K: Our panel this afternoon are five really distinguished members of the Seminole
Tribe of Florida. Let me introduce them to you: Laura Mae Osceola, you have
heard her referred to earlier in the day. She is very shy and retiring. When she
appeared in the House and subcommittees in the 1950s, I think the
congressmen were permanently scared by her appearance. She served as the
Tribal secretary/treasurer for ten years, a real pioneer. Next to her is Betty Mae
Jumper, you may have also heard some of her exploits recounted. She is one of
the first high school graduates in the Tribe, certainly one of the first elected to
office. She is the first and, to this point, only woman elected chairman of the
Seminole Tribe of Florida. Carol Cypress, whom you saw on the tape at the end
of the first session, has held a variety of offices within the Tribe. She will be
talking about her various commitments. She is now involved with Tribal housing.
Priscilla Sayen is the current secretary/treasurer of the Tribe and has been since
1979. She can offer some really valuable insights into how the Tribe is
functioning today, the politics, the economics and the issues and the problems.
Rosie Billie, who was also a member of the Tribal Council. We were chatting
about this at lunch, in the early years of the Tribal's existence women seemed to
be selected for leadership positions and asked to accept the challenges to meet
the crisis and then in the last few years there seems to be a dying down of this.
These are some of the issues that we would like to get into.
I think that I am going to start this off by asking a couple of questions of my own and
letting the members of the panel respond to them. I am sure that will lead to a free
I would like to start with Laura Mae. What I would like you to speak to is, when
you think back to the 1950s, when there was this threat of termination and you
and the others went to Washington, first of all why were you selected? Why do
you think that you were the one chosen to speak for the group? Something that I
have never asked you, and I have never seen it written down, even though they
depended upon you, how did the men treat you, really?
0: I do not know why they selected me, but I have always been involved in
something, even when I was twelve, thirteen years old. With the elders, I sat and
listened to them when they discussed their problems about the tribe or own
family growing. They have always talked and I would sit there and listen from
the side. So, I know what the problems [were] that they were having. Like this
lady brought out about purchasing the cattle from the government when they
divided. I remember, because my step-father was from Brighton and he was a
cattleman. He knew about raising cattle. He worked with the ranchers for a long
time. So when he would talk about the cattle, I listened to him and he would
discuss it with the elders. I listened, my ears were always open. It seems like
every time something had to be done, I was there to either listen and do it, what
they asked me to do. So they got used to me. I grew up with the elders. I spoke
a little bit of English at that time, and they depended on me to be an interpreter
among them. I remember I was sixteen years old when we moved to Big
Cypress. The government gave cattle to Brighton first, and he, my step-father,
worked there for a while, then the government gave cattle to the Big Cypress
Reservation. So he followed over there. When they formed the cattle
association there, they selected me as interpreter and secretary-treasurer. That
is how I exercised my brain to remember. When they said something, like you
said, I am not bashful, I would get up and say, this is what you all said. That
[helped] me to remember things, and then they got me to be an interpreter.
Then I got involved with Christianity, Southern Baptists had started Christian
churches. I got used to getting in front of the church talking and teaching my
elders their bible verses. I was involved in things like that, and they were used
to me, and to this day I look up to my elders and I listen to them. I am still
learning and I am sixty years old. As I go along, this is why. If my uncle is riding
with me and we see something as we ride along, from what I read in the
newspapers, even to this day I say, you know what is going on over there, and
he would ask me and I would say, this is what is happening. Or if I would read
the newspaper, I know my Uncle Brownie, he passed away a few years ago, I
would say, this is what it says on this newspaper. This is what made me become
interested in what the tribe was doing or how my elders were in my family. I
know where I come from, from my family tree.
They said that this lady, when they were taking their people in Tampa Bay and
shipping them off to Oklahoma, there were three ladies picking berries and my
great, great grandmother was out there. She was left alone with the other ladies
and the soldiers came. The other two ladies left, but she was left alone. Most of
my kin folks left for Oklahoma. There was one lady that was left, and she walked
from there to join the others that were hiding in the Everglades. The
determination to survive. She was a fighter. So my family tree has always been
fighters. When some of my kin folks are not assertive, I get after them. You can
listen to a man talk and talk and talk, but I always know that it takes a woman to
do things. This is how I grew up in my family.
I learned from my uncles, I helped them and then they taught me lots of things.
One of my uncles, he is the youngest of my Grandmother Annie Mae, Seminole
Annie they called her, and she is going to be honored tomorrow afternoon in the
Museum in Fort Lauderdale. She lived in Fort Lauderdale, her son was the first
that went away to school. He went to Carlisle Indian School with Jim Thorpe, the
great American football player. He went there and then they found out that he
had TB, so they sent him to Shawnee, Oklahoma, to the hospital. After that he
came back. My family tree has always [sought] to better themselves. That is
why he went away to get an education. This is why I am always talking about
education. My great grandmother was the only one that was left when they were
removing them, so I know that we have to keep our tree growing.
My son, Max, graduated. He was about three years old when I appeared before
the committee in Washington, and I said I want him, Max, to grow up to be a
leader. So he is a leader today. He is a leader of the Hollywood Reservation,
he is a councilman. My other adopted son, they knew that I wanted to educate
the leaders after we appeared in Washington, so there was this young orphan
boy who was half white. They did not like half-breeds in those days. He was
born in 1945, he was a war baby. He came out of that Foreman Field at the
Naval Air Station. We never found out who his father was, even though he tried
to find out. He was living in my house, and I educated him too and sent him
away to school. He went away to Vietnam and came back. Today he is the
Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman, James Billie. So to survive among the
white peoples, I feel that the only thing that we can depend on is education to
get along with people. Some Indians say, you took the land away from us, you
did this, you did that. I don't believe in that. Everybody knows that you took the
land away from us [laughter], so why should we keep going on and harping on
that. I taught my sons to take the good out of the white man's way and the good
out of the Indian's way, put it together and you rule your people the way that you
think that they should be ruled or help them out.
This was my feeling working with the elders. To this day, I love senior citizens. I
go with them where they want to go. I listen to them today, they teach me
everyday. This is me. I am Laura Osceola and I am sixty years old. I enjoy
people, I love people, and I have compassion for everybody. It doesn't make
any difference if they are white, black, or Indians. They are all the same to me.
This is how I taught my sons to be. This is why they picked me, because if you
can tell somebody your problems face to face instead of gossiping about it, you
[can] get across to people. I am glad that Dr. Kersey invited us here so that I can
meet you and exchange cultures. That way I will know more about you and you
will know more about me and my people. I think that is probably the reason that
I can get across to people, even in my broken English I can make my point
known without getting somebody mad. That is probably one of the reasons.
