Subject: Professor James Pace
Interviewer: R.T. King
Gainesville, Florida 7/20/77
K: Mr. Pace, when were you born?
P: July 13, 1920.
l': < .. .': v.-Z
K: And where was it?
P: In South Carolina, in a town called Gresham.
K: When did you decide to come to Florida?
K: And can you tell me what reasons lay behind it?
P: Well, I was working in an experiment station in South Carolina at that
time, and the position that I held was terminated and I applied for a
position at the University of Florida and I came here on September I, 1942.
K: What sort of background did you have in cattle raising or in agriculture
in general, before combing to the University of Florida?
P; Well, I g~ewpf on a relatively small farm in South Carolina, but we
always had some cattle and naturally, I went to Clemson University and
there I majored in animal husbandry. And when I worked at the Coast .Experi-
ment Station at Summerville, South Carolina, why, I worked exclusively with
beef cattle. And since coming to University of Florida, why, I've worked
with cattle all these many years.
K: Now, you had a, what, a Bachelor's degree in-
P: I have a Master's degree.
K: A Master's degree.
K: After coming to the University of Florida, what position were you given
P: I came here as an instructor in the animal husbandry department, or
animal industry department, it was called at that time. Today, it's called
the animal science department. Now I taught until 1952 and then I trans-
ferred over to the Cooperative Extension Service.
K: What is the first contact you had with the Seminole Indians?
P: My first contact with the Seminoles was in 1952.
K: And what was the nature of it?
P: For years and years, the Cooperative Extension Service maintained an
agricultural agent that worked almost exclusively with the Indians. That
was his principal job, and I went down to assist him with a problem that
K: And that was who, Fred Mastiope?
P: Fred Mastiope, yes.
K: Can you tell me the nature of the problem?
P: Well, really, it wasn't too much of a problem. We had a series of night
meetings, both on the Brighton Reservation and also on the Big Cypress
Reservation. There was approximately three specialists that went down to
K: Did that have anything to do with the distribution of cattle among private
P: Not necessarily. We were just them some recommendations as far as
management of their cattle herds was concerned.
K: I'm very interested in getting all the details that I can from you, about
this cattle program. If you could expand on this, I'd very much appreciate
it. Just tell me everything you know about it. It's pretty important
to both the history of the Seminole tribe, and to us here. We're interested
P: Well, actually the Seminoles, at least those on the Big Cypress, I mean,
the Brighton reservation, they got into the cattle business in the early
thirties, when they were having severe droughts in the West, I guess during
Dustbowl days. They shipped some cattle.to Brighton reservation from New
Mexico. Those were Hereford cattle. And that's the way that the Seminoles
actually started in the cattle business. Naturally, during those days,
there was absolutely no improved pasture, very little fencing, in fact those
were the days of open range. And the cattle that, especially those on the
Brighton reservation today, are descendants of some of those original cattle
that were shipped in.
K: Now, I know that the original cattle were given to the tribe as a whole, it was a
a cooperative enterprise.
K: And that at some point, they were divided up among individual cattle owners.
I'm curious as to how that happened, and when.
P: Well, for years and years, they had a lot of small herds, although the
cattle were run together as a group. In other words, some, one family might
only have about ten cows. And that did create quite a problem, because
one man might want to sell a calf, well, he'd have to go out and run all
the other people's cattle into a pen in order to segregate his one calf
to take to the market. And it really created turmoil. Within recent years,
a lot of the small cattle owners have gotten completely out of the business
and today those that do own cattle, usually have relatively large num-
bers. And the last figure that I saw, on both reservations, on Brighton
and Big Cypress, the Seminoles had in excess of seven thousand cows.
Suppisingly or not, the calves produced on these reservations have en-
joyed quite a reputation at least during the last fifteen to twenty years.
They've been sought after by a number of order buyers to be shipped out
to other states or to be placed in feed lots. So they do, the Seminoles
do have very high quality cattle.
K: What was the nature of the problem that you went down there to discuss
with Mr. Mastiope in 1952-53?
P: Well, it's more or less just an extension activity, really. We go into
a lot of counties certain seasons of the year and we, the county agricul-
tural agent will invite the cattlemen in that particular county to come
in and, maybe they'll have one or two specialists there to talk to them.
