs low, keeps out the rain, allows for the
free circulation of air, protects the possessions stored
under the roof on the beams and insures a surprising
amount of privacy, for, unless one is near-by, it is difficult
to see what is occurring on the platform, where the life
of the family takes place.
The dress of the women to the casual observer seems
to be a most impractical fashion. Until one lives in the
wilds among the Indians, these clothes would appear to be
a hold-over from some past phase of their culture or
evidence of the diffusion of a trait from some other people,
perhaps from the full-skirted inhabitants of the Antilles
and the West Indies. This is a not impossible explanation
of the origin of their costume, but in all events, it is an
exceedingly practical arrangement for their mode of life.
The skirt which lies on the ground for three inches, seems
an absurd attire for the rough swampy country, where a
great part of the travel is through sharp sawgrass and
clinging vines. The women go shoeless, for they must
often cross marshes in this water-soaked land and any
covering would be continually wet. Therefore this long
skirt which wraps around the feet is, in reality, a clever
device that protects them as they trudge the higher, dry
trails that lead through scrub and palmetto. Their feet
turn in slightly as. they kick their skirts in front of them
to avoid stepping on them.
This movement gives them a distinctive undulating
walk. They wear nothing under this garment and by
lifting their skirts, they can wade through water and
slough, without wetting their clothing. A full cape covers
them to below the waist. Now, since white contact has
made them self-conscious, they don, when near civilization, a
blouse under their cape. One finally realizes that this
dress is an ingenious way of insuring their comfort. The
full loose costume keeps off the sun and is perfect for a
hot, humid climate, as it does not cling to the skin.
The comparatively new way of wearing the hair, now
in vogue among the young women, has developed within
the last five or six years. Both the Cow Creeks and the
Cypress Indians use variations of this mode. Although it
is evident that the idea was originally taken from the
brim of a hat, it is truly another adaptation to their en-
vironment, for it is to all intents and purposes, a black
eyeshade. A piece of cardboard is cut into a shape, some-
what like a hat brim; this is covered and the edge is wired.
The Seminole woman's hair is long, black, and straight.
It is drawn to the top of the head and tied there like a
switch. The brim is then fastened on securely and the
hair drawn over it, with a net of black thread placed on
top to keep it neat. Little scallops of colored beads finish
the edge where the hair joins the forehead. Every hair is
always in perfect order in this elaborate coiffure, and the
girls look attractive as with lowered heads they peek coyly
out from beneath this shade. This must be a grateful
relief from the continual glare during the dry season. They
also put this brim on little girls of eighteen months when
they expect to be out in the sun all day. They fasten it to
the child's head by the hair net. The older women wear
their hair in the old way. It is rolled into a pompadour,
and has a bang, also.
There is another characteristic of Seminole society that
is puzzling, because it is so different from any trait that
we have in ours. Among the Seminole, no individual has
what we call a "will to power." He is not ambitious to win
over another. He does not wish to dominate. Competition
and rivalry do not enter into his conception of life. Ab-
sence of the need for dominance runs through his entire
culture. No one man rules the council. Decisions are made
by the group. Co-operation is the method employed when
work is to be done. When a chikee is to be built, no
person assumes control and directs the others. There is
no boss; all work together harmoniously. Competition
does not enter into children's games either. They do not
play to win. The little girls skip and chant in a game
that resembles our "Ring around a Rosie." The boys and
girls of eight or ten, climb slight saplings, pulling the tops
over to the ground. They love to bounce through the air
on these springy swings, but there is no suggestion that
one will go the highest. The boys play Chinese Checkers
and one always shows the other the moves that he does not
see. We think of the other fellow as an opponent whom
we want to beat, he thinks of him as a fellow player. The
babies are brought up in the same manner. A mother never
dominates her child, never corrects or slaps him or inflicts
punishment. Misdemeanors of certain kinds result in cer-
tain penalties, but these are not imposed by an individual,
so the feeling that one is stronger than another is not
engendered. Subservience and the ingratiating attitude
are therefore unknown. "Comparisons are odious," is an
axiom that is without meaning to the Seminole, when ap-
plied to an individual. The idea of competition, winning
over another, besting the other fellow, does not exist.
So the reader begins to comprehend that these details
and customs that have seemed so incongruous and strange
before, are really separate parts, which when pieced togeth-
er, make the integrated picture of the life of the Florida
What is to be the ultimate end of this march of progress,
if we can call it that? The increasing contact between the
Seminole and the white population is the problem that is
of the greatest importance at the moment. Even the Big
Cypress branch is beginning to own its automobiles, and
when the road to the Hendry County Reservation is com-
pleted, the trip to town will be a usual occurrence. The
policy of the Government towards the Indian is one of
sympathy and helpfulness. It takes an enlightened view
of the situation, looking to future developments.
At present, there are no congenial Seminole community
centers in any of the towns. Indians are often taken to the
hospital in Miami for treatment, and the exhibition camps
are the only places where relatives of the invalid can spend
the night. Every one agrees that these camps are the focal
and distribution points for social evils among the Indians.
Mr. Nash in his report on the Seminole in 1930, and this
book as well, state that the Indians are thrown, while in
these camps, with a low class of white people, who con-
taminate their wholesome native ideas and have a detri-
mental influence. When a Seminole goes to town for a
day, he heads for a "movie" house, for he delights in pic-
tures, particularly "Westerns." After this, he has little to
do. He wanders about the streets, hangs around the stores,
and has no place to go and rest. It is then that he is an
easy prey for sharpers and the vendors of cheap liquor.
The Government may find that it can solve this problem
in a satisfactory and inexpensive way, by setting aside a
plot of land in each of the few towns where the Indians
trade, to be used as an Indian town headquarters. This
land should be conveniently located, in a spot so congenial
to the Indians, that they would desire to put up their own
village. It should be used as a rendezvous, where they
could meet, look at books, play games, listen to the radio
It should also be a place where they could stay and
sell their articles to tourists, if they desired. If these
villages were run on a co-operative basis by the Indians
themselves, the monetary benefits would accrue to them
instead of to the white men who now exploit them. The
fact that the sale of Seminole handicrafts to visitors is an
increasingly important feature of their economic life, must
be recognized when planning for the future welfare of
The headquarters could be owned by the Government and
be under its unobtrusive supervision; but the land should
be chosen with the advice of the Seminole Council, and the
procedure for building up this camp should be left to them,
so that their antagonism will not be aroused by the in-
advertent breaking of any of their traditions.
The Indian Council is a responsible body and the
institutions of Seminole society are well organized and law
abiding. If the nominal responsibility of these town head-
quarters was delegated to the Council, and if they would
accept this trust, the co-operation of the group would be
This plan would fit in with the splendid method now
being used by Washington. It offers the Seminole help,
but allows him to feel free to accept or refuse it and thus
asserts his right to self determination. In this way the
influence of the vicious white element that undermines
the integrity of these people, would be counteracted.
It is to the interest of all of us to try to make this
connection between the Seminole of Florida and ourselves
one of understanding and co-operation. Being thus mutual-
ly helpful, we may keep Florida the "happy hunting
ground" for all. I believe, sincerely, that the Seminole, by
his truth and honesty, his cheerfulness in adversity and
by his nonaggressive attitude can be an inspiration to the
rest of us here in America.
The remote corners of the world are in turmoil. Even
Seminole life moves on apace. The tribe is in the throes of
what is to them, a major crisis; they are facing an inevita-
ble adjustment to new conditions. Economic pressure
forces rapid cultural changes. The Seminole of yesterday
and today will not be the same Seminole tomorrow.
How will they meet this novel situation? How many of
their old customs and old characteristics will survive? It
is useless to speculate. We must wait and watch and hope
that their fine integrity and sturdiness of spirit will domi-
nate the less valuable traits that impinge them.
ETHEL CUTLER FREEMAN,
Special Field Assistant,
Department of Anthropology,
American Museum of Natural History,
New York City, New York.
Prior to the eighteenth century there were no Seminole
tribes living in Florida. In fact, there was not even a tribe
known as Seminole, for they received their name, meaning
"separatists," as a result of leaving the Indian nations of
Georgia. About 1700, when England began to challenge the
right of Spain to control in Florida, the majority of the
Creek sided with the British, as did the Yamassee of coastal
Georgia. Between 1702 and 1709 under the leadership of
British traders, these Georgia tribes raided the semicivilized
villages of Spanish Indians in Florida and carried off the
natives to Charleston where they found a ready sale as
slaves. An English map records that by 1706 the middle
Florida towns were almost depopulated. Bands of the
Georgia Indians began to occupy this area, encouraged by
the British. First to move in were the Lower Creeks or
Micosukees. These were an older, more warlike tribe than
the Upper Creeks, or Muscogees, whose traditions said
they had come from the West not long before Europeans
The Yamassees had accompanied the English raiders to
Florida, but in 1715, after a massacre of the English set-
tlers in Carolina, they fled to Florida where the Spanish
Governor welcomed them. Vengeful Carolinians with
their faithful Creek allies pursued them, and soon the
remnants of the Yamassees became slaves of the Creek. In
1763 when the British acquired title to Florida, the Creek
whose people here had now become known as Seminole,
were rewarded in the treaty of 1768 by cession of most of
the interior of Florida. The English reserved for them-
selves only those lands that were touched by tidal waters.
This generosity insured Seminole aid to the British during
the American Revolution and confirmed them in their
hatred for the United States. Hence, when England trans-
ferred Florida to Spain in 1784, Seminole allies here were
surrounded by hostile whites. British traders, notably Pan-
ton, Leslie and Company at Pensacola, kept alive their
friendship with England and even furnished them with
As Spain's authority was but a shadow, many other
Georgia Creek who had quarreled with their own leaders
came to share this unrestricted area. Runaway Negro
slaves from the American plantations found a haven here
also, for the Seminole allowed them to form their own
towns, requiring little more than an annual tribute of corn
in return. In 1790 the Georgia Creek in a treaty with the
American settlers agreed to return Negro slaves who had
escaped to Florida. Together with American planters, the
Creek crossed the border and clashed with the Seminole
and Negroes, while they, in turn, raided Georgia settle-
ments in revenge.
During the War of 1812 Andrew Jackson invaded Florida
in a series of campaigns to check British activities among
the Seminole. He inflicted crushing defeats on the Florida
Indians and executed not only their leaders but two British
subjects found among them. This was known as the First
Seminole War. Spain and England protested these actions,
but, for them, the question was settled by the cession of the
territory to the United States in 1819. For the Seminole,
it was the final bloody chapter of their fight against the
Americans. Their worst forebodings were confirmed when
in 1819 Andrew Jackson was appointed Indian Agent as
well as governor of the ceded territory. Jackson promptly
urged that the Seminole be sent West, along with the
Creek. The Seminole protested, saying they had long
been separated from the Creek and were not friendly to
them. Accordingly, by treaty of September 6, 1823, the
Federal Government assigned them a large part of the
southern section of Florida with an Indian agent at Fort
King, near the present Ocala. An annual payment of $5,000
was granted the tribesmen and they in turn agreed to
surrender all runaway Negroes.
White settlers, however, eager for the land, slaves,
and cattle of the Indians, were constantly clashing with
them. Finally in 1832 the Indians were notified that they
must be removed to western reservations, where they would
have to share the lands assigned to the Creek. This little-
understood issue was one on which the Seminole repeatedly
took a stand. They felt that the main Creek nation were
their enemies and did not wish to live next to them in the
West. The other moot question was the fate of the
Maroons, their Negro "slaves" or allies. These they wished
to take West, but whites had claimed them on every hand.
It was agreed that those Negroes who could prove they had
been among the Indians a long time might go. Proof con-
sisted of the ability to speak the Seminole language.
The Seminole agreed that they would send a delegation
to look at the western lands and would make a decision
after their report. On March 28, 1833, while still in the
West, the delegation was persuaded to sign an agreement
for their tribe to emigrate. The majority of the chiefs,
however, refused to recognize the right of the delegation
to make this agreement. Tension developed when General
Thompson, the Indian Agent, ordered the Indians to sell
their cattle in preparation for the westward move. It was
at this point that Osceola, a young Indian, hitherto dis-
tinguished only as an athlete, began to emerge as a leader
of the Indians opposing emigration. About 1808 he had
come to Florida as a child with his mother when a large
body of Creek under King Payne moved to the Gainesville
area to avoid white contacts. In 1812 Tennessee raiders
drove the Indians farther south and Osceola's mother trav-
eled as far as Peace Creek, where her son grew up. Ap-
pearing in the vicinity of Fort King about 1830, he soon
won the favor of General Thompson for his agreeable man-
ners and apparent willingness to promote good relations
with the whites. In token of his appreciation, Thompson
presented Osceola with a rifle.
Three years dragged on and the Indians still delayed, so
the Government sent troops to force their emigration. Six
hundred regulars were stationed at Fort King when, on
April 22, 1835, Thompson called a conference of chiefs in
a final effort to persuade them to leave Florida. Thomp-
son's patience was exhausted after two days of evasions,
and he undertook to replace Micanope, the head chief, with
another who had agreed to emigrate. As was usually the
case in such deliberations, the interpreter was a Negro who
did not fail to insist on the rights of the Seminole Negroes.
To Thompson's surprise Osceola advanced and in a fiery
oration denounced any chief who complied with the de-
mands. Driving his knife into the proposed agreement,
Osceola declared that would be his only signature to the
document. With this open break some chiefs withdrew
while others remained to sign. Among the latter was
Charley Emathla, who proceeded to sell his cattle in prep-
aration for the move. Several chiefs, sensing the rising
tide of anger among the tribesmen, did not wait to dispose
of their property but fled to the protection of Fort Brooke,
where they awaited ships to deport them.
In June 1835 occurred an event at once typical of the
shortsighted bungling of the whites and fateful for the
course of the oncoming war. In company with his second
wife, Che-Cho-ter, Osceola appeared at Fort King. While
making purchases at Rogers' store near the fort, the young
woman was seized by a planter as a slave. Osceola sought
General Thompson, asking her release. On the grounds that
Che-Cho-ter's mother had Negro blood, Thompson did noth-
ing to help secure her return and Osceola burst into such
abusive language that Thompson placed him in irons.
After six days Chief Charley Emathla interceded for him
and Osceola, feigning regret, agreed to removal if released.
Instead of preparing to leave, however, the outraged Osceola
plotted revenge on Thompson and all who sided with
him. A council in Long Swamp on the Withlacoochee River
voted death to any Indian who agreed to emigrate and on
November 20, Osceola killed Charley Emathla for selling
his cattle in preparation for departure.
Learning that the Indians planned resistance, two regi-
ments of Florida militia took the field, engaging the forces
of Coacoochee and Sam Jones in Wacohoota swamp, south
of Gainesville; during the skirmish the Indians captured
the baggage train and the whites withdrew. General Dun-
can U. Clinch, then in command of the Florida forces, had
sent two companies of the Fourth Infantry from Fort King
to harvest the corn at his plantation," Fort Drane, probably
for use as supplies. Osceola decided to seize the opportu-
nity while the troops were away from Fort King to avenge
himself on Thompson. He knew he must hurry because
Major Dade with 108 men was soon to march from Fort
Brooke (Tampa) with reinforcements for Fort King. Then
came word from Micanope inviting Osceola to join a venture
to ambush Major Dade. Osceola would not be diverted
from his vengeance on Thompson, however. On December
28 he saw his chance. When General Thompson with an-
other officer left the Fort King stockade and walked along
the road to Rogers' store, Osceola opened fire from a clump
of bushes. He and his band of 40 Micosukees scalped their
two victims and raided the store.
Early in the morning of the same day Major Dade rid-
ing at the head of his column toward Fort King was killed
from ambush. Before the end of the day all but three
of his men lay dead. In this attack Micanope, Alligator,
and Jumper led the Indians, who lost only three men. That
night Osceola met the Dade victors in the Wahoo Swamp,
where medicine men decorated those who had distinguished
themselves in these two opening engagements of the Second
Three days later General Clinch with 230 soldiers, at-
tempting to cross the Withlacoochee, was opposed by 200
Indians under Osceola and Alligator. Osceola was wounded
early in the fight and his men retired. There were 40
Indian casualties as against 107 soldiers. General Edmund
P. Gaines with reinforcements of 1,100 men marched from
Tampa to Fort King, but retired when he found no adequate
provisions at the interior garrison. On February 27, at the
Withlacoochee, the Indians met and held him in a state of
siege for a week, during which time he was reduced to kill-
ing his horses for food. He was finally rescued by rein-
forcements from Fort King. During the summer months
it was not thought possible to campaign in Florida, and in
this interim much adverse criticism was directed against
General Gaines and Jesup for their failure to do any
appreciable damage to the Indians. Hence in the fall a
vigorous campaign was launched to destroy the Indian
towns and cornfields. Though reduced almost to starva-
tion, only 100 warriors were captured with 400 women and
children, during the years 1836-37. On March 6, 1837, the
Negro interpreter Abraham, weary of fighting, arranged
a meeting between Micanope and General Jesup to discuss
emigration. This time, the only condition the Indians
made was that their Negroes should go with them. Jesup
consented to this and most of the Indian leaders agreed
to emigrate. Jumper, Coacoochee, Alligator, and Micanope
brought their bands to Tampa, but while they waited
for ships, pressure on Jesup resulted in slave owners en-
tering the Indian camp in search of Negroes. As a result
of this breach of faith, the encampment emptied almost
overnight and the war continued. Henceforth, on the
grounds that the Indians had violated their pledges, Jesup
adopted the policy of making promises he did not feel
bound to keep. In the fall of 1837 other Indians were en-
rolled to fight the Seminole. Creek, Shawnee, Delaware,
Kickapoo, Sank, Fox, and Choctaw-900 in all-enlisted on
Jesup's promise of sharing the spoils. In September 1837,
King Philip, father of Coacoochee, was captured. When
Coacoochee asked to see his father, Jesup suggested that
he bring the other chiefs with him for a conference. Ac-
cordingly, on October 20, Osceola with about 40 follow-
ers went to an appointed spot eight miles from St. Augus-
tine. As they talked, troops surrounded them and brought
them as prisoners to Fort Marion. Due to the fame of
Osceola, this was the most publicized violation of a truce
during the war.
