Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
Interviewee: Jim Shore
Interviewer: R. Howard
29 June 1999
Jim Shore is the General Counsel for the Seminole Tribe. Shore was previously
interviewed by UF's OHP staff and also in 1990 by Harry Kersey. Shore begins the
interview by explaining that Indian names tend to be associated with "wartime
conditions" (1). In his early years Shore did part-time work as a cowboy and says that
where he is from in the Brighton area most people do that, and that he would probably
still be doing it had it not been for his schooling (2). Son of medicine man Frank Shore,
he explains that medicines are not simply passed down, but one has to be committed
to learning them (3). Shore attended boarding school and here he discusses some of
the changes in education over the last thirty years, including the Tribe's emphasis on
supporting education (4-5). Losing his eyesight in the early 1970s gradually proved to
be a motivator for Shore to go to law school. Here he discusses briefly how the Tribe
has helped him practice (5-7). Shore suggests that being a tribal member "gives you a
little bit more of an edge than a non-Indian" would have (7). He outlines the Tribe's
water management projects in relation to the state and to the South Florida Water
Management District, giving background and suggesting some directions (9-11). He
also discusses with some precision the relationship between the sovereign Tribe, the
federal government, and the state government, using recent debates about gaming as
examples (11-13). Shore then discusses the importance of gaming to the changes in
the Seminole Indian economy. He suggests that there is a need to diversify the Tribe's
economic interests "just in case gaming is ever knocked out from under us" (14).
Further economic development is tied to the lands the Tribe has to work with. With
Brighton and Big Cypress that is somewhat limiting, since both are remote from major
transportation networks and so on; "that is why they are still into citrus, cattle, and
they are getting into sugarcane" (15). Shore also outlines the process by which
reservations are established, beyond becoming trust lands (16). In summing up his
interview, Shore discusses improvements in the economy and education made by the
Tribe, and suggests that for now the direction of development will be dictated by the
reservations the Tribe has to work with (17-18). Economic change has been a positive
and a negative experience, but Shore fears that the young generation today may be
spoiled by getting whatever they want. Nonetheless, education is a major benefit (18-
H: I am speaking this morning, June 29, 1999, with Jim Shore, who is the General
Counsel of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. He has been the General Counsel
since 1983. Jim, to what clan do you belong?
H: When and where were you born?
S: In the Brighton reservation. That is in Glades County.
H: And when was that?
S: That was February 16, 1945.
H: Do you have an Indian name, a Mikasuki or a Muskogee name?
S: All kids, or all guys-it used to be all guys, anyhow, were given a name at birth
and then a later one, their manhood name, in connection with a ceremony. So I
H: Would you mind sharing those with us?
S: When they give Indian names, they usually associate it with wartime conditions,
situations, or events. So, my [name], what they call the childhood name, is
Shutekedeegluckla. They will shorten it to just Deegla, but the full version is
H: What does that mean?
S: It is one of those phrases that are hard to explain or translate, but it is something
like you were going to cross a river, or a ditch, or something. It is not the act of
going into it to cross it, not jumping in, but you get into it. It does not say you
want to cross it. It is just the act of getting into something that you are going to
go through, I guess.
H: What about your manhood name?
S: I think, there, me and my older brother, I am not sure which name goes with who,
but the manhood name is called Yihadawahagee.
H: What does that mean?
S: I am not sure. I am not sure where it came from, but these names are usually
thought up at the time of the ceremony. I am not sure if it came from my mother
or my older uncles at that time. So I am not sure what that means.
H: You grew up on the Brighton reservation, and your father was Frank Shore, who
was a medicine man there. Was he also one of the big cattle owners?
S: I think he was one of the original cowboys when cows were introduced into the
Seminole country here.
H: Did you grow up being a cowboy also? Did you help with the cattle?
S: I think, around there, you were either a cowboy or a farmer, and there is not that
much farming now. It is still a cow country up there. Most folks are either
cowboys or make-believe cowboys. I would probably still be a cowboy today if I
did not go off to my schooling. You will see a horse trailer in every yard, now.