K: What sort of advice did you give?
P: During that first time that I went down, they were just beginning to es-
tablish improved pastures on the Big Cypress reservation. Suprisingly
or not, to get their pastures the way that they should be and get them
into production, the Indians had been very lucky, because they leased
their land to vegetable producers. And in the contract that they had with
the producers, when they left they had to put the area they had farmed into
improved pasture. Usually either Pango or Bahia. And another way in
which they were lucky, is that the vegetable growers put in irrigation, and
therefore the Seminoles, they inherited that, too. So, really, as far as
improved pasture is concerned on the Big Cypress reservation, they had
considerably more improved pasture than they did on Brighton, even though
the cattle had been on Brighton for quite a number of years before the
Indians on Big Cypress got into the cattle business.
K: The quality of cattle at Brighton now is better or-?
P: Oh, yes, it's much improved. And also, they have some very high quality
on the Big Cypress reservation as well.
K: Are there any cattle raised either in Hollywood or on the Taimiami Trail?
P: No. Not to my knowledge. They might have a few cattle at Hollywood, but
if they do, it's a very, very small number.
K: Alright, after this meeting in 1952 or 1953, what was the next contact
that you had with the Seminoles?
P: Well, it's pretty hard to recall, because I've been down to both reserva-
tions, both Big Cypress and Brighton, on a number of different occasions,
and a lot of times I'd just go down to4work a summer for the Bureau of
K: In those Indian meetings you had in the 1950's, can you remember the names
of the most prominent cattle owners of the Seminoles with whom you had to
P: Well, one I distinctly remember and he's very active today, is Bill Osceola.
K: He's at Big Cypress, isn't he?
P: Right. He's a very smart person, and he's very energetic and he's accumulated
quite a sizeable number of cattle. In addition, he's a'very good businessman.
K: Can you name some other cattle owners from Big Cypress?
P: It's pretty hard to recall right now, I can visualize them, but coming by
the name is pretty hard to do right now.
K: What about Brighton?
P: Well, one of the younger Indians with whom I have been associated with-
Stanlow Johns. There again, he's a very smart young man and he is the
assistant cattle manager in both, on both reservations.
K: What's the size of his personal herd?
P: That I do not know, but I would say several hundred cattle, anyway.
K: Do you have any idea of what the largest herd might be?
P: I would ;ay probably between three and four hundred.
K: And who owns that?
P: Bill Osceola, I would imagine would probably have the largest holding
among the Seminoles.
K: About how many cattle-owning families are there?
P: That would be pretty hard to say. Personally, I wouldn't like to commit/-
myself on it.
K: Okay. Did you ever meet Frank Shore?
P: Yes, I know Frank Shore. He's a medicine man at Brighton reservation. I've
known Frank for many, many years. In fact, the first time that I ever met
Frank was on the, a friend of mine who operates a ranch at Clewiston. And
Frank and a group of Indians were having to work his cattle. And, it's
common practice in that particular area of the state. Atot of the ranchers
like to use the Indians as cowboys, due to the fact that they're quiet, and
they don't make a lot of noise and they're very adept at handling cattle.
K: Some people who live, some white people who live in the area of Brighton,
as is their wont, have criticized some of the things that the Seminoles do.
Now, of course, many of the whites who live around Seminole reservations
Page 7 sjm
down there, are probably unjustifiably jealous of the Seminole cattle
herds, so some of the things they say don't necessarily have any truth
to them, they're just bitter about the whole deal: the fact that the
Seminoles have cattle that are better than theirs, and seem to have
better economic circumstances than they do. Any way, they have offered
the criticism that the Seminoles, although they can handle horses well,
and are very adept at handling cattle, are inclined to do too much of it.
Now, I've been told that they run cattle all over the woods, that they
do it just for the fun of it and as a result, some of the herds are leaner
than they ought to be, and that the beef isn't as good as it should be.
Is there any truth to that?
