Although this interview displays tensions and at times Mr. Frank appears uninterested, he
nonetheless expresses himself well about interesting issues. Examples include substance abuse
and diet, reasons that both Western and 'native' healing are effective, and ecology--meaning
changes to the environment of south Florida and the place of humans in them. Frank describes
his education, why he was dissatisfied with the University of Florida and sought forestry training
elsewhere. He describes women and men as having equal opportunity, but refers to women as
"the fabric that hold the whole thing [churches] together." He also speaks about the
reorganization of the Green Corn Dance at Big Cypress and the emphasis on banning alcohol.
Frank offers clear statements about the relation of economic practices like gaming to middle-
class dreams held by Indians, and he places the cattle program squarely in a framework of
"equity," which cannot be established or passed on in the form of home ownership on the
In this interview Frank speaks about non-Indian stereotypes of Indians. He criticizes these
stereotypes in our questions; e.g., asked about sweat lodges, he responds that he likes saunas;
asked about black drink, he wonders if that means coffee. On one level, Frank's sarcasm may be
read as obstinate and evasive responses to reasonable questions. On an entirely different level,
Frank addresses the subtle stereotypes that exist about southeastern Indians and he offers his
personal critique of a particular kind of objectification. This is valuable. It is personal while also
speaking to a much larger issue.
Frank's critique of outsider views of Indian life arises again in his stated view that differences of
opinion should be settled among tribal members rather than aired via an outside report (ours).
Similarly, Frank considers that tourism, which he feels has not changed much in the last couple
of decades, is an important arena in which to teach non-Indians about Seminoles, with the hope
that it may change how they act toward other people who are likewise alien to them. (For
contrasting views on changes in tourism, see Moses Jumper, Jr., SEM 222.) Finally, Frank
criticized the questionnaire for, at points, asking him to speak to matters on behalf of "the tribe"
or "the Seminoles." At different points in the interview, but especially on the last page, Frank
clearly states that he cannot speak on behalf of other people, but that he can only speak for his
thoughts and based on his experiences. Again, whereas it is possible to read this as resistance to
the interview, it may offer more about epistemology. Frank's position is entirely accurate and
logically defensible and a reaction to it as 'resistance' returns us to his critique of objectification.
In this way Frank provided a good interview. A follow-up interview might explore directly the
issues of objectification that Frank raises. It might also examine his relationship with his
grandfather (e.g., which "grandfather" he was, why Frank celebrates him by inviting the church
to lunch each year). Similarly, more information about Frank's personal education and work
history would be good.
Interviewer is Rosalyn Howard
Interviewee is Joe Frank
H: I am talking this morning with Joe Frank, and this is April 13, 1999. Joe, to what
clan do you belong?
F: I am member of the Panther clan.
H: And when and where were you born?
F: I was born in Fort Lauderdale in January of 1954.
H: What is your Miccosukee name?
F: I would rather not disclose that.
H: Okay. Do you use your Miccosukee name or your English name most often?
F: The English name.
H: Okay. In what contexts would you use your Miccosukee name?
H: Okay. Have you always lived on the reservation.
F: No. I told you I was going to answer yes or no. [Both laugh.]
H: Well, tell me about living in the city.
F: Gainesville was a horrid little town. No? [Both laugh.] Sorry. I have never
actually lived in a large city. Smaller towns. [Tape interrupted.]
H: Back to living in the city.
F: I have never really lived in a big city. Just small towns. As a kid I would spent a
lot of time living out here on Big Cypress in the summer with my grandfather and
living in Immokalee with my mother.
H: What do you think about people who live on the reservation and work in the city?
F: What do I think about it? I think it's a good deal.
H: Why do you think they do that?
F: The cost of living is more reasonable on the reservation. It is simply a matter of
H: What do you know about Seminole history?
F: Just a little bit from what I have heard, a little bit from what I have read.
H: About the wars and the famous figures?
F: Yes. You are going to have to ask more questions.
H: You are going to give me a hard time here! [Laughs.]
F: You will have be more specific, you know?
F: That is the reason I was asking about the list of questions, because I don't know
where you are going to build on these questions.
