SOUTHEASTERN INDIAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
In cooperation with The Seminole Tribe of Florida
Alcohol, 7, 12
Big Cypress, 2, 12
Brighton Indian Reservation, 12
Deterioration caused by whites, 2
Family relationships, 2, 9, 14
Green Corn Dance, 9-10
Hospitality, 1, 6
Hunting, 6, 12-14
Land ownership, 5
Language, 8, 12
Medicine, 11, 13-14
Physical fitness, 13
Plants and herbs, 11-12
Seminole wars, 10
Tamiami Trail, 2
Tobacco, 7, 11
Tribal courts, 8
War games, 8
I: ...the one who presented the misdeeds. The second speaker gets
up, and he speaks in defense of the newcomers: "Let us not
be quick to judge the newcomers. After all, they've been here
only a short time. When they came to us they were sick, they
were tired, and we first didn't know what they were. We did
not know that they were beasts, and after a short time we
began to realize that if they had a cut, they felt the pain,
if they were feeling sorry, you could tell they felt very
sorry. All the emotions and-the experiences that a man goes
through, they had. The only thing that separated us was the
language. In time, they began to pick up what we said. Un-
selfishly we gave them our language, and here you're telling
us all the bad things that has happened, and in the future
these things will get worse. It may be true, but this may
be our opportunity to teach this white man how to share, how
to love, how to respect the old people. After all, in such
a short time we cannot expect them to learn. He must learn
how to crawl before he walks, so we can not expect him to
learn in this short time. In this short time it's too soon
for them to know our ways of what we expect of each man to do.
Let's give them a little bit more time, and perhaps they will
learn our ways. They will learn to love, they will learn
to share, they will learn how to speak kindly of our older
people. Let's give them time.
When they came to us they were sick, hungry. At that
time we did not deny them our hospitality. We were kind to
them, and in turn, perhaps they will learn to be like us. We
cannot shut them off, for if we do then we are not behaving
according to our tribal codes. I say let's let the white
man live among us, and after that he shall learn what we have
The second speaker who spoke in defense of the white man
talked of it was our moral responsibility to accept these
white people into this Indian community. He felt they would
be more of an asset...this would give them an opportunity to
learn from these white men in spite of the offenses that
the other speaker had spoken about. This one man said,
"We were all created under one God, so we must treat each
other as brothers."
Several days drifted by, and the council held a secret
meeting, and then the final decision was to come. And the
decision was to let the white man stay. As the first speaker
had predicted the deterioration of the Indian villages began
to show. These white men began to take advantage. They began
to take from the Indians. They would burn down their chickees,
their log houses, and take from the corn bins, taking their
food and scattering it all over the place without eating it.
They would ruin the rows of pumpkins. And the prophecy, or
the prediction, that had been said by the first speaker, was
beginning to come true.
S: Since the Indians were really close to their relatives, whether
it was uncles or great-grandfathers--and especially the children--
they tried to relate to these newcomers as children, because of
the fact the ways of the Indians were a new way of life for the
white people, and the language was new. And they tried so hard
to try and help the white people learn more about the Indians,
and learn about their ways, that they had to have this type of
relationship. They had to look at it from this viewpoint, and
consider them as children. So then they would rationalize,
saying that, "What if our children had gone somewhere? We
would want them to be accepted. We would want them to have a
place to stay if need be." Although they didn't really feel
that our people had a purpose for venturing off. I mean, this
was something that really hadn't been done before, but they
just said what if this were a possibility...that they would
want their children to be treated fairly. So this is one of
the reasons that they especially wanted to let them stay.
I: So that's the legend of how the white man came, and he stayed.
And just as the prediction or the prophecy of the first speaker
...indeed, it was ruination for the Indians in this area. This
is one legend among many legends.
One legend that has been told often, time and again, is
about a battle between the Spaniards and the Seminole Indians.
It is said that somewhere near Big Cypress or Tamiami Trial
there's a swamp area where the Spaniards and the Seminoles
fought many years ago. And then in this area, sometimes you
can hear groaning, moaning, during certain times of the night.
