SOUTHEASTERN INDIAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
In cooperation with The Seminole Tribe of Florida
INTERVIEWEE: D. TUCKER
INTERVIEWER: JEAN CHAUDHURI-
Arts and crafts, 1-2
Creek [Muskogee], 2
learning of, 4
Miccosukee, 2, 4
Medicine men, 5-6
Tribal elections, 3
University of Oklahoma, 4
I: The beautiful Seminole jacket that you were making...I'm
curious just to know, where did you learn how to make this?
Did you learn this from your mother, or your grandmother?
Where did you learn how to do this? When did you learn how
to do this?
S: I learned when my aunt was sewing. I always practiced, you
know, and like you going to school--something you practice.
So that's the way I learned, and way back after my mother
died, I remember just a little bit and they taught me how to
sew and practice, and I started. I'd make it so it looked
awful. You know, I'm kind of shy, and I don't want nobody
to see it. I'd hide it, put it away. I'd start over again.
I: But it was a beautiful jacket. I really thought it was pretty.
The colors...pink, and the designs that you have used. At
one time, did the designs have meaning?
S: They used to, but nowdays they just make it up. They made
it up in like something they made it up. Do you understand?
They made it up...that everything's new.
I: You're creative. You just use the designs?
I: Now, are there other things that the Seminoles make besides
the jackets? How about those dolls? What are they made out of,
the dolls that look like it has grass around it? What's the
name of this material that they use to make the doll head?
S: The body?
I: The body.
S: They look like coconut, and stuck all the coconut inside. But,
it's not really coconut, but it's.... I don't know how they
call it, but when white people they ask us, they are told the
body is coconut. It looks like coconut. They take it out
and cut it up, some of the woods, but it's more like palm
trees--the short ones that never grow palmettoess]. They're
short all the time; that's the one they took it out of.
I: Do you know how to make these dolls?
S: Yes, but they make me sneeze all the time, so I didn't bother
I: They caused you hay fever, huh?
S: Yeah, and then I just buy the body, and I just dress it up, fix
it up--that's all I do.
I: I'd like to know, have you...you speak Creek language, don't
I: I'm sorry. I don't speak Miccosukee. You belong to a clan
system. What clan do you belong to?
I: I belong to the Bear Clan, so do you think we're relatives?
S: I don't know. No, I don't think so. Even the Bird not even our....
I: Oh, John said the Birds are the prettiest one. He must belong
to the Bird Clan.
S: Yeah, he is.
I: Yeah, my father was a Bird, so he must be my father. Also,
in the clan system, who do you follow? The mother's side
or the father's side?
S: The mother's side.
I: The mother's side. When you were a little girl, did you hear
a lot of stories?
S: Not really. When my mother died and my father...they would
have to stay somewhere. We're not allowed to see him for
about four months. And we stayed with some folks, you know,
my grandmother and my aunt, but we don't really like stories.
I: So you never heard stories? Also, I'm curious--did you live
in a chickee at one time?
S: Yeah, we used to live in one. That's where we was raised up.
I: It's quite a contrast, because here you are in about a nine
room house, and a beautiful home with a big yard and everything.
There've been quite a lot of changes, haven't there?
S: Yes, it is. Everything's changed.
I: Right, and I know with some of the Seminole being here.
Do you know how long it's been since the tribal elections started?
In what year?
S: Somewhere around 1955, 1956--somewhere around back there.
I: And is this the time that things started to change--where they
started putting up new housing, and then they no longer
start living in chickees? When did this change take place
here at Hollywood? There's so many. I think there are
forty houses, I think they said.
S: Yeah, somewhere around that. That why there's been changes
out here...somewhere around when they start all those things.
I: Now, did some of the people want to leave their chickees,
or were they happy with their new houses?
S: They think they wouldn't be happy, they said, because this
cost too much. Bills, they have to pay. They have to work.
Back then, ladies, they not working. They stay home with the
kids, and just the man had to work, but now everybody works,
the man and wife, both of them, paying bills.
I: I was really surprised. Here you live in a beautiful home,
and you have everything paid off. What does your husband do?
