Title: William Osceola
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Sem 265
Interviewee: William Osceola
Date: June 27, 2000
Page 1

Sem 265

Interviewee: William Osceola

Interviewer: J. Ellison

Date: June 27, 2000

E: Today's date is the 27th of June, 2000. My name is Jim Ellison and I am sitting with

William Osceola at the church the new church facility on the Trail. This is going to be

a Baptist Church?

O: Yes.

E: We are going to do an interview, today. To start off with, is William Osceola, your full


O: No, it is my full name. William Osceola. My Indian name is

E: How would you spell it?

O: I have no idea. (Laughing) My wife knows how to spell it.

E: What does it mean?

O: It is a name after one of my uncles, one of my uncles from the past. But I have no idea

what it means.

E: Would you say it again so I could ... ?

0: neohatchi

E: I am not going to be able to spell that.

Sem 265
Interviewee: William Osceola
Date: June 27, 2000
Page 2

O: It is hard.

E: Something like did you say Cachug nee hatchi?

O: Ca chugneehatchi, yeah.

E: And you were given that name at a Green Corn Dance?

O: Yeah.

E: And it is from an uncle whose has deceased.

O: Yeah, one of his names.

E: And you don't know what it means?

O: Not right now, I don't.

E: And you are a member of the Panther Clan? We were talking earlier and you said you

were born in ...

O: ...in Broward County.

E: In Broward County, over toward ...

O: I was born in Fort Lauderdale, Broward General Hospital. 1953

E: But you said you parents were from here.

O: Yeah. Originally, they were from here. Then they migrated to the Hollywood

Reservation. Like my Uncle Bill, and all them, they were like the founders of the

Seminole Tribe.

E: Bill Osceola.

O: Yeah. Yes, he is my Uncle.

E: Did you say that your Uncle was your father's brother or your Mother's brother?

Sem 265
Interviewee: William Osceola
Date: June 27, 2000
Page 3

O: Father's brother.

E: So, he was involved in the founding in the 1950's?

O: Yeah. He, Frank Billie and a lot of them were involved. Willie Frank, Tiger, I am

trying to remember. Most of them are gone, now. Frank Billie is about the only one left,

I think, that was one of the founders of the Tribe, that is still alive, today.

E: I heard him speak a couple of weeks ago to a graduating class up in Big Cypress. So, you

were born and raised in the Hollywood area, then. Born in Fort Lauderdale ...

O: Yeah, in Hollywood. At the time, it was called Dania Reservation. Virgil Harrington

used to be there, he used to be work for the BIA. He was the one that there for a long

time. He was a good ole boy. He just passed away about five years ago.

E: Yeah, I remember hearing about that. So, the Miccosukee language name Cachug nee

hatchi, that was your uncle's name, ...

O: Yeah, one of my uncles.

E: You received that at the Green Corn Dance when you were about thirteen or fourteen or

something like that?

O: No, believe it or not, I got it when I was thirty years old. I didn't have an Indian name

and I wanted one. Because like my Daddy and them, they were Christianity and they

didn't really talk about Corn Dances. So, I when I became a grown man, I told my Mom

and Dad that (because my sisters had Indian names and I didn't have one) so I wanted

one. So, I said "Why?" I guess it was a time when they were changing and going to

Christianity. So, I came out here on my own and I found a friend of mine, Lee Cypress

Sem 265
Interviewee: William Osceola
Date: June 27, 2000
Page 4

(he is deceased, now), but I came and talked to him. I told him that I wanted a name

since I did not have one. And my Miccosukee was in that great I could not

in that great place. It is like we were talking about earlier, education takes away

from your heritage because your parents want you to make it in that world and in order to

do that, you almost have to give up your tradition. But today, our Chairman of the Tribe

is saying is that tradition we need it. And he has initiated to have it come back. So,

now we have schools, even preschool that have them learning their ABC's and learning

how to talk, now. So, that is what you have to teach, again. And I know that from my

own experience, that this is where we need it. In that way, everybody can start talking. I

was really bad. Today, I cannot really talk that well, as well as some people. I can talk

but ...

