Title: Howard Micco
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Title: Howard Micco
Series Title: Howard Micco
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SEM 235
Interviewee: Howard Micco
Interviewer: Rosalyn Howard
28 April 1999

H: I am meeting this evening with Mr. Howard Micco. This is April 28, 1999, and we
are meeting in the church. The Big Cypress First Baptist Church. Howard, to
what clan do you belong?

M: Bird.

H: When and where were you born?

M: Brighton. I have been there sixty-five years.

H: And what year?

M: 1933.

H: Do you have an Indian name?

M: Yes. I have two. One was a baby name. Then with religion, the Green Corn
Dance, they give new names.

H: What is your baby name?

M: Chofakchaga. Like you are walking in the water, stepping in the water, sneaking
up on deer or curlew. And the second one, the one they gave me at the Green
Corn Dance, is Hoshineeha. That means fat bird. After they gave me that
name, I began to get fat. I guess they wanted me to get fat, so that is why they
gave me that name.

H: So you were not fat when they gave you that name?

M: About a toothpick.

H: Oh, my goodness. How do you feel about having both an English and an Indian

M: I just use one, keep one.

H: Which one?

M: Fat Bird.

H: When do you use that Indian name?

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Interviewee: Howard Micco
Page 2

M: Oh, I just tell people whenever they ask me, what is your Indian name?

H: But are there certain places where you use your Indian name?

M: No.

H: So you usually use your English name? Have you always lived on a reservation?

M: Yes.

H: So, do you currently live in Brighton?

M: Yes.

H: What is your position here at the church?

M: Interim pastor. I was here for four years and when four years was up, they
extended it for more time. And next month, May 23, I will have been here six

H: And when did you become a Christian?

M: 1953.

H: Were you raised with traditional religion?

M: Indian. Yes. Green Corn Dance.

H: Do you still attend the Green Corn Dance?

M: No. You can go over there, you get drunk, and you get scratched. A needle,
right in here.

H: And what is that for?

M: They said to keep the bad spirit away.

H: Why did you stop going to the green Corn Dance? Because of the drinking, you

M: No; because I accept Christ as my personal savior. But I can go over there, if I
am going to be witness to someone about Christ. We had a missionary from
Oklahoma, named Willie King, he used to go out there to the Corn Dance every
year to witness to the people. So, if I want to I can go out there and witness to
them. But I never go.

SEM 235
Interviewee: Howard Micco
Page 3

H: Some people are Christians but they still participate in the Green Corn Dance.
What do you think about that? Do you feel there is a problem with that?

M: I guess they just want to go back drinking or whatever.

H: Well, I hear that they are having a Green Corn Dance, now that does not have
any drinking.

M: They say some of them do not. But this here in Florida, that is all they have,
drinking and fighting.

H: Is this church supported by the Tribal organization?

M: No. Just a few things. Whatever it needs done to the church, the Tribal
representative helps out. Like this new carpet and new cover on the pew. David
Chappas is going to take care of it. That is new carpet, wall to wall, in every

H: Yes, beautiful. Very nice.

M: First we did not have it but just in the aisle in front. That was all. We did not
have any carpet in here. Now they have to finish anchoring the pews down. I do
not know when they are going to do it.

H: You are the interim pastor. Are there any other clergy people here at the church;
any other ministers or pastors?

M: On this reservation? We have one across the road. That New Testament
Baptist Church.

H: How is that different from this church?

M: Because we are under the Southern Baptist program, that we send so much, at
the end of the month or the first of the month, a percentage of what this church
brings in each month. Sometimes ten per cent. We send it to the World Mission,
which we call the Cooperative Program. And then also we have the Big Lake
Association, which we are a member, of the churches around Lake Okeechobee.
We give so many per cent to them, but last night I went to the meeting in Canal
Point, and the director of missions had on that report, zero, Big Cypress, zero.
So, I asked him, what is wrong with this? What happened? And he said, Big
Cypress Church has not sent in since October. So we got six months past due.
So, I told him, well, I will get out to check with my treasurer at the next business
meeting. I hope that he sent the Cooperative Program, too. We might be behind
on that, too.