But Jesup's policy of using fair means or foul to secure
the tribesmen evidently had official support, as the follow-
ing circumstances show. The more civilized Cherokee,
pitying the condition of the Seminole, offered to act as
mediators. With the consent of the Secretary of War, a
delegation from this tribe went to Florida where arrange-
ments were made, with the help of the prisoners in Fort
Marion and their guards, to proceed with guides to the
Indian territory in the West. The Cherokee succeeded in
persuading a number of Seminole to come with them to
Fort Mellon (Sanford area) for a conference with army
officers. To the surprise of the Cherokee these Seminole
were also imprisoned. So mortified were the Cherokee that
they insisted on being allowed an interview with the prison-
ers to explain that they had been unwitting tools of the
army. Cherokee appeals to Washington for redress of this
wrong were ignored.
The sensational escape of Coacoochee from Fort Marion
reopened the war. The rest of the prisoners were hastily
transferred to Fort Moultrie at Charleston, where Osceola
died of quinsy on January 30, 1838. The others were sent
West on February 22 of the same year.
That winter, with 1,000 men, Colonel Zachary Taylor
marched into the Indian country and captured Jumper,
with about 500 men, women and children. He scoured the
Everglades using Fort Jupiter, east of Okeechobee as
headquarters. There were 70 such stockades in Florida
at that time. Though 8,000 soldiers were used, the campaign
met with little success. The bands of Tustenuggee and
Alligator were sent West, but the remainder of the Indians
retreated further into the Glades. Cuban bloodhounds used
to trail the fugitives failed because they were only trained
to catch Negroes.
In April 1839 General Alex McComb succeeded Zachary
Taylor and made an agreement with the Indians whereby
they were allowed to remain in the swamp, provided no
whites were injured. On July 23, however, Spanish In-
dians killed 18 men of Colonel W. S. Harney's command in
revenge for destruction of their property. Accordingly,
western Seminoles were brought to Florida in 1849 in an
effort to induce the remaining Indians to emigrate. This
was partially successful as General McComb reported
2,833 Seminoles had been sent West by 1842. That year
war was reopened in what was called the Third Seminole
War, which dragged on until 1851. Colonel Hitchcock won
the confidence of the Indians living along the Apalachicola
River and gained their consent to emigration. In all,
11,702 Indians were sent West, of whom 4,000 died in
This ended the longest and most expensive of the Indian
wars waged by the U. S. forces. Forty million dollars were
spent by the Government, and from 1,500 to 3,000 soldiers
lost their lives. In addition there were losses in life and
property of Florida citizens.
Nothing, however, would persuade a remnant of 150
Indians in the Everglades to leave, and larger inducements
than were ever offered any other tribe failed to tempt
them. This band has increased until in 1941 more than
500 Seminoles are living in Florida.
At present (1941) there are three Indian reservations in
the State, all under the jurisdiction of the Seminole Indian
Agency, at Dania. The Dania Reservation, a tract of 475
acres in Broward County, lies 4 miles west of Dania on
the east coast. The Hendry Reservation, in Hendry County,
35 miles east of Immokalee, consists of 35,463 acres. The
largest, Brighton Reservation, is a tract of 36,924 acres of
prairie, hammock, and swamp land in Glades and Highlands
Counties, 7 miles south of the town of Brighton, and
approximately 15 miles northwest of Lake Okeechobee.
Since 1930 the Seminole primitive manner of life has
been greatly affected by the drainage of the Everglades
and by timbering operations. Wild life, formerly abounding
in the Everglades, has been greatly reduced. Water holes
have dried up; fires have raged over a large area that once
was too damp to burn, and forests, that protected the game,
have been cut down. As a result, the Seminole, in some
cases, have suffered for lack of food and water.
All this has led to some good, however, in the opinion
of those who would like to see the Indians take advantage
of the opportunities offered at the Government reservations.
Unable longer to make a living from hunting and fishing,
more and more of the Seminole are moving to these reserved
areas where they are on the road to economic independence.
THE SEMINOLE TODAY
Deep in the shadows of the Everglades, on the night of
May 25, 1938, a group of Seminole Indians met officially
with agents of the United States Government. This was
the first voluntarily recognition these people had given the
United States since the end of the third Seminole War 87
At this conference Richard Osceola, speaking for 80
tribesmen, of the Cow Creek branch, told H. A. Zimmer-
man, Assistant Commissioner of Indian Affairs, that his
people wanted a school, a hospital, and a community build-
ing. They wanted better cattle and horses with which to
Only one point bothered Osceola. He asked if the gov-
ernment would want him and his people to live in houses
and wear clothes like those of the white man.
After being reassured on this point, he remarked: "Heap
good ... Indians must live in air and sunshine. Must dress
as fathers dressed."
Indicative of the change in both Indian and white view-
point was the conversation that followed.
Osceola is reported to have explained: "My people think
we need school for children. They can learn lots of things
like white people. I would like to go to this school my-
self. Other men would like to go, too. Old people some
day die. Young people need to learn to read and write so
can do it when get big."
Zimmerman agreed. At the close of the conference,
Billy Stewart, 68-year-old Seminole, presented the official
with a wooden sofkee spoon as a token of friendship and
acceptance, apparently the 1938 equivalent of the peace pipe
or the black drink.
This meeting was a far cry from the days when the
United States soldiers fought the Seminole warriors in every
swamp, when there was a bounty of $250 on each Seminole
woman or child captured alive and $500 on every Seminole
Since 1851 the Government has made numerous efforts
to win the confidence of those Indians who remained in the
Everglades at the end of the Seminole wars, but until this
May night every advance had met with stoical indiffer-
ence. Now the Indians realized that they must compromise
with civilization. To survive as a people, they must learn
* The economic conditions under which the two groups-Cow Creek
and Big Cypress-live, as well as their reactions to innovations, are
so dissimilar that in most cases they must be dealt with as separate
Photo by Florida Art Project. WPA.
THE DOLL MAKER
Photo by the State Dept. of Agriculture
SEMINOLE INDIAN VILLAGE
new methods of making a living. The Seminole living in
the Brighton Reservation, numbering about 120, or more
than one-fifth the Seminole population of Florida, turned
to their former enemy and asked to learn at least part of
the white man's ways.
Today, Indian day schools have been built in the various
reservations. Eighty per cent of the construction labor on
school buildings at Brighton Reservation was performed
by the Seminole men. The school is maintained with funds
appropriated by Congress and has three teachers. The
Seminole children attend voluntarily and learn to read,
write, and speak English. Perhaps even more significant is
the regular attendance of most of the men at night school.
Osceola's desire for adult education for his men has been
realized; however, learning is a harder process for them
than for their children. In 1940, 90 per cent of the men
and children of this reservation were attending school. So
far, the older women have shown no wish to attend.
Life at Brighton Reservation shows an encouraging
advancement in Indian ways of living. The description of
a visit to this newest of Florida's reservations presents a
sharp contrast to the account of a visit which Roy Nash
made to a Seminole camp in 1930.
Nash visited Guava Camp in the Hendry Reservation
and found it perched on a hammock about 100 feet wide
and completely surrounded by water, the result of an
unusually heavy rainy season in the Everglades. He had
found Hendry County Reservation, a few miles away, in a
similar condition. His trip from Immokalee to Hendry the
day before had been accomplished after much wading and
shoving of a waterlogged Ford. The last eight miles from
Hendry Reservation to Guava Camp were covered in an
During his days at Guava Camp, Nash associated with
pigs and chickens seeking shelter from the continuous
downpour. His Seminole host, Whitney Cypress, bare-
footed, clad in a shirt of many colors and a pair of cheap
cotton trousers, still used a dugout on his fishing expedi-
tions. There were few civilized comforts in camp. The
Indian's wife pounded her corn into meal using mortar and
pestle, the former hollowed in the head of an 18-inch log.
Nash noticed, however, the deftness with which his
Indian hosts and their children met the exigencies of their
wild life and he was hopeful of better things for them. They
were quick and capable. They could learn. He predicted,
among other advancements, that 50 years hence Seminole
children would attend public schools in the same classes
with white children. Today, just 10 years later, this
prophecy is beginning to come true.
Mrs. Freeman states that Guava Camp and other vil-
lages east from Immokalee still remain as they were when
Nash wrote his report, for the Big Cypress adhere to the
traditions of their ancestors and take pride in their old cus-
toms. Nash's account of his trip to the Reservation and
Guava Camp greatly resembles the description given by
Honorable John Collier, Commissioner of Indian Affairs,
whose account of his visit there in 1939 appeared in the
January 1940 issue of Indians At Work.
"This country and the people who live in it," Mrs.
Freeman relates, "have great charm. One grows to love
them both. When one has lived in this remote wilderness,
amid the Indian villages, under the same primitive condi-
tions, one cannot agree with those who bemoan the terrible
fate of the poor Seminole who has been driven into the
dismal Everglades of Florida. The water-covered swamps,
the cypress heads and the sawgrass stretching away to the
horizon, are beautiful, with the everchanging fascination
of the sea. In spite of the conservative attitude of these
Seminoles, owing to the splendid policy of the Government
and the tactful administration of its decisions, the Indians
of the Hendry County Reservation are accepting with good
grace the advent of an excellent Indian teacher and his wife,
who are now living on the Reservation and starting a school
In 1940 Hendry County Reservation has a school for the
100 or more Indians now living there.
Some details of camp life have also changed since Nash's
visit. The Cypress and Everglades Indians still use the
dugout canoe but the Seminole at Brighton Reservation now
use modern light rowboats when it is necessary to travel
by water. Since Brighton is much drier than Hendry, it is
seldom necessary to go by water except when hunting or
fishing in the interior of the reservation.
Certain parts of Hendry Reservation are under water
the year round. With the drainage of the Everglades, how-
ever, many roads have been built and a Seminole today
prefers to travel by automobile when possible. Those living
in reservations would scorn to use oxcarts, though pos-
sibly some are still to be seen at solitary camps in the
hinterland. A 1940 report on Brighton Reservation says
that almost every Indian family living there owns a car.
The Seminole wants a car which does him credit and, while
now and then he is seen driving an old model-T Ford, he
is quite as often found in a gleaming new car, generally a
5-passenger model. The type of car usually denotes the
wealth of the family.
Brighton Reservation. State Highway 8 passes through
the town of Brighton, making it possible to leave Ft.
Pierce, on the east coast, and travel west to this town;
it can be reached equally well by driving south and east
from Sebring over the same highway. State Highway
18 east from Arcadia also leads to Brighton. Here a
signboard marked "INDIAN CORNER" stands at the in-
tersection of the State Highway 8, and a white road of clay,
sand, and rock leads seven miles south to the reservation.
The road from Sebring runs through interesting coun-
try. For some miles south, the rolling land is at times
covered with orange and grapefruit groves, broken by
stretches of pine and tiny lakes. Now and then lone tall
cabbage palms are seen. The sand is beach white.
Occasionally magnolias, bays, and hickories appear in the
small hammocks. Where the road turns east at Childs the
landscape abruptly changes; the hills and lakes, the groves
and pines, vanish. The land, covered with sawgrass and
clumps of cabbage palms, extends to the horizon. In the
drainage ditches bordering the highway, white ibis and the
little blue herons stalk among the flat green lily pads.
Here and there are patches of water hyacinths with their
lavender sprays, and arrowheads flaunting spikes of purple
blossoms. The sawgrass is broken here and there by spark-
ling pools of water.
After turning into the white road at Indian Corner, the
scene takes on a more primitive aspect. On pilings of
small bridges rusty black snakes coil in the warmth of the
sun and raise their heads as motorists pass. Old logs half
submerged in the dark waters of the canal are covered
with small turtles, and just below the water's surface,
others swim lazily, their heads projecting like periscopes.
Red-shouldered hawks fly parallel with the car as if racing
with it, swooping almost within arm's reach before taking
off across the sawgrass with shrill cries. The ibis and
herons are plentiful, and turkey buzzards wheel high in the
sky, their wings motionless. The soil is rich, dark muck, and
the green sawgrass mingles with patches of marigold and
pink and blue terrestrial orchids. Sleek cattle with long,
polished horns graze under the palms in the hammocks, or
wade in the canal, placidly chewing hyacinths.
The hammocks, with their clusters of palms, become
more numerous as the reservation is approached. Each
hammock is the camp of a Seminole family and often the
palm-thatched huts can be seen from the road. Finally a
great number of cabbage palms loom high in the distance,
and when reached, are found to surround the official reser-
vation buildings. The road ends in a parklike clearing,
bright and civilized with green lawns and brilliant flower
beds. Cement walks bordered with blooming roses lead
to the school building.
One of the principal reasons for selecting the tract at
Brighton for a reservation was that a comparatively large
band of Seminole had made their camps in that vicinity for
years. In addition, white cattlemen thereabout had been
employing Seminole men as cowboys thus conditioning
them, by association, to the white man's mode of life.
Groups of Seminole had visited the hotel at Brighton, re-
ceiving pay for entertaining the guests with their native
dances and songs. This in itself was no mean incentive to
their establishing themselves in the neighborhood.
There are, however, no commercial Indian camps at
Brighton such as those seen near Miami. With this fav-
orable background, the Government found it easier than
usual to interest the Seminole in the idea of living here
permanently. As a result 120 Indians now (1941) make
the reservation their home and there is a slow but steady
influx of others to the settlement as its advantages become
The administration building includes the Indian day
school, the office, and the living quarters of the resident
principal. There is a playground for the Seminole children,
and a group of chikees, as Brighton Seminoles call their
log and palmetto houses, standing a little apart from the
other buildings, for the use of transient Indians. The
administration building also houses a modern laundry
with accompanying drying yard in the rear and the Semi-
nole women take full advantage of this feature. The clothes
lines are almost always hanging full of garments as color-
ful as Joseph's coat and probably much cleaner.
When Seminole women do their laundry they want every
garment of their wardrobe washed. There must be no
dirty ones left over. To this end, when all the clothing is
laundered except that which they are wearing, they change
into some of the freshly washed garments, even though
they are wet, and then wash the soiled things they have
just taken off.
Another modern innovation here, enjoyed by men,
women and children alike, is the group of shower baths.
At a CCC Camp, established at the reservation, the men
may enroll if they wish, and work. The base pay is $1.50
a day. Group leaders, assistant leaders, and foremen re-
ceive up to $4. They have training in road and fence
building, auto repairing and other mechanical trades, va-
rious phases of agriculture, stock care, and many other lines
of work. The men live in their own family camps.
Seminole men are said to be natural mechanics and this
aptitude is being used to good advantage in their training.
Participation in any of these various activities as well as
attendance at school is entirely voluntary. Enrollees are
studied as individuals by the Government agents and effort
is made, when possible, to guide their activities along lines
favorable to their development.
While the younger Seminole's attitude is undoubtedly
becoming more co-operative, he is still aware of the past
and does not yet trust the white man completely. Two
important factors, however, are working great changes in
his daily life. The first is the shortage of game and second
is the proximity of Government reservations and grocery
stores. Until recent years, the Seminole depended to a
great extent on hunting both for food and as a means of
livelihood. Awakened by the shortage of game to the
necessity of finding other means for satisfying his needs,
the Seminole is at last realizing the advantages offered by
life at the reservations. Here he is finding other ways to
make his living, for, although the Government gives him all
manner of advantages and assistance, his income is his own
responsibility. These Indians receive no per capital payments
of cash as do some of the western tribes, who incorporated
these provisions in their treaties with the Government.
Along with the new and more dependable types of
work offered by authorities, the Seminole on some reserva-
tions are discovering the delights of near-by grocery stores
and food is being bought more and more from irresistible
counter displays. They have experienced the thrill of
thumbing through a mail order catalogue, too, and now
buy many of their beads and bolts of gayly hued cloth
through this medium.
Due to the isolated location of the Hendry County
Reservation, however, and the difficulty of travel the Big
Cypress Indians seldom go out to civilization or patronize
the stores. They buy relatively few articles. They sift
their own corn and meal; cakes are baked in the iron pots
that rest on the fire, and glowing coals cover the lid as
well. These are eaten with venison, turtle, and bird.
The advantage of living and working at the reserva-
tion is apparent when the money earned there can be traded
at once for chewing gum, cakes, candy, syrup, and sugar,
not to mention baker's bread, beef, coffee, and canned
fruits. They soon discard the primitive mortar and pestle
with which they formerly ground their meal and made
coonti flour, and buy "store" flour. Their grits and meal
can be ground at the reservation grist mill from the corn
they themselves raise.
The Seminole at Brighton still like their "water-dough-
bread" however, a sort of pancake made by dropping thick
flour-and-water batter by the spoonful into hot grease
where it fries brown and crisp. This is considered the
proper accompaniment for beef, venison, or fish.
Their ideas of home building and cooking have not
changed. They still live in structures consisting, as they
always have, of hand-hewn platforms supported by posts
and sheltered from the elements by roofs thatched with
palm leaves, thickly woven, reaching only a few feet from
the ground and supported and weighted by more posts
expertly held together. The cooking chikee is generally
in the center of the camp with the sleeping chikee surround-
ing it. This floorless structure has the usual palm-thatched
roof and here, or in the open a few feet distant, a fire is
built in the ancient way, with logs placed like spokes of
a wheel, the fire glowing at the hub where the pots of
bubbling stew or sofkee are hung. The outer ends of the
logs make convenient seats on which to squat while cook-
ing, particularly if the weather is bad. In this case the
cook has plenty of company for rain or a fall in tempera-
ture always brings a colony of dogs, pigs, and chickens
to these outer spaces between the logs, where they drowse
comfortably in the warmth from the central fire.
What could be better if one intends to live in the open?