H: Yes, I did see that when I went there. As far as the medicine, was that
something that was passed down in your family to any of your brothers and
S: Those things are not passed down. It is something that the individual wants to
carry on from their parents-I mean, from their clansmen, older clansmen. Just
because my father was a medicine man, that does not mean that he could just
hand it to me. First, I would have had to have wanted to, and go through certain
H: Did any of your brothers or sisters go through the training?
H: I wanted to follow up on what you were saying about the schooling. We have an
interview with you that was done in 1972 and it talks a lot about your experience
at boarding school. I would like to ask you what changes you have seen in
Seminole education in the past thirty years, since the time of your interview. It
has been almost thirty years.
S: I am not sure of the changes in education. I do not know if it is thirty years or not,
but when I was going to school-I graduated high school in 1963-if you were
going to further your education anywhere, or had the ability, you almost did not
have any means to do so. So, the emphasis then was to ship them out to the
BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs] boarding school, vocational training, or whatever.
That is what I did after I graduated. I spent two years in Lawrence, Kansas, as
an auto mechanic, and I have never touched a screwdriver since I got back. But
I think at that time we were all dependent on government funding for education,
and the Bureau was also in charge of our education. That was kind of a trend
then. I am not sure how far into the 1970s that went, maybe most of the 1970s.
I am not sure if we had people going off to college or anything back in those
days. I know Billy Cypress went, and I think he may have had the church to
assist him into college. But I think since we have these gaming revenues and
whatever, the trend is to emphasize education as the priority here, to the point
where we even have an education department, which we did not before. That
almost tracks a kid from cradle to grave, that kind of a thing. I was talking to
someone and they were telling me there are over sixty-some college graduates
now. Any year that it goes up it is an improvement from the prior year; we
probably did not have [but] one or two in the 1960s or 1970s. I think, just like
everything else, times are changing and computers are coming in. Some of
these high school graduates may not go to college, but they may go to a
vocational type of thing. I think the main change is that we have more people
going beyond twelfth grade than before, and I am not sure if the Bureau boarding
school is as good now as it was back then or compared to other education. Even
though I went to two years in high school, in this day and age any high school kid
is thinking that something about the government boarding school does not match
up to a public school. I think you are probably a year behind when you go to a
Bureau boarding school. So I think, if anything, if we are going to just ship them
off anywhere, it should be in a state accredited or a state sanctioned school,
vocational or otherwise. At the beginning we did not have these choices. We
just had to take what they gave us. I think nowadays we are able to make some
decisions on what and where, and I think the tribe has been able to do that, so
H: You say when you came back you never touched a screwdriver since then. So,
what did you do when you came back?
S: Again, I was a part-time cowboy and part-time everything else.
H: How did you wind up being general counsel? You went to law school, eventually.
What year did you go to law school?
S: 1976, I think.
H: So, just a few years in between.
S: Yes. First, let's see, I think I got back from high school, the boarding school, in
1965, and I think between 1965 and 1970 I was doing cowboying and everything
else. Then I think it was 1970 when I had that car accident that took my sight.
That is when I decided to go to college, and I spent about two years playing
around with doctors, 1970, 1971, and 1972. I started in junior college in 1973.
Then I graduated from law school in 1980, so I went full time for seven years.
But I did not have a big sit-down and decide that I should go to law school. The
only thing that kept me moving was that I was, let's see, twenty-five when that
happened; I was twenty-seven when I finally started junior college. I guess I
could have just lay around there and maybe died of a heart attack by now, just
lying around and eating, or whatever. But some of the people in my family have
grown to be old people, [in their] nineties and over one hundred. So, I figured,
hell, I might live forever. I might as well start doing something just in case. That
is when I decided to try junior college. I always just took it one semester at a
time. If I make it, well and good; if not, the hell with it. I guess I did well enough
that I stuck with it until I finished law school. Even when I was in my last
semester of undergraduate-I was a history major-I did not know what I was
going to do with a history degree except teach, and I did not want to be in a
classroom. So, at the last minute, I decided to try to go to law school over in
Stetson. One of my classmate's father's partners was on the board of trustees,
or something, so we tried to see if he could get me in there, and they did. I think
they were hoping that I would flunk out so they would not have to deal with me.