E: I heard you having a conversation on the phone with some people that was Miccosukee, I

think. That was the whole conversation was in it.

O: I am getting better. It is just the way it is. That is why I came back here, too. I came

back out here to find out who I was; being an Indian, you know. I was educated in a

white man's world. I learned Baptist and I never had been to a Corn Dance. At age

thirty, I decided to come to look for a name. In order to do that, I had to go to the Corn


E: Did you have a childhood name?

O: No, I didn't have anything. Just William.

E: So, when you got this name and you were thirty years old, you say you hadn't been to a

Sem 265
Interviewee: William Osceola
Date: June 27, 2000
Page 5

Corn Dance, before?

O: No, that was my first time.

E: And you came out here?

O: Yeah.

E: ...instead of going to Big Cypress or ...

O: Well, Big Cypress didn't have a Corn Dance going at the time. It was here and they had

one at Hilolo.

E: At Hilolo. That was before Yeehah Junction ... ?

O: Yeah.

E: Where is the Hilolo one? I'm not sure.

O: ...on the other side of Okeechobee, city of Okeechobee, maybe thirty miles out.

E: So, you decided to come to this one.

O: Yeah.

E: You knew people out here?

O: Yeah. I knew them way back. We played basketball and all that. That is how I knew

them. I knew that is how I knew Lee

E: And he was living in Hollywood?

O: No, Lee has always been here. He has lived here.

E: So, you made this decision that you wanted to have a name; you wanted to find out more

about your heritage ...

O: Yeah.

Sem 265
Interviewee: William Osceola
Date: June 27, 2000
Page 6

E: You came out and talked to him.

O: I talked to him and I told him I can hardly talk that good, yet. I wanted him to help me

get a name. So, I hung around with him for the whole ordeal. He talked to the medicine

man and all of that. He told them and I hung around and I got my name. I got scratched.

The first time I got scratched and then it was a big deal to me. It was something that my

people had always done. And I had a couple of friends in college, too. I went to

Oklahoma to school there, for a while. I took a couple of semesters, there. But it was too

hard for me, in school. So, I dropped out and came back. And then, I worked as an

orderer? And I ordered on cranes.

E: So, you were talking about you were saying that you began your education, you say

your parents were really interested in you getting an education.

O: Yeah.

E: In Hollywood. What kinds of things did they say? What about education, was so

important to them?

O: Well, to them, like they said, they wanted us to make it out there. And education, to me -

I don't know. I made it. I did everything they wanted. I went to boarding schools. I

went out to Oklahoma, Oklahoma. I went there. I went to Citika; I made

grades. I was out eighth grade. I was rebellious. I had my sleeves rolled up;

let my hair grow that was back in the early seventies, I guess. They had just closed at

the time. Shirts tucked in; I had mine out and trying to let my hair grow over my ears. I

think I was just a little rebel when I got kicked out. I fell. And I wanted to go to

Sem 265
Interviewee: William Osceola
Date: June 27, 2000
Page 7

boarding school after that because first or second grade, I flunked that because I didn't

know how to speak English at all.

E: So, you didn't pick up English at home?

O: No, I learned that in school.

E: Which school was that?

O: I went to Sterling Elementary.

E: Sterling Elementary.

O: That is where we all went. My sisters went to Dania before but that is where a lot of

learned English. Sadly to say, that is where a lot of us lost our language, too. But you

can pick your language back up, like I have. Like you said when I was talking. That is

pretty good to talk in your own language. Sometimes I go to Hollywood and I talk to

somebody and they say I don't know what you said. Oh, I'm sorry. So, how is your

Mom? (Answers in Miccosukee) I don't know what you said. Oh, she is good.

E: Interesting. It is because they don't have the language.