H: Well, you say you know a little bit from what you have heard. Was that passed
down from your grandparents, or was it from book reading that you learned about
F: When I was young I spent a couple of years living with my great-grandfather, and
we lived out on what was back then the eastern edge of the community of Big
Cypress. We were the last camp out there, probably about a mile or a mile-and-
a-half from where the Old Fort Shackerford used to be. So my great-
grandfather told me a few stories about that fort out there and the Seminole wars.
H: What did he tell you?
F: Well, just how rough life was, how the military tried to starve them out.
H: But they resisted. The unconquered Seminoles.
F: I do not know. That unconquered title is a fairly new concept. I would say
industrious or elusive. The families that had garden spots hidden from the
military survived out here. Those that had their fields ruined were captured and
sent to Oklahoma.
H: What was your great-grandfather's name?
F: His name was Billy Osceola. When you go to common names in the tribe, there
will be four or five individuals at any one time sharing one name.
H: I have noticed that. We have gotten people confused thinking that one was the
other because they have the same name. Is that because certain names were
just real popular? Is there a reason behind that?
F: I guess when the American civilization came in they tended to give out the
English names, and a lot of the names that we have now are carried over from
the days when they would give an Indian one name. But then they would locate
him by wherever he was. We have Kissimmee Billy. We have Key West Billy.
We have Miami Billy. The kids would inherit the last name. I think we went
through a phase where a lot of the first names were biblical names. So in the
tribe you only have five or six common last names.
H: What is your primary occupation?
F: As of this moment? Probably about half of the time administration, administrative
work, and probably fire-fighting. I am a forester by training and every now and
then I get to practice it.
H: Where did you get this training? Tell me about the schools you have attended.
F: I graduated from Immokalee High School. I had a brief fling with the University of
Florida. That school was too big! Sitting in classes that had more students than
the town you graduated from. I ended up attending a forest technician school up
in Lake City, Florida, at the Lake City Community College and Forest Ranger
School. After graduating from there and working for a couple of years I went
back to school in Texas, at Stephen F. Austin University [Stephen F. Austin State
University, Nacogdoches, TX]. It is amazing that a school in Texas can give you
more credit hours, from a junior college, than a school in Florida can.
F: Yes. There is something not quite right with that picture.
H: Yes. I would say. So you would lose a lot of your credits and have to re-do
classes in order to be at the same level.
F: Right. The school out there enabled me to get my degree probably a year
quicker than going to the University of Florida would have.
H: So you got a bachelor's degree?
F: Yes. A bachelor of science in forest management.
H: Okay. What was your parents' educational background?
F: My step-father had grade school, and my mother had grade school.
H: What were their occupations?
F: Survivalists. [Chuckles.] My step-father, for many years, worked with the
agriculture economy over in Immokalee, as well as my mother. Later on they did
other stuff but, as a kid growing up, they were employed either out in the fields or
packing houses or delivering goods and services to the farms.
H: Do you know much about the school here on the reservation, the Ahfachkee
F: A little bit.
H: But you never attended school on this reservation. You said you spent most of
the time at Immokalee?
F: I attended school out here before they moved into the new building, back when it
was still that log cabin school. I went to some of the summer programs they had
out here. I started my elementary school out here.
H: Do most of the children who live on this reservation attend that school?
F: I don't know what the percentage is, but I would say one-half to two-thirds of the
kids out here do.
H: How do you think attitudes about attending high school and college have
changed since the 1970s?
F: In the twenty-seven-year period you are talking about, the attitude on higher
education has really opened up. I think there was some interest back in the early
1970s, but there just were not too many opportunities. Today there is quite a bit
of opportunity for students to go, and a lot of the parents out here now have at
least a high school degree or GED or something. I think that a lot more parents
expect their kids to go, whereas back in the late 1960s and early 1970s the
education level of the parents just was not there, and they didn't really push.
H: What do you think about vocational and technical education?
F: I like it because, when I got into my field, that is what I attended, a technical
training program at Lake City Community College. I pursued it, and I think it is
beneficial. Any type of training for any type of vocation is needed.
H: When you went to UF [University of Florida], what was your major or your
F: I wasn't sure at that point. That was part of the reason it was easy to leave.