P: Well, that might have been, back many years ago, when as I mentioned a
few moments ago, that the large number of small owners that owned such
a few number of cattle. Well, today, that doesn't hold true at all. The
Seminole, 5J ..'.. -'cattle are well managed and like I said a few moments
ago, they have extremely high quality cattle. If they weren't of high
quality, why the feeder cattle buyers certainly wouldn't be interested in
K: I know that the first cattle that came in, were of very poor quality, and
a great number of them died between the railhead at Fort Basinger and the
passengers at Okeechobee. Can you tell me how they progressed from such
a sorry state to the present fine quality of cattle that the Seminoles
own? Can you give me a detailed-?
P: Well, a lot of those cattle when they were half-dead, I imagine when they /'- .- L
put them on the train in New Mexico. And naturally, that'd be quite a trip,
Page & sjm
and then, with probably very little feed, if any, and very little water,
and naturally you'd expect a rather high mortality. And when those cattle
were ,. ':'; -' here in Florida. But, the quality of the Seminole cattle,
it's certainly improved over the years, and vegetable farmers have begun
to move in on the Brighton reservation, and there again, they're getting
in a tremendous acreage of improved pasture. Also, there they put in their
irrigation systems and that not only enabled the Indians to grow grass,
but also, they can grow a combination of grass and clover, which is ex-
K: It's my understanding that they started off by crossing the cattle that
they'd gotten in from New Mexico with native Florida range cattle and with
P: That's right.
K: Or both.
K: How did they progress from there as far as breeding goes, to breed them up
to the current standards?
P: Well, for about ten years, the University of Florida has had a project on
the Brighton reservation where they selected a top group of those Hereford
type cattlefrom the Indians and they have been raising their own bulls for
about ten years and the bulls that they do use in their herds at the present
time are a very highly select group. And not only have the Indians been
producing their own bulls, it's my understanding that they have let some
of the local cattlemen purchase some of their bulls out of this particular
Page 9 sjm
K: So they're trying to breed them up to Herefords, all Herefords?
P: Not necessarily. They also use some Brahman bulls.
K: Still Brahman. Now, what would be the reason for that?
P: Well, in Florida, our best cows, in commercial herds, usually either
half-Brahman and half-Hereford or half-Brahman and half-Angus. Then
they usually come in with maybe a third breed or one of the original
parent breeds, either Angus or Hereford, and cross on those half-bred
cows. Some Brahman breeding is extremely desirable in our commercial
cattle herds here in Florida, because of their heat tolerance and also
because insects do not bother Brahman cattle nearly as bad as they do
some of the other cattle.
K: Now, Big Cypress and Brighton are very far apart, they're about eighty
miles apart, I believe, and they're also geographically very different
from one another. Do those circumstances require different types of
cattle on each reservation?
P: Well, surprisingly or not, on the Big Cypress reservation, they started
out using primarily Angus bulls. And a lot of the cattle there are
black in color, although they still use some Brahman bulls in order to
get those fresh-crossed heifers to add back to their herds.
K: Well, who was responsible for that decision, to go with Angus rather than
P: Well, the Indians themselves decided. I'm sure Mr. Fred Masiope had quite
an influence as far as the final decision was concerned.
K: And it worked out alright?
P: It worked out very satisfactorily, yes.
Page 10 sjm
K; And which herd do you think is better now?
P: Well, I'd say they're of comparable quality, on each reservation. Now,
although there may somewhat different breeding. I think Herefords pre-
dominate on the Brighton reservation, whereas your Angus breeding would
predominate on the Big Cypress reservation.
K: Do you know whether or not the cattle owners, the chief cattle owners
were Christian, or traditional Indians?
P: I think they're more or less Christian, really.
K: Most of them are Baptists.
K: Do you know of any non-Baptists who own cattle?
P: No, I never did pursue their individual activities that far.
K: This whole cattle program is kind of a bone of contention among the
Indians themselves and has been for a long time. But the feeling oinmny
of them is that the cattle are grazed at the expense of the entire tribe,
while they benefit only small numbers of people within the tribe. The
idea behind this is that grazing fees are entirely too low. Could you
comment on that?
P: Yes, I can remember the time that they, if they had a grazing fee, it was
practically nothing. But then, Mr. Masiope found out that the Indians
were keeping a lot of cows that maybe calved every other year, or once every
three years. And they were just consuming large quantities of grass with
no production. So they did up the grazing fees. I think maybe got ten
dollars per cow per year, as best I remember.
K: And when was that?