O: But you in the white man's world. Because we are here in camps, we

speak our language. And we are not surrounded by white people, like in Hollywood and

all that. That is why you have to learn English. That is where I came from, in

Hollywood and then I went to Big Cypress. I lived in Big Cypress for many years. And I

started speaking there. And I have been speaking and I have been learning how to talk to

them. I have learned my traditions and my Corn Dance. I have been to the Corn Dance

every summer. I go to where I got my name. That is where I go. My Mama is happy I

Sem 265
Interviewee: William Osceola
Date: June 27, 2000
Page 8

went. I sat down and I talked I just didn't get up and go. I told them we were sitting

at the dinner table and I told my Mom and Dad, 'don't set a table for me because I am not

going to be here. I am going to the Trail. I am going to go find a name.' And my Dad

looked at me. He didn't approve but in his heart, he was glad, I know. He is an Indian, a

Seminole. So, I went. And now, he talks to me about Corn Dances. He tells me about

Dances they used to have that they don't have and all that. But, I was in the dark, you

know, so I had to find out on my own. I came and I found out and I danced. Danced all

night and they give you your name at midnight. _----your hair, and all that. They call

you. And that is your name. And ever since then, I have always had it. I feel whole now,

you know, because I have a name. I accomplished what I wanted to do. Ever since then,

I have been trying to accomplish things.

E: Does having a name make you feel like more a part of the Indian community?

O: Yeah.

E: ...because you have gone through that.

O: Because people ask you, and I used to say I don't have a name.

E: People ask you?

O: They use to, before I had it. But now, I have it; I have a name and I can tell them. Just

like I told you. Before that time, I couldn't tell them because I didn't have one.

E: Is it a name that you use with people? Do people call you that?

O: My wife calls me that when she wants something. I will be outside, like I split wood like

I was showing you. I will be out there splitting wood because we have a cooking

Sem 265
Interviewee: William Osceola
Date: June 27, 2000
Page 9

chickee, too. I am splitting wood. Cachug nee hatchi'. "Oh, oh. What do you want?'

I don't know. It is good. To me, I do feel good having a name.

[Missing some few exchanges here. Perhaps about the time or logistics of the interview.]

E: So, it is not a name you end up using a lot, but you use it at the Corn Dance?

O: Yeah, and I brought my son up last summer first time, too.

E: How old is he?

O: He is sixteen. But, I didn't get him a man's name. I am going to get him a name next

year, though.

E: Does he have a childhood name?

O: Yeah.

E: [An aside regarding someone coming into the yard.] Stealing your truck?

O: Yeah, he came right in there. His name is Atmachi. My mother gave him that name at

birth. He is named after his uncle. I have no idea. These are like Creek words.

E: They are not Miccosukee?

O: No. Miccosukee or Seminole. But like our songs are in Creek. Some of our songs are in


E: Yes, I guess I knew that. And so your son's name is ... ?

O: Atamichi. I don't know how to spell that, either.

[voice calling to speakers, What does it feel like to be in such power]

Interruption of tape.

Sem 265
Interviewee: William Osceola
Date: June 27, 2000
Page 10

O: So, these guys need a name, too. Ashpee

E: Ispe?

O: Ashpee, corn.

E: Hello, Ashpee. Well, I've got cats and so

O: He wants attention.

E: Just for the sake of the tape recorder, we moved and now we are over at your house on

old US 41. And your cat, Ashbee, really is looking for attention, here. Serious attention.

O: They know they aren't going to get it from me. Macho man. (Laughs)

E: They must know that I've got cats at home.

O: Yeah, they sense that.

E: We were talking before about education and where you started school. And you started

school and initially, you went to Sterling. And, you say, your sisters had gone to Dania?

O: Yeah, that was back then. That was before Elementary was built.

E: And you were talking about how your parents were pretty kinda adamant that you go to

school. They really wanted you to go get your education. And you it was so you could

survive out there. By that they meant ... ?

O: ...because my Dad maybe he knew how it was because he used to work. He was from

Hollywood and he used to come to Miami and they used to work in parking garages.

They used to park cars.

E: Your Dad used to do that?

O: Yeah.

Sem 265
Interviewee: William Osceola
Date: June 27, 2000
Page 11

E: What was your Dad's name?