H: Did any members of your family ever attend boarding schools? [Tape
F: My mother attended a Cherokee, North Carolina, boarding school. She went to
elementary school there.
H: Do you know many people who have been to Oklahoma for school or other
F: Yes. A lot of the kids in my age group, here, in this community, if they have a
high school degree, most of them got it in Oklahoma.
H: Since Baptist ministers came to convert Seminole Indians, how do you think
values have changed among the Seminole people?
F: Open polygamy was done away with.
H: Open polygamy? [Laughs.] It is covert now.
F: Now we have a divorce system [laughs], one at a time. Truthfully, before the
Baptists--that was a latter-day phenomenon--the Episcopalians came in at the
turn of the 1900s, and they had a pretty big impact at that time. They set the
stage for the Baptists to come in during the 1940s and 1950s.
H: The Episcopalians who came in, were they Seminoles like the Baptists were?
F: No. They were non-Indian. The first reservation set up in Florida was
administered by the Episcopalians, the first Seminole federal reservation.
H: Where was that located?
F: The federal part of it was eighty acres located in Immokalee. They opened up in
the 1890s. The church also, I think, purchased about 320 acres to manage
along with that tract in Immokalee. There were quite a few families who went
through there but, overall, I think the tribe mistrusted the intent. There has been
a federal reservation for over 100 years down here. There have been phases
where it was done away with, and then it kept resurfacing. The first Indians
agents and so on were in Collier County. At one time, back in the late 1800s,
right after the wars, there was a push to even consider setting aside all of Collier
County for a reservation, but then the railroad showed up.
H: So each time some business interest came along the Seminoles kept getting
moved off of the land?
F: I think that is a common scenario among a lot of minorities, not just the
H: Yes. Well, most minorities didn't have the land, didn't initially occupy the land.
F: Here in America, any indigenous group did.
F: What was it, the Union Pacific? That led to quite a bit of resettlement.
H: Do you go to church?
F: I usually go once a year.
H: When did you first start going?
F: I would spend summers out here with my grandfather, and he is a devout Baptist.
When I was staying with him in the summer, I would go every Sunday. Vacation
Bible school, I would be there. I think at one time I knew all of the books of the
Bible. To this day I usually go to church once a year, about my grandfather's
birthday, to invite the church to come have lunch or dinner with us.
H: Do you know medicine men or medicine women who continue their practice?
H: Is it possible for people who are Christians to still be treated by medicine men, or
do you see a conflict for most people once they become Christians?
F: Are you talking about tribal members who are Christian and non-Christian, or are
you talking about non-tribal members?
H: Tribal members.
F: I don't see any conflict at all. Among the Christians, some of them may have
some reservation, but a lot of them do not. I don't see that much conflict
between Christianity and the traditional beliefs. That is one of the reasons it was
so readily accepted by tribal members down here. There is not a direct conflict
like there is between, say, the Muslim belief and the Christian belief. If you
believe in a God, you should be able to get along with everybody else who
believes in a God.
H: That is the way I feel, but I know that there are people, tribal members, who
practice Christianity who are told by the Christians that they must let go of their
traditional values. Yet, you see no conflict.
F: The Christians? The non-Indian Christians or the tribal-member Christians?
H: Tell me about the difference.
F: Well, the tribal-member Christians, I have never really had one come out and tell
me to give up my traditional beliefs. There may be some non-Indians who have
told people that, but I haven't really experienced it. I think some of the old tribal
beliefs tend to be more accepting of other religions than, say, other religions are
accepting of other religions.
H: Do you have any idea what percentage of the tribe is Christians?
F: Practicing Christians? I would say that probably the majority of the tribe has
been baptized, especially among the older group. Maybe one-quarter to one-
third of them attend church regularly, and out of that group I have not really
encountered too many who would turn their back on tribal customs. There may
be some out there. I just have not encountered them, or I may not have paid any
attention to them.
H: What roles do women play in the traditional religion?
F: That is a tough question. Without them there probably wouldn't be any old
tradition. They were involved in the process.
H: Do you know anything about the roles women play in the Christian church?
F: I have yet to encounter a female preacher here on the reservation. I have
encountered many women medicine people. In both facets, Christianity and
traditional, women are the fabric that hold the whole thing together. To get
specific and say, well, one does this, one does that, the list would be too long.