But as the legend goes, it tells us that day and night the
Indians had been running away from the Spaniards, because the
Spaniards were always after them on their horses, and they
had the most modern weapons for that particular time. They
had spears with iron heads on them; they had clothing like
stone--the interpretation is stone, but the literal trans-
lation would be the tin armors--and that the Spaniards were
well dressed, well equipped, and they had guns that they shot
after them. But in this particular swamp, the Indians had run,
and there were hundreds of Indians. And the only weapon they
had was spears made out of wood with a stone head on them at
times. This was about the most sophisticated weapons they had.
They were caught in this swamp area, and the Indians were
swimming in this water. First, they had been in this water
hiding, but when they were caught, they were completely sur-
rounded by the Spaniards. And the Spaniards kept shooting
spears and shooting at them. Pretty soon, the swamp was just
full of blood. Blood was just mingling all over the place.
But they would watch these Indians swim in this particular
swamp to see how long that the Indians could swim. And some
time the Indians stayed in this swamp swimming for a half-a-
day. And then when they were completely exhausted, the
Spaniards would kill or torture him.
More than likely if there were very few Indians caught,
they would torture them, but if there were more than fifty or
so warriors, then the Spaniards would massacre them. But if
they caught two or three Indians, then it was a ritual with
the Spaniards to decapitate them, or cut off their hands or
feet. And these were some of the savagery practiced on the
Indians by Spaniards.
This is a very interesting story, because there aren't
too many oral histories about the Spaniards coming in this area.
But there are several legendary stories that one often hears,
and this is the type of thing they talk about--how ruthless the
Spaniards were. This was coming before the English.
You know, most of the misdeeds of the white man were cited
at this council hearing. All of the misdeeds of the white
man was talked aobut, but the man who was in favor of the
white man didn't have too many favorable things to say. He
was depending on playing on the sympathy of the other Indians,
because their prime principle that was concerned here was hos-
pitality and being a friend...befriending people who were in
need. This was one of the highest virtue that the community
itself could reach.
All right. So this one man who did not want the white
man into their community, he had listed all the bad things,
all the misdeeds of the white man. Sure, this was true, but
with their value system, talking about moral responsibility to
one another, they had.... The second speaker, who was in favor
of retaining the white people, he had this good faith, or with
the desire of thinking that the white man would have the good
will to respond to their value system; that in turn they would
pick up these values of how to be a good brother, how to be a
good relative, how to share all the values that belonged to
the Seminole community. He really, no doubt, thought the white
man would pick these value system up, and it would be integrated
into his value system; that he would interact with the community
itself. But it didn't work out that way, because the Spaniards
were greedy, selfish, property oriented. They were looking
for gold. They would kill anyone who stood in their place, and
the people who befriended them; they would wipe their village
out. The person who may have taught them to hunt, they were
the first to be strung up, and the people who had practiced
hospitality with them were the first ones to have their hands
and legs cut off by these Spaniards, because they were ruthless.
So the second speaker who had tried to protect the white man,
hoping and having the good faith that these white men would
pick up their value system, this was his belief, and this was
the thing.... More than anything he had the conviction that
these people could be turned into good; but they didn't.
S: One of the reasons the second speaker felt that he needed to
have faith in this Spaniard, or these people, these newcomers,
was mainly because they themselves as Spaniards were verbally
telling of their desire: "Yes, we would like to take up your
ways, we would like to learn how to live with your people, and
we will forsake our ways and take up yours because they're good
ways." And on this they insisted--that this is what they
wanted to do more than anything. But these were only words;
the meaning was not there.
I: The second speaker had the foolish faith that these white men
would change their unruly ways, even though in our value system
they saw the white person uncouth, clumsy, unmannerly, and very
much unfeeling for them. But in all truthfulness, the second
speaker thought that these were some values they had picked
up, and they could easily be replaced by better values. This
did not happen.