O: Joe Osceola.

E: And your Mom's name was ... ?

O: Martha.

E: Martha. And where were they from?

O: Here. They lived all along here.

E: In what is now the Miccosukee Reservation?

O: Yeah.

E: And so they wanted you to go to ... ?

O: In their younger years, they picked potatoes and they worked in the fields. Maybe that is

why but then my Dad, he became he educated himself. He watched that Channel 2,

that education station. He learned how to read and how to do that. He used to interfere

with our shows. (Laughs) Dad, we want to watch this. And he said No, and he would

bring out his books and sit there and watch it. And he taught himself English.

E: You remember that?

O: Yes, because we couldn't watch our cartoons. He wanted to work.

E: What did you think of that when he was doing that, when you were a kid? Did you think

this was crazy? Why are you doing this?

O: No. We were in school, too. And we did book reading. And he said the big words like

cursive writing and all that and he taught himself that, all that. He taught himself how to

speak English, how to write, how to play the guitar, he knows how to read notes, now. I

Sem 265
Interviewee: William Osceola
Date: June 27, 2000
Page 12

told him, 'Man, if you had an education, you would have been a genius, man.' Yeah, he

used to do that. Channel 2. They used to have that. I guess Channel 2 probably would

like to hear that they educated somebody on television.

E: They succeeded.

O: Yeah, with my father. We watched them. I remember the yellow books he used to have

that had Channel 2 on there, you know. That is how he learned how to do it. And so, we

couldn't argue with him about education because he had done it.

E: He didn't go to school when he was a kid?

O: No, he was born in the everglades. He was born out in the woods.

E: And your Mom?

O: No, my mom was just raising us. There were eight of us, so she didn't have time.

E: She kept really busy with that.

O: Maybe that is where I got my drive, I don't know. But, my dad, I

remember, to this day, he watched the people on TV, you know. And he would send his

stuff into the station and they would check his work.

E: That is how it would work?

O: He used to do that. I think about that, today, ...

E: That took a lot of what do you say persistence?

O: Yeah.

E: to really keep after it?

O: ...In addition he was a cowboy, too. We have cattle, too, on the Big Cypress Reservation.

Sem 265
Interviewee: William Osceola
Date: June 27, 2000
Page 13

E: You do?

O: That is why I wear the hat and boots. I grew up I learned how to ride a horse before I

knew how to swim.

E: So, you started off you were born in Fort Lauderdale. You moved to Hollywood and

that is where you went to school.

O: I lived in Hollywood but I was born in Fort Lauderdale.

E: And then, you moved out to Big Cypress, at some point? Who was out in Big Cypress?

Somebody in your family?

O: Yeah. My mom and dad had moved out there and got a store. So, we moved out there

with them to help them out.

E: Where was the store?

O: It was where that big parking lot is by that library in Big Cypress. You know where the

library is?

E: Yeah.

O: That big parking lot that used to be right there.

E: Was that the gas station?

O: Yeah, yeah.

E: You had the gas station.

O: Yeah. We used to own that.

E: I was wondering about that because somebody is opening a gas station up now.

O: But we don't have that one, now. We used to have the old one back there.

Sem 265
Interviewee: William Osceola
Date: June 27, 2000
Page 14

E: It is not there, anymore.

O: It is gone, yeah.

E: So, you were how old when you moved out there?

O: I was about twenty-six or something like that.

E: So, you were pretty well along.

O: No, I just got out of highschool. I just got out of highschool.

E: You went out to Sequoya or some other schools

O: Seneca. I went out to eight grades with Seneca in Whynott, Oklahoma. And then to

Oklahoma, which was the highschool. I went there from my ninth to my

senior year. But I came back to Hollywood and went to Cooper City in Dania, Florida,

because I wanted my mom and Dad to see me graduate. I came back and they saw me


E: You graduated back in Cooper City?

O: Yeah, back in 1974.

E: And at that point, they were still living out in Hollywood.

O: Yeah, we were in Hollywood back then. You know what, they lived in Big Cypress.