Page 11 sjm
P: That was done at least twelve or thirteen years ago.
K: I see.
P: And, a lot of the inefficient ones, they just had to get out of the business.
And the ones that you, that are in the business at the present time, as.
I saidt.s4~cally those cattle are well managed and they have a very high
reproductive rate, which is the first requisite as far as the cattle busi-
ness is concerned.
K: How have they done as far as cattle sales go? Has it been profitable for
.P: Yes, it's been extremely profitable for them. It gives them a supplemen-
tary source of income. As I mentioned, just a few moments ago, a lot of
the Indians hire themselves out as cowboys, or at least during certain
seasons of the year.
K: Are there any communal activities that are centered around the cattle
P: Well, I've always noticed when they were working the cattleAmost of the
Indians, they pitch in and help, they oftentimes assist each other. I
have been around when they have a round-up, and the ladies would come in and
prepare a lunch for the men that were working. Surprisingly or not, they
like, they're very fond of sweet drinks for some reason, such as orange
drinks and what have you. And they do consume large quantities of those
when they're working cattle.
K: Do they employ any non-cattle owners? Or, do Seminoles work for one another?
P: I'm sure that they do, but you mentioned a few moments ago about Indians
not getting along with, among themselves. I've always been told, that maybe
Page 12 sjm
we think that politics are pretty vicious, with what we have to deal with,
but I've always been told that you don't know anything about politics
until you get interested in Indian politics
K: I think there's some truth to that.
P: And they say that they're pretty rough.
K: Yeah, they are. There's no doubt about it. Can you tell me some of the
problems as far as disease and pests and so on that the cattle program has
faced. Some that might be peculiar to that area, rather than to other
parts of Florida.
P: Well, I think their problems there are probably the same as everywhere
in the state. Diseases and parasites,.they usually go along with very,
very poor management. If cattle are well-managed, they have an abundant
supply of feed, why your disease problem, and your parasite problem is
going to be cut to an absolute minimum. And naturally, today they have
hired a very competent and capable manager for their cattle on both reser-
vations, and as we mentioned a few moments ago, Stanilow Johns, he is the
assistant cattle manager on both reservations, and therefore they have
planned out a very good herd help program. And they vaccinate the calves
when they should be, they treat them for internal parasites and also liver
flukes when they should be. So, as far as disease problems and parasite
problems, I think they're probably at an absolute minimum on either reservation.
K: In 1954, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Baptist Church and a number
of other white organizations, tried to get the Seminole tribe to organize.
And in this they succeeded. They finally got the Seminoles to draft a con-
stitution and a charter and to ratify both of these in 1957. Of course,
Page 13 sjm
prior to that, there was no such thing as a formal tribal organization
to run the affairs of the tribe. In your experience, did you see any
change in the administration of the cattle program after the Seminoles
began running their own affairs?
P: Yes, I think it definitely improved. I think one of the greatest de-
terrents to progress as far as the Seminole Indiansjhad to face has been
the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
K: Can you go into some detail in that please?
P: Well, they brought in a lot of specialists, they did. They had engineers,
and every other type specialist you could think of. And a lot of times,
they wouldn't consult the Indians as to what they were doing, they just
went ahead and did what they thought was right, when actually the land
and what have you, was supposed to belong to the Indians. And I'm sure
that they have cut their staff considerably by this time as far as,I:mean
that is, the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Now, at one time, one of the
most progressive men in the Bureau of Indian Affairs that I have ever en-
countered was a SiouxIndian that was employed by the Bureau-
K: Was that Rex Quinn you're talking about?
P: Right. And they brought him as in charge as far as Bureau of Indian Affairs
is concerned. He's a very progressive man, and he really is responsible
for getting a lot of the Indians out on their own, rathermaybe expecting a
dole out from the Bureau.
K: Just exactly what did he do?
P: Well, he started quite a number of projects. Making souvenirs, for one thing
and I believe on Brighton reservation he started a little factory there
Page 14 sjm
where they made duplicates of Seminole clothing and sold them to
tourists and anyone else who desired to buy them. In other words, I
think he created a lot of enthusiasm among the Indians to more or less
just get on their own and get up and get to work, really. To me, I
admired Mr. Quinn very highly. He's a very capable, competent person,
although I think politics eventually caught up with him, too.