Roy Nash, who has "made camp in Luzon and Negros, in
Bahia and Matto Grosso, on the Lievre River in Ontario
and beside the Salmon in Idaho" said: ".. the Seminole
makes the best camp fire I have ever seen."
He makes it today and cooks over it in the old, primi-
tive manner; but in many other ways his life is changing.
Seminole Agency records show a slow but continuous move-
ment of Seminole families to permanent homes in the
reservations. Little by little they are learning to grow
their vegetables, fruits, and stock more scientifically. They
are even learning about that strange necessity for health
and good teeth-a balanced diet.
When a Seminole family takes permanent residence at
Brighton Reservation, a camp site is prepared for it. The
men of the CCC Camp clear an acre of ground and build
as many chikees as are necessary for the needs of the
new family. This is done regardless of how many vacant
chikees may be available, for the Seminole is particular
and will rarely make a discarded camp his permanent home.
The new resident is given a small garden plot near-by
and a 5-acre farm site, usually farther back in the hammock.
Vegetables are raised for home consumption. The
Seminole are expected to procure such seeds as they prefer
with their own money and care for the garden them-
selves. These small plots usually contain squash, beans,
sweet potatoes, and corn; sometimes there are cowpeas.
Corn and potatoes (Irish and sweet) are frequently planted
in the 5-acre tract and here also are planted 16 citrus
trees. These trees are the gift of the Government and
are prized by the Seminole who are fond of citrus fruits.
The 5-acre tract usually also contains a patch of sugar-
cane. When mature, the cane may be ground and the syrup
made at the community mill provided by the Government.
The Seminole takes full advantage of this privilege.
Seminole Cookery. The Seminole eat a greater variety
of foods than ever before, but have learned few new
recipes. They continue to prepare most of their foods in
a kettle, although meat is sometimes roasted over an open
fire or a pit full of coals, and visitors to their camps tell of
seeing pans of biscuits and golden-brown cornbread on
the tables in the cooking chikee. The majority, however,
seem to prefer their meat and vegetables stewed. Food
is often left standing in large pots at the center of the
campfire over the coals, until the next mealtime. The
fire is then revived and the food warmed.
The Seminole are fond of sweet potatoes and raise large
crops of them in their gardens. Those not used at once
are often dehydrated by being placed on a platform over
a well-tended fire. When this process is finished they
keep a long time. Pumpkins are cut in strips and dried
in the same way. The dried pumpkin is sometimes ground,
mixed with white flour, and made into a golden "sweet"
biscuit. The Seminole also grow and eat taro roots.
At one time the region around Lake Okeechobee was
a center for bee culture. Unfortunately the hurricanes of
1926 and 1928 scattered the bees to the timber lands of
the Big Cypress Swamp, far to the south and southwest.
The Seminole living in the Big Cypress were the gainers.
On one occasion they were observed gathering the
honey from an enormous oak tree. First they built a
smoky fire to "run" the bees, then began chopping down
the tree. When it fell amid great excitement, one of the
young men plugged the entrance. Allowing a short time
to elapse, so that the bees still in the tree might gorge
themselves with honey and thus be more easily handled,
another Indian began chopping out the side of the tree
at the spot where the honey was supposed to be. The
cavity disclosed more than 80 pounds of honey dripping
from enormous combs. After collecting this into a large
can, the young bees were put back into the cavity and slabs
placed over the hole for their protection. The Indians
said, however, that the black bears would soon discover
this delicious remnant and devour it.
During this whole operation only one Indian was stung.
His mishap amused the others. With stoical indifference
he proceeded to apply a live coal to the sting and after-
ward appeared to feel much relieved.
Only men had taken part in this maurauding expedi-
tion but the women and children were waiting at home
and, upon return of their menfolk, a feast was held. Semi-
nole teeth being notoriously bad, it is possible that many
a toothache was the aftermath.
An account of honey-gathering by Seminole boys was
written by Leon S. Freeman, Jr., who lived in the Cypress
country among the Indian villages.
"In the year 1940, I was on the Big Cypress Reserva-
tion. One day in April four Seminole friends, boys of
my own age (12) and I were going to a corn field to shoot
squirrels. We were walking through a cypress head when
we heard a buzzing, coming from a hollow tree. We looked
up and saw bees rushing out of the top of the big tree.
They were flying in all directions. I stayed by the tree
while the Indians looked for wood. We soon had enough
to build a fire which we lit in the hollow at the foot of
the cypress. Before long, some of the bees came from
the top of the tree and others stayed in the tree and
were dazed by the smoke. Then we cut the tree down,
but there was no honey. The Indian boys said that it
was not yet time for the new honey, but they thought that
some might have been left over from the year before.
"We shot a squirrel that day too. Shokee, one of the
boys, saw a grey squirrel go into another hollow tree in
his father's corn field. He wanted to get him to eat. Shokee
climbed the tree and tapped it to see where the hollow
ended, then he chipped off a piece of bark to mark the
spot and he and Jimmie stood off about thirty feet and
shot at the spot with their twenty-two caliber rifles. The
Indian boys are good shots. The squirrel was dead when
we pulled him out, and both shots were a hairs' breadth
apart behind his ear."
The subject of cabbage palm buds presents a good
example of the wide divergence of opinions expressed about
the Seminole and his ways.
A well-known Sebring ranchman said: "I've known
the Seminole Indians about all my life, I reckon. I've
worked in cattle from the time I was old enough to do
any work and for many years now I've employed Seminoles
as cowhands. They make the best cowboys there is, too,
for they got an understanding' way with cattle an' horses.
They like each other. Me an' my wife here, we often
lived right with the Indians, right in their camps, an' my
wife has had 'em work for her too. We used to go down
often near Brighton to camp during the cattle work. I
sold part of the land for the reservation to the Govern-
ment. Well, as I started to say about the cabbage palm,
them Indians like the cabbage palm if a white man fixed
it up for 'em, but strange, they never will cook it for
The ranch owner said he did not know why this was
so unless the Seminole had some superstition connected
with the killing of the palm by taking out the bud.
"My wife often cooked it with white bacon like you
do ordinary cabbage, and them Indians sure liked it, but
never would they fix it for themselves," he added.
Commenting on this information, William D. Boehmer,
Principal of Brighton Indian Day School, said: "The
cabbage palm bud is an article of food often used by the
Seminoles, though its use is gradually passing. I have
never heard of such aversion to its use. I am sure that
the Seminole here in our reservation use it sometimes.
I know that the children frequently bring in buds to my
wife and she had them cooked for the school's noon meal."
Mrs. Freeman states that the Big Cypress eat the heart
of the cabbage palm raw. "They have peeled and shared
it with me many times. They choose a small tree about
12 feet high. This they cut down. Using a large knife,
or machete, they then slash off the fans and dead stems
until they come to the heart which is white and sweet.
It has something the consistency of a chestnut, and is
Hunting and Fishing. The Seminole are meateaters.
For many years venison stew, together with sofkee, a thin
gruel made of cornmeal or grits, formed the basis of
their diet. The sofkee pot still hangs hospitably over
the fire, to be dipped into whenever anyone is hungry,
for they do not always observe regular meal periods; but
venison stew is a rarity. The scarcity of deer has brought
this change. The Seminole at Brighton, however, prefer
beef and would rather work hard for money with which
to buy it than to go hunting for game.
The Government permits the Seminole to hunt all the
year round on reservation lands. Off the reservation they
must have hunting licenses and are subject to the game
laws. The State, however, is usually very lenient with
Indians who infringe on these laws.
The Seminole considers turtle of every variety a deli-
cacy. The hard-shelled turtle or "cooter," native of lakes
and ponds, as well as the soft-shelled type, are prized,
and the gopher, or land turtle, is considered the most
delicious of all.
Turtle hunting, however, is no longer a necessity to
the reservation Seminole. It has become, together with
deer hunting, a diversion. As for fishing, the Indian
never thought of that as a sport, but always as a means
of obtaining food. When they are hungry for fish they
try to catch gar and catfish, their favorites, and these are
either roasted on a grate over a fire or made into a chowder.
Snakes. White men who live among the Seminole say
they never kill snakes if they can help it. Far from
eating them, as rumor has said, the Indians stand in actual
awe of any white man who kills a rattlesnake. The fol-
lowing legend is based on this feeling.
According to the story, the rattlesnake originally had
no teeth or fangs, and was harmless in every way. One
day a "bad" Indian came upon a mother rattlesnake with
a nest of young ones. He killed the babies but the mother
managed to escape. She cried bitterly for three days;
then she went to the Indian chief and told him of the
crime. The chief made some teeth and fitted them into
the snake's mouth and said: "Next time man comes,
you bite him."
Since then, according to tradition, no Seminole will
kill a rattlesnake, believing that if the snake is unmolested
it will not bite. Another explanation of the Seminole's
attitude toward snakes was given by the Indian, Barfield
"Long time ago Indians come to Florida. They find
lots of snakes here. Indians want to live here but they
afraid of all snakes. So the medicine men have meeting
with snakes. They tell snakes if they don't bother Indians,
Indians don't bother snakes. The snakes say all right,
they won't bother Indians but if any Indian ever kills a
snake his feet and legs will get sore and he can't walk
no more. This is old story our grandfathers tell us. So
we no kill snakes now."
Dwight R. Gardin, Superintendent of the Seminole In-
dian Agency at Dania, Florida in 1940, commenting on
this story, said:
"I have seen Seminoles, both men and women, kill snakes
that had come into their camp and were stalking their
baby chicks or stealing eggs from a nest. As long as the
Seminole is not bothered by the snake, however, he will
leave it alone, even to the extent of not molesting it when
it is found coiled up under the platform in the chikee; but
he will call a white man to kill the intruder."
Gardin says that the Seminoles can smell a snake. Al-
though the odor is not noticeable to a white man, the
Indian with his highly developed sense of smell is able
to detect the presence of the reptile and avoid coming
in contact with it. Gardin believes this is the reason that
the Seminole are almost never bitten.
Wishing first hand information on the snake question,
a visitor to a Seminole camp near Miami asked Ingram
Billy: "Ingram, you catch rattlesnakes?"
"Unh unh." (no)
"You see 'em ?"
"Not see 'em long time."
"You catch me rattlesnakes?"
"You buy 'em?"
"You catch 'em?"
"I catch 'em."
Whether Ingram Billy ever caught the snake is not
known. The Seminole agrees readily, wishing to be friendly
with the white man. Either Billy was simply agreeing to
catch the snake in order to avoid argument, or he is ex-
ceptional in his attitude toward rattlers.
Commenting on this, Mrs. Freeman, from long years
of observation in the Big Cypress region, says that Indians
kill nonpoisonous snakes, but will not molest or kill a
poisonous one. An Indian boy of eleven took her young
son snake hunting one day. Both were armed with long
sticks to the ends of which were fastened nails or sharp
pieces of metal. The Seminole boy would see a snake,
lunge, and in a second his wiggling catch would be pinned
to the ground. He took the snake by the head just back
of the jaws, pulled it off the spear, and stabbed it through
the backbone and head.
Mrs. Freeman told of an incident she had witnessed
in one of the larger villages. "I was talking with a group
of Indians sitting around a fire when a big rattler crawled
slowly from under a palmetto and passed close by a toddling
No one snatched up the baby or called to it to be
careful. A small puppy planted its feet and barked at
it furiously. The Indians paid no attention and appeared
unaware of the snake's existence. The rattler wiggled
slowly under a chikee and disappeared."
Seminole Dress. In spite of Richard Osceola's objection
to white man's clothes, his fellow tribesmen are changing
their mode of dress. At Brighton Reservation today (1941),
with the exception of the aged Indian, Sam Huff, the Semi-
nole men wear modern attire on all occasions save those of
tribal significance. Full native dress is worn by the men,
however, at their ceremonies, and these costumes are often
made of rich materials. The cloth for Josie Billie's Green
Corn Dance dress cost him $25. It is part silk and was
made by his young daughter.
The usual costume for daily wear consists of a 10-gallon
hat, dark trousers and shirt, with brogans, boots, or canvas
shoes. Occasionally a man is seen wearing a Seminole shirt
flowing freely about the waist or tucked into his trousers.
Today such shirts are made to reach just below the waist
in the manner of the modern men's sport shirt. The former
nightgown effect is no longer popular.
The men are very particular about the accessories to
their costumes and, if a dark shirt is worn, they lighten
the effect with a bright silk or cotton bandanna. They
like wide belts of fine brown or black leather embellished
with silver tracing, turquoise, or bead work, and watch
fobs either match their belts or are of heavy gold or silver
chain. They sometimes go barefoot when hunting or work-
ing but the remainder of their clothing is worn at all times.
Sam Huff, however, accepts such benefits as his posi-
tion, of general yard man and gardener for the Reserva-
tion, affords him; but he doesn't believe in imitating the
white man's dress. His colorful Seminole shirt reaches
well below his knees and gives him, from a distance, the
appearance of a large, tropical bird as he rakes the lawn
against a background of cabbage palms.
The women and children continue to wear native dress.
A Dania bulletin says: "The dress of the Seminole women,
the equal of which for intricacy of design cannot be found
elsewhere in this country, consists of a long full skirt
made of hundreds of pieces of bright colored materials
sewed together in a manner to make beautiful designs,
and a cape around the shoulders extending just below the
waist. The cape usually is made of a solid color."
These costumes are considered works of art by most
of the people who examine them. The skirt is made up
of horizontal bands of cloth, each about two inches wide.
These bands in turn are fashioned in an intricate design
made up of tiny pieces of material, some no larger than
half an inch square. The same design and colors are
carefully worked the length of one band but each band
making up the garment is of different design. The skirts
grow wider as they grow longer and their swirling hems
sweep the ground. Occasionally the capes are made in
the same way but usually they are of plain colors with
either a fringe or small ruffle of contrasting color around
the bottom. Some of the younger women at Brighton
wear a triangular scarf or kerchief in addition to the cape.
This scarf is usually of thin, bright silk worn on top of
the cape close under the chin and tied in the back, the
points hanging between the shoulders.
When Roy Nash visited Guava Camp in 1930, he mar-
velled at the ease with which the daughter of Whitney
Cypress, his host, put together one of these garments. The
Seminole women use sewing machines, usually hand oper-
ated. The young Cypress daughter, in two hours time,
"cut, sewed, and finished a garment which in workman-
ship, in color combinations, and in line was a delight."
Nash speaks of a Seminole skirt in which, "44 bands
of color meet the eye between hem and waistband."
"It sounds horrible" he says; "actually it is magnificent,
a thing of barbaric splendor."
According to the Seminole Medicine Man, Josie Billie,
an Indian baby's clothes are not made until after its birth,
because girl babies are dressed differently from boys. After
the baby's birth, the near relatives, mother, sisters, and
aunts, take some of their old clothing, wash it clean and
sew garments for the new child.
The women and children, with few exceptions, still go
barefoot but their long, full skirts almost hide their feet.
They are surefooted and graceful and their conversation
is often accompanied by gestures.
"In dress, as in all things," Mrs. Freeman states, "the
Big Cypress Seminole cling to their old customs. They
delight in wearing their beautiful costumes. The young
men are proud of their gay blouses of intricate geometric
pattern, at the neck of which they fasten a bright scarf.
The ends are run through a ring of beadwork, carved
wood or metal. This blouse is often worn with trousers
of a vivid color. One young man had bright green trousers
and a shirt with much green in the design. Their color
combinations are most artistic and unusual. To keep their
Seminole clothes in good condition, the men and boys are
beginning to wear store shirts while working. They are
so proud of their native blouses and consider them so
important, that I have seen a boy making his own intri-
cate patterned shirt when he had no woman at home to
do the work.
"A cowboy hat decorated with a bead band is considered
the correct thing. A bead bracelet and fob is also the
fashion. Shoes are worn by young men, but not by old
men, women or children. The hair of most of the young
men is cut, so that the locks above the temples are so
long that they reach from the forehead to the back of
the neck. This hair arrangement was described in some
of the old books. These long locks are kept in place by
grease. All men and old women as well carry combs,
and one sees the men smoothing back their hair, and the
women adjusting their bangs, when entering a village.
The young women wear a hair net, and are therefore al-
ways neat. All adult Indians are very particular about
their appearance. Every night after work the young men
wash and change to clean clothes. Among the Cypress all
the old men still wear the one piece belted dress, like
Sam Huff's. Their heads are half shaved, back of their
ears, in the old hair cut, worn by the mature man."
The Seminole is still an admirer of beads. Nash mar-
velled at the ability of Sally Cypress to work unconcernedly
12 hours at a stretch, weighed down with string upon string
of heavy beads extending in a solid pyramid from her
shoulder blades to her chin. The set weighed a trifle over
25 pounds and Sally would have felt immodestly dressed
had she not worn them, or others like them, during every
waking hour. She did take them off when retiring at
The beads are usually of a porcelain composition, pur-
chased in small lots from local stores; but the custom is
growing, among the Brighton Seminole matrons and maid-
ens, of purchasing in larger quantities from mail order
Fancy is allowed to run free in the designs formed
by these beads. They are often worn as an almost solid
breastplate extending up to the ear lobes. Colors are
not mixed on one string but several strings of the same
shade often follow each other, making solid bands of color.
Even the tiniest girl babies wear bracelets and necklaces.
Mrs. Freeman has this to say on the subject. "A
baby girl receives a string of beads at birth, and through
life she accumulates them. Some come as gifts, others are
bought with the money she earns. Upon reaching an age
when she is more interested in the appearance of the young
women of her family than in her own, she begins giving
away her beads. Even the very old women are careful in
their dress. Among the southern group, they always keep
enough beads to cover them completely from shoulder to
chin. The Seminole has great dignity; she would not
consider it fitting, to be seen without her beads.
"The Cypress woman cannot buy many beads unless
she has money, but she does not necessarily put her wealth
into beads. As with us, a woman with many diamonds
is generally wealthy, but a wealthy woman does not always
buy diamonds. Most Seminole women, however, desire
great quantities of beads. A woman was making a dress
for the Green Corn Dance where new and gorgeous clothes
are worn. She had thick strands of new beads, in brown,
yellow, orange and red on the platform beside her as she
worked, and as she sewed on her costume she glanced
at the beads and harmonized her new dress with them.