They were in Big Cypress at that time.

E: When you came back?

O: Yeah. They were in Big Cypress.

E: Where did they get the cattle? How long had they had cattle?

O: Well, my father has had cattle since I was a kid. I guess it was from the government a

Sem 265
Interviewee: William Osceola
Date: June 27, 2000
Page 15

long time ago. We used to have open range; we didn't used to have barbed wired fences

like they do now. So, it was like, you stayed like a week to round them up. Everybody

would come; we would bring them and the whole families would come. Then, we would

camp there and then, everybody would go catch their horses. It would take about two

days to find your horse. So, they would find the horses and bring them back ...

E: ...because the horses were out, too.

O: Yeah, the horses were out running free, too. Sometimes you would have to chase them

down and they used to make us fences. They used to get the moms and the kids and they

used to make us stand around them.

E: Human fences.

O: Yeah, because we didn't have any fences at that time. That was on the Brighton

Reservation. That was we started.

E: So, what kind of horses were those?

O: Quarter horses. We had some Appaloosas; some people had some painted

ponies and stuff. Any kind of horses they had, they rode it.

E: And that was at the Brighton?

O: Yeah. That is where we had the Brahma bulls, the big old white ones with the humps on

them. We used to have those for breeding. And they were wild, too. So, when they

came at us, we used to all run for the truck. You can understand that. And they used to

chase us, too.

E: Really? That is very impressive.

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Interviewee: William Osceola
Date: June 27, 2000
Page 16

O: Yeah, they were mean. Little kid with a big old bull coming after me. That was part of

my growing up. And it taught me hard work and perseverence.

E: You still have cattle?

O: Yeah, I still have cattle.

E: And they are up ...

O: Yes, at Big Cypress, now. We moved from Brighton to Big Cypress.

E: And you have seven brothers and sisters?

O: I have three sisters ... [wind blowing into mic]

E: And so they all have cattle, too.

O: No, just my Dad. My pop but we all work together and help him.

E: Does he still live up in Big Cypress?

O: Yes. He is seventy-four years old. He is an old cowboy.

E: You were talking earlier about education and the language and how you went away to

school where English was the language of instruction. And you said I am trying to

remember how you said it the idea was to learn English but that people wouldn't expect

you to go there and forget your own language. Was that what was happening?

O: Like here, they have their own schools; the Miccosukee have

their own school and they teach the language. Like over in Headstart in Hollywood,

now, they are doing that; they are teaching the kids the language.

E: What do you think of that?

O: I think it is great. Because that is the only way you will bring the language back is

Sem 265
Interviewee: William Osceola
Date: June 27, 2000
Page 17

through the little babies because that is what they are going to learn. And from what I

understand, I talked to my sisters who teach over there. Cornelia, she teaches over there

at that preschool. They teach the language.

E: Over in Hollywood?

O: Yeah. And then they have classes, too, if you don't know it, you can go there and learn

the language.

E: ...for adults?

O: ...for adults.

E: Your sister's name is Cornelia?

O: Yeah.

E: Did your kids go to school over here? Were you living out here at the time?

O: No. My kids my son is William, William, Jr. He goes to Heritage, Heritage

Highschool. That is a private school and one of the second biggest schools in south

Florida. And my daughter, she I can't remember if she went to school at well, she

went to public school at home.

E: Your son went to Heritage Highschool.

O: American Heritage. He is in eleventh grade, now.

E: He is sixteen, you said?

O: Yeah. A real computer wiz.

E: I guess you almost have to be to go through highschool these days. And your daughter

goes to a different school?

Sem 265
Interviewee: William Osceola
Date: June 27, 2000
Page 18

O: Yeah, she went to in Oklahoma.

E: Were you very adamant about them going to school to get an education? Was there ever

any question about it?

O: Well, they, themselves, know they need education. So, they succeeded in going to


E: Were you living out here when they first started going to school?

O: Did they go to school out here to the ... ?

O: No. Their mother raises them. (Laughs)

E: That is her realm?