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Interviewee: Howard Micco
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H: That is what is called the Cooperative Program?

M: Yes, the Cooperative Program. We send it to Jacksonville, that main office. The
Florida Baptist Convention. From there they help missionaries or wherever it is

H: What roles do women play in the Christian Church? What kinds of things do
women do?

M: Women? Oh, a few things, some things. They call themselves the Women's
Missionary Union. They get together and [do] what the program needs, what
they can to help the church. And also, they have a men's organization, what they
call brotherhood. The world has their organization brotherhood, too, but this is
church. This is different. Now they call it Baptist Men's, so they have a meeting,
men by themselves, and also ladies by themselves. I think Daisi is the director of
the ladies.

H: What kind of activities does the men's organization do?

M: Work around the church yard, and whatever it needs. Maintenance in the
church, or painting. We have a lot of things that need to be done, but we have
not done them yet. Because most of the members-faithful members, here-are
kind of what you would call senior citizens, old people. They can not do much-I
can not do much. [Laughs.]

H: How many members do you have here?

M: That I never did find out. But we run over twenty or thirty in Sunday school, and
most of them come in after Sunday school. They missed a good part of it in
Sunday school.

H: Do you know any medicine men or medicine women who continue to practice the

M: No. A long time ago, Josie Billie was a medicine man. He used to tell me about
medicine men, medications of herbs and, out in the woods, what kind of medicine
it is, and all that. All that I heard, after I heard it, it went through the other ear.
[Laughs.] One time I asked him, maybe I can record his saying about the
medicine, how he says the words to treat the people. But he said, I do not do
that. He said, it is secret. You had to learn it yourself by fasting and get away
from people out in the woods. Get a good teacher and go out there and stay for
about four days to learn how to do the medications.

H: You were not interested in doing that?

SEM 235
Interviewee: Howard Micco
Page 5

M: Only one thing that my daddy taught me, he sang a song for me, and that was
the only one I learned. When you go out hunting in the woods, you are going to
find a deer, or a turkey, or any game, when you go out and you are hunting, he
taught me one little, short song. And I learned that one. Then me, and the
pastor of my home church in Brighton, and one of the Johns went out hunting
one night, and I was standing in the back of the pickup, and it was a cold night.
They were in the front with the heater on, and I was standing in the back with the
headlight. And we went down to the dike, the flood control dike, all the way to
the gate, the reservation boundary line, and they said, are you singing? I said,
yes, I am singing, but there is no game on this dike. But keep singing, we might
run into one or one of them might run up to us. So, I told them, okay. So when
we started back, I just sang that short song once in a while and looked. Finally,
we almost came back to the end, where we turn off, and I shined the light under
the Oak tree. Standing out there, the buck was laying down. So, the driver shot
it from the truck. They told me, you must have sung good, you sang loud enough
to bring that buck in. So I told them, that is what my daddy taught me.

H: Did you dad or your mother or grandparents pass down any stories about
Seminole history to you, about the wars, or famous people?

M: No.

H: Like Osceola? No. Okay. Tell me about your education.

M: Six years.

H: Where did you go to school?

M: At the reservation school. Both of my teachers are gone now. William D.
Boehmer and Edith Boehmer. I went to reservation school, I never did go to
public school.

H: Did anyone in your family ever go to boarding schools?

M: No. We all went to the reservations school.

H: How did your parents feel about you going to white schools. Did they not like
them? Is that why you did not go?

M: A long time ago they said, that is for the white people. If you wanted to learn the
white people's way, then you were going to have to lose your tribe or lose your
Indian way. That is what they said and that is why most of the elderly people-
the Seminole elderly-were against public school, even the church. They said,
that is for the white people. But I have a little pamphlet-at the house and at my

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Interviewee: Howard Micco
Page 6

home, and maybe in the car-from someone from north Florida, and they said
that [there are] three lies that north Florida Indians have been told.

H: What are those three lies?

M: About Jesus; they said that it is the white man's way, but that little pamphlet says
that even Jesus was not a white man, he was a Jew. That dark color.