H: So they played many roles, but you have never seen them in leadership, as the
F: As the mouth piece, up on the pulpit.
H: Do you know if the church on the reservation is supported by the tribal
organization in any way?
F: What do you mean by supported?
F: What degree of financial?
H: Any degree.
F: The churches here are like churches in any other community. The members who
go there contribute to it. Even though I don't go, I contribute to it. Most of the
people who are in the tribal government, the tribal politicians, they contribute
quite a bit. I think a lot of us see the church as just another facet of the
community and a community function. It is not us or them over there. It is still us
over there. If they are going to put on a program or something like that, it is to
our benefit to contribute. I don't think they are excluded from anything.
H: What do you consider to be the largest health issues that are faced by people in
this community today?
F: Substance abuse, and it goes past the traditional definition of substance abuse
being illegal drugs. We get hooked on legal drugs. When I say substance
abuse, that even goes to food. You can take a look at me and a bunch of other
folks around here and you can tell that all of us either have faced or will possibly
face the possibility of diabetes, weight-related issues, and other standard
substance abuse, alcohol, drugs.
H: With the overweight issue, do you think that it is because of a change in the diet
that has occurred from, say, your parents time to now? Or has there always
been that problem?
F: In my lifetime I have seen quite a bit of people overweight. In prior generations, I
really can't speak for them. To just blame it on a diet, say, going to a more
starchy diet, that is one thing. But I would also say the availability of it, the
availability of more food. I, for one, just love to eat good food. If we are going to
die, man [both laugh], I would just as soon go out enjoying the culinary delights.
H: Do Seminoles seek out medicine men or native healers for particular illnesses
and then Western doctors for others?
F: I think it is a combination of both. Speaking for myself, about the time a 'flu has
me down for the second week I usually go and get some antibiotics. I don't know
yet of a medicine man who can cure the common cold. Most of my other
problems I still have treated the old, traditional, way.
H: So people go back and forth depending on certain illnesses?
F: What your beliefs are and what ails you.
H: So there are some ailments that are treated best by Western medicine?
F: I would not go as far as to say treated best by Western medicine or American
medicine. I would say healing is a matter of your mind, and some people may
have more confidence in one particular form of treatment than in another. That is
not to say it is the best, but for that individual it may be what they believe works
best for them.
H: Does the tribe still have an annual Green Corn Dance?
F: The people have it. Whenever you say the tribe what keeps popping up in my
mind is the tribal government, and the tribal government doesn't have the Corn
Dance; the people do. When you say the Seminole tribe, there are two tribes
down here, the Miccosukees and the Seminoles, and they both practice it.
F: No. When there is one, people from any community can go. It's not segregated,
this community can only go to this one. No. When they have it, it's for
H: Are outsiders allowed to attend or just Seminoles?
F: Each dance has their own separate set of rules. The medicine people make the
rules. Right now there are four of them that occur down here, and each one has
H: What are those dances? The names? You said there are four of them that
F: Right. Corn Dance. It is not like there is just one big gathering where everybody
howls at the moon. It is something that is practiced by different groups of
medicine men. Down along Tamiami Trail there are two of them. Since it is
designed to coincide with the ripening and the availability of the corn, it usually
starts with the southern-most group having theirs. Then it slowly progresses up
north. We have established a Corn Dance ground by the Big Cypress
community, and we have had it for two years up here. We are usually third. The
last group will be the group up in Brighton. So the dance progresses north, just
like the ripening of the fruit or vegetables would.
H: How has the Green Corn Dance changed in the last twenty-seven years?
F: The only change that I am familiar with is the latest one that has opened up.
There is a strong effort to keep drugs and alcohol out of the ceremonial ground. I
know when I was younger, going to them, there was always a certain amount of
alcohol involved, around the periphery of the event, there was always people
smoking. ... [Tape interrupted.]
H: You were talking about when you were growing up, there was a lot of alcohol and
drugs at the Green Corn Dance.