Massed around her neck was a huge pyramid of necklaces.
Their colors blended with the dress she was then wearing."
Houses and Housekeeping. Seminole families usually
live in individual camps each some little distance from its
neighbors. The number of chikees depends on the size of
The floor of the sleeping chikee is raised from 12 to
18 inches above the ground and a few have a bunklike
platform or shelf raised above the floor for the beds.
In most cases, however, beds are placed directly on the
This construction is difficult to visualize without being
seen. These "floors" are in reality platforms, raised on
posts about two feet from the ground. There are several
platforms under the roof of one chikee. Alleys run be-
tween them so that one may stand under a shelter. These
platforms vary in shape and number according to the ne-
cessities of the family who live on them. They are the
center of family life, the places where the women work
on their hand sewing machines, making their intricate gar-
ments, where the men come to rest after a hard hunt or
the day's work, where the children gather, and where
they all sleep at night. When the mosquitoes and gnats
are a nuisance, a piece of thick cheesecloth is stretched
around the chikee. Pieces of canvas are put up, tem-
porarily, in the same manner, to keep off the wind. Some-
times this material is fastened to sticks and used as a
windbreak when the women are working on the ground at
some distance from the chikee. It is remarkable how
snug and comfortable the Seminole make themselves with
what we consider so little. Even the personal possessions
that are not stored in the rafters are moved to one end of
the chikee and add another shelter from the wind. They
are extraordinarily ingenious in adapting themselves to
There is usually a long rough table in the cooking
chikee, often equipped with a rack made of a narrow hori-
zontal board supported by uprights attached to the table.
The board is studded with nails from which hang dippers,
ladles, long forks, knives, and even a few modern aluminum
and graniteware kettles. There are always several large
iron kettles for the ever-present sofkee and stew. At Brigh-
ton, today, there is usually a spoon for each member of
the family as well as knives and forks. The time honored
sofkee spoon is still in the pot but, among these Seminole,
it no longer passes from mouth to mouth.
The Seminole in the deep Everglades do not, however,
have individual table implements and there the big sofkee
spoon is still used in the old way.
As Nash remarked, it was "one of the most perfect
vehicles ever invented for the transfer of oral infections"
and probably accounted for the prevalence of pyorrhea
at that time. Today each member of a Brighton Semi-
nole family has his own utensils. In addition to those
used every day, they seem to have special plates and
tableware for festive occasions. When preparing for trips,
they have been observed to select such articles, apparently
from a reserve stock. The Seminole is an expert packer
and never throws things together haphazardly. Each mem-
ber of the family selects his possessions and arranges them
carefully in his own individual bundle.
At Brighton, food is eaten at the long table from pans
or plates and afterward dishes are washed on this same
table. Members of the family help themselves to food
whenever they are hungry. Bags hang from nails driven
into the roof supports. Rough benches are sometimes seen
in front of the chikees but no modern chairs.
Mrs. Freeman says that customs in cooking and eat-
ing differ somewhat in the two Seminole groups. "Among
the Cypress there is but one cook chickee," she states.
"This stands in the center of the camp. All cook at this
fire, although each family unit has its own food. Indi-
vidually owned also, are the platformlike tables where each
family keeps its own utensils. The dishes also are washed
here and the preparation of the meal takes place at these
tables. One chikee is set aside as an eating place or
dining room. This open pavilion resembles the others, with
a platform on which the men sit while the women cook
and bring the food to them.
"Indians have comparatively regular hours for meals
unless there is some reason for deviating from the usual
order. They eat when they return from a trip and
when they have had a large catch of fish or a success-
ful hunt. The old customs are used in eating. In the
Big Cypress they do not have knives, forks or individual
spoons or dishes. Hands are still the important implement.
Aluminum and granite kettles are in evidence, but the old
sofkee spoon is there as well. Food is never eaten at a
table nor is it eaten in individual plates. On their eating
platform one may see as many as four or more pots of
coffee and the same number of kettles of fish or meat,
depending on how many families there are in the village.
These pots are dipped into by the members of the family
to whom the food belongs."
Arms and Tools. Practically every Seminole camp is
equipped with at least one modern rifle. If there are a
number of men in the family and means permit, they may
own several, and even a shotgun. Revolvers are not gen-
erally used. Bows and arrows are made only to be sold
as souvenirs or used in tribal ceremonies.
The reservation CCC Camps are teaching the use of
numerous tools and these may be used by enrollees. They
are communal but each small family camp is equipped
with modern garden implements and those Seminole who
own cars have tools with which to keep them in repair.
Practically every Indian owns a sharp pocket knife and the
older men are particularly skillful at using these in wood
carving. The women of each camp usually own a sewing
machine, and phonographs are not uncommon.
Children. Seminole children are well behaved accord-
ing to their traditions and usually very obedient. Their
possessions and rights are respected by their elders. When
one goes too far and punishment is indicated, he is usually
"scratched." A long handled paddle, in which are fastened
three sharp, slim nails or large needles, is drawn across
the child's arm. This punishment is seldom necessary and
is very rarely resorted to.
In the presence of strangers, most Indian children, even
babies, present a poker face. Their great dark eyes are
usually unwinking. There are exceptions however. Young
babies smile now and then and often disclose dimples in
the process. The masklike stare usually becomes their
habitual expression when they are about two years old.
At the filling station across from John Osceola's camp,
in southeastern Florida, several children came in to buy
candy. Pointing to the kind they wanted they paid their
pennies, received their sweet, and walked out without a
word with the exception of one little fellow. He was wear-
ing old shoes several sizes too large and when the jaw-
breaker of his choice was handed to him he said, "charge."
Offerings of chewing gum and candy are always readily
accepted. Reactions when accepting gifts are not always
the same. A few grin slightly and their eyes light with
anticipation. Having been offered candy on one occasion,
three children of Brighton Reservation, all about 8 years
old, said in abrupt, guttural tones, "thank you."
The grandson of Sam Huff, the Brighton gardener,
smiled broadly, displaying large yellow teeth, as he ac-
cepted candy and gum. He was quite willing to talk and
used good English. His companion, about 14 years old,
solemnly accepted his share of gifts and stowed them away
in various pockets without comment.
Photo by the Florida Art Project, WPA.
SEMINOLE INDIAN GIRLS
The playground at Brighton Day School is well fenced
against the depredations of roaming livestock. Dark-
skinned boys and girls run about in the enclosure, absorbed
with their games. They wear the typical brilliant Semi-
nole dress and dark, broadbrimmed, felt hats perched pre-
cariously on the backs of their heads. By some miracle
of balance this headgear stays in place. Beneath straight,
black bangs, dark eyes sparkle with enjoyment but noise
is noticeably absent. Some swing vigorously in the swings
beneath the oaks and others toss a ball high in the air,
scrambling together after it; but no shrill screams and
cries accompany this play. They chatter and grunt over
their games but the hoyden sounds, usually made by groups
of white American children in action, are strangely absent
here. Seminole children are graceful and sure-footed but
so quiet that they seem subdued. This is, however, their
natural manner, a heritage possibly of the long years when
one sound from a Seminole might mean capture or death.
The Seminole wars have not been forgotten, even
though time seems to be softening the memory. Indian
women still hand down tales of the terrible hardships en-
dured during the long struggle with the Government forces.
During those days, Seminole mothers were forced to
flee to the hammocks in the Everglades and there dig pits
in the earth into which the little Indian children were
buried with only their heads left above ground. Palmetto
leaves were placed over their tender faces to hide them
from the sun and the soldiers. Their mothers hid nearby
and at night slipped to their babies and gave them food
and water. When bands of Seminole were captured, few
children between the ages of 3 and 14 were found among
them. It is believed that many children of these ages had
been killed rather than allow their cries to betray the
hiding place of the band.
Games. The children are fun-loving and fond of games.
They play marbles, checkers, ball, hide-and-seek, and they
even enjoy making mud pies. As soon as they can take
care of their possessions, they are given a share of the
family property. They own pigs, chickens, vegetable gar-
dens, and fruit trees and the produce thereof becomes
The parents of a reservation Seminole child never per-
mit him to beg but children from outside camps, especially
near large towns, are sometimes seen at such an occupation.
Those living in reservations receive training in manual
work, cutting out paper dolls, fancy designs and the like,
and often stay after school to continue these enjoyable
occupations. Some own "store" dolls, wagons, pushcarts,
and other toys.
According to Mrs. Freeman, little girls begin to sew
early and make clothes for themselves and their dolls.
When a girl is 6 she can sew properly on the hand machine,
quickly putting together the bands of intricate patterns of
which their dresses are made. The girls from 8 to 14 act
as little mothers to the babies of the family. They carry
these children, whose ages range from 9 months to 2 years,
on their hip. The babies seem almost as big as their nurses
for the children are well cared for and fat. These girls
run and play with their heavy burdens. They love the
babies and are gentle and playful with them. If any food
is given to the girls they always share it with the little
SEMINOLE TRADITION AND CHARACTER
The Seminole, like other races, are a people of varied
customs and types. Certain habits and characteristics are
common to all of them, but on other matters one group
differs from another.
The Muscogees and Micosukees. The Florida Seminole
is divided into two main groups. The Muscogees or Cow
Creeks, an agrarian people numbering approximately one-
third of the entire Seminole population, live north and
east of Lake Okeechobee. The Micosukees, or hunting-
fishing tribe, sometimes called the Big Cypress group, who
make up the greater proportion of Seminole, live in the
southern end of the State near Miami, along the Tamiami
Trail, deep in the southern Everglades, and in the Big
Cypress Swamp area.
The two groups are friendly, but the Micosukees con-
sider themselves superior to the Muscogees, an attitude
that seems to have developed from the difference in their
means of livelihood. At one time the Micosukees lived
almost exclusively by hunting and fishing, and looked down
on the Muscogees who, although they also hunted game,
tilled the soil, raised hogs, and consequently were a more
settled and peaceful people.
According to the secretary of the Florida Seminole In-
dian Association, who spent many years among these peo-
ples, the Muscogees, or northern agrarian group, have
little in common with the other Florida Indians, but live
to themselves, speaking their own language, and carrying
on their own tribal government. They are direct descend-
ants of the Indians who came into the State during the
early part of the eighteenth century.
The Indians at Brighton Reservation, those living on
the Dania Reservation, and others residing in independent
camps north and northeast of Lake Okeechobee, belong to
this Muscogee group.
Throughout a study of the Florida Seminole, the dif-
ferences between the two branches of the Seminole family
are continually apparent. The Muscogees seem to have
accepted advancement much more readily than have the
Micosukees. For example, Indian men along the Tamiami
Trail and in the Big Cypress region, members of the
Micosukee group, are often seen in their long tribal shirts,
pushing their dugouts through the water. In contrast,
the Indian men of the Muscogee camps and reservations
usually wear regulation shirts, trousers, and shoes.
Two Tribes-Two Tongues. In analyzing the tongue
of the Muskhogean Indians, one of the linguistic families
of southeastern North America, Dr. Clark Wissler, Curator,
Department of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural
History, places Muskogee in the northern group, and
Micosukee in the southern branch. John Swanton, an au-
thority on Indian history, says that the language of the
Seminole nation, which originally had been Micosukee, be-
came predominately Muskogee, due to the influx of these
Indians into Florida. In fact the language altered to such
an extent that the Micosukee people could hardly com-
Though early travelers who visited the little known
territory of Florida, and compiled vocabularies, were handi-
capped by lack of scientific training, they left a valuable
addition to the knowledge of the Seminole. W. H. Simmons,
in 1822, and John Lee Williams, 15 years later, spent
much time among the Indians, and both wrote books con-
taining interesting glossaries which vary considerably.*
Williams lived in Florida shortly after the great Musco-
gee invasion, when that language was dominant among
the Seminole. The location and dialects of the present
Seminole tribes give added credence to the accuracy of
this history of these linguistic groups, for the Cow Creeks
in the North still speak Muscogee, while the Southern
branch, called the Big Cypress, continue to use the Mico-
Both Simmons and Williams recorded with keen ap-
preciation and insight, what they saw and heard, but
in those days there was no unified system of phonetics
or scientific method of classifying and identifying speech;
so when the Indians answered questions with their peculiar
guttural throat sounds, the men had no letters in the Eng-
lish alphabet with which to write them. Therefore each
man often recorded identical units quite differently.
Another possible reason for the variations in the dialect
of primitive peoples may be that they have no written
language, no dictionary, have not been taught grammar
and therefore are unconscious of the necessity for rules
of their speech.
To those interested, the vocabularies in the books
written by Simmons and Williams will prove a fascinating
study, and through them one may attain a language con-
*"Notices of East Florida, With an Account of the Seminole Nation
of Indians" by W. H. Simmons, 1822. "The Territory of Florida, its
Civil and Natural History," by John Lee Williams, 1837.
tact with the Indians that will help increase the much
needed sympathy between our race and theirs.
The essential spirit of the Seminole remains untouched
by foreign concepts, for the outsider in no way influences
his thoughts. A few unimaginative object words are all
that have become attached to his tongue from white con-
tact. Words show the association of ideas that are familiar
to a people, such as the owl is like man, the sea is white
water, and the yellow daisy, to them, is a picture of the
sun. The psychology of the Seminole is made clearer
through these associations of ideas, and the relationships
that exist in their concepts. For example, they class to-
gether the parts of the body and people who are related
to them. Both of them are inescapable possessions.
Visitors to the Brighton Reservation who may pick
up a few words of the Cow Creek tongue, will discover
entirely different pronunciations from those used by the
Big Cypress Indians from the Everglades, or occupying
villages along the Tamiami Trail.
The following examples, compiled by Mrs. Freeman,
will elucidate this:
COW-CREEK-SEMINOLE BIG CYPRESS-SEMINOLE
hish-i-bal a-pal-o-cho-chi ak-tcho-mi a-pal-o-co-tchi
Commercial Camp Seminoles. The Seminole living in
the commercial camps of the lower east coast are quite
a different type from the Indians living in their natural
way in the Everglades or on the reservations. Dwight R.
Gardin says that life in tourist centers, or in commercial
camps owned and operated by white men, has not had a
beneficent effect on the Seminole. During the past 10
years those so engaged have become more and more in-
dolent, with a growing contempt for the white people who
pay to see them. Living in such places the occupants
have learned the bad habits and traits of white civiliza-
tion and have acquired the diseases attendant upon modern
Gardin also states that the Indians engaged in the
business of commercializing their race, are as a rule of
the poorest type, often lazy outcasts and renegades from
the tribe. They are looked upon with contempt by the
higher type Seminole of the reservations and primitive
camps, who have little or no contact with tourists.
Visitors who see only exhibition Indians are apt to
receive the impression that the Seminole is a sort of vaude-
ville character, supercilious, avaricious, and cheap. Many
Florida citizens think the Seminole has made little prog-
ress. The Indian men and children attending reservation
schools would probably be a surprise to those who have
seen only the commercial camp Indian.
There are occasions when the better class Seminole
permit the whites to see them on parade and at their festi-
vals. Such an event occurred September 15, 1938, when
200 Seminole performed ritualistic dances and other tribal
ceremonies before a white audience in the floodlighted
Miami Stadium. Many participants had come in from
the Big Cypress and other remote Everglades camps.
The costumes worn by the Indians on this occasion
were unusually elaborate, many of them of silk and satin.
No one wore shoes. In sharp contrast were the costumes
worn by two Indian visitors, Chief Blue Cloud of the South
Dakota Okalala Sioux, and Chief Blue Bird of the Arizona
Pueblo Indians. Both wore strings of beads and war
bonnets of bright feathers. Blue Cloud was dressed in
navy blue serge trousers, a lighter blue cotton shirt, and
brown-and-white sport shoes. Blue Bird appeared in a
scarlet jumper, white trousers, and black shoes.
Features of the entertainment were a mock wedding
ceremony, an "alligator wrestling," the christening of two
Seminole babies with native rites, and native dances.
Chief Blue Cloud sang, in his language, the victory
song which Sitting Bull, his famous predecessor, rendered
after the Custer Massacre. Chief Blue Bird delivered the
same song in English and made a short talk about the
customs of his people. He said that a Pueblo Indian child
is named for the first object the father sees after the
baby's birth, and that he was indeed thankful his father
saw a blue bird instead of a buzzard!
While the Seminole do not seem to follow this custom,
they have some interesting names, among them being
Abraham Lincoln, Bobby Chief, Doctor Mill, Jack Johnson,
Lucy Tiger, Smallpox, Tiger Boy, and Missie Stick. Billie,
however, is the most popular surname, followed by Osceola,
Tiger, Tommy, and Cypress, in the order named.
On March 15, 1931, Rex Beach, the.author, was for-
mally inducted into the Seminole tribe. He had been in,
fluential in having Highlands Hammock set aside for public
use, and to honor him, a group of leading Seminole came
to the hammock for the induction ceremony. On the same
day, the city of Sebring and the Hammock authorities for-
mally opened Highlands Hammock to the public. The two
ceremonies were combined and Beach became Ontay-kee,
or "Father of the Big Hammock," in a tribal ritual. He
was presented with full Seminole dress by the tribe.
Obscure Customs and Rites. With even the friendliest
Seminole, there is a point beyond which the white man
cannot pass. Certain rites and customs are not explained
or discussed outside the tribe. The training of a medicine
man is a case in point. Their tribal council meetings are
another. Their religious beliefs, too, are not fully under-
stood and research workers find it difficult to learn all
During a certain period in a Seminole boy's life he is
taken to the camp of the medicine man, where he is given
an emetic, probably similar to the ancient black drink,
enters the forest with the medicine man, and remains
there for 8 days during which time he is said to study
nature and God. He is allowed no solid food, but occa-
sionally drinks a brew of herbs which the medicine man
At the end of the period the boy returns to the medi-
cine man's camp, is given solid food, and leaves for home.