As far as the heroes who had led the Indians to fight
the Spaniards, no names were given, because mostly the
Indians depend on legendary stories to talk about what has
happened. When the English came, the Englishmen were just as
deadly, just as uncouth, uncompromising, and again very
aggressive. They looked at the Indians as subhuman...this
was one part. So the second speaker, after talking about
this legend.... There's a saying, that Indians were America's
first fools. And so therefore the second speaker among the
Seminoles was the first fool for the white man.
Another story how the white man acquired land--there are
many versions, and one version I recently heard was how the
white man again tricked the Seminoles. The Seminoles took
everything as face value, and they weren't as conniving or
as sly as the white man. So therefore, if the Seminole
heard the white man say he was going to do this, he took
it as:face value. And once was this white man came to an
Indian, and he told him, "Look, my family is hungry, they're
miserable, we don't have a home to call our own, and we'd like
to be near you so we can learn how to develop our crops. We
can learn how to plant corn, and make acorn bread, and do
things for ourselves. We don't really want to impose on you,
so if you can only play for awhile with a couple of babies..."
So they had asked for a small plot of land, and the
overseer of the land asked, "Well, how much property do you
And this white man said, "Oh, just barely enough to plant
my crop and to feed my family."
And the overseer says, "Well, that's not very much to ask
for, you know. Just tell me how would you measure the amount
of land that you want."
And the white man said, "Well...just as far as you can hear
a gun shot."
And .the Indians thought, "That's reasonable, I'll accept
that kind of measurement."
So the white man, he goes to the nearest fort and brings
back a cannon, and he blows this cannon, and the.cannon makes
all sorts of sounds for miles, and miles, and miles. And the
white man said, "Well, this is my measurement."
Even though the Indian was tricked, and he knew he was
tricked, he did not defy the white man, because a promise was
a promise. And he says, "Yes, I told you at the sound of a gun,
and I didn't specifywhat kind of gun, so take this land." And
so these were one way of how the white man tricked the Indian.
I: This is part one. We read off part two first, but that's
OK.... We'll straighten it out.
According to many of the legends that is told...the legend
of the Spaniards being in this area is often told. And as
one man had said,
We have our stories of the Spaniards. They were evil
men, the sons of wickedness. They had the military
equipment, they were dressed in stones, and their
knives were long and deadly. They plundered and
killed our people.
There is a legend among our people. In the
remote past, it is said that a group of white men
came out of the sea. They wore clothes unlike the
animal skins they had worn. These men were strange
looking. They had shaggy long hair all over their
bodies, and their faces were dark, but their bodies
were white.- There was a strong scent unknown to
our people which was offensive to them. The smell
made them nauseQus. One cannot imagine what these
creatures were who drifted in from the sea. Our
people could not understand their language, but
they knew these strangers were loud and boisterous.
Since these creatures came on our shores, we had no
alternative.but to be hospitable to them, because
it was our tribal law to welcome strangers, even
though these creatures were very peculiar looking.
Our people could not decide if they were man or
beast. They were dubious if they were actually
men. As they approached them, they took a closer
observation. They confirmed the Indian's opinion
that the strangers were of mankind.
Our relatives of the past made life lazy...easy
for these strangers who came to rest among our
shores. They learned our ways; they learned to
hunt on our territories. The time for them to
leave our area was over, but they made no pre-
paration to leave. These strangers whom they
befriended demanded to stay. A council was held
to approve if these strangers could stay and be
part of the community, or if they should leave as
soon as possible. Some of the Indians came in
defense of the white strangers, while others
came to speak of the evil that might befall the
group if they permitted them to stay. The argu-
ment why they should stay, and why they should not
stay, went on for several days.
The spokesman for the group who did not want the
white man to stay said, "We have given these men our
hospitality for some time now, and it is high time
that they should depart from us. I feel as though
some evil hovers over us if we allow them to stay.
I have seen these men while hunting--they kill more
than they need to eat, they make of our hunts a
sport. They do not kill a deer as we do; they make
him suffer. They enjoy spilling blood. When they
spear for fish to eat, they kill more than necessary.
These people do not share for they do not understand
sharing. If they have berries, they eat it in front
of our children. They will not let us come close to
to their things, but they take liberty with ours.