S: He's self-employed. He's a builder of chickee...what do they
call it? You know, Indian name is called a chickee, and that's
what they.... We're trying to get the house from the government;
we're trying to get it for five years. We filled up applications.
They turned us down for two years, and my husband he say he can
build it easy. He make enough money and then-he's.... So
finally a big hurricane's coming. They usually come, and
they're coming, and of course they build a chickee around
Aerial Beach, and they fix over.... The people call, and they
want to fix it up, and they tore it up--the hurricanes. And
finally they came, and then finally they got.... That's the
one. He worked it up and got money, so we saved about a year,
and then he started up building.
I: That is just wonderful. And your children--are they learning
S: The oldest ones--they know. When they get about ten years
old, they start to learn; getting close to ten years old
they start to learn. But right now, the little one wouldn't
understand, but they're trying as soon as they understand. I
talk to them all of the time, but they talk in English back,
and all the time. Sometimes I have to talk back to English.
I: But they understand it, though, don't they?
S: Yes, they understand. They said, "What are you speaking? Are
you speaking Mexican? What are you saying?"
I: That's great. And you have a beautiful daughter who won all
sorts of recognition. Now, she speaks Miccosukee, doesn't
S: Yes, she speaks Miccosukee.
I: Now, how did she get to be such a good athlete? Did you tell
her how good the Indians used to be as good athletes, or did
she just become a good athlete? What made her start being
a good athlete?
S: She been going school. You know, she'd go to different schools
like in school, so they've seeing a lot of things. So
she wants to be everything she sees; everything she wants to
do, she wants to be, and she said, "I want to go and maybe
better than I can do. Maybe I can read this and this."
That's why she's trying and going and going like that. So,
she's kind of smart.
I: I should say she's smart. She has all sorts of awards. And you
have a son who's also--what is he doing, your son?
S: When he finishes high school, he wants to be an engineer. He
wanted to study business. He wants to go to the University
of Oklahoma. He wants to be so bad. He tries hard, and he's
got good grades, and I want to say I'm proud of him.
I: I know you are. I'm very curious though--there are a lot
of young people the same age as your daughter and the same age
as your son, but they don't seem interested in school. Why
are your children interested in school? Have you always told
them that education is very important? Is this why?
S: Yes. Of course, from now on in everything they wanted to be,
they want to finish to school; they want to finish college.
They want to become more prosperous. They want a good job;
they want the one with the highest money. They want the work.
They want the ones that finish high school. So,' from now
on I told them get going to high school.
For myself, I've never been to school. I tried, but they
wouldn't let me go to school when I was six years old--when
I was a little girl. So I told them, "Go and finish school."
If I don't never finish school, I never would know how to work.
I never learn how to speak English, mostly. I told them,
"Go and finish school. It'll be better for you that way."
I: You know I was really impressed with your whole family. You
have sort of a singing family, and your little boy...how
old is he, who plays the steel guitar?
S: Ten years old.
I: How did he learn to play the guitar?
S: My husband, he wanted to get lessons in guitar, and I told
him he should be started right now. He wants to get lessons.
He wants to learn how to play. I think he should be started
right now, while he's young. It would be better that way. So,
he took him. So that's the way he went. He learned the notes
already. So he's been going about six lessons, but he knows how
to play now, and so it's OK.
I: Oh boy, you certainly have a remarkable family! It made me
feel proud being an Indian to see such a talented family like
yours. Also, I was just wondering--your father wasn't a
medicine man or anything of this sort, was he?
S: His father he was the one. He was head man, and he's the one
with him all the time. So he said he knows what
he's been telling him. He wanted him to take over medicine
man, like. So he teaches him when he was young. So after
he died...well, he still was when he died. He says he knows
I: You know among our people we always say the most intelligent
of people are medicine men and people who were great leaders in
our tribe, so this is probably where the children get all of
their intelligence. Do you agree? They must be very smart
people. And another thing I would like to ask is, as a little
girl growing up, where were you raised?
S: This little girl?
S: Oh, me?
I: Uh huh.
S: Where I'm raised?