H: That is what it says in the Bible. What were the other lies? Do you remember?

M: No. I do not remember.

H: What changed your mind about becoming a Christian?

M: Because I wanted to get out of the scratching and feeding mosquitoes and the
Green Corn Dance. [Laughter.]

H: Last Saturday, that is when I first met you, at the cattle sale, and I wanted to ask,
do you own cattle, yourself?

M: Yes.

H: About what size is your herd?

M: I have 137 head, the last time they counted. We had to vaccinate half of the
calves and give a shot to the steer calf, so I have fifty heifers and thirty-seven
steer calves.

H: Was your herd involved in the sale last Saturday?

M: Yes.

H: How was the price for your cows?

M: I guess my price was good. My calves only a small one. I think that is what they
sold, just a small one. But they did not sell the big ones because the price was
low. I thought they sold all of the them, but somebody told me they just sold
some of it but they did not sell the rest of them.

H: Was your father in the cattle business, also?

M: Yes.

H: Who were the first people in the tribe to get cattle?

SEM 235
Interviewee: Howard Micco
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M: The tribe had cattle, the whole tribe, but they used to call it the cattle association,
and different people worked with those cattle, and they hired people to work with
the cows, and fix the cow pens, and all that. I do not remember what year it was,
but they decided to distribute it to the Indian people, to give so many head to the
individual. I do not remember how many head, each, they distributed to the
Indians. My father was one of them.

H: What was your father's name?

M: Charlie. Charlie Micco. He was in that paper not long ago, with Frank
Montesdeoca and Riding Gray Horse. [Seminole Tribune, September 1996,
Patsy West's Reflections column, number 118; part twelve of an article entitled
Seminole Cattle Ranching since 1740.]

H: What paper was he in? The Seminole Tribune?

M: Yes, I think that it was. So I told people, my picture and all the lies will be in
there in the next couple of issues. So, when my daddy was a cattleman, when
he got those cows, me and my brother used to work with him, and then when he
died, we got the cows, my bother and sister, three of us. We all work at it, and
when I got married in 1956, I dropped out of it, and my brother and my other
sisters took care of those cows. And I began to purchase cows in1964, my own.
The price was good for me, during that time I bought hundred-forty dollars a head
for cows. And I started off with different, individual owners selling out; and
sometimes I bought five head from this one, and fifteen head from that one. That
is how I started.

H: So, your sisters did this. What kinds of work did they do with the cattle? Did they
do the same kinds of jobs that the men did?

M: No. They cooked lunch, the meals, and all that. I think it was close to twenty
men who got their cows to them and they had to put them all in one whole area.
They used to go out there, when their cows were calving, they would go out there
and look whose cow it was and they chased the calf with the horse and rope
them, rope that calf, and mark their ears for that person. They were supposed to
repay those cows, the one they got, they were supposed to give half of her
calves back and keep the bull calf to pay off the cattle.

H: Now, before they started having the video sale, how did you sell your cattle?

M: We used to take it to a livestock market.

H: Where is that?

SEM 235
Interviewee: Howard Micco
Page 8

M: Okeechobee. Sometimes, before that video, sometimes they had an auctioneer
come out there and auction them off.

H: How long have they been having it on the video?

M: Maybe over four years.

H: Do you think there is any difference, do you think it is better for it be a live
auction, or do you like the televised auction?

M: That video, I think that is better, but if it is the right price. [Laughter.]

H: What are the differences in the cattle breeds that people have today versus the
ones that they had thirty years ago?

M: Cattle breeds? About thirty years ago they only had ... I think they started off
with Angus bulls, but those Angus bulls, when they get in the canal, they just stay
in the canal, to get cooled off. I guess they did away with it for a while, and they
started purchasing Herefords bulls, and then mixed bulls, cross bred, and
Brahmas. Nowadays, they bought Brangus, black Brangus bulls. We keep
cows; I have 137 cows, I have five bulls to go in the herd. They figure twenty-five
bulls; one bull to twenty five cows. [Laughs.] That is what they said one time and
I told them, no, it is not right, I went into my pastor after they put the bulls out. I
saw three bulls to the cow, chasing one cow. So, I told them I needed three bulls
to the cow.