K: What you need are firmer convictions. Betty Mae, I would like to ask you to
share with us. I know that your mother was a great influence in your life when
she brought you and your brother down from the Indian Town area and that your
pursuit of education is sort of a legend. Did you feel the same way, that there
was a strong influence from your mother to go get an education, or how did it
work that you wound up at Cherokee?
J: I came down from a line of Indian doctors. My great uncles and grandfathers
were all Indian doctors. My mother was an Indian doctor and she traveled.
Wherever the Indians called her she always went and doctored. She was a mid-
wife delivering the babies. I used to follow her around. My grandmother is a full
blooded Miccosukee on this side, and my grandfather was a full blooded Creek
on this side. So between Creek and Miccosukee, I was raised with both
languages. My grandmother talked Miccosukee all the time, and my great
uncles and my mother's father's family talked Creek. So I learned how to talk
Miccosukee and Creek. I can understand anybody that talks to me. [laughter]
Even if they are fussing at me I know what they are saying. I used to follow my
mother when she was doctoring these Indians. I was about twelve or thirteen
years old when she helped deliver babies in Hollywood, and one got choked.
She didn't know what to do, she just patted her on the back, but finally it died.
Young as I was, I thought, there must be a way to un-choke that baby so it won't
die. It was very much alive when it was born. But she didn't know how to get
that mucus out of her throat. So it died on her. After that we were wandering
around. In those days we used to pick beans and tomatoes and all that to
survive, oranges and everything. That is what my folks did.
One day I was talking to my mother and I told her that I would like to go to
school. In the meantime a school bus rode down from Oklahoma and they
picked these Seminoles to go out there and see how they worked the churches.
These were church groups. Laura was about two years old then. Her mother
and a whole bunch of us went up there. While I was up there I met a girl named
Juanita Tiger and we used to talk about school. She would tell me all the things
that she learned at school. She read funny books, and I can't read. I wanted to
read funny books, but I can't read. She said if you go to school you will learn
how to read and write like I do. So when I came back, Mr. Scott was the
superintendent then and I asked him if I could go to school in Dania. He said, no
trouble I will get you in there. I asked my mother and she said all right. My
grandmother, who lived to be 104 years old, was dead against me going to
school. She didn't want me to go to school, her answer was no, you can't go to
school, that is white people's books and their telling. But when Mr. Scott went
to Dania and wanted to put me in there, my cousin, Mary Bowers, decided to go
to school too. They told us that we were Indians and that we could not go to
school there. They wouldn't take us. In Fort Lauderdale, Tony Tommy in early
1980s used to go and play ball with them. That one was against us too, they
won't let us go in because we were Indians. So he said, I just can't get you in
there. Then later on he said, I will try to find a school and send you to school
somewhere else. I forgot about it. One day I was picking beans with my mother
out on a farm, and Mr. Scott came out there and said, do you still want to go to
school. I told him yes, I want to go to school. He told my mother to get me
ready, within two weeks I would go to school in Cherokee or Oklahoma school,
they called him. At that time they had those grade schools. I came back and I
told my cousin Mary, we are going to one of those schools. We decided that we
would go to Cherokee. That is how we could land there. I stayed there eight
and a half years and graduated from high school. In between times I used to
come back and interpret these Indians when they wanted me to do it. I would
come home and work for them and all that.
After I graduated I went to Carlisle Hospital and took nurses training. I came
back because it was my plan to work with my people. We really needed nurses
and doctors on our reservations as well as on the Trail. Lots of people believed
in Indian doctors and all that. They used to get mad at us. When I came back
the government put up so much money and gave us a government car to work,
and a public health nurse came. We used to travel. We had a little house out
there and we had all our medicine there. We would get what we wanted on a
Monday, and then we would go out on the Trail all the way around into Big
Cypress. We could not go out into Big Cypress unless we went out in big trucks
because there were no roads. That is how we got in. Then we would go out and
go to Brighton, then on Friday we would come back in. Every two weeks we did
that. A lot of those [people] couldn't accept doctors and a lot of them didn't want
us to come into their camps, but finally we talked them into it. A lot of the kids
didn't have shoes and would go barefoot and they had a lot of hook worms or
whatever it is. We lost a lot of kids, but we got there on time for a lot of them. In
those days they used to give you some kind of a syrup and they drank it. In
three days you gave them castor oil or something like that and they just hated
that. We would leave that. We would give it to them and then go off. By three
days later their mother give them castor oil and stuff like that. We finally
inoculated a lot of them for measles, whooping cough-a lot of them died with the
whooping cough. We finally stopped that. That was my intention, to bring good
health on the reservations. It was the sick people that were always interesting
because, like I said, my mother and my people were doctors. I wanted to be in
some kind of medicine, to give to the people to get them well and make them
educated in health so they would help themselves. This was what my plan was.
I worked twenty-one years in health. Now today we have beautiful clinics on
reservations. We have doctors that go out on the reservations. It has come a
long way since I came back to the reservation and helped them.
Later on when the tribe became organized I was the vice chief the first time, and
then I became a chairman for four years. I have been working with my tribe
pretty close to forty-two years and I am still working with them. Now I am
working with the paper, I don't work with health any more, I work with the
newspaper. I run a paper for the Tribe. It has been a long hard struggle to get
to where we are now. Today I can sit down and look out and see the most
healthy kids playing out in the streets around where I live. It is wonderful to
have education. If we didn't have education, we wouldn't be where we are
today, and if it wasn't for our older people working hard. We have a lot of
women who work hard on the reservations with education and organizations.
We have a lot good men that work with us too. Today, with the young
generation that is taking footsteps of the older people, today all of you are
invited to the reservation, and you can see what I am talking about. We have
homes, lot of things that we used to wish that we had. Sometimes when I look at
them, I tell my grandchildren, if I lived in your age, there are a lot of jobs out
there. I say, don't be lazy, get your education. Today we are still pushing our
K: Carol, let me throw the next question to you. You are an administrator in a
housing program, you have worked with the education program, they saw you in
the film before the break with the bilingual program, and so forth. As you were
growing up did the example of Betty Mae and Laura Mae influence you in any
C: I have to say that they were the pathfinders for us, they made the paths for us to
go along. What they are talking about, my father had been in tribal government
for twenty-two years before he retired. When they started these two ladies were
there, and other ladies were there, and they were my leaders, the women. I
would have to say that they did influence me a lot.
K: This in essence told you that the women could assume the leadership positions.
I know after you moved back, you had lived in the Washington area a number of
years, did you come back intending on getting involved with tribal government,
or did that just happen?