So, I started in the summer. I think I only took one course in the summer
because back then law school was a whole different ball game than
undergraduate stuff. I survived the summer. I always took the minimum hours,
twelve hours a semester, or something. I went through the summer sessions. It
was either 1976 or 1977, and then I graduated in 1980. I think I came on with the
tribe in 1981. The general counsel they had then left in either 1982 or 1983, and
then they put me in his position. I have been there ever since.
H: So, you came directly from law school to work with the tribe?
S: Yes. When you are about to graduate from law school, just like everybody else,
you will send out resumes. The reply you always get back is that they will keep
your application on file. But when I shipped one out to the tribe, James [Billie]
was the chairman then, he said, whenever you get ready, just come down here
and we will talk money. And that was it. I think I need to talk more money with
him now, though. When I got back here, I was not too much of a stranger to
other folks. I would think I have had it easier working for the tribe than I would
have elsewhere because at the beginning James said, whoever you need to use
to do what you need to do within the tribe, they are at your disposal. I do not
know if he would say that now. They made my life pretty easy. They gave my
department a vehicle, a rental vehicle, and Agnes-and even before her, my
assistants-to take me places, read stuff for me. I do not know if other areas,
other companies can do that for their un-sighted employees. I think I might have
been spoiled by the Seminoles here. I am not griping, though.
H: But you have a special insight into the culture, also, that someone else from the
outside would not be able to bring.
S: I think, whether it is legal or social service, or whatever, if that was headed up by
a person from within-like in this case a Seminole social service, I guess we do
have one in the clinic, but in the social service area-by being a member of that
tribe that you are working with, it probably gives you a little bit more of an edge
than a non-Indian that comes out of a university and starts applying their
H: You also did a 1990 interview with Harry Kersey and it is centered primarily on
the water rights negotiations. I wanted to ask you, first of all, how all that turned
out. What is happening in that area today, as far as protection of the
environment for the Seminoles?
S: First, the quick background on that water issue that got us to where we are. I
think it started in Big Cypress, where the South Florida Water Management
Control was flooding part of the reservation for their drainage system without the
tribe's knowledge or input. I think in the late 1970s the tribe was involved-I am
not sure if they sued the [South Florida Water Management] District or the state
at that time, but it was kind of lying in limbo for a while. Then, around the early
1980s, probably after I took over General Counsel, we brought this thing to a
head with the state and the district. The question was, what kind of water rights
did the Seminoles have. You always hear about these water rights fights out in
the West that go on for years and years. We had the chance of that happening
here, and there has not been any kind of a court decision in this area to answer
some of these questions. We are one of the only two tribes here in Florida. So,
instead of getting into a long, drawn-out litigation, the district people decided, I
think they got one of their negotiating guys, I guess, to start talking to us. From
there, we thought we were able to work out an arrangement where we are
guaranteed certain things and at the same time not disrupting the whole purpose
of South Florida Water Management's plan on drainage, irrigation, and that sort
of thing. That agreement, I think, we cranked out in 1988, and that was approved
by the tribe, the district, Florida, and I think it even has the president's signature
on it, because it went up to Washington for approval. I think, in return for the
water compact-we call it the water compact-the state allows us to do the
things that the South Florida Water Management does in this area, they allow us
to do the same things on the reservation under the tribe's control. So, our
current Water Resource Management Department is equivalent to the South
Florida Water Management District. If anybody on the reservation needs a
permit for building, a ditch-digging project, instead of going to the district, they go
to the tribe's own department and get the permit from there. But we want to
make sure it is consistent with the overall South Florida plan. I guess in the past,
when you wanted from the state, they ignored you or they never gave anything to
you. So, with them, we may be doing the same thing that they should be doing,
but we have less red tape and there will be some resolution of it sometime, as
opposed to with the state, where you never know what the status of the situation
is. In the long run-that was 1988, going on twenty-one years, and I know
James gets carried away developing out in Big Cypress and things move too
slowly for him-but I think, if you do not have kind of a laid-out plan on the
drainage, you might flood your neighbors, not only your other Indian neighbors,
but your surrounding neighbors. That is the reason the district has a permanent
plan, and we have the same thing, in order to avoid this kind of a [problem]. But,
a lot of development goes on in Big Cypress, and sometimes people think the
department moves slow, but I do not think we have had any major problems
since we have been doing that, since 1988. Now that they have that compact,
this environmental thing that everybody gets involved in, now we are a member
on the South Florida Ecological Task Force. Both the Miccosukees and the
Seminoles are members, along with state agencies and federal agencies.
