INTERVIEWER: Mark Bass
INTERVIEWEE: Dr. Charles Fairbanks Transcribed: October 7, 1977
DATE: A Pauline Lussier
B: Let me talk first about the ethnohistory that you put together.
F: Well this was the defendants report of the pre-history and history
of Florida Indians as a part of the Indian Claims Commission case
and I was hired by the United States Department of Justice to provide
a report on what Indians were in Florida, what happened to them, what
is a Seminole, basis of claim to lands in Florida.
B: Did they prevail on you at any time to present a case favorable to
the U.S. government or did you go as a 5cltan4 afrn;a' ~ a 3-*-r
F: Well the Indian claims case like most American legal situations is
based on an adversary, he defendants have a lawyer and the plaintiff
has a lawyer and so on, I can't really say that they ever did make
any substantive issues of a favorable position for United States
government,they did do such things, my original draft I repeatedly
referred to the Seminole nation; well they made me take that out
because the Seminole nation wasn't legally constituted until 1854 as
a result of some Oklahoma treaty or War Department action or something.
so the lawyers have a- and these were all lawyers not anthro-
B: B ou thk they wanted you to stick to the letter of the law 0h0r t4s Cokdn
ua& s heehr the U-S.government had not stuck to the letter of the law?
F: Yea, well a whole lot of things. The first question of course was,
What lands did the Seminole control in Florida-at the time of the definitive
treaty shortly afterA1823, shortly after the organization of the territory
of Florida?A hat was the question, what did they have at that time.
They and of course most people are aware that the Seminole weren't
Page 2 ptl
F: aboriginal long time inhabitants of Florida. Do they have any claim
to Florida? well the decision of the Indian Claims Commission has been
that they did have and that they did not receive proper compensation
when they gave it up in these various treaties, Moultrie Creek in 1823,
Paines Landing and others so that deserve compensation.
B: My perception of the ethnohistory that you wrote is that Seminoles were
lucky in that most other aboriginal groups have been desa a by parti-
cularly the English and to deme extent by the French and the Carolinian
people coming down, and that they existed as a hogp maybe of remnants
of all those tribes.
F: Not really a hg- pge. there were two major groups:the central Georgia
ex-Creek Indians who were here in the Alachua area under the leadership
of Cowkeeper principal and the Tallahassee area people in the British
Dominion in Florida under Tonabee who came from the lower Ghataehee-b
and then)after the Creek War of 1814-Andrew Jackson against the Creeks
in central Alabama/-the leaders of that Creek War and their families
refugee down here to join Creek relatives that were already here, but
in the meantime from 1720 or thereabouts when there began to be appreciable
bodies of Indians once again in North Florida they were pretty remote
from the organized towns of the Creek and along the Chattahoochee than
and in central Alabama.so there relationship was not as formal as it had
been when they were back in their original homeland in central Alabama
and along the Chaftahoochee. I don't really see them as a og podge but
as town entities at that time.
Page 3 ptl
B: How many people would normally live in a town .th Seminoler 0w
F: They were very diffuse, they weren't a highly structuredlaid out
town,they were a cluster of farm settlements from certainlythe time
of the American Revolution onward. and)maybe a couple of hundred in-
dividuals at the most would be considered as a town, -E4 P like
a rural settlement in south Georgia today, Plains Georgia is, well
it does have a main street and a railroad station and so on but it's
a cluster of farmsteads more than anything else and the Seminole and
many of the Creek by 1800 had taken up that kind of settlement pattern.
And then of course after the second Seminole War when they'repushed
down into the Everglades they hid out in small family band camps. and
in that case, probably fewjif any of them had 25 individuals in them.
B: Was the Ohickee a later development if they got sub-tropical area?
F: Yea, when they came down here into North Floridathey developed new
housing styles partly borrowed from frontier American housing styles-
stick and clay chimneys and stuff like this.and then when they were
pushed down into the Everglades in a real new environment, sub-tropical,
wet, hurricanes and so on they had to develop.a new house style and that
was the Vhickee.
B: Quite a unique adaptation.