O: They live in my house and all that and I support them. I support my ex, you know,

because she raises my son.

E: Oh, I see. OK I didn't understand that you were not with them. Do they speak


O: No, they don't. They want to learn. They sent me a tape recorder and a blank tape for

me to talk on it and teach them. But, like I said, he can learn over there. He is right


E: Are they tribal members?

O: Oh, yeah. Tribal members. I made sure of that when they were born. And they will

probably be tribal members, you know,

E: Do you think they don't speak Miccosukee because of... ?

O: ...of their education.

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Interviewee: William Osceola
Date: June 27, 2000
Page 19

E: Because this was before they had some of these programs.

O: Yeah. It has just now gotten initiated about a year ago, or two years ago. But, they can

go on their own and learn if they want to. And I know they can because they are really

smart. All of the kids are smart, today. They can pick it up.

E: That is what all their teachers are telling me, too, that there are some really bright kids.

Do you want them to pick it up?

O: The language?

E: Yeah.

O: Yeah, I do. But the thing is, the parents need to speak it, too. So, the kid learns how to

speak the language and he comes home and his parents speak English. It is hard. Like

sometimes my wife says, hey, we are Indians. Let's talk. OK, and we start talking,

again. And then, English pops up in there, again.

E: Why is that? Why do you think the English pops up in there?

O: Well, it is more like the dominant language. For me, it is, anyway. It dominated my life,

most of my life. Hey, Frank. There is a Seminole, there. There is my sister's my

wife's sister's

E: Is it because English is all over the place?

O: Yeah. English is everywhere. And now, Miami wants to make Spanish the language.

And to me, I don't like that. We had to speak English. And we had our own language so

I don't want to get political about this but these people should learn English, too.

E: Do you speak any Spanish?

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Interviewee: William Osceola
Date: June 27, 2000
Page 20

O: I don't speak Spanish. My wife's son speaks Spanish. He was going to UM. He had

Spanish classes, there.

E: Over in Miami?

O: Yeah. University of Miami.

E: We are going to rapidly run out of time so I am going to start talking about some of the

work you do. You are a non-voting member of the tribal council?

O: Yeah.

E: You are also a board representative?

O: Yes.

E: ...for the people on the Trail? Is that right?

O: We are Seminoles that live out here on other peoples land and we don't have any

reservation so we call this we started this about four or five ago. It originally originated

from here. The Trail Seminoles. So, we looked for a name and we live on the Trail and

we are Seminoles, so we are the Trail Seminoles. And we try to be traditional; we try to

keep our tradition. Like you have seen our construction and how I try to keep the

tradition going. Anyway, that is how we started. And we didn't have any voice and we

couldn't be heard, so we got together and we created this organization so that we can get

help from the tribe which we haven't gotten in a lot of years. There are people who have

lived here longer than me. I have only been here for six or seven years and there are

people here who have been here all their lives. Today, with the help of the Chairman and

Mitchell Cypress and them, I've gotten a lot of help from them. I have money to build

Sem 265
Interviewee: William Osceola
Date: June 27, 2000
Page 21

bath houses and chickees. I believe the living standards get rid of extensive cords that

are laying all over the ground, which is dangerous, hazardous. Especially, around here,

since it is raining all the time.

E: It is raining all the time; it floods.

O: So, it is bad. I have been working hard. I hire Seminole members to build the chickees.

I hire Seminole members to build walls, but if I don't have enough workers, than I hire

outside people. My job here, is to give jobs to my members. Sometimes some of my

members want somebody else to build the chickee for them. I tell them. I can't. That is

defeating the purpose of what we started. I said the people that want to build it because

really, I created jobs. I opened up a whole new thing. That way, you know, we don't

have to go to the tribal office and ask for money, ask for assistance. This way, we can

work. I can give jobs to my people while they are building their camps up, you know.

There is a temporary thing like, you know, I said this is a one time deal. Make your

house the way you want it. Live comfortably, because you are going to be in it for many

years. So, this is what I have been doing. And without James Billie's help, I wouldn't be

able to do all this.