F: And I believe there may be. I quit going to them for a long time. Then, when the
effort came about to re-establish another one out here, I supported that effort
because the effort was going to be made to exclude alcohol and drugs during the
ceremony. Not that we are preaching that you have to practice abstinence or
something, because I like my Stoli [Stolichnaya vodka] and orange juice quite a
bit. But, at least during the ceremonial time and the time we are there, let's deal
with the ceremony and what it signifies, rather than getting drunk and causing a
ruckus. We usually tell people who question us about that, too: if you want to
drink, don't go, but if you are going to go out there, respect some of the
expectations we have of the event. You have found that out by now.
H: Have you ever been scratched at the Green Corn Dance, and what are the
purposes of scratching?
F: Yes. I have been scratched. It is part of purification.
H: Is that the only purpose of it?
F: Well, there are other connotations of it?
H: Would you like to elaborate on those connotations?
F: No. I will see what the rest of your questions are.
H: Okay. Have you ever fasted?
H: And why do you fast?
F: It is part of the purification ritual.
H: Have you ever had black drink?
H: I don't think that is the blank drink that they are referring to. The black drink that
is referred to in this question is the one that is used for purification in part of the
ceremony. Or tell me what you think. Is black drink coffee?
F: I was posing that question to you.
H: I don't know. [Laughs.]
F: Dark brown, maybe. This term, black drink, is something that is carried over from
colonial days, the euphemism for it. During the course of the Corn Dance and
during the course of the purification stuff, there are quite a bit of different
medicines made, and if you are participating, you use it all. But we don't have a
pot boiling out there that we go by and say, this is the black drink. No. That is a
carryover from colonial days. To us, it is medicine. That is why I asked, when
you said black drink, are you asking about coffee.
H: Have you ever used a sweat lodge?
F: During the ceremony out there? At the Corn Dance? No, I have not.
H: Are there other times when you use a sweat lodge?
F: I love saunas.
H: Since you are in forestry and fire-fighting, I have some questions about the
environment. Overall, how would say that the physical environment in this area
of Big Cypress has changed in the last thirty years?
F: Drainage has really altered the natural communities of the reservation.
H: In what ways?
F: Well, if you look around us right now, this is a large brush field. Thirty years ago
this was an open prairie. Some of the cypress heads behind us were not there.
This was just a low area that was underwater for probably six months out of the
year. The land was a lot more open. There were a lot more plant species. With
the drainage, there have been a lot more invasive plants that have come in, a lot
more exotics. The drainage increased the fire danger in a lot of our native
flowers, the orchids. Especially the aerial orchids have really suffered. If you go
out in the forested areas now, you will not encounter any of the native orchids.
The ground orchids are still there. You still find a lot of air plants in the trees, but
all of the native orchids are all about gone. You can still find a few of them. You
have to get way back in the woods to see, like the ghost orchid. They call it a
cow-horn orchid or cigar orchid. There are a few other native orchids. I don't
even know what their English names are. An Indian knows what their names
are, but you just can't find them out there anymore. In the same respect, the
drainage has led to a little bit more of a disease-free environment for the tribal
members. I think there is a balance. If you are going to favor one particular
thing, be it humans, dogs, plants, or whatever, you do so at the detriment of
another group or another entity. [Tape interrupted.]
H: Do you find a general awareness of and concern for the environment among
people on the reservations?
F: At varying levels of complexity, yes. Do we have tribal members who are going
to get up and lead the charge for Earth Day? Maybe not. But if you sit down and
talk with tribal members, especially among the elders, they will talk to you about
the changes, what some of their thoughts are.
H: What about reliance on the environment for a living? How has that changed?
F: The agricultural part is slowly dying out, the farming base of the tribal members.
Most of the elders knew how to raise food. They knew which foods to raise.
Those elders have passed away, and they are passing away now. There is a
conscious effort to teach the young, but it is really tough, going out and hoeing a
patch of ground, to compete against MTV.
H: How has tourism to Seminole sites in south Florida changed in the last thirty
F: I don't think it has really changed that much. In the last fifty years, the only
change has been in the amount available to the tourists. The tourism that we
have available now has always been there, going back into the 1940s and 1950s,
probably when Tamiami Trail was just completed. What we have today is just an
extension of that.
H: Do you feel that Seminoles have more control over the tourism than they did a
generation ago, or were they always in control?