H: What is that organization formed to do?
S: I am not sure if it was a congressional creation or secretariat creation, but it is set
up to study the whole South Florida ecosystem, as they say. I think it involves
many aspects of South Florida and I know one is that re-study program, all these
drainage canals, or they used to call them flood control canals, like the two that
go through Big Cypress and the two that go through Brighton. I do not know
when they were dug, but now they want to take a look at the whole Army Corps
Flood Control Plan and see if there is any way to revive the old system to
improve upon it. Then they are always talking about the pollution going further
down into the Everglades area. They are talking about setting up some level of
pollution that goes down hill from further up north of us, down to us in Big
Cypress, and down into Miccosukee. The landowners north of us would rather
have a higher level, but Miccosukee wants a low level since they are on the tail
end of the pollution. So, [they are] trying to determine what is the proper amount
of pollution in the water when it leaves your land to the next person's land. There
seems to be a lot of environmental things and a lot of committees, and
sometimes we do not have enough live bodies to attend all of them. I am on the
federal task force, and there is a subgroup under it that Craig Tepper [Seminole
Tribe Director of Water Resource Management] is on. There are various
subgroups under that main heading. Craig goes to one, and we have tried to talk
other folks into attending these things, but when you get into environments, water
is kind of boring, so people do not get too interested in that. But I guess it is
important, so ....
H: But if they did not have any, they would not find it very boring. It can be a critical
issue for everyone. I have a general question about the Seminole Tribe's
relationship to the United States government. The Seminole Tribe is a sovereign
nation, so whenever you want to make decisions about the reservations, do you
have to get into discussions with the US government about that? What is the
S: I think, generally, we are called a sovereign nation, and it sounds good, and in
some places we are. But the court-defined status of an Indian tribe is a domestic
dependent nation. I think up to now the interpretation has been that we do not
have to abide by any state regulations, but if it is federal activity, we will have to
check and see if the federal government has made some decision on whatever it
is that we are talking about. Some of the federal laws apply to us and some do
not. So we have to see, whatever the activity, if it is covered by federal [law], and
if not, then we can do it within, under our own internal regulation. In a state
situation, before, on workman's compensation, I do not think we used to be part
of the state workman's compensation situation, but we have formed our own
workman's compensation ordinance and we are able to handle the workman's
compensation situation within the ordinance, which is, again, less red tape and a
shorter time period. A lot of those kinds of things we can do within, and some we
have done, but there are still other things out there that we could but I guess tribe
does not want to go in that direction just yet. But the state regulatory scheme of
thing does not apply, so we do not have to worry about them. It is only the
federal government that we have to be concerned about.
H: So, the movements that we hear about in the news, about the State of Florida
trying to legislate issues surrounding gaming and Indian gaming practices, from
what you are saying it sounds like they do not have any jurisdiction.