E: So, when you talk with James about this, the couple of things you were talking about: one

was upgrading people's houses, the other was creating jobs for them, temporarily.

O: Yeah, and then, expanding the camps.

E: We had a chance to look at some of those camps. You were showing me some of those,

earlier. It is really impressive. They are chickees but they are insulated and walled and

Sem 265
Interviewee: William Osceola
Date: June 27, 2000
Page 22

can be air-conditioned. But, they are still camps. They are still the extended family


O: But they were running out of room and when that happens, they are going to move into

houses with somebody. And traditionally, the women which are Seminole women, here,

they don't have any place to go. Which is why I built bigger camps I was thinking of

the future. I am building chickees for little minor kids, but in a few years, they are going

to be growing up. And they are going to need housing. Everybody's got room, now.

They have their own space. That is what I like.

E: How did you come about at what point did you decide how did you come to the

position where you were going to go get help from the tribe to do this? What made you

think that this needed to be done?

O: (Chuckles) I will tell you what is funny about it. I didn't know it was going to bloom

into this project. Someone had asked me that they needed a chickee and I said OK, I will

build you one.

E: And they didn't mean just a chickee like this chickee. They meant like a ...

O: They wanted a place to live.

E: ...with walls.

O: And from there, I said, you want walls? You want insulation? They said, Yeah. You

want electrical wires in there and everything? They said. Yeah, yeah. And so, I started

with that. And somebody else, like this phone call that I got today, they said are you

bring in any more fill. This is what she was asking me. I said, 'Yeah, but it is for a

Sem 265
Interviewee: William Osceola
Date: June 27, 2000
Page 23

different project, now. Bath houses.' And they said, Oh. You know, my people see

things going on. They don't want to be left out. I tell them you are not going to be left

out. They always call me every time something is happening. I have got to tell them this

is what I am doing. It is a continuous and progressing thing and some of the people have

bath houses. So, you know, if you have them, I have to get these guys caught up with

you guys. And like I said, the camps belong to the women here. Traditional, they belong

to the women. US guys, we don't own anything, we just live here. We can't discipline

the kids. The women, the uncles, they discipline their own family. That is tradition.

And you know that we try to be traditional here, too. People speak their own language,

which I like. It is helping me to strengthen my language, because I hear people talking

all of the time. They don't say, Hey, William, can you speak? They just talk to me.

E: They assume you are going to be speaking ...

O: [Indian term] I can say, Yeah, I can speak.

E: Gradually, it started out with one person who said they wanted to build a chickee and

then other people started saying they wanted one and what? You went to James or

something and said I have got all these people that ...

O: Well, at first, no, I didn't approach James. I had just started talking to the Crystal

Donovan and she works with James. I talked to her and told her what my needs are.

And I told her there are needs and wants. And the needs are what I am looking at, right

now. I said, we want a lot of things but these are the needs, first, which is housing. So,

then, the money got cut off at one point. But I talked to the council and I talked to James

Sem 265
Interviewee: William Osceola
Date: June 27, 2000
Page 24

Billie, again. I told them what was going on. I told him that my people need housing.

They need houses. They need fill. I need some money. I said I am talking about a lot of

money, you know.

E: Yeah, because it has to be brought in. Where does the fill come from?

O: I had a dike over her that I worked with the state park. I asked them if I could have it.

And they let us have it for free. So, all I had to do was pay for the hauling and the

spreading which saved the tribe money. I am trying to do things, trying to work with the

tribe and I am also trying to save money. I am trying to do all this. And then, it bloomed

into a big, old project. It really excites me. I really got excited about it. You know some

of the people, they look at me and they say, William, we know you are doing something

because we see it because it is right there in front of them. And then, people want to

know where all the money is going that I got and I say, come on down and take a look.

E: Do some people come down and take a look?

O: Some people do.

E: From Hollywood?