F: I think most of them were aware of the opportunities of tourism. I think there is a
lot more opportunities for tribal members to be directly in charge of their own little
piece of the tourism pie. [End of Side A] Indians involved in tourism, like the old
Musa Isles and stuff, in Miami. There used to be Seminole villages set up along
the banks of the Miami River back then. The opening of Tamiami Trail really
increased the opportunities for individual families to get into it.
H: In your opinion, what role does tourism play in preserving Seminole traditional
F: I don't know if it does play a role in preserving. It offers an opportunity to exhibit
it. I guess as long as there is an outlet for exhibition, there is a possibility, among
certain families, a certain technique or a certain skill may be passed on. There is
always a possibility that it could help preserve some facet of it, but the tourists
that they are going after now . ., I don't know if it preserves anything.
H: Are non-Seminoles the most numerous visitors to the tourist places, or any
F: I have not been to too many, but I am kind of familiar with this site [Billie Swamp
Safari]. I would say that, here, non-Indians are the predominant ones, but we do
have, from time to time, groups of other Indians coming in visiting.
H: What are some of the challenges and benefits of presenting Seminole culture to
F: The biggest challenge is to present something to them that is factual, because
most of the time when they come they have their own view of what it should be--
the job of selling it to them, that this is the way it was, and it is not what was
written in books 100 years ago. Especially the Europeans, convincing them that
each tribe has its own different belief system and its own different customs.
Some of them show up and expect this to be what they read about the Apaches.
I guess the benefit of it is, if you are successful in selling it to them, then there is
a lot more awareness and, hopefully, the next group they encounter will not have
to go through all of the correcting of the wrong beliefs. There will be more room
H: What are the most important economic practices of the tribe and how are these
different from thirty years ago?
F: For the tribal government, the most lucrative economic endeavor they have is
gaming. For the tribal members, I guess their economic concern has always just
been to survive and, like any other group of people, to provide for their kids. I
think every race of people wants their kids to have it a little bit better than they
did, to enjoy a few more things of life. A lot of the tribal members are getting to
enjoy some of that expectation that we are led to believe is available to every
H: So the economic practices that they use in order to achieve their goals have just
adapted based on the changes that have occurred here?
F: Right. The economic practices 100 years ago were just to survive, plant some
food, have some food to eat, hide from the military, and survive. Sixty, fifty years
ago, with the advent of truck farming here in south Florida, the opportunity arose
within the tribe for single mothers to rear families. I think that had a bigger
impact than the Baptist religion coming in. Prior to the availability of work for day
wages, you had to maintain that strong nuclear family and maintain a male
presence to provide food and labor for a family unit to survive. Well, with the
advent of truck farming, a lot of families, a lot of single mothers, were able to
survive. They worked out in the fields. Of course, the church came in about the
same time, but I have never really seen the Baptist churches out here as being
something that really shook Seminole culture. I may be wrong. (I am always
wrong, on a lot of things. Opinions are like strawberry pie. [Both laugh]) I think
the economic demand for the tribal member, a parent, has always been to find
either work that you harvested and provided for yourself or work where
somebody received a salary, where you could pay bills and send kids to school.
That ethic is still there among the tribal members. It is just that with the
prosperity that the tribe has with the tribal government's gaming, there is more
opportunity for that to occur on the reservation. They don't have to go to
Immokalee, or they don't have to go to Okeechobee. They don't have to go
follow the crops. They can find the jobs here. They can find work at above the
minimum wage, where parents can set a role model for their kids.
H: Have you or anybody in your family ever been a part of the cattle business?
F: My grandfather was one of the original cattle owners.
H: What was his name?
F: Willie Frank. [Tape interrupted.] He was one of the original cattle owners out
here. When he became advanced in age, he gave me the opportunity to take
over his cattle operation. I have been managing his herd, now, for six or seven
H: Your grandfather was one of the first people, then, to get cattle in this area. Who
were some of the other people, and how did they go about getting the cattle?