C: I am not really involved with the politics. I was working in education. I have been
a homemaker, and then when my kids started going to school that is when I got
involved with education. My part is concerning the culture. That is where I have
been. As I have progressed as a woman, learning new things and living off the
reservation for four years, which I had never been off the reservation for that
long, I learned a new experience. When I did come back in 1988, I went to back
to teaching culture. And then I wanted to try a thing, as a woman growing, I
wanted to try a different field. So I went into the health program and trained to
be an outreach worker. Then the housing thing came. That has to do with
business. I have no training at all, but I was asked if I would consider applying
for a job that was held by a non-tribal member. They wanted to encourage tribal
members to get into high positions, and I had to think about it. It took me about
three times of them asking and I said okay. Mostly I didn't consider it because I
did not have any training at all in business, mine was just dealing with people
and dealing with kids. I decided I would take the risk and I did. I have been in
the program for just over a year. I have learned a lot working in that job. I found
out that I am still dealing with people, except I am dealing with grown up people
like kids. So it was good that I did have that training because my job is housing
manager. I deal with a lot people, the tenants, collecting money. That is where I
am right now. That is my own personal taking a risk as a woman just growing.
My upbringing, I was raised and influenced a lot by my aunt and the way that
she taught me I was more a woman to be there for the man. I was there to take
care of his kids and his home, be there whenever he needed, have supper on
the table when he came home and all that. So I did that. But as I got older and
my kids got older, I ventured out more and got more education, I found out that I
did not know myself. That is where I started to learn about myself. Some of
these new jobs that I was offered, it was a risk taking for myself as a woman, as
a person. That is where I am coming from. I will probably take other risks too.
A lot of my growing was, like they were talking about earlier, that a woman's job
was to take care of the kids. That has changed. When I grew up, I grew up in a
village with my grandfather, my aunt lived there, my uncle lived there, and we all
lived there. Now we don't live that way. We live in our own single home, and I
have just one uncle. He is the uncle that lets you do anything you want. He is in
that picture [gesturing to a photograph]. I could never go to him to discipline my
kids. He is a good person. That kind of family structure changed.
Betty was talking about going off to boarding school, that was another situation.
[People about] my age, I am forty-seven, so my age and a little older sent their
kids off to boarding school, because that was the only place you could go. The
relationship you'd have when your kids were gone about nine months then they
came back [changed]. A lot of women today have a hard time dealing with their
kids. I went to boarding school one year and I did not like it. When I got back, I
told my parents don't ever let me go. So I stayed home and my parents dealt
with me. So I feel that I had that opportunity where I was trained to deal with my
own kids. A lot of kids went to boarding school. When you were having trouble
with a kids, send them to the boarding school for nine months. They will be back
for three months, and some parents could not wait until September came so the
kids would go off. There is a lot of family structure change. There were no
uncles or other aunts. When we lived in that camp, if my parents went off to
work, there would be my grandfather, my grandmother, and maybe my uncle
there. They would provide the food and there was shelter there. It is not like
that now, it has changed. I saw a lot of those problems coming up.
We ran into alcoholism, and that really tore up our family. Now my kids are in
their twenties, my youngest is sixteen, they got into drugs, so we have those
problems like over all the United States. We have those problems to deal with.
When Betty was talking about hook worms, I was one of the students. They
showed us pictures, that we needed to wear shoes and all that. So we have
those other kinds of health problems that we have to deal with today. We do
have the facilities, we do have dental services, and mental health programs on
the reservations. We are dealing with it. As a parent and a woman, I wanted to
be involved with the community. I am not really interested in running for
representative or anything like that. My community is important, and I am part of
it. Being in this job, I have seen a lot of things and learned a lot of things. I was
scared of computers, but I am learning. That is a new thing for me, it is learning
as an individual person. I am going to bring Billy in, he is here. When we first
got married, our marriage was that kind of situation where I did the taking care of
the kids, but today, he and I view it differently. We are fifty-fifty now. Since my
older daughter is twenty and we have a sixteen year old at home, he takes her to
the dentist if I cannot make it, before it used to be all my responsibility. He
washes dishes today too, I will tell you. [laughter]
K: To say a word for Billy, he waited till they were old enough.
C: It is different. You have to work and a lot of Seminole women work, and a lot of
us are single parents. So right now Bill and I have a new experience in our
marriage too. I hope that he doesn't mind me saying that. My life is still
changing, I will be taking new risks, new changes in my life. I like it. Someone
asked me earlier if I wear Seminole skirts all the time. I told her that it depends
on the day that I get up how I feel. If I want to wear pants, if I want a long skirt
with the patchwork or whatever, sometimes I wear those tight exercise pants with
over size t-shirts. I walk in and surprise some Seminole ladies, I wear whatever I
feel like and whatever I feel comfortable with. That is how I feel today. One of
the things that Mr. Kersey was talking about, the decline of women in politics, he
talked to me earlier on that. Do you want me to adders that?
K: Sure. Go ahead.
C: I was telling him, as a housing manager there is another step which is executive
director, where I am working, and I would like to apply for that job. Right now we
have a lot of men in our government and it seems like they are looking out for
each other, the men. I was telling him that we women were behind the men,
pushing them, now after some of us women are doing things that we want to do
for ourselves, and I think that frightens them. They really don't want us to do it.
They kind of.gang up on you. They don't want the women there. We are not
showing them up, it is because that is what I want to do, and I am capable of
doing it. I think that frightens some of our Seminole men. It is hard for you to
understand and I have felt that resentment when I speak out, that you shouldn't
be talking like that, that is not the women's place to say that. I think some of our
younger women coming up are going to go ahead and go through and I may not
do it, but there are going to be others, and they are going to have to deal with
that, the men are going to have to deal with that. I think that is where the decline
is. The women that are younger than me and want to get in politics I am right
K: Your turn Priscilla. Priscilla Sayen has what some observers have called the
third most important job in the Seminole Tribe of Florida, behind the elected
tribal chairman and the elected president of the board of directors, the business
branch and the government branch, as secretary-treasurer, the same job that
Laura Mae had. They provide continuity. She is in charge of records, finance,
and the bookkeeping. The tribal counsel members come and go, and
chairpersons come and go, but the secretary-treasurer is almost immortal as
long as they do a good job. Could you tell the people a little bit about your job
and the trust that the tribe has placed in you in this important position?