For from 4 to 9 years, depending on how quickly the boy
accepts the teachings, this training is given annually. The
exact procedure and the subjects taught are known only
to the Indians. Among other things, it seems to include
their native religious training.
Religion. Missionaries of several churches make their
rounds among the Seminole, but it is difficult to estimate
the actual result of their efforts. The Seminole will often
listen and agree to a white man's opinions and afterwards
do as he pleases. The native Baptist Churches of the Sem-
inole Nation in Oklahoma began sending Indian Mission-
aries to Florida in 1910, and succeeded in establishing
a following large enough to build a church for their services.
A group of Indians gathered on the edge of the Ever-
glades near Dania in June 1936, to dedicate the Seminole
Baptist Church which they had built themselves. It was
an unpainted frame structure with shavings on the floor.
Willie King, a native of Wetumka, Oklahoma, was pastor
and Jim Gopher and Willie Jumper were ordained as deacons.
The congregation numbered about 50 Indians. Scriptures,
sermons, and hymns were given in the Seminole languages.
The women of the congregation were in their gayest
garments, their necks and arms loaded with beads, but
their feet bare. The men wore khaki pants and cotton
shirts. A feast of barbecued meat was eaten under the
trees between morning and afternoon services.
Although the Christian faith is being presented to the
Seminole, people living among them say that, as a whole,
the Indians preserve a polite but stolid indifference toward
the subject. Meanwhile their native religious observances
continue. The Green Corn Dance, a propitiatory ceremony
known as the Shot Cay Taw, is performed as always, and
sin offerings are made twice a year, as well as simple acts
of sacrifice offered in connection with the hunt. For ex-
ample, the "Sin Offering of the Hunt" is the rite of cremat-
ing the first deer killed each season. The animal is burned
on the spot where it fell, an act believed to bring about the
recovery of health to any ailing member of the hunter's
family, as well as a propitiation for his sins. When any
deer is killed on or near the premises of a camp, a small bit
of its flesh is burned as a sacrifice before the meat is
prepared for a stew. Later, some of the broth is sprinkled
over the graves of the women and children, a ceremony
believed to ward off evil spirits.
The ancient Seminole religion presented God as a dual
personality. Under the name, Ishtohollo, He was worshiped
as the God of Love, Ishto meaning mighty and Hollo mean-
ing love. Ishtohollo brought all that was beautiful and
beneficent to man. The other concept was as an avenger,
responsible for demons, pestilence, and calamity. As the
God of Vengeance, He was known as Yo-He-Wah, a name
never spoken except in religious chants. Many of the
Seminole of today still cling to these beliefs.
Superstitions.* The Seminole is a superstitious person.
Some of his taboos are common to other races; for example,
the widespread belief that it is bad luck for an owl to sit
on the top of one's dwelling and hoot.
White children, particularly in the South, are some-
times told to put the first tooth they lose under their pillow
when retiring and "the rabbit" will put a dime in its place
during the night. The Seminole child is told to throw an
extracted tooth toward the rising sun and make a wish so
that another tooth will grow in its place. When a Seminole
hears a fox howl while the sun is up he believes one of his
relatives will soon die. The ancient fear of stepping over
a sleeping person is also part of Indian superstition.
*A large collection of myths, legends, and superstitions of the
Indians of the southeast appear in 42nd Annual Report of the
Bureau of American Ethnology, 1924-25, pp. 475 to 628. Gov't
Printing Office, Washington, D. C.
It is said that the Seminole break camp and seek high
ground "when the sawgrass blooms," a sign to them of an
impending hurricane. Scientists explain that it is due to
an atmospheric condition, and not to the so-called blooming
of the sawgrass, that makes the floating pollen visible
for several days before a hurricane.
An early Creek belief, though not typical of the present-
day Seminole, is that bones, human or animal, must never
be destroyed; they were either hung overhead in dwellings,
or consigned to the protection of waters. Bathing is thought
to cleanse the body of sin. Garments are deliberately made
with imperfections, for the Indians say that only God can
make perfect things.
Ghosts are very real to these people. Buffalo Tiger, an
Indian living near Miami, told soberly of seeing two ghosts
while he was driving along a country road one night. He
said that when he stopped his car to turn back, the ghosts
vanished. The Seminole has many rules for freeing him-
self from the presence and influence of ghosts. Food
dropped on the floor or ground must not be picked up, for
it is thought that a ghost, probably of a dead relative,
snatched the food because he was hungry and to pick it up
would bring bad luck.
The Indian fears hanging more than any other form
of death, believing that his spirit, which normally would
leave his body by the mouth, will be imprisoned in the body
if he is hanged. The Seminole wishes his spirit to be free
to go on to the spirit land where, it is hoped, peace will be
found. A discontented spirit, lingering about a camp of
living Indians, can make life very uncomfortable for them,
Seminoles who still live in their natural environment
seem to be much as they were in 1918 when the Irish nov-
elist Sheehan, after living among them in the Big Cypress
for some time, described them as: ". gentle mystics,
with a great sense of humor, believers in 'the little people,'
in ghosts and signs, hearers of voices, seers of visions.'"
Burial Rites. Seminole women and children are interred
in burial grounds near the camps, but all male adults are
buried in remote jungle depths. In some cases the bodies
of chiefs are placed in hollow trees, or upon low platforms,
the remains protected from birds and animals by a cover-
ing of logs.
When Jack Tigertail died in 1922 the Indians in the
Seminole village on the banks of the Miami River, where
the deceased had lived, carried out a part of the tribal
burial rites, although the body was buried by the white
men of the region who had been his friends and wished
to do him honor.
Jack Tigertail was the famous son of a famous father,
Tom Tigertail, leader of the Seminole during his lifetime.
His son Jack was also a leader. Miami businessmen who
dealt with him for years found him scrupulously honest
and reliable. He kept a set of books on his business deal-
ings and, had it been necessary, could have readily figured
his income tax. His experience in this line was gained
when he and his brother, Charlie, conducted a store in the
Since Hialeah was named by the Indians, an outstand-
ing member of the race was sought by the developers of
the community to serve as a trade mark. Tigertail was
selected. Later his picture appeared on billboards and in
advertising matter throughout the State. From these
pictures, and his frequent appearances on Miami streets,
Tigertail became known by sight and name to visitors
from many parts of the United States.
Upon his death, the smoking camp fire was kept alive
to ward off evil spirits; Tigertail's possessions were packed
and removed from the camp; the women of the settlement
let down their hair as a mark of grief, and his wife moved
to new quarters with her children. Once in her new home,
she went into Seminole mourning, part of which consists
of remaining on a small platform behind a screen until the
funeral fires cease to smoulder, usually about four days,
since they are made of great logs. During this period of
seclusion, the widow eats sparingly and converses with no
At the end of four days, Tigertail's widow came from
her hiding place. She had removed from her neck the long
strings of beads placed there the day of her marriage, and
her hair was streaming down her back. She must remain
a widow for at least four moons, during which time her
hair is not dressed.
Before Tigertail was given a white man's burial, permis-
sion was obtained from Tony Tommy, an Indian who acted
as a leader among the Seminole of the south end of the
State until his death in 1931. Tommy ordered that Tiger-
tail be buried in his Seminole robes with his rifle lying
beside him. It was made clear to the white men that the
body must not be interred in or near the Indian village or
The Seminole are always anxious to dispose of the
bodies of their dead as soon as possible. They pray that
the dead man's spirit will remain in the spiritland, and not
return to wander about restlessly, bringing misfortune
to the living.
Accordingly, although his tribesmen mourned his loss,
Tigertail's remains were avoided and even the soil, at the
spot where his body fell, was ordered removed and placed
with the corpse. A coconut shell was then burned on
the spot, after which the place was considered cleansed of
Punishment. Seminole burial customs have changed lit-
tle, and their code of living remains the same in many
other ways, and their methods of dealing with "bad" fel-
low tribesmen are typically their own. The Seminole
convicted of lying, stealing, or other petty crimes is
"steamed," a procedure more or less similar to a Finnish
steam bath. The miscreant stands over a deep water-
filled hole in the ground inside a small tent. Heated stones
are rolled into the water. The culprit is never permanently
injured but is sometimes confined to his camp for a week
or more as a result of his unpleasant ordeal.
Serious crimes receive more severe forms of punishment
but neither mayhem nor the amputation of ears is ever
resorted to. Both the Seminole themselves and white author-
ities living among them declare this to be true.
Seminole Law Versus State Law. An example of Sem-
mole justice in 1938 was widely publicized. John Oscceola,
age 85, shot John Billy, a buck of 30. Since the crime oc-
curred off the reservation, Osceola was tried in the State
From testimony, none too easy to understand, it ap-
peared that John Billy had been a "bad Indian" for a long
time, having been banished from his original camp on the
west coast years before. Twice he had fatally stabbed two
Indian men, but the crime for which he was at last con-
victed was the serious beating of two Seminole women. For
this the Tribal Council appointed John Osceola, crippled
with gout, his executioner, or so it was believed by white
authorities, who based their opinions on the fact that the
Council had been in session for several nights prior to John
Billy's execution. Moreover, one of the injured women
was a daughter of Osceola. For this reason, the father was
the logical one to carry out the sentence of the Council,
for Seminole justice prescribes that the family of the vic-
tim shall punish the criminal.
The Seminole have been found to be reliable on the wit-
ness stand; accordingly, the jury refused to indict the old
man and his case was left to come up before his own
people at the next Green Corn Dance,' during which cere-
monial season the Tribal Council judges all Indians who
have committed crimes during the year.
Two months later John Osceola was exonerated by a
jury of his own people.
The Story of Charlie Billy. Crimes against the marital
customs are considered more vicious than murder, and are
usually punished by death. The story of Charlie Billy il-
lustrates this viewpoint. It happened about 1898 in the
gloom of the Big Cypress Swamp.
Charlie Billy was part of an Indian family, most mem-
bers of which distinguished themselves in various ways. His
father was Kissimmee Billy, one of the colorful Seminole
of the last century, and many places in the Big Cypress
are named for him. Charlie Billy's mother was Ocelopee,
who died in 1936 at the age of 113 years.
Charlie Billy disgraced his parents by falling in love
with his own sister who is said to have been beautiful. She
returned his affection and for this unfortunate love they
were terribly punished.
There was a half-breed in the tribe named Charlie Dixie,
who had no standing because his mother was a Negro slave
captured by his Indian father during one of the forays of
the Seminole wars. Because of his mixed blood, Dixie had
been denied the privilege of marrying an Indian girl.
As punishment, the medicine men sentenced Charlie
Billy to be executed by the half-breed, Charlie Dixie, and
as a reward gave Dixie the guilty Indian maiden as a
Charlie Dixie shot Charlie Billy and married his sister.
Whatever emotions she felt were concealed and the girl
submitted to the dictates of the council. She and her half-
breed husband raised a family of four children and in time
won the respect of the tribe. The girl's mother, old Ocelo-
pee, spent her last 30 years with the family.
Ocelopee's Last Days. Ocelopee was one of those rare
persons able to make friends with almost everyone, re-
gardless of race. White friends of the Seminole had as
real affection for her as did her Indian tribesmen. She
had been through the horrors of the Seminole wars and,
on rare occasions, would relate stories of those days. She
felt no resentment toward the white man, however, and
regarded the past as dead.
Ocelopee was an active member of her daughter's camp
until shortly before her death and assisted in gathering
wood, dressing game, cooking meals, and caring for her
own drove of hogs. Toward the end her eyes began to
fail and she found it difficult to journey to her last Green
Corn Dance. Her spirit remained untroubled, however,
and the day before her death she ate, smoked her pipe, and
was cheerful as usual.
On the following day she realized, it is said, that her
long journey was ended and, calling her daughter, told her
that she was tired and was going to die. Later in the day
she went to sleep and did not wake. She was prepared
for burial, wrapped in a blanket, and placed some distance
from the camp by the older Indians, there to await the
"white man's box." White friends placed Ocelopee's body
in the coffin and white hands lowered her into her grave as
the Episcopal burial service was read.
A number of Indians were present, and Josie Billie,
Ocelopee's medicine man stood among the white pallbear-
ers. They watched this respected member of their tribe
being placed in the Episcopal burial ground; then returned
to their Everglades camp and held a Seminole funeral
ceremony. At the end, all the Indian women let down their
hair, a token of grief for the oldest Seminole among them.
Josie Billie, Medicine Man. In the old days Indian
medicine men were bitter enemies of the white man and
his ways, and it is perhaps significant of the Seminole's
changing viewpoint that Josie Billie, a medicine man, is
eager to have Seminole children taught to read and write.
He has acquired these accomplishments himself and to
prove it he wrote the following note to a white acquaint-
ance: "You live with me long time. I know you good, you
be my friend."
Speaking of a white man whom Josie Billie trusted, the
Indian said: "He not tell Indian lies. He their friend. He
tell one lie, he not friend."
The average Seminole is uncompromisingly honest.
Promises are made to be kept and the polite subterfuges of
diplomacy are simply lies to him. The white man who
wishes to win his confidence must first prove worthy.
The story is told of a white trapper who early one
morning found an Indian trap near his camp containing
a fine otter. At nightfall the hunter, passing the same
spot, saw the otter still captive. Realizing that if it re-
mained longer in the trap, the animal would die and be
eaten by the buzzards, he skinned the otter and took the
hide with him. He left a note in the trap, however, tell-
ing the Indian owner to come to his camp for the hide or
to go to the local trading post and get its value in supplies.
Returning later, the Indians found the note. Not being
able to read it, they traveled 35 miles to the camp of an
educated Indian who read it for them. Thereupon, they
returned to the white trapper's camp and were given the
otter's hide. It was said that not only were this white
man's traps never molested by Indians, but were protected
and hides saved for him on a number of occasions.
Seminole Characteristics. Patience is not lacking in
the Seminole. Ingraham Billy, who camps near Miami, was
seen one day as he was putting his boat under the bridge.
The water had risen so high that the craft had to be com-
pletely submerged in order to push it under. Since the
boat was filled with logs, this was not easy. Billy un-
loaded most of the logs, then pushed the bow under water
to fill the boat. It remained afloat under the surface, and
with an oar he poked at the boat through the cracks in the
floor of the bridge until it was on the other side. Then
he patiently bailed out the boat, reloaded the logs, and
punted swiftly down the canal.
The Seminole's reticence in conversing, particularly in
answering questions, comes not from hostility but, fre-
quently, from inability to understand and speak English.
Since the establishment of Indian schools, however, this
handicap is rapidly being overcome. Indian women of the
Micosukee group are forbidden by tribal order to talk with
white men, but no visitor will ever be insulted by the Semi-
nole living in his natural surroundings.
A story is told of a party of white people traveling
along a side road near Miami, who met two Indian girls,
about 16 years old, and a small boy. The driver of the
car, who knew them, stopped and said: "You tell Wilson
Billy come to my house. I want to see him. Savvy?
"They were standing three feet from us, looking into
space somewhere near our faces but not at us," a member
of the party related. "They did not let us see by the merest
sign that they heard. Their faces were as placid as if they
were alone and in deep thought. The driver repeated his
request and still they made no reply, but abruptly, as if
at a signal, all three turned and ran around behind the car.
We heard them laughing and talking to each other as they
looked back. The driver said that they would go to the
camp at once and deliver his message. When we left, they
turned and stood as motionless as statues while they
watched us drive away."
In his 1941 report on Florida Indians, Special Agent
L. D. Creel wrote: "Instead of being hostile to the govern-
ment on account of past wrongs, he (the Seminole) 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 volun-
Like many a man born and raised to other speech, the
Seminole finds the English language very confusing at
A large sign bearing the words SCHOOL BUS STOP
was erected some time ago by the Broward County officials
almost directly opposite the little Indian school building
near Dania. It caused so much comment among the reser-
vation Indians, that Willie Jumper, an aged Seminole, asked
the agent in charge the meaning of the sign, which he had
interpreted, "School busted, stop!" He was relieved when
assured that the Government was still in funds and the
school would operate as usual.
Mrs. Freeman states that the Seminole not only finds
difficulty in understanding English, but that he does not
admit his inability to do so. Often he seems to agree when
in reality he does not know what is being said.
"For instance," she said, "I wanted some flat wooden
plates. None of the Indians had made any dishes except
bowls, so to make the explanation easier I bought a plate
and took it to one of the leading Seminole men and asked
him to make some like it for me. But I explained, 'This
one has a scalloped edge; you make it plain, smooth, not
like this.' I demonstrated with my hands and he said that
he knew what was wanted. He made the wooden plate,
but it was scalloped and prettier than if it had been plain.
Now they make wooden plates to sell to tourists, but they
all have this same scalloped edge; so if you buy one you
will know how this design originated. Cultural traits must
often pass from one people to another in this accidental
way. I can imagine anthropologists, at some future time
worrying about the odd unaccountable edge found on some
Seminole wooden plates.
Another example of the Seminole's unwillingness to
admit ignorance of the language took place in the Ever-
glades. "We wanted some bands of Seminole design to
trim a dress for my young daughter. We went to one of
the villages and to help with the language, a man who
knew a little of the dialect, went along. As usual, several
women were sitting on the platforms of the chikees sew-
ing, and we went to the woman who was head of the camp.
We tried to explain what we wanted in the best Seminole
that we could muster, but they didn't understand that at
all. Then we pointed to the bands on the dress that she
was making, and then we tried English. She seemed to
get the idea and to show how much was needed, we took
a piece of string and put it around the arms and neck of
the old tribal leader who was sitting there. Every one
smiled and we thought that we were very clever to settle
it so simply. That night the woman's grown son came to
our camp, and in sign language explained that his mother
did not know what we wanted. So again we gesticu-
lated and said 'Dress, no, Bands, yes'. He went home. The
next day an Indian who had the reputation of speaking
good English, came over. Again we tried to explain. Did
we get the decorative bands? No. We received an old man's
one-piece dress, but instead of the long sleeves that they
usually wear, they were short and came to the place where
the string had been measured on the old man's arm. They
were trying to please; but our wires were crossed."