Evil will be upon us--our people--if we let them
stay. Our uncles and grandfathers and women are
held in the highest esteem, but these strangers
do not have the same respect. They laugh and
say bad things about them.
"We feel that these strangers are traitors to
their own country, because they were so quick and
free to give up their way of life to come here.
They are traitors. No man has the right to give
up their birthright, and this is what they are
wanting to do. It is like denouncing your mother
and uncles and all of your relatives.
"They have a drink so much like our medicine, but
they will drink it in excess until they become crazy
and do things beyond reason. They scare our women
and children and old people. Some of them become de-
structive, destroying each other's property, and
also our crops. When we go to the sweat house to
fast and meditate, and afterwards bathe in the water
streams, we consider ourselves purified, but these
strangers make fun. The only bath they knew was
to spit on their hands, and wash their faces and
hands. Occasionally they swim in our waters, but
not to clean themselves. It is important to go
to sweat houses and bathe in the herbal waters,
but theydo not do this, and therefore they
pollute our waters.
"They call our people backward, and dance uncivil-
ized, and make fun of our ways, and yet they want to
stay here. Doesn't it not stand to reason that this
kind of behavior can only mean disaster for us in
the future? For our ceremonies they have no respect.
We give them tobacco for them to use for religious
purposes, but what do they do, they smoke it all
day long, puffing little circles, making the smoke
come out of their noses. We cannot have people of
this sort in our midst. For the future of our child-
ren and our children to come, we must not allow
these people to stay. They think our dances are
ridiculous. They misinterpret our dances and prayers;
they make fun of our Great Spirit, which they think
we limit to the sun. I don't believe the Seminoles....
"These creatures that came out of the water, they
are different from us. They're different from us
culturally, which means they have different ways of
living. They have a different religion from ours.
They have a different language. So therefore, all
these conflicts are already there. If we allow
these people to be among our midst, then trouble
lies ahead of us. "What shall we do?" we ask the
council. "We ask each one of you to understand the
problem that confronts us. Are we willing to let
evil take us over?"
There are all sorts of beliefs among the Seminoles. And one
belief is that when it rains, and the swamps are overflooded,
the garfish that are in the swamps will turn into snakes,
but when the high water comes up, then the garfish...then
the snakes turn back into snakes.
At one time the Seminoles indulged in war games, and these
games were a test of bravery and skill. The essence of the game
was not to conquer or kill their enemies--if they did this,
then they didn't really have any war games. This was just
being a murderer. And among the Seminoles at one time,
they had.a scalp lock.... This scalp lock is like having a
pony tail at the end of your neck line. This was entice an
enemy to grab it and scalp him. If he could grab this and
take it home, then he was a brave warrior.
Much of the tribal courts was such that it really gave
freedom. If a man murdered another person.... This person
may have murdered another man. If he did this, he had the
option of going home and making preparation from his family,
and then preparing. He was allowed to go home and settle his
affairs, and then he would come back, present himself for the
execution on the proper day.
The sadness of the departure of their homelands of the
Seminole is told in many ways. One sad departure is some
of the Indians had been rounded up to be taken to Oklahoma.
Tampa was the departure place for the Indians, who were a
group of Indians who were captured, and were forced to walk
to Tampa. It was a hot day. The ground was just scorching
so hot that you could see the smoke coming from the sands.
Some of the .Indians' moccasins had worn out. Their lips were
bleeding...cracked lips...very thirsty. They approached the
boats in Tampa. There were barrels of water setting there,
and the Indians were saying, "Water...water." Their stomachs
had been growling, but a small touch of water on their lips
would give them life, and they knew this. And they kept
chanting, "Water! Water!"
One of the men, seeing that the Indians were dying of
thirst, asked the Indians, "Do you want water?"
The Indians replied, "Yes." They shook their heads, and
were standing there waiting for someone to dip their gourd into
the water, and to give them a small taste of water. This
white man, the guard, tipped over the barrel of water, and as
the land was dry, it quickly absorbed the water. We are told
that the thirsty Indians fell upon the ground and tried to
touch the wet sand into their mouths. This was the type of
treatment that many of the Indians went through.