K: You're quite right about that.
K: After Quinn, what happened with the cattle program?
P: It continued to progress. When they organized, why, and Mr. Masiope worked
with them for a number of years. And really the Indians held Mr. Masiope
in very high esteem. He's one of the few white people that could work
with them and actually get things accomplished. He was a very capable, com-
petent man to begin with.
K: Now, there's been some, well, there's been a great deal of discussion about
the way the pasture is allocated to various cattle owners. The Indians
themselves are not at all satisfied with the system of allocation, and yet
it's the system that they have apparently developed themselves.
P: Developed themselves, that's right.
K: Could you comment on that? Tell me how that system works and why they would
be dissatisfied with it.
P: Really, I'm not as familiar with that as I should be. But they gave, they
allocate the pasture according to the number ofpcattle that a man owned, and
like I said, maybe a man had ten head, he'd go out and run the other three
hundred in the pasture a half a day just to get one calf out. And a lot of
Page 15 sjm
the smaller ones got out of the business, and I'm sure that was one
reason maybe they were ,are dissatisfied, because they just made them
K: Well, I've heard talk about how there's a rotation system and how certain
cattle owners will get better pasture land and others will not, even
thought it's supposed to be entirely impartial.
P: Well, I think it's impartial. I think perhaps it's just jealousiamong
the tribal members.
K: Okay. Have the Meaeay Indians, those who live on the Taimiami Trail,
ever tried to start a cattle program?
P: To my knowledge, no. In fact, I've had very little contact with the M~ea-"
soukys, although I think Bill Osceola is a fieasky.
K: Well, he's a ea ky speaker from Big Cypress-
P: Right, right.
K: 'You see, there are two tribal organizations, and the ones along the Taimiami
Trail are a separate tribe, separate governmental structure.
P: Right. But I've never worked with those Indians at all.
K: You know if any of them have ever applied to graze cattle up at Big
P: To my knowledge, no.
K: What about Indians who live off of the reservations? Are they allowed to
graze cattle on the reservations?
P: That I don't know, I'll be frank with you.
K: Other Indian reservations in the United States have been plagued by poachers
and by cattle rustlers. Have there been any instances of theft of cattle or
other livestock on Seminole reservations?
P: To my knowledge, no. I think if they have, if poachers have been bothering
them, it's been held to an absolute minimum. Because I don't think that
poachers or cattle thieves have bothered the Indians to any great extent.
It would be almost impossible, at least on Big Cypress, anyway, because
there's only one road in and one road out.
K: Yeah, right.
P: So therefore it'd be quite a problem for a poacher. However, in Brighton,
I mean most anybody is eligible to ride the highways that goes through the
reservation. It could be possible that they have lost some there.
K: To the south of Big Cypress, rather, not on the approach road coming in
from the north there, where, I guess most of the pasture is on the north
end, isn't it?
P: Well, there's south too, they have quite a bit.
K: I was going to ask you about that. The part to the south is often flooded,
I've seen cattle out there grazing in water knee deep. What is the reason
behind that? Why do they-?
P: Probably due to poor drainage. Maybe not, canals haven't been established
or a good drainage system hasn't been in place. Where most of the cattle
run is where the vegetable farmers have been, and that land is extremely well
drained. And where you have water, you can do most anything with the
pasture. You can either pump in or pump out. And therefore they can main-
tain very lush pastures throughout most of the year.
K: Well, they own an enormous tract of grassland out to the southeast. Now most
of it, of course, is Everglades, it's under water. But they do have the
wherewithal to pump that dry. Is there any plan to do that?
Page 17 sjm
P: Yes, I'm sure the federal, their long range plan is to eventually place
most of that area in improved pasture.
K: What sort of relationship does the BIA now have to the Seminole cattle
program? Are they involved in any way?
P: It's very, very limited, if any at all. I haven't been in contact with
any of the Bureau of Indian Affairs personnel in I guess, ten years, but
to my knowledge, they have very little to do with the cattle program any-
more. The Seminoles have themselves hired their own cattle managers.