S: Thank you, Dr. Kersey. It is a pleasure to be here among you today. First of all,
I would like to say that commenting on the previous women's comments, as far
as taking part in politics and taking part in business, and the social life of the
community, as well as our own over all community that we live in, we have come
far in the last ten years that I have been involved with the Seminole Tribe. I
went to work for them in 1979 and my experience in the last ten years, seeing
the tribal growth in the economic field as well as the social field, education, has
been tremendous. I have been very fortunate to have been a part of this
organization since 1979. I went in simultaneously with James E. Billie as he was
elected in 1979. Our previous tribal treasurer, Dorothy Scott Osceola, passed
away in 1979, and they opened that vacancy to the tribal members as well as
out, and I applied and I was fortunate enough to be appointed by the tribal
counsel as well as the board of directors. From that time on I have been
involved. Today, we have over 100 programs funded directly by the tribal
treasury as well as state treasury, county treasuries, and the federal government
treasury. We employ over 400 people, and almost half of that is our tribal
members spread out throughout the federal reservations located throughout the
state of Florida. As far as the economic growth, we have almost 100 fold since
1979 up to the present and we fund almost totally our social expenditures of the
tribe. We have taken on a lot of the funded projects from the counties, such as
the funeral expenses. We fund our own, totally through tribal treasuries, and we
have limited most of the welfare recipients to our local treasuries. We fund
totally, sometimes, our people who are gifted in the education field, the tribal
treasury funds them totally without scholarships. But we do have the opportunity
for scholarships as well. As far the reservations, we have been expanding land
base through our economic means. We have expanded the Immokalee
reservation, which is located in Lee County. We purchased 566 acres and the
previous acres was only a little bit over four acres at that time in 1979. We have
increased that by 566 acres as of present. And we purchased a little over
thirteen acres in Tampa. We purchased another ten acres on the Hollywood
reservation. Our total membership today numbers 2,010, and that changes
every time the tribal counsel meets, every other month. Our membership
changes at that time because we applicants that the tribal counsel reviews and
approves at that time. It changes constantly. If you have any questions, I will be
glad to answer them.
K: Priscilla, I know that there will be 1,000 questions, so we want to get them all in
a group. I want to ask you to comment on one thing. Of course, everyone here
is well aware that the Seminole Tribe is engaged in bingo operations and the tax
exempt at certain levels-cigarette sales. I don't think they realize to what extent
this money has funded these exact programs that you are talking about in lieu of
federal funding, how the tribe has had to pick up the slack.
S: The tribe has been picking up a lot of the slack from the mid-s since
Gramm-Rudman [Senators Phil Gramm and Warren Rudman] enacted the act of
cutting back tribal programs funded by the federal government and some of the
Indian tribes throughout the United States have suffered through that act,
whereas the Seminole Tribe of Florida has kept our programs, largely due to the
cigarette sales and the bingo revenue that the tribe receives. We have
expanded our funds and therefore expanded the programs.
K: A last statement from Rosie down on the end. As a representative from Brighton
Reservation, do you face any particular situation up there that is different from
the Big Cypress and the Hollywood Reservations when you represented your
people up there? Were women looked to more for representation from that
B: Not really, but I will say that there were some women that ran, but they were out
voted I guess. There were some men when I got in, before I got in, I was growing
up where I was born at Brighton Reservation. That was where I was raised and I
knew everybody and I knew what they had done, and what they needed to do. I
knew what needed to be done on the reservation. But we never had it done.
The first school we had was the one that they were talking about, Brighton Day
School. That is where I went in 1940-something. That is where I went to school,
but I never did finish. I got married and had children and then I fall back, like
they said we need the education, so I need education to lead my people, to
represent my people so I could understand a little bit of the English and translate
to my elderly people. My grandparents wasn't living then, after they passed
away, that is when I started getting into politics. Like they were saying, I was in
the Indian tradition. They were teaching me how to take care of my kids and
how to teach my kids because on the mother's side there is the responsibility to
teach your kids. The father was suppose to provide food on the table, take care
of kids and you were suppose to teach your kids. Today it doesn't work that
way. If I was waiting on that, me and the kids would be starving. [laughter] I had
to work and support my kids and my husband at that time. When I was growing
they taught me [this], and I said that after they are gone I will have to change
this. So I went back to school and got my diploma and then I started getting into
The only reason I went back to school was because my aunt had been into
politics and she was telling, I have a lot of certificates, I went to training and all
this, and take this, and they gave me credit for it, and you could get your high
school diploma. Well if you did it, I can do it too. So I went and followed my
aunt, I went to night school and graduated in 1967-1969, that was when Betty
Mae was elected chairman, and I was a representative for my reservation.
When I got in I didn't know what I was getting to. [laughter] After that I said well I
said that I was going to represent you all and I will do the best I know how. I
said whatever they need to have changed, or whenever they ask me, I will bring
it to your community and lets all approve it before I present it again. I said, I
can't do it by myself, you all are the ones that put me in, so I will do what you
say. I said that I am not greedy like the men are, I will do what the community
wants. That is when I went. A lot of Indians were not working and we started
talking about how we needed to bring these programs to the communities or
tribes so they can have jobs. They started talking about Meals on Wheels, and I
thought that they were talking about that they were going to roll down the meal
like they do on the streets. So we went for that, we got that. They were talking
about the catfish project, so I said our people need jobs, so lets go ahead and do
that, and we did that. That didn't work out, we had more outsiders than Indians.
Indians would work a little bit then they were gone. They wanted to hunt all the
time. Well if they want to hunt they can hunt and whatever they can provide in
food for their families, that is fine. We had mostly outside people working for us
in the catfish farm. That didn't go too far. We asked for some different programs
for our tribes. So like she was saying, when I was on tribal counsel there was
close to sixty programs, now they got about 100 programs. I was there back in
1967 and 1969, and then I was back in 1977 and 1979, and then back in 1983 to
1987 again. At that time, we were trying to get jobs. Now we were trying to do
something different for their kids. We built a gymnasium for our community.
There were some kids that started into high school rodeo, that is where my son
is. They participate at the high school for scholarships. We have office
buildings, administrative building, a senior citizens building, and when I was in
there from 1967-1969 we would propose, what would you like to see changed.
We need a fire station, we need a police station, we need a senior citizens
center, we need a clinic.
When I was working at the clinic, I was working for the county health
department. We used to have the county health department come in and take
care of our people. I was working with them as an interpreter. Like Betty Mae
was saying, when she was growing up she had two dialects. That is how I was.