Seminole Legends. The Seminole's stolid appearance and
uncommunicative manner hide a keen appreciation of the
good points of a story and a natural ability as a story-
teller. Beside the campfire or in the drowsy half-hour be-
fore falling asleep, grandparents tell the legends and stories
of the past to the listening family. The forces of nature,
and heavenly bodies, and the wild animals of the forest
are usually endowed with speech in these tales. In their
beauty of expression, delicacy of sentiment, and charm of
imagery, these legends compare favorably with the folk-
lore of any other race.
An excellent collection of these stories appears in Bulle-
tin 88 compiled by John R. Swanton, and issued by the
Bureau of American Ethnology. Among them are several
versions relating to the origin of the races. One tells of
three men who stopped beside a small pool to bathe. The
first man who entered came out clean, and his descendants
are white people. Because the water had been dirtied, the
second man who emerged from the pool was not quite so
clean, and his descendants are the Indians. The water was
very dirty by this time, and when the third man came
from the pool, he was black, and his people are Negroes.
In another version, the Seminole believed that the Great
Spirit fashioned men out of clay; that he overbaked the
first batch and they came out black and burned. These
are the Negroes. The next batch were underbaked and came
out pale. These are the white men. In the next attempt, the
Great Spirit created fresh models, subjected them to just
the right amount of baking, and they came out perfectly
colored. These are the Indians.
Among the stories in the History of the Indian Tribes
of North America, by McKenny and Hall, is one that re-
lates how, when the white, black, and red man had been
created, they were very poor, with no lodges, tools, nor
traps nor weapons with which to kill game. One day while
the three men were looking up into the sky, three boxes
floated down to earth beside them. Then the voice of the
Great Spirit was heard. He first commanded the white
man to look into the boxes, and choose one of them for his
portion. The white man opened the boxes and selected the
one containing pens, ink, compasses, and such things as
his people now use. The Indian, given the second choice,
chose the box containing tomahawks, knives, clubs, and
traps, all things useful in war and hunting. Then the Great
Spirit told the Negro that he must be content with the
remaining box. This was filled with axes and hoes, buckets
in which to carry water, and whips for driving oxen, which
meant his people must work for the white man and the
Indian, and it has been so ever since.
According to the Seminole, the turkey was once the
king of birds; it soared high in the air like an eagle, and
would often swoop down and carry a man away. To cap-
ture it, the Indians decided upon a plan. Four warriors
were to roll four balls along the ground so as to attract
the turkey, then seize the bird when it came within reach.
As the turkey swooped down, wearing the scalp of its last
victim hanging at its breast, the warriors were afraid to
touch it, but an old dog seized the bird by the leg, and the
men killed it. Ever since then turkeys have been afraid
of men, and more alarmed at dogs. The turkey gobbler still
wears the scalp lock at his breast as a trophy of his former
For many years, so the Indians at Brighton Reserva-
tion have told, the Seminole would not venture into the
Cape Sable region because of a huge serpent that roamed
that area and chased and devoured human beings. The
snake made its home in a lake that was said to have an
underground outlet to the sea, and through which the crea-
ture made its way in and out of the Everglades.
According to Uncle Steve Roberts, of Homestead, the
serpent "wasn't no legend, but a fact. Buster Farrel, an
Indian, killed the critter in 1892," he explained. "Buster
was huntin' when he come across a trail where the grass
was all beat down in a wide path, and thinking' it was a
whoppin' big 'gator, he followed it. Pretty soon he spotted
the snake. It was more'n a good rifle shot from him, but
he fired anyhow, and the critter went threshing off in
the grass making' more noise than a hurricane. Buster
didn't go to see whether he'd hit it or not, rememberin'
stories about the serpent swallowin' Indians whole. Wasn't
till some days later he seen a flock of buzzards flyin'
around the place, and when he went there he found the
snake. The buzzards had tore and scattered the carcass so
bad Buster couldn't measure it, but he swore the snake
was all of 60 feet long and as big as a barrel. He cut out
and kept the jaw bones, which were so big he could open
them up and drop them over his body."
George La Mere, a Winnebago Indian, has collected and
written many Seminole stories. La Mere came to Florida
after graduating from a Nebraska high school and per-
forming as a singer on Broadway. He received his A. B.
degree from the University of Miami. The following leg-
end was told him by Cowboy Billy at Richard Osceola's
Many years ago, before the white man came to this
land, there lived an old woman with her grandson, Chok-
fee, in a great cypress forest. As soon as Chok-fee was
old enough to use the bew and arrow he spent much of his
time hunting or practicing shooting until he could hit his
target every time he shot at it.
Chok-fee grew very tall and was very fast on his feet.
One morning before departing on a hunting expedition his
grandmother said to him. "Now my dear grandson, you
are a grown man and you are covering much territory in
your travels. That is very good, but do not go two days
journey toward the south. If you do, you may never come
Chok-fee was very curious, but he did not ask his grand-
mother any questions. When he finished breakfast he got
his bow and arrows, and something to eat, and started off.
He thought, "There must be something very bad, some-
thing very dangerous to the south, because if I go there I
may never return home."
Try as he would he could not fight off his curiosity, and
at last decided to go where he was told not to go. All that
day and most of the next he walked southward. He saw
no deer, but all at once he came across a big deer trail. He
saw that all the tracks pointed south. This added to his
curiosity, and he followed the trail until almost sunset.
Finally he came to the end of the trail which led inside
a very big lodge. There were two lodges, but no trail led
to the smaller one. As he stopped at the door, a man's
voice greeted him. "Come in, my friend. Nothing will
hurt you. I am home alone."
Chok-fee went in and took a seat near the door. He
saw a man sitting at the other end of the lodge, all cov-
ered up, and his face hidden. The man said, "You must be
Photo by the Florida Art Project, WPA.
SEMINOLE INDIAN BOYS ON THE TAMIAMI CANAL
hungry, for you have traveled far today. You can eat what-
ever you wish."'
"I would like some deer (venison) and some blueber-
ries," Chok-fee said. The man nodded. "You have them
right before you." Chok-fee looked, and there before his
eyes was a bowl of deer meat and a bowl of blueberries.
He ate and thanked the man for the meal. The man told
him to get a good night's rest, and tomorrow he would
tell him why he came here.
Chok-fee slept soundly, and when he woke, the man,
who was still covered up, addressed him: "My friend, your
grandmother was right in telling you not to come here,
but I made you come because I needed your help. This is
the last day." At this time the man uncovered. Chok-fee
looked. The man had no head!
"My friend," he said, "four days ago an Unga, which is
a very large bird with a face like a man, came here and
cut off my head because I would not permit him to marry
my daughter, Wah-see-get. He gave me until mid-day to-
morrow to make up my mind, and if I don't give my con-
sent I will not live any more and he will take my daughter."
Chok-fee asked, "What do you want me to do?"
"The Unga's nest is on the very tall cypress tree that
nearly touches the sky. You will find the Unga sitting on
top of the tree still carrying my head in his hand. You
are the best marksman that ever lived and you make the
best arrows ever made. But," he added, "you have to hit
the Unga in the heart or else you will not kill him."
Chok-fee took his bow and arrows and followed the
direction the old man gave him. Just before mid-day he
saw a very tall cypress tree, and there perched the Unga
with the head of the old man in his hand. The head had
beautiful red hair.
When Chok-fee came near two very large birds saw
him. One of them flew above him and dropped a snake
on him, but missed, and Chok-fee shot it down. The
other bird then flew toward Chok-fee and also dropped a
snake on him, but Chok-fee shot it down, too.
Then the head spoke, saying, "You have done well, my
friend, but you must kill the Unga when he attacks or
both of us will die. When you kill him, you must pick me
up and hurry me home because after the mid-day I will
not live, if I don't get back."
At this moment the Unga flew toward Chok-fee still
carrying the head. As it swooped down, Chok-fee shot at it
but missed. Three times Chok-fee shot and missed. But
as the bird attacked him the fourth time, Chok-fee's arrow
pierced the Unga's heart and it fell to the ground dead.
Chok-fee picked up the head and ran as fast as he
could. Mid-day was rapidly approaching when Chok-fee
saw the man at the door, and tossed the head to him. The
man caught it and put it back in place just a moment be-
"Well done," said the red-haired man, inviting Chok-fee
into his lodge. "My friend," he said, "you have saved my
life and saved your people by killing the bad bird, and for
your reward everything that belongs to me is now yours.
You must stay here for four days after I leave. My beauti-
ful daughter lives in the other lodge and she is going to
be your wife. That is part of your reward for your brave
deed, and if you do not look inside for four days after I
leave, you will accomplish a lot for your people. You will
never have to hunt. You will never go hungry and you
will have anything you want by just wishing for it. All
the deer in the land are yours now. They all belong to
you and that is the reason the deer trail leads to this
The red-haired man then dressed himself in red, and
took up his red bow and arrows. "I must go now," he said.
"I came down here to live among you but this is a bad
place. People kill each other and there are many fierce
animals. I now leave for my home in the sky never to
return, but I shall always keep my eyes on you down here.
He walked on the air skyward. He stopped once and called
back, "Remember, my friend, do not enter the other lodge
until the end of the fourth day." Chok-fee watched him go
higher and higher until he could see nothing but a red spot
in the sky. It still can be seen even to this day. It is the
only red star in the sky. It is an Indian.
Chok-fee did as he was told for two days. At the end
of the third, he took a peep into the other lodge, and there
sat a beautiful girl in a white doeskin dress. As he en-
tered and stood staring at her, it got brighter and brighter
inside until he could see nothing. When he could see again
there was no sign of the lodges, and he found himself in
a swampland. The girl was the morning star.
The Indians say that if Chok-fee had kept away from
that lodge for four days as he was told to do, all his peo-
ple needed to do would be to wish for anything and have
it, but since Chok-fee could not, the Indian has to walk
many, many miles if he is to get a deer.
Two Seminole Heroes. Osceola and Coacoochee are
known to history as two great warriors who led the Semi-
nole in their wars against the United States. Osceola was
the leader and the inspiration of his people during the early
part of the struggle. When he was captured and died,
Coacoochee took up the fight and continued to lead the
Indians until it became apparent that their hungry and
diminishing ranks could no longer resist the superior forces
of the Federal troops.
Many contradictory stories have been written about
Osceola, although historians agree that he was born on the
Chattahoochee River, in Georgia, in 1804. His name is the
subject of much discussion. Its true form is said to be
Asseola, pronounced in various ways by the Indians, but
the whites as a rule called him Osceola.
This name is said by some to mean "Rising Sun"; others
claim it can be freely translated as "black drink" and is a
corruption of Asi Yahola, Asi meaning leaves, particularly
those of the yaupon tree from which the black drink is
brewed, and Yahola being one of the Seminole names of
God. It is under this name a chief or medicine man ap-
peals to God in time of trouble after partaking of the black
drink, an emetic which cleanses the persons who take part
in the ceremony. Osceola, though not an hereditary chief,
was one who drank the brew and communed with God, thus
proving his qualifications as a leader.
Osceola was sometimes called "Powell" by the white
men, since a Scottish trader of that name had married the
boy's mother. This took place, however, several years
after the death of Osceola's father who was killed in battle
before the mother and son moved to Florida in 1808. The
step-father, Powell, did not accompany them. Osceola's
white blood came from a Scottish grandfather. George Cat-
lin, ethnologist, artist, and writer, stated at the time he
painted Osceola's portrait, that his subject's light-colored
eyes betrayed his mixed blood.
Osceola, however, scornfully repudiated the name of
Powell, and denied that he was a quarter-breed. "No for-
eign blood runs in my veins; I am pureblood Muskogee,"
he is reported to have declared, a statement said to have
been supported by other Indians and many whites acquaint-
ed with him and the place of his birth.
An athlete in his youth, a favorite with the white
men living near his home, Osceola sprang into the lime-
light when he denounced any chief who agreed to emi-
grate to the west from Florida. In 1835 General Thomp-
son called a conference of chiefs at Fort King, telling
them they would receive no more money from the Gov-
ernment unless they signed a treaty to move. Upon hear-
ing this, Osceola drew his dagger and thrust it into the
document, to show his contempt for the treaty. The docu-
ment, torn by Osceola's knife, is today the property of
Mrs. C. C. Oakley of the Mountain Lake Club.
Led by Osceola, the Seminole continued their war against
the whites until 1837 when, called with other chiefs for
a peace talk under a flag of truce, he was captured and
imprisoned at St. Augustine. Later, transferred to Fort
Moultrie at Charleston, South Carolina, he met his wife
and two children who had been taken from him.
He grieved for his land and people, however, and
failing in health, died on January 30, 1838. Just before
his death it is said he asked to be arrayed in full war
regalia; shook hands with all the army officers and Indian
chiefs, and bade farewell to his family. He was buried
with full military honors at Fort Moultrie. A marble
slab, the gift of a sympathetic Charleston citizen, stands
at the head of the grave. Hle had lived only 34 years,
the last four saddened by misunderstanding, injustice, and
betrayal. In death he was still to be ill-treated by white
men, for several days after his burial, unknown persons
opened the grave, decapitated the corpse, and carried off
the head, which was said to have been exhibited later in
A full-length portrait of Osceola was painted by the
artist, George Catlin, just before the warrior's death. A
death cast of the head and shoulders was also taken before
burial, and later placed in the National Museum, Washing-
ton, D. C.
Coacoochee, known as Wild Cat, was an interesting and
admirable contemporary of Osceola. He was the son of
King Philip, a prince by birth and a leader by character.
During the Seminole wars he was imprisoned with Osceola
in Fort Marion. The latter refused to escape, but Coa-
coochee and a companion managed to squeeze through a
high, narrow window in the wall of their cell and gain
their freedom. The cell can be visited today at St. Augus-
For several years Coacoochee led his people in fighting
the American soldiers. In 1841 General Worth's forces,
determined to bring to terms the chief who was inspiring
the Seminole with such relentless war spirit, captured
Coacoochee's little daughter, said to have been the warrior's
idol. After her capture he no longer had the heart to
fight, and under a white flag was taken to General Worth's
camp. The meeting between father and daughter was
said to have been pathetic, and to obtain her release, Wild
Cat agreed to emigrate to Arkansas with his people.
According to W. S. Hanson, Seminole authority and
counselor, it was during this meeting with General Worth
that Coacoochee is said to have originated the expression
"Here's how!" The chief, watching the American officers
drinking together, was puzzled by the words "Here's luck!"
spoken as the men lifted their glasses. He questioned his
interpreter, Gopher John, who, equally puzzled, said he
thought it meant "How d'ye do." Coacoochee at once asked
for a glass of the white man's drink, and raising it high,
saluted the officers with a guttural "How!" The amused
officers combined one of their words with the Indian's
salute, and thus "Here's how!" soon became a popular
Coachoochee remained a man of action all his life.
In Arkansas he once more championed the cause of his
people when he found that, contrary to promise, no land
had been set aside for them, and they were about to be
placed under the authority of the Creek Nation. It was
from the Creek that his people had broken away when
they first became known as Seminole, or separatists.
This time, however, Wild Cat used different weapons.
He fought with the pen instead of the rifle, writing a
letter to the editor of the Arkansas Intelligencer, in which
he described the hardships of his people. The letter moved
the editor so deeply that he published it, March 30, 1844,
prefacing it with these words: no one sympathizes
with him (Wildcat) more than we do for the pitiable
condition to which he and his people are reduced by their
invincible conquerors and false friends."
Matters grew steadily worse for the Florida Seminole
in Arkansas until in 1850 several hundred members of the
tribe, together with a few maroons, headed by Abraham,
all under Wild Cat's leadership, migrated to Mexico. After
wandering for several months, they settled in the Santa
Clara mountains with the approval of the Mexican Gov-
ernment, which provided them with agricultural imple-
The Seminole repaid this friendly treatment by waging
war against the Comanches and other tribes which had been
a menace to the Mexicans. After one severe campaign, the
Seminole received formal thanks from the Mexican officials.
Coacoochee was a man of action and honor to the
end, and succumbed at last to an enemy against which
even his courage and cunning could not prevail. IHe died
of smallpox in 1857.
"Chi," Indian Outdast. During the Seminole wars the
most despised man among the Indians was the red man
who befriended the white. Prominent among these were
the Indian Chi, and his wife.
The 1852 records of Hillsborough County, Florida, show
an order signed by Governor Thomas Brown stating that
an Indian by the name of "Chi," and his wife, had been
outlawed by their tribe for acting as guide to the United
States troops during the Indian War; that, since the Gov-
ernment had pledged protection to the pair, all citizens
were required to see that this was accomplished; and that
Chi and his wife should not be delivered up to their tribe
or sent beyond the limits of the State against their will.
The Seminole had promised, at the end of the war,
to do no further damage to United States citizens or prop-
erty, and to obey all Federal laws. So great was their
respect for their promise, they obeyed Governer Brown's
order to refrain from harming Chi and his wife, even
though the two were traitors in Seminole eyes.
LAWS, CUSTOMS, AND OCCUPATIONS
On June 2, 1924, Congress conferred citizenship on all
Indians in the United States, including the Seminole of
Florida. They are, therefore, entitled to all rights and
privileges of citizens, including the right to vote, to hold
public office, to buy, own, and dispose of personal and
real property, and to execute valid contracts. The Indians
are, however, considered "wards of the government and
Federal laws forbid the barter, sale, or gift of intoxicating
beverages to Indian wards. Violations are punishable by
Tribal Government. Though permitted by law to take
an active part in the government of the Nation and State,
the Seminole does not avail himself of these privileges.
He has his own tribal government, however, in which he
is vitally interested and in which he does take part.
There has been no recognized chief of the Florida
Seminole since Osceola died in prison at Fort Moultrie
on January 30, 1838. Today the Seminole are governed
by three tribal councils, each of which has five members.