K: Now you've already given me your opinion of Stanilow Johns, you very much
respect him. Do you know what his background is and where he got his
P: No, I do not. I think that, and whether he went to school in Oklahoma
I couldn't say, or not. I knew quite a number of the better educated
Seminoles have gone to school in Oklahoma to an Indian school there. But
Stanilow's background,\I never have gone into it in any depth. I've talked
with him on a number of occasions, and he's a very smart person, I can, it
doesn't take you long to learn that he is.
P: Just by talking with him.
K: Now what's Tommy Mann's background? First, I guess you better state what
Tommy's title is.
P: Well, Tommy Mann is the cattle manager for the Seminoles. He is a south
Florida young man. His father'~s worked for the U.S. Sugar Corporation for
many years. Tommy is a graduate of Texas A&M. And after completed, received
Page 18 sjm
his degree from A & M, the Seminole tribes hired him as their cattle
K: How long ago was that?
P: That's been, I would say, probably six years, maybe seven.
K: So he'succeeded Fred Masiope?
P: He succeeded Fred Masiope, yes.
K: Now, in that case, I suppose, it's safe to say that the Seminoles have
never had a Seminole cattle manager.
P: .They never have had a Seminole cattle manager, although Stanilow Johns is
the assistant cattle manager. I think Stanilow applied for the position,
becausee I wrote a letter for him, recommending that he did receive the job.
K: Now the tribe itself decided not to appoint him manager?
P: I'm sure they did, or at least their committee, anyway, their cattle com-
K: Are there any other Seminoles who are getting involved in cattle manage-
P: They, I mentioned the bull project just a few minutes ago, and they do have
several young men that have been working with that particular project.
K: Now can you give me their names?
P: I can't think of them right off hand. One of them has a gold star right in
one of his front teeth. I can't think of his name, but, they're young men,
and they've been with that project since it started, really.
K: Let's get off the cattle for a moment. I'd like to ask you some just general
questions concerning your impressions of the Seminole people. Tell me about
the women. Now you've had a lot of contact with the men.
Page 19 sjm
P: Well, I've had very little contact with the women. Mr. Quinn was in
charge of the, representing the Bureau of Indian Affairs. I distinctly
remember one day that we went down to Big Cypress reservation and were
looking around for cattle. We went over to, they just built a large
number of new homes, and selling them to the Seminoles. And we went over
to one of their homes during lunch hour and his wife had prepared a very
excellent meal. Fried chicken and all of the things that go along with
a meal of that kind. It was very excellent, very good. But my association
with the women in the tribe has been extremely limited.
K: Have you ever heard anything to the effect that the women own the cattle?
K: Do the women vote when it comes time to vote on problems concerning the
P: If they own cattle, I'm sure that they could vote. But-
K: But you don't know anything about meeting Board of Trustees, or the Trustees-
P: No. Right. I always tried to stay away from those tribal meetings. They
last all night a lot of times, apparently, or way in the wee hours of the
morning, and I had nothing to do with it to begin with, so I've always managed
to stay away from those.
K: Yeah. How long has it been since the Seminoles lived in chickees?
P: Up until very recent years. Last September I rode through Brighton reserva-
tion and I noticed a lot of chickees that I can well remember when they
were used that are deteriorating and falling down. They built a tremendous
number of new homes on Brighton, and I think perhaps;on Big Cypress, you
Page 20 sjm
you could probably find some Indians living in chickees at the present
K: Were you ever a guest in a chickee or a (fip ?
P: Oh, I just stopped by with Mr. Mastiope when he would talk with some of
the, maybe a sick, a person that was sick or something like that. That's
the only time that, course I've been, looked in a lot of them many times.
There was an Indian on Big Cypress reservation. It was a --. _Wf_-_
I forget his name. He, he's been dead for a number of years. He had, he
lost one leg and everytime that I went down with Mr. Mastiope, he always
made a point to stop by and chat with him for a while. Now he's a rather
elderly gentleman, he's up in his nineties when he died.
K: When you went to these various camps, did you notice what they did with
the equipment that they had that was necessary for running cattle? Did
they have a separate chickee in which they stored it? How was it maintained?
P: Well, I never did notice that at all. The Indians maintain their equipment
quite well, I think, as far as working their cattle, and things of that
nature. They certainly maintain their fences and what have you, as good
or better maybe, than a lot of outside cattlemen.