F: Yea, and of course now they're pretty largely giving it up. Last time
I was on the reservation area there were very few chickees that were
actually being occupied.
Page 4 ptl
B: What does it do to their cultures to move from an enclosed dwelling
4IcYj to sub-tropical open dwelling and then the housing 46,l6
that went on in the early '70's where they were trying intensively to
get them out of their chickeep and into concrete dwellings?
) Well of course,without the pressure of the Indian Bureau and so on their
change in house style was a result of other changes that were already
taking place in the culture. In the after the Second Seminole War their
loss of population down to I to A hundred individuals the fact that they
were hiding out the United States Army meant that even if they hadn't
been threatened with hurricanes and I don't know how long it took them
to find out about hurricanes down there hut even if they hadn't been
hiding out,they couldn't afford to put a lot of time effort into elaborate
housing. and it wouldn't have suited the sub-tropical situations I
think the changes that were taking place in Seminole family life in that
period were caused by other things and the result was a change in house
form. Now certainly there are going to be changes occurring in family
life in the present concrete block house situation.but I would think that
thAr going to b auselin large part by other factors rather than just
the change in housesare gonra be caused by the fact that the children
go to county schools inlGlades County and so on and are being rapidly
acculturated learning English, learning a lot of juvenile behavior patterns
that come from other Florida culture and so on Their participation in
the.truck garden industry there as field hands and so on the services
through the various federal aid programs, aid to dependent children,
public health, and so on and so on are going to change patterns.they're
Page 5 ptl
F: going to reduce infant and child mor lity.there probably will be;
for a while larger families with more living children in them.
B: Is that going to be difficult, well not thp educational possibilities
are as hard for them as they were,but the people like to stay in their
home areas; is it going to be ka-for them having larger families
with nothing to do and little work?
F: I think the fact that they are going to be tied down to a large capital
investment, whereas if there were opportunity for work or hunting or
whatever it would have been easier to abandon a chickee and move to another
hammock.a t's going to be a little more difficult and I think I
seem to see that already happening in Brighton.and I think with the
Miccosukee reservation with a more permanent situation there I think
it's going to be happening there. ad of course the iesnnfluence
of parents, particularly mothers in directing child development, child
behavior and so on.,the fact that the kids are being b ise2into county
schools axdtmokolee, Morehaven and so on is a major influence, what's
the influence of T.V a lot of the houses down there now have television atM
so they're participating in Florida, American non-Seminole culture more
B: What's been the effect of the breakdown of/control the elders, the
reduction of scratching and that sort of thing?
F: Well one thing of course has been an increase in juvenile delinquency.
they are a marginal people,and to the same extent that children of
Page 6 ptl
F: migrant farm families in that area show a proportionately high rate
of juvenile delinquencytso many of the Seminole children show a.high
rate, there has been something of a problem of gasoline sniffing among
the young people)which I'm sure is a non-Seminole trait.
.: Let me ask.you a question about alcoholism. I've thought that maybe
their problem and most American IndianJ problems with alcohol is a
matter of mores of not knowing that you don't take 3 shots s-i in
a row rather than a propensity or a problem in their biological system
that can't tolerate alcohol. What's the myth)the mythology of the
drunken red man.
:! WelL they do get drunk all right, and I've had experiences that I
suppose everybody else has had with Indians-that they do not know
how to manage drinking. Up until 1954/ome such date there were
federal statues that prohibited giving, selling or anyway providing
alcohol to the Indians, which like myself during the prohibition period
it was a forbidden thing and therefore attractiveand you didn't have
a chance to learn to drink, these certainly are problems.of course the
major problem for alcoholism among any group whether American Indians
or Anglo-American teenagers in our public schoolsis that they are
problem ridden, they have stressand they try to evade those tensions
and stress and problems by drinking or by pot or hard drugs or whatever
and if whe family community life improves so that they aren't
subject to this stressthey're not going to drink as much. I had a whole
Page 7 ptl
F: bus load of Cherokee Indians wh4 get roaring, fighting drunk once
after they lost the ball game to a Creek team-and it was very clearly
traditional,they hadn't played stick ball with the Creeks for 150
years and they lost the game and everybody is down, they got a hold
of quite bit of alcohol and they got drunk and they started fighting,
it could have happened to University of Florida Gators. Under stress
many people drink, I've known individual indians that could havihandle!
alcohol as well as I can,and I don't pretend to be an expert on the
subject of alcohol I think it's andin some situations where the stress
has been relievedysometimes by conversion to a prohibitionist faith,
church, they don't drink.