My daddy was Miccosukee speaking and my momma was speaking Creek-
Seminole. I knew both of them, none of them cuss me out, well they don't have
no cuss words anyway, but they can't say something that I don't know. I try to
speak both languages, and I interpret both languages. I have senior citizens,
and some of them act like they don't understand Miccosukee. I even had to
interpret for the Indians, they speak different dialects. I get along with people. I
have been in and out of the tribal counsel and I know how far.... There wasn't
anything. We didn't even have houses when I got in it. I was going to school,
we had a chickee, we didn't have running water, we had to go in the canal to
take a bath. We had to go use the bathroom out in the woods. That is why we
had a lot of hook worms. They said that we should wear shoes, but we couldn't
afford shoes, so didn't have shoes. When I went to school, it was Mr. Boehmer,
the first teacher we had at the school. We would start talking Indian, like we
would here, and he was trying to teach us to speak English. We would start
talking Indian, he would make us stand in the corner. So we couldn't hardly
speak in our language, back then we used to talk Indian all the time. Now my
kids don't even speak Indian, they speak English. They can't understand what I
say, by baby is nineteen years old, I talk to him in Indian and he says, huh? I
say, I thought you were suppose to be Indian. My granddaughter is up there,
and we started talking to her in both languages. They said, don't teach her that,
because she will be saying something I don't understand, and I said, well you
are suppose to be Indian you know. This generation now, I notice that on the
Big Cypress Reservation, those little kids can speak their language. I am proud
of them. But over where I am from, they just speak English all the time. They
act like they don't understand, I have to go in and talk to them.
I used to interpret for doctors, and now I am working with social care for elderly
people and I interpret. I tell them, you are entitled to this, you are entitled to
that, if anybody can get it, you are all entitled to anything if you are on the
reservation or if you are in it. That is what I am working on. Now they have
elections coming up in May, there will be another election and they have started
looking at me, [. .. go through that again]. We got the gymnasium, we got the
office, we got all the jobs, if you want to work you can work, if you don't want to
work, it is your [choice]. We have all these programs that you can qualify, some
different programs that they can work, if they don't want to work, we will have a
community food. They get tired of that because they need fresh food. I say, if
you want a job, it is there, all you have to do is go work. They want some hand-
me-downs, some people do want hand-me-downs. Some of them, I guess they
were raised that way from generation to generation. Then some people try to
work and make a better living for themselves and their kids. But I said we have
all those programs. I hated to travel all by myself over yonder and over there. I
was tired of traveling, I have travel fifty-two states. I only need about six more
states to cover 50 states. I was tired of traveling. I was doing it for my people. I
am glad about what they have now. They asked me to run again in May. I said I
am going to think about it first. [Comment from the audience dealing with the
microphone level.] Some people were asking me if I was going to run again, and
I said I am going to think about it first before I start getting into it. All you need is
ten registered voters from your reservations to put you on the ballot. If you were
going to run for chief you have to all three reservation, you have to have thirty
names on your ballot so you can run for chief. I don't have a problem getting ten
names, I wag just thinking about what was in the past that I have done, the
struggling, the people knocking on the door I don't care what time of day or night
or even on weekends. So now there are representatives that leave town on
Friday and don't come back until Monday morning. I wasn't like that, I told them
I wasn't like that. I said I was here for you all. I said the men can take off, but
the women can be hanging around here. The fire is their fire, like they were
saying on the picture. You can't leave, you have to be there, you have to come
home. I said that any way that I can help you, if I could, I will, and I will try. I told
them that. I don't promise to do this and that, I said, I will see what I can do. I
said that I had heard this before, a white person has got a forked tongue. and
Indian people have one tongue. White people have forked tongues, they tell you
to go do this, and before you finish that they tell you to go do something else.
The Indian wants to stick with it until that job is done. That is the way that I was
taught. Before I finish I wanted to say this, it's kind of funny. It's a joke. Indian
men got a short neck, and white people got a long neck, and the reason why,
they used to tell me, is that an Indian would try to duck down behind the bushes
while the soldiers tried to look over the bushes to get the Indians. That is why
Indians got short necks.
[Transcriber Note: Dr. Kersey opens up the floor for questions. Q is for question,
note that these are blank because I cannot hear the person in the audience asking the
questions. The A is for the answer if I could not determine who was answering the
question. This was not easy to do because several of the panelist are hard to
distinguish the differences in their voices, so you need to look at the video and figure
out who is answering, then change the A to the correct persons' initial. Thanks.]
K: I think I will open the floor up to questions. I am sure that some of you have
questions for the panelists.
Q: [ Question about conflicts between Christianity and tribal beliefs, such as those
dealing with the earth.]
J: No, it doesn't. Back in the 1920s, before I was born, there were Christian people
from Oklahoma who started coming back and teaching these Indians about God
and how Jesus came down on earth and died on the cross for us. Willie King,
there were some more before him, but he came here before I was born, and he
was here until I went off to nurse's school. I took him back to the hospital in
Oklahoma and he died. He had been with us for a great many years. He never
pushed anybody into being Christian. He was always telling us that there is
God. He came back to tell us that there is God, that they learned that there is
God, and you can find Jesus if you want to. He never pushed any Indians
around. He used to tell me, when I was a little girl, there is Jesus in heaven and
he came down and died for us on a cross to pay for our sins. So, if you believe
on him, and when you die you will go to heaven. That is what he used to tell us.
He used to teach us Indian Creek hymns. That is where I learned about how
Christianity came to the reservation back from Oklahoma. The Creek Indians
brought it back. Willie King never interfered with the Green Corn Dance that
they called. The Indians, a long time ago, they used to believe in this great
spirit, and every year they would have a Green Corn Dance and worship the
great spirit and thank the great spirit that they had a good year. That is why they
have it once a year. It used to be strong. Today, it doesn't seem to be any
more, but they still have it. A long time ago, they were really believing in that.
They used to thank the great spirit and they used to dance and praise the great
spirit. Today it is just regular dance that they do. A lot of older people have died
away that used to run it. It didn't interfere when I was growing up because we
learned the difference between Indian culture and Christianity. Maybe Laura
can tell you a little bit more on it.
B: Let me say something on the Green Corn Dance. I go to the Green Corn Dance,
and I got a camp, the woman who was the leader of the Green Corn Dance has
a camp. I have a camp, other ladies of different clans have a camp, and I have a
dancing area right there but nobody is suppose to camp out on this side, the
east side, because that is where the sun comes and it falls on the west. When I
was growing up I remember that they had missionaries and I remember that my
aunt was the first one believing in Jesus Christ. My parents and my grandfather
did not have anything to do with her when she changed to a Southern Baptist.
She was a Baptist believer. They didn't have nothing to do with her, and they
were really against it. But now gradually most of us are Southern Baptist. My
grandparents they never believed, they believed what they believed, about the
spirits. They always talked about God. They said that their God would be
coming back. One of these days the earth was going to catch on fire. They
would say that, if you ever lied, there would be a mark in your eye, and then you
won't even go to heaven. But if you were straight, you are suppose to walk on a
.... How would you say it Laura Mae?
0: Like a narrow road ... over a big hole.