S: I think, there, the federal government did pass legislation called the Indian
Gaming Regulatory Act [IGRA]. Ordinarily the state can only be involved if there
is legislation from the federal government that allows them to. So, under that
IGRA, the original IGRA in the gaming area, they tried to balance the three
sovereigns: tribe, state, and federal. Once the tribe makes a request to the state
to do certain gaming, if it is class three gaming, then negotiations were supposed
to start and see if anything comes out. But, if the state, like here, refused to talk
or negotiate, then the IGRA says in that situation that we can sue them. When
we asked for talks, they said no, and we sued Governor Chiles, back then in
1992, and it went up to the Supreme Court, saying we cannot sue the state
because of its Eleventh Amendment immunity. But in those court cases it said if
that was the case, then the Indian tribes would be left with no remedy, and they
carved out a special kind of a remedy in that situation. The state has said no
then and no now. But in that situation the federal government can deal directly
with the tribe and come up with a compact. We are at that stage now. The state
is given a chance to be part of it, but if they do not, then Interior and the tribe can
work out the compact and leave the state out altogether.
H: It sounds like they refused to negotiate, so they are just going to be left out of
whatever happens. It is kind of like cutting off your nose to spite your face.
S: If they want to talk, depending on what kind of gaming we are talking about, we
are willing to participate in the regulation. We even offered money to them, but
they just refused to talk, and that has been their position up to this point.
H: But, once you and the Department of the Interior make your agreements, then
the state will have nothing, they will have no recourse?
H: Thank you for clearing that up for me. What do you consider to be the most
important economic activities of the tribe?
S: I think there are probably no two ways about it; gaming has gotten us to where
we are. I think back to 1979-1980, when we first started the bingo hall here [in
Hollywood]. The one here was the first one of its kind across the whole country.
This was the first high-stakes bingo and it took off elsewhere, and everybody
went through bingo and [into] casino except us. We are still fighting these guys.
Gaming is what got us here. Otherwise, you would not be here, and all these
papers would not be here. I think it has always been a risky thing with gaming,
and I think, maybe, while we have a chance with the money, we ought to
diversify into other things, just in case gaming is ever knocked out from under us.
But I am not sure how far in that area we have gone. I know we have two hotels
in Hillsborough County, and I know James has an aircraft project and herbal
medicine thing, and I know he is in Nicaragua. But we do not get too involved in
those things, business aspects, how it is doing. I think, economically, like I said,
while we have the revenue now we ought to get into some other things. It may
not be a big, quick money-making business, but at least something that will be
H: Do you have any ideas what kinds of enterprises those might be?
S: I do not know. The only places that we have room for anything is Big Cypress or
Brighton and they are right in the middle of the state, and you cannot do too
much to attract businesses and industry to come out there because of the
distance. I think that if anything is to happen, just like the whole bingo concept,
you have to use your imagination and come up with some idea. In the Tampa
reservation, when they bought the land and made it into a reservation, I know
that James was saying, if we could not get the individuals off reservations and
into town, maybe we will bring the reservation to town. I think that is how that
concept got started. But here in Hollywood we are kind of maxed out on
development. We are in an urban area here, so if we were going to do
manufacturing or anything, we would be close to the transportation lines: airlines,
railroads, or whatever. But we are maxed out here so we cannot do anything
new or more. So, the best places are Big Cypress or Brighton, but again the
distance would probably keep people from presenting any kind of a proposal or
coming up with new plans for those areas. That is why they are still into citrus,
cattle, and they are getting into sugarcane. I guess those things are good for
H: Right. I have heard that there is possibly going to be another reservation added
at Fort Pierce?
S: I am not sure it makes any difference, but to the Bureau [of Indian Affairs] it does.
Here, Big Cypress, and Brighton, the three original ones, are trust land as well
as the reservation. That is a two step process.
H: What does that mean? Can you explain that?