B: Speaking of church, some of the people khae 20 indians I've talked to,
maybe 4 talked with me more than 15 minutes,they were verywithdrawn
and didn't care to talk about themselves or their people. Do you think
the church, Christian mores have perhaps inhibited to people I mean
they're veryvery concerned with the concept of sin thaR f you don't
have the money to work, if youon't have the money to provide for your
family and there's nowhere to go hunt they look on it as a sin.gr if
you get drunk or jf you have an alcohol problem they look on it as a
major sinand'they're always walking around feeling damned.it seems
like a really roughand after this were gkGes see positive stuff,I
F: They're in a stress situation, htey are a discriminated against, impoverished
minority who feel threatened by the expanding white Florida culture
Page 8 ptl
F: around them.and they tend to resist this by withdrawing now and I
think this is the major reason why it is difficult to find Seminole
who will talk to you in any depth and so on. The conversion to
Christianity probably dates in any numbers from the 1940's when
it occurred at two other times or two other things were happening, gne
that Seminole speaking 0 klahoma preachers began to come into Florida
and preach and sing songs and they sing, I don't know whether youkSve
attended a church down there or not, but they sing and preach in either
Miccosukee or Mi sqgeor Cow Creekand they made converts, but this was
also a period during the war years when a lot of people were in the
army, labor was shortSeminole were drawn in te various work situations
in contact with other Floridians and so on,those two things came together,
I don't know that I would want to say which is a major factortthough
I'm inclined to believe that it was the leadership of these Seminole
speaking Baptist missionaries from OAklahoma that really made the con-
versions. and it's my impression that at the present time probably a
majority of Florida Seminole are Christian.
B: Am I correct therin characterizing them as unique among North American
tribes in their retention of some of their old culture and some of
their old lifestyles, in many ways they seem less acculturated than
other tribes w_-tortr 0 a4_ Vi _i d-
F: Well many of the things that we consider so distinctively Seminole
such as the Seminole patchwork jackets and soiof course are derived
from Anglo-American they only date back to early 1900's, it is true
Page 9 ptl
F: that in language, in family organization, the organization of the
family around the women)descent through the mother's line and so
on, they are less acculturated than many other Indian groups, I wouldn't
say they were unique;but particularly the Florida Seminoletbecause
of their withdrawal from consistent contacts with white Floridians1
have managed to maintain a great deal of their aboriginal way of life,
particularly the Miccosukee.
B: Why have they chosen not to take part in the land settlement?
F: Well they say that they don't sell land for money, that they want the
land to use in an Indian fashion.and they regard it, it seems to me,
as betrayal of the land in their trust to take a financial settlement
B: What,can you,I don't knowwhat is the total financial reparation!that
the government has offered to the Seminoles A Mi ccU e orida
I've heard 30 million but I don't know.
F: I thought it was 14 million.
B: Well that would be a total of 16 and 14 would be 30. so that's my third
F: It temporarily V-hit a road block. the Indian Claims case was decided
that yes the Seminole were gyped out of land then they hired a series
of experts in land property values, real estate type people to evaluate
how much was coming to them, then the Bureau of Indian Affairs decided
Page 10 ptl
F: how much of that was due to the Indians' lawyers who carried all of
this on credit for all these years-all the court action, they hadn't
been paid cause the Indians didn't have it, and then there was the
question of how this would be distributed and it involves two groups:
the Florida Seminole and the O4klahoma Seminoleand there are more
Oaklahoma Seminole 'than there are Florida Seminole/ so they would
like to see it divided on a population basis,*nd at least many Florida
Seminole of course say) wel;-were the guys that still stayed herewye
should get more than a per capital division, of course everybody hopes
that it will not be distributed as cash per capital that it will be
held in trust for not only this generation but for future generations
to benefit by it.