B: Like a bog log. You are supposed to through and you would be in heaven. But
if you fell off there, then you were in the wrong. They told us that we can't even
eat deer [meat from] inside of a bone, they called it the [marrow]. They said you
aren't supposed to eat that because you would be sick and try to pass that hole.
I was in a Baptist church one time too, and I was listening to a Sunday School
teacher. I am a backslider and I go to the Green Corn Dance, I got a camp
there. I know both are part of the religion or religions of my grandparents, what
they had taught me and these new religions and it is about the same thing.
Maybe older than what I know. I still go to church every now and then, but I go
to the Green Corn Dance. We have them every year in July and that is the
believe that men are supposed to share the blood because the women get rid of
their blood every month, but the men don't. That is a traditional way to go to the
Green Corn Dance. The men get scratched all over and the medicine men or
the other elderly men scratch them and share the blood before they eat the new
crops of corn. That is the traditional way for the men to get rid of their blood
0: My personal opinion of the religion and culture, this is the way I believe. My
grandmother, my great grandmother was into going to the Green Corn Dance,
which was our celebration of everything--the men purified themselves, their new
blood. Like the Jewish have their bar mitzvah for a young boy turning into a
man, they gave them a man's name. That is when the little boys were around
twelve or thirteen years old, they changed their name at that Green Corn Dance.
Then they have great dances, they have bird dance, they had feathers that went
around [the head] the people carry it, and the men dance. Then the ladies cook,
they had a certain time to not eat all day and then they have ball games. During
that time, my grandmother used to say, if you had done things wrong through the
year or if they had talked to the women or done things like that, they would go to
this big house and their kin folks talked to them and straightened out their rules.
It used to be like that years ago. I remember as a little girl my mother would sew
and sew and make nice beautiful shirts for my step-father and we used to go
there. All the women would cook in one place, like the panther ladies in one
camp, and the bird ladies in one camp, but today I don't know if it is because of
the big space that we took up, today you can't go into whose camp it is. I
remember, if you are married to a bird and he could go into his clan place and
eat there if he wanted to. And the panther clan would come over and eat. This is
what I remember. I told you that I am sixty years old, so I am way older than
these girls here, except Betty. [laughter] So this is the way that we celebrated.
The things that were taught to me, you don't steal, you don't lie, and you
appreciate the trees because that is mother earth and the great spirit. You don't
talk about it. These are the rules that I grew up with. If you stole, that was really
bad. If you lied that was bad. These are the four or five things that were taught
to me. When the white man's religion came later, I went into that a bit and it
wasn't, it just wasn't, I am sorry, that the Southern Baptist believe this way and
you have to believe that way. I think about my upbringing with my uncles and
them. There is today, like you have to love your neighbor. Doing Christianity
you have to hate the drunks, and you have to hate the addicts, or somebody that
was different. When a white religion came into my life, that was not for me. I
went back to my culture. My culture as it is today, we have to nurture it and
bring it back into the tribe to learn to get along. Don't steal and don't lie, this is
something that we have to work on. In the Indian culture you appreciate the
tree. To this day, I see a beautiful tree I will make a remark, what a beautiful
tree that the spirit has brought to me. This is the way that I appreciate nature.
When I see a Winn Dixie being made over there, I say, oh, they cut down the
trees, I hate that. Because my grandmother told me once that there will be a lot
of people coming to Florida and it is being fulfilled today. She said that they are
going to build something that goes upon rocks, that go on top of one another,
and that was the skyscrapers and cement buildings. Pretty soon the land is
going to be cut off where it points out and then it is going to sink because it is
going to be heavy. So she used to tell me, you know what I am trying to tell you,
I said what, and she said you need to learn how to swim, that is what she told
me. [laughter] I respect Christianity and I respect my tradition, my culture. This
is what I am trying to teach my grandchildren. I try and beg them not to talk
about people, love people, teach them, and this is the way that I will appreciate
nature in my spirit. What they call today God, they call it breathmaker. He truly
is, but this is what they used to tell me, it is a breathmaker and a spirit. So what
you see when you walk out there, the sunshine is brought to you by the spirit, so
you better appreciate it because sometimes we have rainy days. That is spirit
too. This is the way my belief is.
B: Someone asked a question and I wanted to tell you what was told by my
grandmother. There were no Seminoles, they were either Miccosukee or
Creeks. When they used to chase them from up north, they went into these
glades and the soldiers used to try to get them out. This was told by my mother.
The reason that we became known as Seminoles was that "ista" means person
in the Creek language, Seminole means wild in the Creek language. So
Seminoles means wild person. Well, when the soldiers used to chase the
Indians into the Everglades, they knew how to run and hide, they could hide from
them and they couldn't get them out. So they used to call them wild people. So
finally it came out that they called them the Seminolia, that meant wild people
out there. Finally the soldiers didn't know how to say Seminolia, so they started
calling them Seminole, so that is why we got stuck with the Seminole. That is
where we got our name. Although the wild person, they used to call us wild
person all the time, so we became known as Seminole. Miccosukee and Creek
both were in the tribe until the Miccosukee broke away and elected their leaders
and they became a tribe out on the Trail. We have kin folks on each side. We
have a lot of Miccosukee in the Seminoles and also Creeks. The Creeks live
around Okeechobee Lakes, and that is where my grandfather came from.
Miccosukee is further down. So we are all some way kin on each side. We
have two tribes in the state of Florida that are known as the Seminole Tribe of
Florida and the Miccosukee Tribe of Florida.
Q: ... describe how, in their maturity, mature years, tribe women [devote] to the
needs of their tribe and their people. I'd like to ask, do you see a group of young
women or young men coming along who have the same devotion to the needs of
their people as you did?
0: Do you see these three over there? [Gestures to C, S, and B] There are three of
them.... We call them young. [Laughter] We have some of them that are going
to college, your daughters and your sons are being educated now and my
granddaughter is fourteen. She goes to Pinecrest School in Fort Lauderdale.
She wants to become a baby doctor and go back and help the non-Indian and
Indian people. She is educating herself. She aims high. She has her hopes set
on one of those ivy league schools. We don't know where in the world we are
going to get the money, but we will send her.
K: I did check over the break. There are twenty bachelor's degree both equally
split among men and women in the tribe. There are two attorneys, both men,
two master degree holders, and about thirty or so of the associate degrees. This
is an incredible increase in the last ten years, but interestingly enough among
those holding bachelor's degrees it is equally split among men and women in the
tribe right now.