Apart from this, if the Indians were rounded up, and were
being forced to go to Tampa where the boats were waiting to
take them to Oklahoma, if an old man or a child was too old
to walk anymore,-or to go any further, they say that the
soldiers took their bayonets and killed them right on the
spot. Perhaps it was better to let them die, and not to
suffer. One cannot question what the moral act might have
been, according to the Indians.
The Indians, when they were being forced on the long
trail towards the ships, or the wagons that was to take them
away from their natural territory, they say that the women
untied their long hair and let if flow. This was a sign of
sadness, a sign of weeping. And they would gently touch
the leaves of the trees that they were accustomed to, and cried.
They would wipe their tears upon the leaves and say, "We will
never see these beautiful trees again." And as they would
walk, they would see the saw grass lying before their eyes.
They wept because never again would they roam about these areas.
The men, women, children...all the psychological blow that men
can dream of, our people suffered. They suffered from the
brutality of the newcomer.
Today, our Indian people are completely demoralized.
Demoralization has taken place upon our people. They show
apathy; they show no concern about their unique heritage, and
speaking as an old woman who has lived, my day has gone for-
ever. I cannot bring back my youth and try to make changes.
But our birthright that we should be proud of, our ceremonial
dances.... A long time ago we'd go to different meetings
at camp, and light that fire--the new fire, the sacred fire
of the Seminoles. And you know that one had to respect
the sacred fire, because the sacred fire represented life--
it gave life to everyone. Everyone had to renew their vows,
and being a good brother, being a good uncle, being a good
The extended family...the responsibilities that we had to
one another, we had to renew during the annual Green Corn
Dance. True, the council met then to put judgement on people
who had robbed, who had killed, who had done injustice to their
household. Everything took place at the annual Green Corn
Dance, but the biggest crime of all, usually, was a complaint
being said before the council, saying that someone had hurt
their feelings, or someone was unkind to them. And then re-
conciliation took place--that it was wrong; it was a sin to
be mad at your brother or sister or aunt or uncle or whoever
it may be. And you had to have repentance from that day.
Oh, the discipline! The kind of discipline that was
thrust upon us as Seminoles! I'm an old woman now. In my
days the practices were still there. In my days, if a
young man stole anything from the property of another, he
was severely punished. He was punished by an act thrust on
him--by cutting part of his ear, part of his nose. More
than likely, the young person would not do it again. But
today, it is sad to know that instead of picking the right
things of the white man, the young Indian has gone off and
learned the wrong things, The good things in the white man's
ways is to learn about his books; is to learn the economy of
the place we live in; it is to learn their politics, so we may
talk on the same level of the white man. The good ways of
the white man is understanding their legalistic terms and
misunderstanding their ways, and communicating on their
level. But it's unfortunate that our young people--some of
them, not all of them--do not have the patience to learn the
ways of the white man. And they haVe the attitude that the
Indians did not learn a long time ago. It's untrue. Dis-
cipline was much stricter then than it is now.
Oh, the young men, the sweat houses, the'baths; and
running, hunting. learning all about herbs...everything...all
the experiences that makes up a Seminole man, they had to learn.
It was an everyday process. We didn't have a weekend where you
could rest up and go fishing. Every day was part of living with
nature. I know if we were to take the young people and take
them back when discipline was hard, they couldn't survive.
It would be too much for them. I often think that if I had
the same chance of understanding a little bit of the white
man's ways, I would use their knowledge and teach my people.
If so much of the things that my mother, my uncles, my
parents, everyone had told me.... If I could only remember
a little of what they had said, I would be a far richer
person. I set around, and only remember the things that made
the most impression on me. The impressions that I am left
with are the Seminole wars--man's injustice to other men.
And the white men were truly practicing injustice upon us.
But we live today. Me as an old woman, I belong to the
past. I belong to the times that we were all Indians and
we rarely ever saw a white man. I belong to the times we sat
around in our camps and visited with relatives. This day
and time is no longer for me.
This interview was with Mrs. Smith. She is an old woman,
and her days will not be too long. She spoke from the bottom
of her heart.