B: How have the Seminoles and Miccosukees afforded to erect the tribal
headquarters that they have?
F: Well they have some funds from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, they also
have some funds from various general, public relief systems, work in-
centive programs and so on. I think most of it comes from escrow funds,
that is funds put in trust for the tribe, from rightaways, for the Tapiami
Trail,[Sunshine State Parkway maybeATniot sure of that, power lines,
telephone lines across reservation lands, and some of that has been
held in trust for quite a white and now is available-and when they
organized as a corporate unit under the 1935 Indian Reorganization Act,
then these funds could be made available as a rotating fund for building
houses, for building craft/ sales places and these things that would
have a permanent value.
Page 11 ptl
B: I've been told that o&'e the two tribes organized,particularly
the Seminoles that of over 200 members) that only a relative handful<
15 or 20 actually voted on organizing along the lines the government
had advocated. Do you know anything about that?
F: Well I have somewhere in my records the Indian Service Report of
the vote and so on, I think it was higher than that really, Tom King
had a paper in recent HiStnorial 0Qu-art y on leadership and so on,
there are a relatively small number of Seminole that have been involved
in(and of Miccosukee too, that have been involved in because over the
reservation years and so on they have developed this characteristic
withdrawal from things, don't pushand so there are relatively few of
them who are able to take part in activity situations.
B: From their point of view would you say there's a basis for disavowal
of some of the agreemenI and organization' of the tribe, I've been
told that some of the people just don't,the Indians don't agree that
that was,that if they had not organized)say corporately that people
would have left them alone forever. Is that naive?
F: I'm afraid it is. We do not know very much about how many factions
there are among the Seminole in Florida, what:these factions represent,
how many people there are in each faction.and I suspect that they don't
have altogvqer permanent membership on the acculturative faction the
resistant faction, the in between or various grades and so on. Certainly
the Indians wh hae had more experience with other Florida)recognize
that they're here that they can't wall off their part of the Everglades,
that if they want a reasonable way of life they've got to come to some
Page 12 ptl
F: sort of understanding with the civil authorities and the general
population of south Florida, they can't fight a Mi_ T,_ -)
tolerant and informed interaction between state, County, federal,
education business interests and so on that we-wll be able so
organize the interact between the Setminole and other Florida so
that they can have a reasonaIy stisfactory way of life and get
some of the benef if of public medicine,public transportation, public
educationand so on with out giving up the values that they see is e
INTERVIEWER: Mark Bass
INTERVIEWEE: Dr. Charles Fairbanks
Page 13 ptl
a tolerant and informed interaction between state, county, federal
educational, business interests and so on that we will be able to
so organize the interaction between the Seminole and other Florida
so that they can have a reasonably satisfactory way of life and get
some of the benefits of public medicine, public transportation, public
education and so on without giving up the values that they see as
B: Can you tell me what some of those values arebecause they won't.
F: Well)I don't know that I am qualified to speak for the Seminole, but
as I see it they want a unified family life largely under the leadership
of the mothers, the men want a dignified and rewarding, that is, adequately
paying jobs and so on, they would prefer if these could be in traditional
activities and of course it isn't really old tradition it's a couple of
hundred years old, herding a cattle they see is one of them, outdoor
activities and so on~hey don't see wage labor in factories, garages
and so on as being a rewarding way of life, and they want the open not
the cities, that crowded Gold Coast.
B: What has contact with them been like since the trial in which you
wrote the ethnohistory and heard the defendant?
F: For some of them on the Brighton Reservation and soo o I think it
was cautious but friendly but I had the feeling that they didn't identify
me with the United States witness. Those of themjsome of the more
informed ones) and in one case I know that one of the tribes' lawyers
pointed out to one of them)that he was the guy that was the justice
Page 14 ptl
F: department witness and a cooling of relationship,which I think
is understandable, .ur adversary court situation: I testify for
the driver of one car.the other driver is not happy about me, so
that's the kind of thing that's happened. There is this-since
1965 or thereabouts, I think there's been a general greater participation
and willingness to meet Anglo-Floridians and talk with them,and there
wasn't before that.f is they participate more in the business and
industry and so on in South Florida.