0: We have only been organized since 1957. We started in 1953 when the leaders
in Washington were trying to tell us that they wanted to quit having reservations
here and turned that over to us. We did not have any college graduate at that
time. She [Betty Mae Jumper] was the only high school [graduate] and a couple
of other Indian people during that time in 1953, but they were going to school, so
we made it our point to send our kids to school. So they graduated high school
and some of them came back and worked for the tribe. That is why we wanted
to have our own constitution and corporate charter. There are two
organizations. We have the Tribal counsel which goes on the constitution and
by-laws. Under that we have a section that is corporate charter with a board of
directors. That takes care of the business, and Tribal counsel takes care of the
needs of the people. This is where the cigarettes come under is the board of
directors, which makes the money come in to the secretary-treasurer, bingo and
all that, and then we divide it to each reservation to use it. If they need a big
thing, then they budget for it and get it. I remember when I was secretary-
treasurer that our budget was $6,300. Today I guess it is about $1,000,000.
What is our budget today?
S: In excess of a million.
O: So this is how much we have come from 1957 to 1993. They told us that we
were the fastest growing Indian tribe in the United States. It is because we work
with people, plus we know what our people's needs are and we use it. Thanks
to the cigarette smokers [laughter] that we have this and thanks to the bingo
players we have this. I don't know how it is happening in Florida state, and I
know some of you people don't like it, but we are trying to have a little Las Vegas
on the reservation. You don't have to go to Las Vegas and spend a weekend,
just go to the Seminole Reservation. This is what we are doing. We don't mean
to hurt people's feelings, but we have to make some money somewhere to exist.
K: You should make an offer to Governor Chiles like the Pequots made to the
governor of Connecticut, where the Pequot Tribe guaranteed him $100,000,000
a year, like your prophecy will help you out.
O: When we get the money and it goes to Tallahassee, they don't give it to the
education like they are supposed to.
K: Oh, you noticed that.
O: Yes. [laughter]
K: We found that too.
K: Her question was, she understands that they are selling cigarettes to raise funds
for the Tribe, but do they inform them of the health risk. Is that essentially your
B: We know, but they can go buy it everywhere. They go to Winn Dixie and buy a
C: I'd like to address that. That is not the opinion of every Seminole Tribe member
now. I am not a smoker and my young daughter who is sixteen is not a smoker,
and we fight against smoking. We fight for better health for people. We have
asthma problems. When I go into a restaurant, I can't sit beside people smoking
when I am eating. That is not an opinion of everybody. You need to remember
that. When there is a statement, and there is another thing, anywhere that I go,
not just non-tribal members, other Indians, just because we have bingo and we
have cigarettes, that is individually owned. I don't own that store. It is an
individual enterprise. Only so much of a percentage comes into our tribal
government, these are the funds we use. The rest of the money goes to the
individual who runs the cigarette shop. The only thing that we get out of it is the
percentage that we get to use. My older daughter does not want to work in the
cigarette shop because she is against smoking too. We all have our own
personal [beliefs], just because the Seminole does that doesn't mean that every
single tribal member believes that. We are trying to start other businesses. We
have orange groves on the reservations. That is a good business that is coming
up. We are trying to start other businesses. The state of Florida commits us
each year, the individuals to sell the cigarettes, and one year they are going to
say no. The tribe should have other businesses to run. That is what is being
done today. That is not brought up. A lot of people focus on that, and I don't
even go to the bingo.
K: Let's take a few more here, then I want to go up here.
Q: I was thinking that it must be a great concern ... being a Seminole. It must be
especially difficult to do that since you don't have Seminole elementary schools,
or Seminole community colleges, are you really worried about the languages
and traditions dying?
A: With inter-marriage we have other tribes, non-Indians, and non-Seminoles within
the marriages, so within the marriages they talk English to each other, and this is
where we lost our language. Like a man married to an outsider, a white girl, or
[one] from another tribe, and bring it in, they don't understand each other, so
they talk English. This is where our kids learn how to only talk English and they
loose their language and our cultural life. That is why we have tried to get
schools on the reservations to teach them. They do some, she [Carol Cypress]
used to do that and she would tell a lot of kids how to make baskets, beadwork,
and everything else, and they did pretty well. Some of them are still doing that
on the reservation. If we don't do that, then we are going to loose it. We are
looking forward to keeping it alive.
K: Who else please?
C: One of the frustrating things when I was teaching was that the language is not
spoken at home. You can teach the child in school, and they can go home and
speak English, and the parents don't speak it. After they reach about eleven
years old their attention went to game rooms, and you lose them, you lose the
kids at that time. After that it is very hard to keep the kids interested in teaching
the language to them. The biggest part I felt was that the language is not
spoken by both parents at home. That is where it continued.
Q: Are there language tapes available ...?
C: We do have, we are developing books and tapes and recording as much as we
can. With the museum going right now, we are still trying to do that, to record as
many as we can, with people like Laura Mae and Betty, on how they helped the
tribe to get established and all that. The language, I don't know where it is right
now really, because I have been out of it for two years now.
Q: What would you consider to be the most serious problem facing you on the
J: We have the young people getting into drugs and drinking and that is what I see
as the serious trouble.
K: Laura Mae doesn't need it [the microphone], so leave it with Betty Mae.
J: It is just like young people everywhere, I guess, a lot of drugs and a lot of
drinking and a lot of diseases. The different things that come with the people get
into our tribe because we go to school with them and we associate with
everybody, so we aren't closed in like we used to when we were by ourselves.
Today we mingle with everybody, so we have a lot of drugs coming into our
reservations. That has really hurt my tribe that I see for me.
Q: It seems to me that you all, as women, help push the Tribe along What is
your opinion of the Seminole controversy?
C: I've got more important things to do than to worry about it. [Laughter.]
J: We have our own businesses that we run and we don't have time to see what
they are doing, but they always come down and see us. One of their lawyers
was down here doing a powwow and was looking into our programs and was
trying to get the Florida Seminoles to take that name off of the [Florida State
University] Seminoles. Our chairman said no, we never had any trouble, so we
are not going to do it. I don't know what they are doing now.
Q: I have very little knowledge having been a Florida resident all my life
__ assimilating new ways commercial aspects of life.
0: My belief on that, I just expressed my own belief on that. When we were with the
men, when we first started organizing this tribe, I lived at Oklahoma and the
other tribe that was sent over there, the trail of tears they call it, when they got
them there they gave them allotments. Each one of the Indians there owned a
piece of land. Later on, in my days, when I went over there to visit them, some
of them did not even have land at all. When we organized in 1957, and we were
talking about between 1953 and 1957, I gave my personal opinion that we stay
together, there is no dividing of the land among us, because if we have that,
then all of us can't agree to sell it, so we will always have a home. We will be
together. This was my belief, and to this day I still believe that because in
Oklahoma, they found oil on their land and some people were killed, some got
into tax problems, and they sold the land, and the ranger bought it, and they
didn't have no home at all. So I talked to the men there and I said, let's not
divide because we want to stay today. If one Seminole is drunk on the road
somewhere, we can drag him back to the reservation, sleep it off, he has a
home. That is why we have the whole land together. Whatever money is given
to them, when we make a profit from the cigarettes and bingo, everyone of us
gets dividends like every three months. That is for their own spending money. I
don't like smoking either, but then when I see that it helps the other Indian
people, plus I get a little bit of money out of it, I don't say too bad. I say, it is
your own business if you want to smoke yourself to death. I always say that.