I: Often the question comes up, "What did Indians do when they
had toothaches, or if they had burns, or if they had insect
bites?" Well, the Seminoles depended on plants and herbs.
So I asked a few people how they used herbs and plants. And
this is what they told me:
The healing power of plants and herbs. A lot of
home remedies worked efficiently for the Seminoles.
For example, they utilized the tobacco in many ways.
What did they do with the tobacco? The medicine
man would take the tobacco and add other ingre-
dients to it to be used later on for healing pur-
poses. If a person was suffering from a toothache,
and in order to relieve the throbbing pain, a dry
tobacco plant was taken, and mixed with liquid medicine;
then they would take the mixture and apply it on the
tooth. Along with the prepared tobacco, healing
chants would be sung. Generally, the patient would
be relieved of his pain. Another way they used
the tobacco was for small cuts and burns. And they
believed that the tobacco helped the hurt. For
example, if an insect bit you, such as a wasp of
a bumble bee, and you got a swelling, the tobacco
plant, along with other ingredients,would be applied
to the wound. This prepared medicine lessened the
swelling, and the pain went away with the swelling.
Different sorts of plants were used for relieving
stomach aches, such as ilex vomica cassinaa]. This
plant was taken and mixed with other things. It
caused you to throw up. When you threw up, usually
you felt good. It is a belief among our people, To
vomit is to release all of the poison in the body.
Therefore the stomach seems to be in very good con-
dition after vomiting. Jimson weed was another plant
the medicine man used for healing and ceremonial pur-
poses. Plants, to us, hold the healing powers. The
plants were converted to powder or liquid form. If
a person had any aches, they would use the prescribed
Last summer, while I was visiting the Brighton Indian
Reservation, a young woman told me about her experience, and
how a medicine woman healed her of her sickness. The first
thing the medicine woman did was to give the patient a healing
ritual, an attempt to cure her from suffering a certain kind
of illness. This illness was drinking. The young woman
told me she enjoyed drinking. She did not know how to handle
it. It seemed as though drinking was a real problem. Her
family life was deteriorating, and she felt useless. She
then decided to pay a medicine woman a visit. It was she
who helped free her from drinking too much. The young lady
believed whole-heartedly that the herbs and plants, plus the
chanting and the concern of the medicine woman, had cured
her of the habit.
"It was unbelievable," she said, "to think that drinking
dominated my life, and almost wrecked my home life. Before
I went to the medicine woman, I used to join my friends for
a drink. If they gave me a can of beer, I did not stop at
one can. I had to continue drinking until I went into a
stupor. At times I lost track of days," she added. "For
this reason I sought the medicine woman," she said. "From
Brighton Indian Reservation, I went to Big Cypress for my
cure," she said proudly. "For awhile I was not faithful to
my treatments, but then I decided I had better take my med-
icine serious if I am ever to overcome my bad habit. I
have been happy ever since I started going to see this old
medicine woman. She's very good."
Since this was told to me in Creek, and I wrote it
all down in Creek phonetics, and then translated into English,
I would like to read it in Creek, and translate it back into
[Here the tape contains the Creek interpretation. This
interpretation has not been transcribed. The English
narrative resumes with:]
After talking to this young lady, I happened to run into
a lady who I really enjoyed talking to, but apparently it was
the wrong time to be talking with her, because her brother was
there, and he was very emphatic that I should not speak with
this woman. But she did tell me a few things before we were
completely cut off from one another.
S: Seminoles moved about here and there, or chased about here and
there. The duty of the old women and men to decide when there
was enough food to last for a considerable time. If it was
decided that a hunt was advisable, these women consulted the
leaders in various clans, and together they decided on the young
men who was to go out and search for the game. This task re-
quired young men who were known to be truthful and faithful to
duty, as well as possessing the necessary physical ability and
general equipment. These young men had to have gone also to
their uncles for supervision, and also to the medicine man to
pick up their medicine bundles. Some men were selected who
were known to be ready, as there was not enough time or suf-
ficient time to prepare after they were notified.