B: _1r ro1o, foo, now draws quite a large- 'unr4 they were
really pushing that when I was down there, matter of factthe twenty
people I talked to.everone mentioned the date and the concept of the
rodeo and that was primarily -except for Joe Dan Osceola and Judy
Osceola and Lee Tiger and a guy named Billy Cypress who's a new vice
chairman of/Miccosukee-they were the only four who really talked to
h-in in depth.
F: I'm not sure that these tourist attraction things are particularly
rewarding for the Seminole. I think we, well I know one cabinet
meeting in Tallahassee when we're discussing Seminole problem and
several people make statements "Oh well we can build up their tourist
craft souvenir business and these shows and so on like the Cherokee in
Western North Carolina; wellyin that year which was '57 or '58 per
capital income from tourist activity among the Eastern Cherokee was
475 dollars.you can't live on that, it looks good but it do (n't
pay factory wages, doesn't prevailing wage.
pay factory wages, doesn't prevailing wage.
Page 15 ptl
B: Their amusement parkswent down the tubes due to a problem with
building codes which they had never been made aware of which was
a sad thing.
F: Well, certainly understanding between Seminole and non-Seminole will
be fostered by these tourist activity and that-I would think mayFbe
is a greater value than the cash income that would come from it, what
other sources of income do they havebut it never can amount to very
much. They participate, they have a tribal cattle herd in the cooperative
and so, again I'm not sure that this is the best use of their lands.
perhaps truck farming and so on.certainly cattle farming in South
Florida for a long time was the big industry,I'm not sure that unless we
get more freezes like this winter that-truck farming, beans, tomatoes,
watermelons and so on might not be a better source of tribal income.
Yo Yu know that cattle farming was a justification for channelizing the
_p: _IS_ _River which is now screwing up like Okeechobee too, that
whole Taylor Creek-FI'b:";' .' area is just the pits now. They've
identified that 9AUg, L identified that as the prime nutrient feeding
in 'to lake Okeechobe. now.
F: Well of course ang business, the truck farming wanted canalize and
drain muck lands/around Lake Okeechobee and so on. We're gradually learning
that we have to go slow on these massive modifications of the environment.
And Pf course)this is one of the things that the Seminole and other Indians
have maintained for a long time that we Indians did not have this
damaging impact on our environment. These TVA or TV ads of the Indian
crying at the sight of polution are TV propaganda, the Indians did have
Page 16 ptl
F: an impact aadesirable impact on their environmentbut they didn't
have as great an impact as modern industrywhether this is industrial
factories or industrial farms has on the pesticide, erosion, pollution(
of one kind or another- and they see it as a threat what they think is
a desirable way of life and what many non-Indian Americans think is a
desirable way of life, green grass and trees and wild animals.
B: What do you think of the acceptance of the Indian values by strief
white youth over.'the last 10 or 15 years, the growing of long hair,
beaded braided hair, home cottage crafts, herbal medicines.
1 WellI think they represent in the first place a rejection of many other
standards of twentieth century non-Indian America and i4an attempt to
find a solution.they're usually very superficial, you're not living
like an Indian just because you have long hair and a beaded vest or
Aoccas i 42^
meeesein type shoes, but again they're easy things to copy rather than
the core things of Indian life.
B: Which would be the spiritual orientation to the land and that sort of
F: That is part of it.a family)strong family organization, family and kin
control behavior and activity, you work in a group of kinfolk rather than
for some unknown boss and unknown owner and so on)and the denigration of
purely commercial values which of course makes it difficult to compete
in a commercial society.
B: Anything else you'd like to add just something maybe I haven't drawn out
that you think is important.
Page 17 ptl
F: I think there are a number of reasons why the Seminole are one of
the most interesting Indian groups in the country and I think that
we have a lot to gain in our knowledge about the way in which human
societies, cultures work by knowing more about the Seminole, but it
shouldn't be that it is just that we study the Seminole to find out
things for our advantagethat as we understand how the Seminole culture
works)that we will be able to help the Seminole as well as ourselves.
and that's why many of us are interested, not just the Seminole but
other Indian groups in ethnohistoryin archeology and so on.