K: What sort of regard did they have for wildlife?
P: Well, they were eligible to hunt, I think, at any time of year. During the
summer months, I've heard them shoot shotguns and maybe shoot birds, and things
of that kind. Crows, primarily, I think, that they were shooting.
K: Ever talk to Seminoles about snakes?
P: No, never have.
K; I ask you that only because I think they're a bit reluctant to kill a snake.
Page 21 sjm
P: Is that right?
K: A little different from the ordinary white cowboy.
P: Uh huh.
K: Do they themselves eat a lot of beef?
P: Yes. I know on several occasions I've received an invitation to go down
to the reservation when they would have a meeting or on certain holidays,
the Indians themselves would put on a rather sizeable barbeque. And they
eat beef, sure.
K: And do they, I mean, do they depend on their own herds for a lot of their
P: Yeah, that's right. To get a, to have a barbeque, they get on horses and
run hell out of a steer all that Friday afternoon, then knock him in the
head and barbeque him Friday night. That's right.
K: Are there any plans, well, this may seem like a strange question to you, but
I'm pretty ignorant of agriculture and of cattle raising in general. I've
long wondered why there aren't more feedlots in this state. I'm wondering
if the Seminoles have any plans to develop their own feedlot.
P: Well, one of the principal reasons that we do not many feedlots in Florida,
is due to the fact that we do not have any feed storage. Including our
commercial feedmills and what have you, we only, at any one time, I think
we only have about a week's supply of feedstuff for our livestock on hand.
We ship out a tremendous number of calves in this state every year to send
to Georgia; a lot of them go to Texas, Oklahoma, a lot of Florida calves
end up in California.
K: Is, is it because of the climate that we don't have feed storage, or what?
Page 22 sjm
P: Well, they usually ship those calves out and then the second party will
get them and graze them during the winter, primarily on wheat. And then
in turn, they'll sell them to another fellow who'll probably put them
in the feedlot. But the way the cattle prices have been in the last
four to five years, it just isn't economically feasible for about three
or four people to have their hands in one, handled about four different
times before they get to desirable slaughter weight. We do have some
feedlots in Florida, there's about a quarter of a million cattle that are
fed out in this state every year.
P: At one time, the cattle feeding business in Florida was centered around
Quincy where they grew the shade tobacco. And they, really the feeding
the cattle was secondary because they fed the cattle to get the manure to
put on the shade tobacco.
K: Well, that's clever.
K: Yeah. Before we end the interview, are there any, is there anything at all
you would like to add to this, any comments you'd care to make?
P: Well, I'll give you a little run-down on the cattle business in Florida, I
K: Fine, I'd like to hear that.
P: Florida ranks sixteenth among the fifty states as far as cattle numbers are
concerned. In the last census, the last report, which was January 17, 1977,
there was about two million, eight hundred and ten thousand cattle in Florida.
Page 23 sjm
And about four hundred thousand of those are dairy cattle. So that would
give, Florida would have approximately two million, four hundred thousand
head of beef cattle. And Florida is primarily what we refer to as a cow-
K: What's that mean?
P: Well, they sell the calves at weaning time, let other people have them.
Very few owners in Florida maintain control of their calves from birth
all the way to, through the feedlot.
K: Is it not economically feasible?
P: Well, sometimes, cattle feeding during the last three or four years, hasn't
been too lucrative, I'll be frank with you. There's been a tremendous sum
of money lost and these people have fed cattle. And even though cattle
prices have improved a little within the last year, year and a half with
everything else that the cattleman has to use, why it's increased in price
also. The cattle business, beef cattle business has always been rather low margin
business, as far as profit is concerned. Not a get rich quick business at
all. The cattlemen have been able to hold on to their land, which has
appreciated considerably within the last twenty years.
K: Why do you think so many, so many Floridians remain in the cattle business?
P: Well, it's a, it's a way of life, to some extent. And, like I say, they hang
onto their land, they've been doing quite well as far as land appreciation
is concerned. You can usually borrow money on land about any time you want to.
Cattle too, if you, if the banker is in a cattle producing area.
K: Okay, well, thank you very much for this interview.
P: Sure. Nice talking with you.
K: Appreciate it. I learned a lot.