Every member of the councils has an equal voice in all
decisions made, although one man is always recognized as
the leader of each council. Each council can exert a con-
siderable amount of power, but very important matters
require a general meeting of the whole tribe in which every-
one has a voice. All Indians belong to one or the other
of these councils, are governed by it, and are expected to
attend their particular Green Corn Dance.
The Green Corn Dance. This is the most important
tribal ceremony of the Florida Seminole, marking the
beginning of a new year for them, and having both a
religious and a legal significance. It is held in three
localities: the Big Cypress Swamp; near Miami; and in
the Okeechobee region. The dates of the three ceremonies
succeed each other in the order given, so that any Seminole
who desires may attend all three dances; few, however, take
advantage of the opportunity. In fact, many commercial
camp Seminole do not attend at all, even in their own
Probably one of the first, and certainly the most com-
prehensive day-by-day descriptions of the Green Corn
Dance, known as Boos-ke-tuh, was written by Colonel Ben-
jamin Hawkins, the earliest agent of the United States
for Indian Affairs, in a manuscript entitled A Sketch of
the Creek Country in the Yours 1798 and 1799, published
by the Georgia Historical Society. His report follows:
This annual festival is celebrated in the months of July
or August. The precise time is fixed by the Mic-co (Chief),
and the counselors, and is sooner or later, as the state of
the affairs of the town, or the early or lateness of their
corn, will suit for it. In Cussetuh, this ceremony lasts
for eight days. In some towns of less note, it is but four
In the morning, the warriors clean the yard of the
square, and sprinkle white sand, when the a-cee decoctionn
of the cassine yupon), is made. The fire maker makes
the fire as early in the morning as he can, by friction.
The warriors cut and bring into the square four logs,
as long as a man can cover by extending his two arms;
these are placed in the center of the square, end to end,
forming a cross, the outer ends pointed to the cardinal
points; in the center of the cross, the new fire is made.
During the first four days, they burn out these four logs.
The pin-e-bun-gau (turkey dance), is danced by the
women of the turkey tribe; and while they are dancing,
the possau is brewed. This is a powerful emetic. The
possau is drank from twelve o'clock to the middle of the
afternoon. After this, the Toc-co-yule-gau (tadpole), is
danced by four men and four women. (In the evening,
the men dance E-ne-hou-bun-gau, the dance of the people
second in command). This they dance till daylight.
This day, about ten o'clock, the women dance Its-ho-
bun-gau (gun dance). After twelve the men go to the
new fire, take some of the ashes, rub them on the chin,
neck, and belly, and jump headforemost into the river, and
they return into the square. The women having pre-
pared the new corn for the feast, the men take some of
it and rub it between their hands, then on their face and
breasts, and then they feast.
The men sit in the square.
The women go early in the morning and get the new
fire, clean out their hearths, sprinkle them with sand, and
make their fires. The men finish burning out the first
four logs, and then take the ashes, rub on their chin, neck,
and belly, and they go into the water. This day they eat
salt, and they dance Obungauchapco (the long dance).
They get four new logs, and place them as on the
first day, and they drink a-cee, a strong decoction of the
They remain in the square.
Is spent in like manner as the sixth.
They get two large pots, and their physic plants.
1. Mic-co-ho-yon-e-juh. 2. Toloh. 3. A-che-nau. 4.
Sup-pau-pos-cau. 5. Chu-lissa, the roots. 6. Tuck-thlau-
lus-te. 7. Tote-cul-hil-lis-so-wau. 8. Chofeinsuck-cau-
'fuck-au. 9. Cho-fe-mus-see. 10. Hil-lis-hutke. 11.Tote-
cuh chooc-his-see. 12. Welau-huh. 13. Oak-chon-utch-
co. 14. Co-hal-le-wau-gee. These are all put into the
pots and heat up with water. The chemist (E-lic-chul-gee,
called by the traders physic makers), they blow in it
through a small reed, and then it is drank by the men,
and rubbed over their joints till afternoon.
They collect old corn cobs and pine burs, put them
into a pot, and burn them to ashes. Four virgins who
have never had their menses bring ashes from their houses,
put them in the pot and stir all together. The men take
white clay and mix it with water in two pans. One pan
of the clay and one of the ashes, are carried to the
cabin of the Mic-co, and the other two to that of the
warriors. They then rub themselves with the clay and
the ashes. Two men appointed to that office bring some
flowers of tobacco of a small kind (Itch-au-chu-le-pug-gee),
or, as the name imports, the old man's tobacco, which was
prepared on the first day, and put in a pan on the cabin of
the Mic-co, and they give a little of it to every one present.
The Mic-co and counsellors then go four times around
the fire, and every time they face east, then throw some
of the flowers into the fire. They then go and stand to
the west. The warriors then repeat the same ceremony.
A cane is stuck up at the cabin of the Mic-co with
two white feathers in the end of it. One of the Fish tribe
(Thlot-lo-ul-gee), takes it just as the sun goes down,
and goes off towards the river, all following him. When
he gets half way to the river, he gives a death whoop;
this whoop he repeats four times, between the square and
the water's edge. Here they all place themselves as thick
as they can stand, near the edge of the water. He sticks
up the cane at the water's edge, and they all put a grain
of the old man's tobacco on their heads, and in each ear.
Then, at a given signal, four different times, they throw
some into the river, and every man at a like signal plunges
into the river, and picks up four stones from the bottom.
With these they cross themselves on the breast four times,
each time throwing a stone into the river, and giving the
death whoop; they then wash themselves, take up the cane
and feathers, return and stick it up in the square, and
visit through the town. At night they dance O-bun-gau
Haujo (mad dance), and this finishes the ceremony.
This happy institution of the Boos-ke-tuh, restores a
man to himself, to his family, and to his nation. It is
a general amnesty, which not only absolves the Indians
from all crimes, murder only excepted, but seems to bury
guilt itself into oblivion.
The Green Corn Dance has been altered, and simpli-
fied, and new features have been substituted through suc-
ceeding years, but its religious and legal significance re-
The Big Cypress Dance in Florida is more widely at-
tended than the other two ceremonies. Members of the
Muscogee group are said to attend it, but the Micosukees
seldom reciprocate when the Muscogee celebrations are held
near Lake Okeechobee. White men are not welcome, except
those who are accepted friends among the Indians.
The festivals begin early in June, deep in the Ever-
glades. While the guests are arriving, bucks from the
main camp where the dance is to be held move from chikee
to chikee leaving wood. Since the event lasts four or
more days, the consumption of food and fuel is enormous.
The ceremonies include feasting as well as dancing, and
at their conclusion the council sits in judgment on crimes
and misdemeanors committed during the past year. Reli-
gious ceremonies follow, during which the warriors drink
a brew of yaupon, or holly leaves. This is the famous black
drink, which acts as an emetic, the spiritual significance
being the cleansing of the inner man. Later, the warriors
bathe in a near-by slough and return to the group, new
men both spiritually and physically. The women take no
part in this cleansing ritual, although they participate in
the dance and watch in the background during the drink-
In the autumn the Seminole conduct a Hunting Dance,
similar in character to the Green Corn Dance.
Canoe Building Ceremonies. At one time, the con-
struction of a dugout canoe was a solemn and semitribal
undertaking, attended by unusual ceremonies. Members
of the tribe were called for a conference, after which the
chief led the group into the swamp and personally selected
a cypress tree that was straight and free of limbs as
possible, since knots made the wood difficult to work.
During the traditional ceremonies that followed, the women
danced weirdly around the tree, and later the men beat
drums and sang.
After the tree was felled, the proper section of the
trunk was cut from it and carried into the camp. This
was no small task, for the log, 20 or more feet long and
sometimes 4 feet in diameter, often had to be trans-
ported by man power across miles of swampy country.
Once in camp, the bark was removed and the ends of the
log roughly shaped with a tool resembling a small adze.
Also that portion of the log to be hollowed out was partly
After that preliminary work, the log was buried under
a deep layer of mud at the water's edge and left to season
for a year or more. This prevented the exposed grain
from checking or cracking. Additional ceremonies and
feasting were in order when the seasoning process ended.
The log was considered ready for working after a week
or two of drying in camp.
The rough work was not particularly difficult, but
the finishing, during which time the sides were hewed
to a uniform thickness, and the balance and trim of the
craft established, required the utmost care and precision,
an art handed down from generation to generation. As
the canoe neared completion, children took part in the
process, beating upon the outside of the boat with hard-
wood sticks; by the sounds produced, the skilled work-
men were enabled to judge the proper thickness of the
sides. Before modern tools were employed, the Indians
burned out the center of the log with hot coals, laboriously
scraping away the charred surface with a piece of hard
wood. This was slow work, and a canoe often took a year
or more to complete.
Older Indians say that long before the white men came
to Florida, primitive tribes built dugout canoes capable of
carrying three or more persons, and so seaworthy that they
could reach many of the islands of the West Indies. Today,
however, only a few canoes are hewed from logs. These,
shaped with modern, edged tools, varying in length from
16 to 25 feet, with a beam of between 3 and 4 feet, are often
seen along the canal bordering the Tamiami Trail.
Seminole Songs. Though usually laconic in the presence
of white men, the Seminole is an emotional person and his
feelings are expressed in song as well as dance. That some
of the ancient songs might be preserved, an expedition from
the WPA Florida Writers' Project, with recording equip-
ment provided by the Library of Congress, visited the
Brighton Reservation in July 19410. Here the Indian agent
assembled a group of native singers.
The majority of songs were those from the ritual of the
Green Corn Dance. The "Snake Song," "Horned Owl
Songs," "Hunting Song," and "Steal Pardner Dance" were
sung without accompaniment. The "Fox Song," "Catfish
Song," "Buffalo Song," and "Alligator Song," were accom-
panied by the swish and click of rattles made from perfo-
rated tin cans containing shot-like seed of an Indian grass.
Katie Smith and Courtney Parker, Indian women, sang
a plaintive balled entitled "The Song of Departure." Lura
May Jumper, an 8-year-old Indian school pupil, sang the
"Rat Song" which is sung by Seminole children while
playing a traditional game.
The recordings were played back to a large and appre-
ciative Indian audience. This is said to have been the first
time that Seminole songs have been recorded with more
than one voice.
Seminole Women. Seminole women are not, as in most
Indian tribes, merely servants, although they frequently do
most of the gardening for the family. A Seminole woman
is the head of her family, and the camp belongs to her.
When an Indian man says he is going home, he means he is
going either to his mother's or wife's camp, depending upon
whether he is single or married. The woman has her own
property for which she is responsible and may sell her pigs,
chickens, and the garments she makes, using the proceeds
as she sees fit. The women are said to wear their typical
native dress from preference, and not because of tribal
Marriage and Divorce. Marriage is regarded as sacred
among the Seminole, but where two people are incompatible,
divorce is permitted. Either party may remarry, but the
marriage must meet with the approval of the tribal leaders.
"Indian Custom" marriage and divorce are recognized as
legal by the Indian Office.
Among Seminoles unspoiled by commercialization, there
is usually no display or ceremony attached to a wedding.
The young man may, or may not, be required by the bride's
parents to furnish certain material guarantees of his fit-
ness as a provider. There seems to be no hard and fast
rule regulating such customs. At one wedding the bride
and groom stood together while two dozen or more "guests"
danced around them in a circle. The bridegroom held a
piece of venison in his hand; the bride held an ear of corn.
Presently she handed him the corn, saying: "I will provide
bread if you will furnish the meat." The groom then handed
his bride the venison, saying: "I will provide meat if you
will provide bread."
The usual marriage, however, seems to be arranged by
parents or friends of the contracting parties and the couple
retires to the Everglades for a short honeymoon. They
return to the camp of the bride's mother and submit to her
dictates until their own home is built. The percentage of
lasting marriages is said to be greater among the Seminole
than among whites.
Care of the Aged. Old people may live in the camp of
their nearest woman relative or, if they prefer, may live
alone. If they live with a relative, they retain their prop-
erty until death, and take care of their own vegetable gar-
den and live stock as do the other members of the family.
Old women do their share of the work around the camp.
They are usually healthy and strong and often live to a
very old age. Even elderly women swing an axe vigorously
when the men are away from camp and they need small
wood for the cook fire. The old people usually stay in
camp and look after the children, chickens, and pigs, while
the parents are away. White visitors say that these old
people appear to grow mellow with age and are often
Means of Livelihood. The better class of Seminole are
industrious and have a keen weather-eye for profit, al-
though they are not avaricious or miserly; consequently
some of them do very well at making a living. This is
particularly true on reservations where various types of
work are offered them at a regular rate of pay. The
women as well as the men when they are not busy, make
native costumes and such souvenirs as dolls, small boats,
bead work, carved coconut heads, and other articles. The
old men are particularly adept at carving with their pocket
knives and the features of the wooden Seminole dolls are
remarkably true to life. The younger men carve and make
bead work and silver ornaments in their off hours. These
products are on sale at the shops in various towns and
cities, or at the Government offices at the reservations. The
reservation authorities charge no commission on the articles
sold, all the proceeds going to the maker.
An organization known as the Seminole Crafts Guild of
Glades County, was formed at the Brighton Reservation in
Photo )y the Florida Art Project, WPA.
CHARLIE JUMPER and ANNIE TOMMY
1940. The five council members are Indians, two men and
three women. The secretary-treasurer is an Indian Service
employee. Outsiders who are interested in the development
of Seminole arts and crafts may become honorary members.
The purposes of the guild are to standardize the quality
of the handicrafts; to stimulate interest in Seminole arts
and crafts locally and outside the State; to increase and
improve production, and open new markets; and to create
a revolving fund for the purchase of work, especially during
the off season.
The guild will enable Indians engaged in making sou-
venirs to have a steady income even when tourist trade is
slack. Ordinarily few sales are made during the summer,
but when a revolving fund has been accumulated, the guild
will be able to buy the Indians' handiwork and sell it
The younger men still hunt and trap for furs which they
cure and sell, but this source of profit is dwindling as wild
animals become scarcer.
Truck farmers around Lake Okeechobee report that
Indians make better bean pickers than white or Negro
workers. This provides another field in which the Semi-
nole can augment his income during harvest season. A
few Seminoles make money by living in commercial villages
where an admission is charged to see them. Others operate
small stores and trading posts in the Everglades.
The Federal Government has placed a herd of pure
Hereford cattle on the Brighton Reservation for the benefit
of the Seminole living there, all proceeds going to the build-
ing up of the herd. In 1936 the foundation herd consisted
of 400 head of cattle. These had increased to 2,000 head
in 1940. The herd is expected, in a few years, to provide
support for the Seminole participating in the program.
The affairs of the herd are managed by three Seminole
elected by the tribe. An executive superintendent, ap-
pointed by the Federal Government, heads the board of
trustees. These men supervise the sale of bull calves and
steers. Proceeds are used to purchase additional cattle.
Receipts from these sales totaled $4,395.50, during 1939-40,
a sum sufficient to cover all operating expenses, and to pur-
chase from the Apache Indians at San Carlos, Arizona,
good Hereford heifer stock.
To protect Indian-owned hogs, once considered "fair
game" by white hunters, a large range has been placed
under fence, and the stock no longer stray off the reserva-
tion. Hog raising is steadily on the increase.
Seminole and White Hunters. The misinformed sports-
man is sometimes heard to complain that the Indians are
destroying the game. This is not true. In his natural
environment the Seminole kills game only for food. It is
not uncommon to see wild turkeys and deer within a quarter
of a mile of a camp, where a dozen or more Indians are
living. To those familiar with conditions in the Ever-
glades, it is claimed that the army of white hunters, shoot-
ing from sunrise to sunset, is responsible for depleting
Similarly the imminent extinction of the alligator has
been attributed to the Indian. White friends of the Sem-
inole deny this, and say the Seminole realizes that this
reptile fills a useful place in nature's economy. He looks
to it for hides and meat, and knows also that, if it were not
for water-filled alligator holes in periods of drought, un-
told numbers of wild game, birds, cattle, and hogs would
perish of thirst. Florida cattlemen also know how neces-
sary the alligator is. The real culprit in this case is the
hunter who takes thousands of baby alligators from their
nests for sale to curio shops.
Economic Status. In 1936 the estimated tribal wealth of
the Florida Seminole was $137,533, and the estimated per
capital wealth $69. In 1939 the net incomes were estimated
as follows: From the sale of animals and fowls, both wild
and domestic, $15,000; for road work, $4,195; for leather
and beadwork, basketry, dolls, costumes, and woodcraft,
$11,900; for CCC Camp work, $26,558; tribal income from
the Government herd, $2,245. The estimated income per
capital was $160.
Growth of the Seminole population of Florida, particu-
larly of the Muscogee group, is said to be practically at
a standstill. An official bulletin, prepared at the Indian
Agency, Dania, gives the Seminole population of Florida as
586 in 1940.
Since 1938 there has been a noticeable increase in ac-
ceptance of education by the Seminole. Glades and Hendry
County reservations now have Indian day-schools and at-
tendance is good. At Brighton 90 per cent of the men and
children attend school, the men going at night, and it is
estimated that juvenile attendance will soon be 100 per
Seminole children are being encouraged to accept ad-
vanced education which can be obtained at several institu-
tions, among them the Cherokee Indian Boarding School on
the Qualla Indian Reservation, near Cherokee, North Car-
olina. At present three girls and one boy from Florida are
in Junior High School at Cherokee, their expenses paid by
It is reported that almost every Florida Seminole now
speaks some English. The women, though forbidden to
talk with white men, usually learn a certain amount from
their children and menfolk.
Meanwhile, both the Muscogee and the Micosukee lan-
guages are being enriched by new words created to desig-
nate such objects as the automobile, radio, farm tractor,
airplane, and similar modern inventions.
The day of the medicine man is passing. Indians at
Brighton sometimes call Josie Billie from the Tamiami
Trail or, if he is busy, other medicine men from the Big
Cypress; but the white physician and the travelling nurse
are more often in demand.