B: Will the Seminole and other groups accept that though. Will they accept
your perception of what is healthy?
F: Well it may not be a question of the Seminole accepting, it's a question
of will the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the United States Department of
J Pd so ao)
Agriculture, Mr. Carter will they accept what we can offer them as a
result of study of not only the Seminole but other Indian groups? as
we better understand how culture works, it isn't that we want to control
another people but we simply want to be able to say if you do it this
way this is what is going to happen.and say it in such a way that they
can understand that they have a choice whether they get this result or
that result, so it's not that we want to control, most anthropologists
I don't think do want to control and change, either our culture or anybody
else's, but we simply want to be able to give advi e as to what's going
to happen if you do this.
B: Sounds good, I really appreciate your time.
B: your talking about the of a charismatic chief as opposed
to the Mico.
F: Osceola of course was born in Alabama and was the offspring of an
Indian woman and a traitor, or is believed to be what little we know
about him, he came into Florida as apparently a teenager a juvenile,
with his mother as part of the refugees from Andrew Jackson's Creek
War of 1814, he was temporarily captured while camped in the vicinity
of the Sauwanee River crossing more or less Fannin Springs area.and
released and so on. I'm sure that a good deal of Osceola's opposition
to American, white Americans were the trauma of the Creek war which
he lived through as a teenager or a child and then the Florida years
were again a period of oppression and persecution by United States Army
and settlers and so on. He, while he inherited his position through
his mother, as all Seminole and Southern Indians did, he did not in-
herit a possibility of being a civil and religious leader, Mico, but the
Creeks and the Seminole in Florida had a regular pattern by which out-
standing leader-type individuals could become war leaders, and Osceola
certainly seems to have been deeply opposed to Anglo-Americans. He
certainly seems to have been a charismatic leader, he was able to gather
followers behind him and lead them and so on.
did y d'(1 ks
B: How d6 you reach, how do.youJcommunicate with a group of wandering bands
to consolidate any support?
4,1-+rtA41 cf JtourtIne
F: Well in the reservation period)between treaty.m1t.re Creek and the
outbreak of the Second Seminole War they weren't that nomadic. There
Page 19 ptl
F: probably were bands of maybe a couple hundred individuals move out
of, in Osceola's case this general Alachua area down into the reservation
ISnnd t id\dI-,
south of Ocala,.there was a clan organization that was not confined to
a particular band so that he would have clan kin in other bands who would
be accustomed to cooperate with him with whom he could communicate on
a family basis and so on, and he was one of a number of Seminole
emergent leaders who was strongly opposed to the federal policy for
the Seminoleand so on.
B: Why did he get more tha o Pad us 4aMS 4 -
F: I don't know.
B: Is not Wildcat also a WAr Chlr
F: Yea, there were maybe a half dozen or so, certainly Osceola was one
of the outstanding leaders, he was more aggressive, he had skirmish
ability or ability to lead g iena- warfare, and to a certain extent
I think the newspapers of the time Niles Regiser and so on, picked
up him as an outstanding figure. Most of the people whoAnew or met
him agree that he was an outstanding personality type, he was a leader,
B: Was his father a white man?
F: We believe so.
B: Would that have made him more aggressive, I mean is there an ethnological
F: Well many of the leaders, particularly of the southern tribes, Creek,
Cherokee and so on in the 18th and early 19th centuries were Mestiz and
there very often is a hybrid vigor to hybrid physical types. But another
factor, and I would think a more important factor that he had some
factor, and I would think a more important factor i that he had some
Page 20 ptl
F: experience with two cultures. His Indian mother culture and to the
extent that he had any contact with his father, the father was resident
in the Creek country for some years at any rate and so on, so he could
benefit by some knowledge of both cultures, so there is a cultural
hybrid vigo5 as well as a biological hybrid vigor as in hybrid corn
and hybrid cattle. And Anthropologists, of coursebelieve that id2
cultural factors are more important than biological factors, so I
would think it was his cultural hybrid vigor that doesn't explain
altogether his position-but it does explain some of it.
