Title: Joe Frank
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SEM 223
Joe Frank

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.

SEM 223
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?

F: Ceremonial.

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?

H: Okay.

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

the history.

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.

H: Really?

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

intended major?

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.

H: Right.

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?

F: Some.

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

preacher is.

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?

H: Financially?

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.

H: Separately?

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

different rules.

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?

F: Yes.

H: And why do you fast?

F: It is part of the purification ritual.

H: Have you ever had black drink?

F: Coffee?

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

particular ones?

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

non-Seminole audiences?

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

for teaching.

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

middle-class American.

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.

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