H: Have you ever been involved in farming?

M: Not my own. But I used to work with tomato farms till 1954.

H: What did you do on the tomato farm?

M: I drove a tractor, planted tomatoes, sprayed fertilizer, on the reservation, outside
the reservation, wherever the farmer went, I went with him, worked for them.
That was big money, then. Four dollars and fifty cents a day. (Laughing)

H: What year was that, about?

M: Back in the 1950s.

H: Yes, that was a lot of money in the 1950s. Getting back to the cattle business,
what about rodeos, have you ever been involved in rodeos?

M: Yes. We had one man interview me, not too long ago, and I told him, Yeah, I am
a rodeo cowboy, from boy on up. I was born in a cow pen. I was born on a

SEM 235
Interviewee: Howard Micco
Page 9

horse. And I tried to ride a bull in the rodeo when they have the fourth of July or
Labor Day Rodeo in Okeechobee. During that [time of?] year, those bulls are
good because they use Brahma bulls. Those Brahma bulls have a big hump on
the back. When you get that rope in your hand, tight, and lean against that high
hump, you stay on it. And then when they open the gate, they go straight down
to the arena. They do not get out and they spin around. And then the clown runs
behind you when you ride the bull down the arena, but nowadays the clown got
smart and they get in front of the bulls to make the bulls [go] round and round.
That is why people fall off. Sometimes some of them get lucky to stay on.

H: Have rodeos become even more important events today than they used to be
thirty years ago?

M: Yes. During that rodeo, I tried to rope calves; I tried to ride bareback. I still try to
rope but I am not too good at it.

H: The rodeos that they had at the powwow, at the fair in Hollywood, do you think
that helps to preserve Seminole culture, the annual fair that they have, and the
annual rodeo.

M: Yes, but not too many fans, nowadays. One time I told the rodeo announcer, the
rodeo is beginning to look like a church. If the people come to church so long,
then they begin to go out and just only a few ... [End of Tape Side A.]

H: So. there used to be a lot of people that came, but now ...

M: There used to be bleachers full and over, but now there is only a few people who
go to the rodeo. That is why I told him, looks like the rodeo is beginning to look
like a church, now. People had been coming every Sunday, and now they get
out and they do not want to come back, so it is the same way with the rodeo. But
the rodeos, back then, they did not have it but maybe once a year, so that is why,
[because now] they have it every three months. One year they had it about
every week. Everybody got tired of it. They do not come back and just only a
few people, handful, watch the rodeo. Especially for the Indian rodeo. But, as
you go out to the Arcadia and Kissimmee rodeos, and all that, Okeechobee
rodeo, there is a lot of people, full bleachers for those, but not Indian rodeos.
Maybe the Indian rodeos lose money.

H: Well, that is about all the questions I had to ask you. Is there anything that you
want to add, that you want to say, that I have not asked you about that you think
we should know about Seminole culture?

M: Yes, that first man who interviewed me, not too long ago, he asked me, how
much training do you have in the church, like ministry. I told him, not much. I

SEM 235
Interviewee: Howard Micco
Page 10

went to seminary extension, in Clewiston, for nine months. That is all I had. And
then I learned more by reading God's word everyday, every night. I get more out
of it. You can find things you did not expect would be in there. One time, I
guess-Daisi, were you here, when I said that about Bill Clinton?

H: What about him?

M: God knows what Clinton is going to get into when he gets into the Presidency.
So there is a story in there for Clinton and Monica Lewinski. So I gave them the
chapter in the book and the verse where it is. And I would see everybody looking
in the books, the Bible, turning the pages. Proverbs 7:11.

H: What does that say? That chapter and verse had something to say about that
Clinton situation?

M: About a lady who grabbed her man said, my husband went on a trip with a lot of
money and will not be back until so many days, so that is what it said. So I found
that looked like Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinski.

H: Well, thank you very much. I really appreciate your time.

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