B: Do you know anything about what his training would have been as a
young man t/the Seminole band?
F: Training from other Seminole men his wifes brothers and clan kin and
so on in hunting, fishing and so onjat least some training in the
men's activities.in the ritual and so on: though he was not a medicine
man)a curer; training in his mothers' family of the myths and legends,
the oral history of the Creek and Seminole, and I'm sure tales about
Creek War of 1814 were told again and again,and this is a general pattern.
it!a kin learning situation. How he acquired his ability to lead and
plan military raids is, how does anybody lead learn this?welllwe teach
it at West Point and Arnpolis but---
B: We-were wipeing outifWest Point graduates there for a long time.
F: Wellbecause he was fighting on his own land and so onthere are many
ways in which the second Seminole War resembles the Viet Nar tr,
atrocities, guerilla warfare, organized military units at a loss to
Page 21 ptl
F: compete with the local people on their own ground and so on.
B: One last question then I'll leave you alone. be here forever.
How would they have provided for the young people and old people
in these roving bands, what did they eat, how did they survive through
the Second Seminole War?
F: Well we have some accounts, they often were reduced to eating roots
particularly the rua i -r zamia root and so on which is poisonous
has to be processed and soaked and so on; other roots vegetables, nuts
and so on; moving as rapidly as they had to move, hunting probably
was less rewarding, fishing, collecting land tortoises and so on.they
were pretty hungry many times and in many casesthey gave up and agreed
to go to Oklahoma because they were starving.
B: Your ethnohistory points outpthroughout the history of Florida,Indian
bands 5ould arrive at-fort, particularly San Marco, saying we ' ou! o kro'w
starved leti have some foods that's in such direct contradiction
to the nobel red man sort of idea where the person can stalk and
F: Well living by hunting can be pretty precariouson a day like this
it would pretty darn difficult to find anything to kill out there
in the woods even where it was thereand fishing the same way, fishing
does tend to be a little more regular, but there are days when the fish
just don't bite. Once you have exhausted the edible roots and so on
in an area you've got to move-well if you have to move so far that you're
in an unfamiliar territory how will you find the patches of zarTa or
Page 22 ptl
F: huckleberries or whatever,or it's just the wrong season the birds
have eaten all the berries. (
B: Were there any slV6 In 3' a b A the-8 y-yyu got the Seminole lifestyle
and go to the roots for it?
The black slaves are a major part of the Seminole history, runaway
blacks first from the Carolina colony) had been coming to Florida as
early as 1700 or a little before,the Spaniards had prohibitions
against chattel slavery in many cases)and they also didn't see any
reason why they should do the encroaching British a favor so they
refused to return them to Carolina. By the time the Seminole came
in here there were a number of free blacks in the area, most of these
were encouraged or facilitated to form separate communities, camps,
towns under the protection of the Seminole but not held as chattel
slaves. Some of these blacks interacted quite markedly, they advised
them on how do you deal with the whites and so on. Abraham was an
advisor during much of the Seminole period, a runaway black from either
Georgia or Carolina.some Creeks and Cherokee again acculturated mestizo
individuals held chattel slaves and worked them on plantations like the
frontier white. I don't think any of the Florida Seminole did that.
During the Second Seminole War, the onset of the Seminolei-War, the
removal time, there were hoards of slave catchers from Georgia and
Carolina and Virginia even,down hereqand when they tried to take possession
of these free blacks and return them,or just sell them in Georgia and
so on, the Seminole objected very violently to this,and this was a con-
tributing factor to the Seminole moving out of the camps at Fort Brooko
Tampa and refusing to go,because of the mistreatment of the blacks,they
Page 23 ptl
F: felt a kinship which was contradictorythe whites in the Carolinas
Georgia and so on had fostered antagonism between blacks and indians
as a method of controlling the Blacks, but here in Florida, particularly
the Seminole seemed to have felt a sympathetic unity of objectives and
so with these runaway blacks.