O: Yeah. Well, mostly contractors and office people. They come and see. They see what I

am doing and they say, Wow, that is really something. And my members here, they like

it. They are happy. I have been doing really well. I have been crossing my fingers and

knocking on wood. I have been doing a lot for everybody. I have been building some

camps that were left alone because we had no assistance; we had no money. But, now

that we have a voice in the council, we have a representative that I can talk to and tell the

Sem 265
Interviewee: William Osceola
Date: June 27, 2000
Page 25

Chairman about my needs. And tell him that my needs and explain to him and then he

approves things for me. And that is how I got this going, you know. It is not easy, what I

do. Sometimes, I get frustrated. I want things. I have to find a way to ask for it. And

mostly, it is just needed. I mean, that is it; that is the bottom line.

E: You said that other people come down and take a look. Do other tribal members from

other reservations come down to see what you are up to?

O: No, not really. Like if they come to parties or something, they see; they look at it. They

say, Wow. I say and I have got that all the way down the highway. Some of them just

want to cook and eat in chickees. And some of them need housing. And the way I base

this on, is that the Chairman talks of tradition, now. And this is tradition. You can't get

any more traditional than having a cooking chickee. This is an eating chickee, here. We

cook there, too. My wife and them, we cook there. We sit in here, sometimes, at night.

E: How often do you cook out here?

O: We eat out here pretty often. We come out here; I go out an split wood for her and pile it

up right there. And when she runs low, I go get some more. And she cooks. And then,

sometimes, here ... this is the Otter. They call this the Otter Alley, Otter Camp because

my wife is Otter Clan. She is an Otter and her cousin, next door, is an Otter.

E: So, this over on our left is her sister, you said.

O: Yeah, and the other one is her cousin.

E: Her Mother's ...

O: No, just in the Otter Clan.

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Interviewee: William Osceola
Date: June 27, 2000
Page 26

E: Just in the Otter Clan.

O: I mean, somewhere they are related but this is a really small area, you know.

E: And she is a Seminole tribal member ... ?

O: No.

E: She is a Miccosukee Tribe?

O: She is a Miccosukee member.

E: And that is how you ended up living here?

O: Yeah.

E: Because she is a Miccosukee tribal member.

O: Yeah, and we are married. And me, being a Seminole member, living here, I can get this

built wherever there is a Seminole member living. He is entitled to a living chickee, a

house, a cooking chickee and a eating chickee. And that is tradition. As I was telling

you earlier, I always wanted to live in a camp. It was something I always wanted to do.

E: You did when you were growing up, when you first growing up.

O: Yeah, but it got burned down.

E: You don't know how it got burned down?

O: It was all black poles black legs standing there, when we got back. My father used to

play an accordion in church and that got burned down.

E: You were away?

O: Yeah. We were out in Brighton.

E: You came back and ... ?

Sem 265
Interviewee: William Osceola
Date: June 27, 2000
Page 27

O: Yeah. It was gone.

E: Other people's also?

O: No. Just ours.

E: And after that, you moved into a CBS house.

O: Yeah.

E: Pretty much, right away?

O: I think we lived with my Uncle, at first. We lived with them.

E: With which uncle?

O: I think it was Max. My late Uncle Max.

E: Max Cypress?

O: Osceola. I think we lived with them. I can't remember. It was when I was really young.

We lived with them for a while and they built us a block house, which had no windows.

E: It didn't have any windows?

O: No. windows. I mean it just had a hole. But it didn't have any windows.

E: And it didn't have walls inside?

O: No, no walls and no stucco on it. It was just blocks put together.

E: Had a roof on it?

O: It had a roof on it. But that wasn't even done, either. The soffits or the fascia wasn't

even done.

E: Were they going to put walls up, inside?

O: Maybe, because across the street, my mother's family lived there. And they had walls

Sem 265
Interviewee: William Osceola
Date: June 27, 2000
Page 28

inside their house but it wasn't finished, either. It was like two-by-fours, standing there.

But this is for them but they were never finished.

E: And the place you moved into, did you ever put walls in? Did they ever put walls in?

O: No.

E: So, it stayed like that?

O: Stayed like that.

Side B

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