F: Some of the other originals were Frank Billie, Morgan Smith, there was a couple
dozen of them. When it was first brought in, the government brought the cattle in
and kind of split them up per family, of those who were interested. A lot of the
original cattle owners dropped out. Everything was operated as one big tribal
herd. They would have a pasture of thousands of acres of the swampland, and it
would take all of them to round up the cows, brand them, vaccinate them. It was
in the 1950s when they were able to start doing some truck farming out here and
convert the land over to improved pasture. With that, it set up management units
where individual ... [Tape interrupted.] After the farming was done those sites
were converted over into improved pastures, and that allowed the organization,
the Cattle Owners Association, to start managing their herd separately from the
other animals. At that time the cattle program really took off. It was something
that an individual tribal member could build on and, at that time, the cattle
program was the only way a tribal member could really build any equity out here.
Off of the reservation, most people view homes as a way of building equity, of
building their estate. Here on the reservation, where the land is tribally owned
and you really can't sell a house, a house really doesn't have that much value. It
is just shelter. The cattle program gave tribal members a chance to build equity
on the land, one of the very few programs that ever was set up that did.
H: What roles do women play in the cattle industry?
F: You keep wanting to differentiate between men and women. They had the same
opportunities out here. There are quite a few women who are cattle owners out
here. When I get these questions, like what role do women . ., I just kind of
H: So there is no differentiation based on gender, as the opportunities are open to
F: Right. The opportunity is there.
H: Okay. Do you ever wear traditional Seminole clothing and, if so, when?
F: Not at this point. A full traditional outfit, no. I can't find any that fit. [Both laugh.]
H: In what ways is the house you live in today different from where you grew up?
F: I grew up in a chickee. I live in a CBS home now.
H: What is a CBS home?
F: Concrete block structure. Totally different.
H: Did you learn how to build a chickee?
F: Yes, I guess.
H: I notice that some people still have them next to their houses, but they are not
really used for housing.
F: It is a shade house now. That is basically what it was back when it was first put
together. It is a shade house. It keeps rain off of you.
H: How is the standard of living different today than it was thirty years ago, in areas
such as income, literacy, access to health care?
F: Probably about 1000 percent better.
H: What do you think of the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, and have you ever visited it?
F: I walked through it last year with a group of Russians. There has been a lot of
detail paid to it. It seemed like the exhibits were pretty nice. I have not gone on
the boardwalk or anything.
H: What do you think of eco-tourism? Do you think it is a good thing?
F: Eco-tourism? Yes. There is a place for it. Now, as it is practiced here, there is
room for improvement.
H: Do you want to elaborate on what ways you think it can be improved?
F: No, because if we have differences of opinion among tribal members, I still
believe that we need to bring it up and solve it between members instead of it
coming out in a report somewhere. That is just my own belief.
H: Has the development of eco-tourism benefitted you personally?
F: No. I don't think it has benefitted me personally.
H: Will computer technology, or the introduction of computers, be a positive force for
Seminole people, and is it actually .... [Tape interrupted.] The computer
technology, do you see it as a positive force?
F: A positive force in the sense that it will help with the education process, but as far
as really producing anything productive for the tribe, I see very limited
H: Do these changes in computer technology used with the tribe, do you think that
will challenge any Seminole values?
F: That is a tough question because you may have tribal members who can take the
technology and produce a lot of money or something like that. That possibility is
always there, but the individual that is running the PC, well, it was up to the
parents to instill the values. I can't answer the question because I do not know
what values are being passed on by each family. You can have Seminoles who
are real traditional, you can have Seminoles who can blend different cultures
together, and you will have tribal members who don't know the first thing about
their own history or culture, don't speak the language. So it is really hard to lump
everything together and say, yes, the values are going to be there, because it is
hard to say which families are teaching what.
H: Well, I think that is a good place to close, unless there is something you would
like to add that I have not asked you or a comment that you would like to make.
F: Well, when this thing gets transcribed and I get to looking at where this was
going and think about it a little bit, I may add something then. I may add
something later. There are a lot of questions that are asked here that are almost
shallow. You have to make a lot of value judgement calls. In the way the
questions are structured, you are asked to answer for what the tribe is doing, and
you can't. You can only answer for yourself. I think some of these questions
may have been a little stilted a certain way. Of course, without sitting down and
analyzing every question it is hard for me to say it might have worked better had
you done this. I guess that is about it.