Two physicians with offices at Miami and Okeechobee
are under contract to take care of Indians living in that
section of the State and Indians in other sections may call
physicians when necessary. The fees are paid by the Gov-
ernment. A full time field nurse visits the reservations
regularly to check health conditions. Tuberculosis and
trachoma are unknown among Florida Seminole, who are
said to be the healthiest Indian tribe in the United States.
The following table showing Federal expenditures on
health work among the Seminole is from the records of the
Indian Agency, Dania.
1932 ........................................ ..............$.. 3,775.73
1933 .............................. .................. 3,892.86
1934 -----...................... ......... 6,043.32
1935' ..................................... ......... 9,505.22
1936 ................-------....------.----. 7,550.00
1937 .... ................... ...................... 10,051.86
1938 ........................... .. .............. 8,290.20
1939 ........................................... .... 10,528.35
1940 (To September 21) ...................... 11,701.21
Seminole homes are still constructed and furnished on
the old plan but innovations are creeping in. At Brighton
Reservation a few families now use mattresses and pillows
on their beds.
Many Seminole now attend and seem to enjoy the
movies which no doubt will increase their knowledge of
English and broaden their outlook.
Unfortunately the Seminole has a keen appetite for
alcohol, and unscrupulous white men are still willing to
risk supplying him with it despite the severe penalties.
The majority of serious crimes involving the Indians are
the result of drinking.
Seminole of the interior camps and the reservations are
not interbreeding with either Negroes or white to any ap-
preciable degree, although in 1930 Roy Nash wrote: "We
have the best of evidence that white halfbreeds have
come to be taken almost as a matter of course."
Evidence gathered in 1940, however, does not bear out
this statement. A few mixed bloods can be seen in resort
vicinities and among Indians of the exhibition camps, whose
occupants are admittedly of a lower moral character than
those on reservations and noncommercial camps.
A Seminole girl who bears a child of mixed blood has
a more dismal future than has a white girl in similar
circumstances. The Indian girl has no charitable organi-
zations to which to turn for help. The swamp is her only
home. Even the Federal Government agents may not be
able to make her lot much easier. Far from her mixed
blood child being "taken almost as a matter of course," he
and his unfortunate mother are looked down upon by the
tribe, and she may even be severely punished. Although
mixed blood children are born now and then, the circum-
stances of their birth are neither forgiven nor "forgotten
among the better class Seminole, and it is unlikely that this
stern attitude will change.
A check of records at Dania Indian Reservation shows
that in 1940 there were 27 Seminoles of mixed blood living
Dwight Gardin points out that the Seminole of mixed
blood form a very small percentage of the tribe and are
usually white and Indian. Although they are decreasing
with each generation, they can never be considered as pure
bloods but, as the foreign strain grows weaker, will prob-
ably be indicated eventually as 15,16 Indian.
Commercial camps, operated by whites, are deplored by
all who work sincerely for the benefit of the Seminole; the
effect of liquor is degrading; the diseases of the white race
have made their appearance among the Indians; there are
some mixed-blood children and there is some immorality;
nevertheless, there seems to be room for encouragement as
to the future of the Seminole people.
In 1930 Roy Nash wrote of the Seminole: "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 for both."
Nash wrote further: "Concentration of the Seminole
gradually in three of four places by appealing to their self
interest is entirely justifiable."
Photo by the Florida Art Project, WPA.
WILLIAM McKINLEY OSCEOLA
In 1940 these suggestions, as well as others made by
Nash, are being adopted. The present program being car-
ried out among the Florida Seminole seems to be modeled
along the lines he recommended. Many of the changes will,
as he said, take time.
The latest development among the Indians is their atti-
tude toward registration for national conscription. The
Seminole is naturally uneasy when he hears that white
men are preparing for war. The Seminole wars have not
been forgotten. The Florida Times-Union of October 16,
1940, reported: "After a ceremonial council of their elders,
Florida's Seminole Indian braves reluctantly agreed to reg-
ister tomorrow for national conscription. Suspicious of the
plan for compulsory military training, the young bucks let
it be known they would hide out deep in the trackless Flor-
ida Everglades rather than submit their names for the draft.
Their fears were eased somewhat by a conference yesterday
led by Cuffney Tiger, council chieftain, and Dwight Gar-
din, Indian Affairs superintendent. Agents, who had run
into a stone wall of opposition over the week-end, were
dispatched again to get the registrations at each Indian
village about 65 were expected to sign."
It was reported the next day, in the same newspaper,
that efforts to reach the Seminole hiding in the Everglades
had so far been unsuccessful.
A communication from the Indian Agency at Dania,
written on October 26, 1940, states that 50 per cent of the
total number of Indians coming within draft age have reg-
istered. All the eligible Indians living on the reservations
The Seminole in times past have been surprisingly will-
ing to fight for the nation against which they once fought.
The following incident was told by Mrs. J. M. Willson,
Jr., whose home was often visited by well-known Seminoles
in the last century.
"During the late war with Spain, Mr. Willson asked
permission of the Governor of Florida to raise a company
of Seminole, some of them having expressed a desire or
willingness to fight the Spaniards. Referring to this desire,
on one of his visits to the Willson's, Tom Tiger said,
"'Jimmie Willson (meaning his white friend) go; ...
Little Tiger (his own son, about fourteen years of age)
"The governor's consent, however, was not obtained,
and the Seminoles therefore lost an opportunity to prove
their prowess in battle and their loyalty to their country."
In his 1930 survey of the Seminole of Florida, Nash
"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 snowcap-
ped mountain. Why do we decree that egrets and flamin-
goes and the roseate spoonbill shall not be quite extermi-
nated? That all grace along the Tamiami Trail shall not
surrender to the signboard.
"Now the Seminole and his culture are akin to the snow-
capped 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 childhood 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 wage system can be
accomplished gradually and with ease."
Reports, based on actual experiences and observations,
record that the Florida Seminole appear to be living con-
genial and natural lives today. They accept or refuse the
advantages offered by the Government as they please.
They may learn new ways or retain their old habits. They
are helped if they ask for help. Their occasional misde-
meanors and crimes are dealt with leniently by officers of
the law, and whenever possible, the offenders are left to the
judgment of their tribal council. In an imperfect world,
they are doubtless sometimes the victims of injustice and
want. The majority, however, seem prosperous and con-
Generations now gone used the Seminole badly. Today
their descendants are trying to pay the debt. The start they
have made appears to be successful. Florida Seminole, the
offspring of original Americans, are, in many cases, ac-
cepting the present day American way of life. If future
progress is as rapid as that of the last four years, it
seems likely that the Seminole will cease to be a problem
before the end of this cetnury.
INDIAN PLACE NAMES IN FLORIDA
The following list of geographic names of Seminole-
Creek origin is by no means complete, but represents better
known examples. Authorities differ as to many English
translations; a few are corruptions; and the origin of some
are difficult to determine because early map makers and
settlers have distorted them.
For sources, compilers of this list have drawn freely
from bulletins of the Bureau of American Ethnology, and
the U. S. Geographical Survey, and Florida Place Names of
Indian Origin, by William A. Read, Professor of the English
Language and Literature, Louisiana State University.
Abbreviations: (T) town; (L) lake; (R) river; (S)
spring; (C) county; and (B) bay.
ALACHUA (T & C)-jug.
APALACHICOLA (T & R)-people residing on the
other side or shore.
APOPKA (T & L)-potato eating people.
ARIPEKA (T)-name of Indian chief.
CALOOSAHATCHEE (R)-strong black river.
CHATTAHOOCHEE (T)-black rock.
CHILLOCAHATCHEE (R)-horse creek.
CHIPOLA (T & R)-feast or great dance.
CHOKOLOSKEE (T)-old house.
ECOFINA (R)-earth or natural bridge.
FENHOLLOWAY (R)-high footlog.
HALPATIOKEE (R)--alligator river.
HIALEAH (T)-pretty prairie.
HICPOCHEE (L)-little prairie lake.
HILOLO (T)-long-billed curlew.
HOMOSASSA (T & R)-place where wild pepper grows.
HYPOLUXO (T)-round mound.
IAMONIA (L)-mild, peaceable.
IMMOKALEE (T)-tumbling water.
ISTACHATTA (T)-red man.
ISTOKPOGA (L)-lake where a person was killed in
ITCHEPUCKESASSA (R)-tobacco field.
ITCHETUCKNEE (S & R)-blistered tobacco.
KISSIMMEE (T & R)-corruption of Tissimmee, an
early Indian tribe.
LACOOCHEE (T)-shortened from Withlacoochee.
LOXAHATCHEE (R)-turtle river.
MATTLACHA PASS-warrior's assistant.
MIAMI (T)-very large.
MICANOPY (T)-head or upper chief.
MICCOSUKEE (T)-chiefs of the hog clan.
MYAKKA, MAYACA, MIAKKA (T & L & R)-variants
NARCOOSSEE (T)-little bear.
NOCATEE (T)-what is it?
OCHEESEE (T)-hickory leaf.
OCOEE (T)-apricot vine place.
OCHLOCKONEE (T & R)-yellow water.
OJUS (T)-to have, or plentiful.
OKAHUMPKA (T)-lonely, or bitter water.
OKALOOSA (T & C)-black water.
OKEECHOBEE (T & L)-big water.
OKEFENOKEE SWAMP-shaking water.
OKLAWAHA (R)-bad crossing.
OLUSTEE (R & T)-blackish.
OPA LOCKA (T)-big swamp.
PAHOKEE (T)-grass water.
PALATKA (T)-a crossing or ferry.
PANASOFFKEE (L)-deep valley.
PENSACOLA (T & B)-hair people.
PITIILACHASCOTEE (R)--river where canoes are
SOPCHOPPY (T)-red oak.
STEINIIATCIIEE (R & B)-man river.
TALLAHASSEE (T)-old town.
TAMPA (T & B)-near it.
TIONOTOSASSA (T & L)-place of many flints.
TOMOKA (TIMUCUA) (R)-name of early Florida
TSALA APOPKA (L)-place where trout are eaten.
UMATILLA (T)-water rippling over sand.
WACASASSA (R & B)-cattle range.
WAKULLA (T & S)-corrupted form of Guacara early
Florida Indian tribe.
WAUCHULA (T)-sandhill crane.
WEEKIWACHEE (S)-little spring.
WELAKA (T)-tide or intermittent spring.
WEOHYAKAPKA (L)-walking on water.
WETUMPKA (T)--sounding or tumbling water.
WEWAHITCHKA (T)-water view.
WIMICO (L & R)-chief water.
WITHLACOOCHEE (R & B)-little great water.
Annual Statistical Icport. Dania Indian Reservation, Dania,
Army and \Nary Chronicle. Washington, D. C., Army and
Navy Chronicle Publishing Co., 1835-184-1, 10 vol.
l)olton, II. E., and IKoss, Mary, I)eliahtle, Land, IBerkeley,
Cal., I'niversity of Cal. Press, 1X25, 138 pages; illus.
Bulletin, S, mi;,ole (ra t.z Guild of (;lacs County. issued at
Glades (County Indian Reservation. Florida; 1910.
Canova, A. I., Lift, ainl .Adcint urs iii South Florida. Tam-
pa, Fla., Triblune Printing Co., 19!)06, 158 pages.
Cov. Charles 11., led Patriots, Cincinnati, The Editor Pub-
Crane. VV.\W., Smitlih i e Froti cr. Durham. N. C.. Duke Uni-
Foreman, Grant, Indiw i Remoral, Norman, Oklahoma, 'ini-
versity of Oklahoma Press, 1932, 4115 pages; plates
.cK\enney, T. .., and Hall, Jame.s, Indian Tribes of North
Americar. Philadelphia. Pa., Edited by F. W. Lodge,
1933:-19 1., 3 15 pages, 3 vol., maps and illustrations.
Nash. Roy, Sinrry of the Scm i,'ile ladianns of Florida, text
reprinted 'rom Senate Document 311, 71st Congress,
3rd session, \\ashington, I). C., IUnited States (;overn-
ment printing Office, United States Department of
the Int:,ior. 1932, 88 pages; maps. *
South Carolina (Ga:rttc. Charleston. S. C. July 1-8, 1768.
Seminole Indians of Florida, official bulletin Dania, Flor-
ida, October 1, 1940.
Simmons, W. II. Notices of East Florida, with an Account
of the Semin.ole Nation of Indians., Charleston, S. C.,
A. E. Miller, 1822.
Sprague, J. T. The Florida War, Philadelphia, Pa., G. S.
Appleton, 1818. 557 pages.
Swanton, J. T., Early History of the Creek Indians and
Their Neighbors, Smithsonian Bulletin Co., 73., Wash-
ington, D. C., Government Printing Office, 1922; 492
Welch, Andrew, Osceola Nikanochee, London, England,
Hatch and Son, 1841, 228 pages.
Williams, John Lee. The Territory of Florida, its Civil and
Natural History, New York, A. T. Goodrich, 1938.
Willson, Mrs. Minnie (Moore). The Seminoles of Florida,
Kissimmee, Florida, 1928.
THE SEMINOLE INDIANS IN FLORIDA
Abraham, Chief ..................................60
A -cee ...............................................63, 64
Administration building ................15
Agrarian people .................................35
Agriculture ...................................15, 60
Alcohol ..................................... .... 74
Alligator, Chief ............ .............. 5, 6
A alligators ..................................... 52, 72
people ............. .......................... 2
Revolution (see Wars)
settlers ......................................... 2
American Museum of Natural
History .................................... ... 35
Ancient tribal laws..........................49
Animals ....................................36, 42. 47
Anthropology. Department of..........35
Apalachicola River ........................... 7
Apiarian ............................................. 19
A rcadia ................................... ........... 13
Architecture ........13. 15. 17, 28. 29. 40
Arkansas ....................................... 59, 60
A rm s ........................................... ... 30
Aml Yahola ..............................30, 38, 57
Asseola (see Osceola)
Atmospheric condition ..................42
Beach. Rex ...........................................39
dance .................................... ....65
Reservation........12, 19. 20, 21. 26.
29, 34, 37, 42, 45, 73
Swamp ........................... 19, 34. 45
Billy. Charlie ..............................45, 46
Billy. Cow Boy................................. 53
Billy. Ingraham .........................23, 48
Billy, John ............................................45
Billy. Josle ..............................24, 47, 73
Billy. Kissimmee ................................45
Billy. Wilson .......................................48
Black drink ..................................57, 66
Blue Bird, Chief............................38, 39
Blue Cloud. Chief.......................... 8, 39
Bobby, Chief ........................................39
Boehmer. William D............. ...........21
Boos-ke-tub ............................... 62-66
Brighton Reservation ....8. 11, 13. 18.
21, 37, 52. 71 73
British ........ .............. .... 1 2
Broadway ............. ..........................53
Broward County ..................................49
Brown. Governor Thomas................61
Bureau of American Ethnology....51
Burial rites ............................42, 43. 44
Campaign in Florida.................. 6
commercial .....................38, 74. 75
Indian ...................................11 64
Canoe building .........................65, 67
Cape Sable region..............................52
Carolinians ................................... 1
Catlin. George ..............................38, 59
Cattle .......................3. 4. 5, 6, 9, 71
Cattlemen ..................................... 14, 72
CCC Camp ..........................30, 38. 72
Census ....................................... 39, 40
Charleston ...........................1, 59, 60
Chattahoochee River .......................57
Che-cho-ter ..................................... 4
tribe ........................ ............... 6
Indian Boarding School ..........73
Chi ................... ............ ..... ..60, 61
Chlkees ................15, 17, 18, 30, 50. 65
Children ............................ 31 34, 40, 73
Chllds (town) ......................................13
Church. Seminole Baptist................40
Citrus fruit ................. ............... 5 13
Clinch, Duncan U ............... ........... 4, 5
Coacoochee .......................6. 57. 60
Collier. Honorable John...................12
Community building ........................ 9
Creek nation .............1. 2. 3. 4. 42. 60
Creel. L. 1)....................................... ... 49
Cuban bloodhounds ............................ 7
Culture ........... .......................... 49
Cussetuh ............................... ............. 62
Custer Massacre ...........................39
Customs .................................. ....68-69
Cypress, Charley ........................ 39
Cypress country ................................ 19
Cypress, Sally ..................... .......27-28
Cypress trees ...........................38, 55
Cypress. Whitney .......................11, 25
Cypress women ..................................28
Dade. Major .......................... 4. 5
Dania. Florida ................13, 23. 49. 73
Dania Reservation ........................, 75
Deer (venison) ............. ..............55
Dixie. Charlie .............................46 47
Economic status .......................75-76
Education .............................11, 73
E-lic-chul-gee ................................... 64
Emathla. Chief Charley............... 4, 5
Emigration ................................ 3, 4, 5
E-ne-hou-bun-gua ......................62, 63
language .........................49 50, 73
settlers ................................... 1, 2
Episcopal burial service.................47
Everglades ......................34 50. 65. 72
camps .................................... 74
Farrel, Buster ..................................52
Fauna ............................... ...15, 16
Festivals ............................. ..... 38, 39
Fewell, Charley ...........................38
Fishing .......................................8, 22
Flora ............. .................... 13 14
Florida ........................1, 2 3, 4, 38. 73
Florida Forces ......... ................ 4
Florida Indians .................................49
Florida Militia .................................. 4
Florida's Reservations ......................27
Florida Times Ialon
Florida WAriters' Project..................67
Brooke ....................... ........... 4
Drane .......................... ......... 4
Jupiter ....................................... .. 6
King .......................3 4. 5, 6, 7. 58
aron .. ...... ..................... 6
Mellon ........................................ 6
Moultrle .........................7, 59. 61
Pierce ........... ..............................13
Freeman. Leon S., Jr................... 19
Freeman. Mrs. Ethel Cutler...12 19.
21. 27. 28. 31. 49
Gaines. General Edmund ............. 5
Gainesville. Florida ..................... 3 4
Gardin. Dwight R..........23, 38, 75, 77
Georgia ........................1 .................... 67
Georgia Historical Society................62
Ghosts ..................................... 42