K: Priscilla, we had a question earlier in the morning session about the division of
the land claim. Would you care to speak to that? On the final settlement, or
would you like me to address it?
S: Go ahead.
K: No, well, I was just going to say in very general terms the final settlement of the
land claim distribution in 1990, when Congress finally had to dispose of this.
Finally the issue came down to how should the money, an award was made in
1976 somewhere in the neighborhood of $12 million, it came out to be. It had
started at $16 million and worked its way down. But finally after Congress
kicked this thing around the distribution was roughly 75 plus percent to the
Oklahoma Seminoles, based on population, and 24 plus percent to the
Seminoles here in Florida. So that money has been distributed.
K: Well, it took them fourteen years, from 1976 to 1990, and Congress made the
decision. I don't think that either tribe is absolutely pleased with it, but that was
the finally Congressional determination.
Q: Someone spoke in the morning session saying watch out for all the strangers
coming in to Florida. As I understand it, 300 people a month are moving just into
Palm Beach County. And they are bringing 300 automobiles with them. This
makes me think of environmental problems. I know for the white side of society
it pits the developers against the environmentalists. I'm very curious to hear what
the Seminole view is about environmental problems, and what should be done,
and how river of people into the area
C: There was a question earlier about why we want progress in our business. I feel
like before we didn't own the land and we could go anywhere we wanted and
garden anywhere we wanted, but as more people move into Florida, people start
buying land and we could not live there. We were trespassing on this property.
It developed, and more people move and develop more. The things that we did
to survive, we didn't have them any more, so we had to go out and get
education. I think that helped us to learn how to survive in the main stream.
They say white people, but it is the main stream of life today. You have to have
education, so you learn how to do business or whatever to survive. I think that
helped us push our people into getting more education. Maybe it did help.
There were just a few of the Seminoles left and we did survive. But I think that
had something to do with that too, that we pushed to find other means to survive.
Q: how do you feel about that?
0: It is about the same thing. There are people living all around us, when
Hollywood Reservation used to be Dania Reservation, there used to be a big
land beside us that raised hogs. When the city came, all around us, they had to
leave, the people that raised the hogs. So the city is around us. Because of the
smell and all that, they were moved out. We are buying the land now to build
homes on because we need more land. Anyway, today any buildings that we
want to do we have to go by Florida laws now. We can't just go in and build
where there is a wetland, we have to go to the environment and they inspect it
and everything. So we have to abide by the state of Florida, whatever laws they
tell us. I think that is good. We have other problems where we had some
people that make chickees for a living. They come on the reservation, they cut
down the cypress trees and palm fronds, and that has to be controlled. If you
really over use it and the cypress tree doesn't grow back, we are destroying.
They enforce those kinds of laws. I don't know if that is what you are asking me.
Right now we have the Bureau of Indian Affairs that handles the forestry. We
have to abide by laws of the United States. I think that is good for us. I don't
know if that is what you are asking.
Q: I cannot understand anyone who questions why you sell cigarettes. In order to
help you survive. They polluted the land, cut down the trees, and did everything
they could to And they are going to harp on you for selling a few
cigarettes. [Laughter and scattered applause.]
Q: your culture and your children. [Applause.]
O: Thank you.
K: Before I take one last round of questions, let me remind all of you that there are
evaluation forms for the program. We would very much like to have those when
you leave if you will leave them on this chair or in that box. We would
appreciate that. Maybe two more questions. I promised the ladies we would get
them out of here and on killer 1-95 before the crowds.
0: I wanted to say something about the Seminoles of FSU [Florida State
University]. The only complaint that I have against them is that they don't win all
K: She is biased, her son is a University of Miami graduate.
Q: My class has studied Indians all over the United States, and we have found
books of legends of other tribes all over the United States but not anything about
legends here in Florida. Do you have any books that are being written?
K: It just so happens Betty Mae has written one.
O: It has a video and a cassette.
K: I think after the session if you want to talk to her or to Billy Cypress they can give
you information on how to do that.
J: We are loosing a lot of our Seminole language and everything else. When we
were small, we would be under the mosquito nets and our grandmothers, or our
great uncles, or aunts, or whoever were the older persons of the village, would
gather around the campfire and they used to tell us stories over and over. There
were lots and lots of stories told to us when we were growing up. We were
taught never to bring that out to other people, but just keep them within the tribe.
But it seems like now, within the marriage, like I said, they are loosing
everything. So for the last ten years I have been writing these stories. Every
time I remember one story I write it. So I have finally got a cassette out and a
video. Now I have a book that has quite a bit of stories that is coming out
sometime during the middle of the summer. And Guy LaBree, who is a real good
painter, every time I tell a story about an animal or a person, he paints the story
or pictures of them. I tell that story, and it is going to come out. My son, Moses
Junior, is good at poems and he has a poem book out. Then he has another
book that came out just lately and so we are writers. I think that more is coming
out. I have heard some of the others say that they are going to start writing too,
things that they know about on what they did in their lives. I think that there will
be more books coming out from the Seminoles because we are loosing it, and
we have to write something for our young generation to know and read about
what we used to do. When I moved to Dania Indian Reservation then, back in
1928, I was about five. I barely remember it. That place was just full of forest
and we had animals like deer running around, and birds. Behind the Southern
Baptist Church there was water and a lot of birds used to come. I never thought
that we would be surrounded by town, but we are in the middle of the town now.
Some are living on this side, and some on this side, and everything is all around
us now. We have to preserve some things, so I think that these young
generations will start doing this. Billy Cypress started doing this museum and all
that. Our chairman is writing songs and singing them. So we are coming out of
it, slowly, but we are coming out of it. [Applause.]
K: I want to thank our distinguished panel. I hope you found them as enlightening
and articulate as we normally do. We appreciate you all coming. Have a good
trip home. Thank you very much.
Transcript of the video of the panel discussion with Dr. Harry Kersey
K: Dr. Harry Kersey
O: Laura Mae Osceola
J: Betty Mae Jumper
C: Carol Cypress
S: Priscilla Sayen
B: Rosie J. Billie
[Note: The video credits indicate that Jeanette Cypress was among the panelists but
not Priscilla Sayen.]