S: That is hard to figure out, but that is the way the Bureau requires [it]. Land
becomes a trust land or federal land when it is donated to the federal
government. Then they hold it for the beneficial use of the Seminoles. That is
the first step. I think the second step is kind of required by various agencies that
service the Indian tribe, like the IHS [Indian Health Services], HUD [Housing and
Urban Development], that require a certain kind of a service area. I never
understood what that does. I think they use that just to put some stumbling
blocks in front of us. Once you get a trust status, you need a reservation status
to be, I guess, in compliance with everything. So, in Fort Pierce it is already a
trust land. We can build on it, just like we can here. But we do not have a
reservation status yet. I think the resolution was passed and shipped to the
Bureau to have it as a reservation status. I think that only mainly affects the
Indian Health Service, the clinic here.
H: Why is that?
S: I am not sure. It has something to do with the clinic here, [which] not only
services the tribal members, but they service the members of other federally
recognized tribes here as well. So, I think it has something to do with the
services of the Indian Health Service. How many did you say, five reservations?
H: Yes, there are currently five, right? And Fort Pierce would be a sixth?
S: Fort Pierce would be the seventh. We have a five-acre or less over in Coconut
Creek, just north of here in this same county. That one has a trust status, too.
Fort Pierce is the seventh.
H: But as far as reservations status, there are just the five?
H: How about tourism? Is the legal department involved at all in aspects of the
S: No. We know there is a lot of attempt out there to bring people out to Big
Cypress and that, but as far as any details, no one has asked us to get involved.
So, we do not know what is happening.
H: Is the legal department involved at all in issues of cultural preservation in any
H: That is about all I had to ask you. I want to give you the opportunity, though, to
add anything you would like, to speak on any issue that I have not asked you
S: What do you think, Daisi? [Laughter.] We were organized in 1958, but we were
around long before then, and through all of those slim, hard times I think they
have made an improvement. The tribe, overall, has made an improvement over
every decade up to this point. When you are located on a reservation, land that
nobody wanted in the whole state anyhow, I think Big Cypress and Brighton have
made it into something, that tourism, citrus, cattle, and that sort of a thing. I think
if that kind of an attitude still holds, in the future, the next decade and on ...
Like I said, sometimes when you are on a reservation you have to take some
chances, take some risks, unlike if you had a normal kind of location and you can
go buy and sell land wherever you want to. Sometimes taking a risk and hoping
for the best, along with using your imagination, I think up to this point that has
gotten us to where we are, so I do not think we can dwell on being conservative
in too many business things. You have almost got to, like I said, take some
chances; you may fail now and then, but maybe it is better to fail trying than
never trying, if it does not cost that much in the failure. But I think our locations,
our reservations' locations, are going to dictate that kind of a thinking process.
Until that changes, if the thinking was in that direction, I think we will still come
out okay in the next few decades or so.
H: You mentioned one thing in what you just said about, if the attitude still holds,
trying to do new things. With the success of the tribe, have you seen any change
in those attitudes in the younger generations?
S: I think it may even work in reverse. They may have it too easy and they are
getting lazy. We give them dividends; we give them everything that they want.
Maybe we are spoiling them.
H: Yet, as you said, the number of college graduates is increasing. So, there is both
a positive and a negative side to the success that the tribe has experienced?
H: Do you see it as kind of a balance?
S: I think it probably cannot go on as it is forever, so, as the world gets more
complicated, just to survive is even a chore these days. I think the education
department keeps promoting education. Now we have more going, and in the
future maybe we will have even more going, so I think the time and the
promotion, hopefully, will have more graduates and the balance will be on the
their side, on the higher education process.
H: And they will be the new leaders of the tribe.
H: In that line, have some of the college graduates come to work for the tribe?
S: I think some do, but according to the chairman, that is not a requirement. The
tribe will assist an individual to go through college and pay for most of their
expenses and they can come back if they want. But, if not, then that is,
according to him, one less person he will have worry about anyhow.
H: Well, again, I thank you very much for your time and I enjoyed speaking with you
S: All right.