What was so fantastic is that among the Seminoles the
women were the ones who made sure that there would be sufficient
food on the table, that sufficient crop was planted, that
sufficient food or sufficient meat had been dried--all this
basic necessity was ready for the Seminoles. They're the ones
who were in charge, and then the old men and the women would
get together and talk about "For our next hunt, how much
food do we need?" And then the talk was- of selecting the
young men. They would go out and select them. But sometimes
not enough time was given to them to do all this. So therefore
the young men had to be in tip-top shape all the time. And
this meant when they weren't hunting or when they weren't
with their uncles learning about the biological world, they
were out racing; they were pole vaulting, and all this sort
of thing that they did. So when the time of hunt came, then
the best physically fit young men were chosen. They were
not naturally selected, and they were ready to go.
It was sort of a great honor to be selected, and to be
looked upon as a man who could be trusted, who could go out
and hunt. So actually, the group, or the clan group, depended
upon him for help in the food supply, without which they could
not exist. So the young man played a major role, because
usually he would, in his prime life, prime time, so it
was necessary that these men know the topography of the
country, and understand the ways of the wild game.
Talking about the topography of the country...actually
when the man, young men were hunting, or young men went out
to war, or young men were going on long journeys, the young
men were sent out to learn the topography of the region, but
in their immediate region the women went out, and more or less
knew the topography of the country, because they had to know
where the best berry picking places were, where there were a
lot of sumac berries, where there were a lot of blackberries.
So the topography, the women had to have it in her head if
the advisors met, because after all, for the food supply, for
the...like berries, all the fruits; like sumac berries, palm
cabbage, and things of this sort. The women had to know the
topography of her area so she could go out and pluck these
fruits. But to go beyond the immediate area, the young men
were depended on. And so they worked together as one big
The young men who were notified, and as soon as they
could make the arrangements--which of necessity must be left
until the last moment--they went to the center of the tribal
circle, and with their equipment of dried food and vegetables,
and making sure they had enough clothing, moccasins et cetera,
and they also had their food pouches, and a cup to drink
their water. The man who was supposed to lead and give advice
was sort of an honorable position. This would make the re-
latives quite happy and gratified that their young men were
chosen to be honored.
Usually when they were going away they would find that
presents were given to these young men. But today, this is
no longer practiced. If anybody gives a present, it's during
Christmas time, and that's about it. But it was during these
long hunts, because they didn't know how many games they would
bring back, and how much food supply they would be bringing in.
So therefore, unless a bit of dry meat, an extra bit of.dried
fruit, and the young men who were traveling through these, or
who were going to go on a hunting party, it was really a
festivity that took place. Our village council, their uncles
there were very proud of their young men going on the hunt,
and they would give their cheerful goodbyes to them, and wish
them good luck, and the medicine man had already gone
through with the young men through a ceremonial rite that
would protect them on their long journey, and hopefully they
would bring back enough food.
I: With the Seminoles, everything was sort of a ceremony? If
they were going to go on a hunt, or if a man was going off
to war, or if a person was going to go out and pick fruit,
or even for the protection of one's self around the immediate
surroundings, or if soldiers were coming, and the protection....
The medicine man really truly played his role, and each person
had some sort of an object that had been blessed, or had
the medicine man's blessing upon it. So even going on hunts,
it was a big festivities. They would get together, and their
relatives would wish the young men a good hunt. And it was
an exciting thing.
U: As I said before, the uncle really held a high status within
the community. So in anything like marriages, divorces,
crime breaking, anything related to this, the young person
involved would immediately seek out his uncle. But when he
did this, he would hold council with his uncle, and ask him
for advice. "What shall I do? What do you think is necessary
for me to have a successful marriage, or do you think I should
have a divorce, or should I go to the tribal council for the
crime I have committed?" So the status of the uncle was one
big thing. And without his council, or without his consent,
the person was never really highly respected, but the pres-
tigious person within the community was the uncle.
I: Since there's only a little bit of tape left I'm going to sing
a short religious song. Actually the words are old Creek
words. Only the music has been adapted to make it sound
[Here, Ms. Chaudhuri sings in Creek. The language cannot