Title: Seminole Indian legends
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00055575/00001
 Material Information
Title: Seminole Indian legends
Physical Description: 16, 1 leaves : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Wood, Dorothy E
Federal Writers' Project of the Work Projects Administration for the State of Florida
Publisher: s.n.
Place of Publication: S.l
Publication Date: 1939]
Subject: Seminole mythology   ( lcsh )
Seminole Indians -- History -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (leaf 17).
Statement of Responsibility: Dorothy E. Wood.
General Note: Caption title.
General Note: "April 26, 1939."
General Note: "Federal Writers' Project, Miami, Florida."
General Note: "School Bulletin."
General Note: Typescript for the Federal Writers' Project.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00055575
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002062142
oclc - 33962193
notis - AKQ0263

Full Text

Kiesi, Florida

4,000 Words April 26, 1959
School WBlletin
Dorothy I. Wood


The Seminole Indians are a primitive raoe who still live in
the Everglades of south Florida. Animals and the element play
a large part in their lives. Many of their necessities are ob-
tained froa animals. Out of this need, many legends hav origi-
nated and ven today are important to the Indians They are a
people who enjoy the out-of-doors and at their ceremonial festi-
vities they gather around the oaupfire to listen to the old nen
tell strange legends about the elements and ageJs long past, whe
many wild animals road through the jungle-like forests.

One very interesting legend gis an Indian's interpretation
of oration. In the very beginning of time there was no earth,
only water everywhere and no moving object eaopt in the water
All the moving things wanted to fin earth so, in their search,
they went deeper and deeper into the water. But their hunt was
fruitless until a large orafish, after extensive searohing, final-
ly found a tiny bit of earth He told the other orafish and they
dove deep and deeper into the water, eaoh bringing a bit to the
surfaoe. With this earth they formed a small ball very day they

brought up more earth and added it to the ball until they had a
large one. Then they did not know what to do with it.

while the orawfish had been working so industriously, the
beaver had been watching and now he oame to their resouoe After
they had rolled the ball of earth on to his wide flat tail, the
beaver waited patiently, begging the East Wind to help him~ The
Eat Wind blew hard, scattering the earth over the water so that
it made an island. Then the Great rather oamn down to earth and
brought three people with him. He made a large hole in the rook
between Oooonut Grove and Ooral Gables. A big rain oame down from
Heaven, filling the large rook and forming a well.

The three people oamped by the well with the Great Father.
They became hungry and the Great Father told them to look for
something to eat. When they oame baok with ooontie bread, He
sent them out for more. Ever einoe, the ooonti root has been
used for bread.

The Great rather wanted to eeo more land so he started north,
taking the three people with him. As he went, he made ore land.
When he got hot, he made shade trees of all colored to shade them.
After they had gone a long distance, the Great Father left the
three people and oam baok to the large well at the middle of the
earth, where soe white people tried to capture his to make trees
and rain for them. But the Oreat Father soaped. They traced

him to the big forest but he made a boat fro a large tree and
when they oame with long epikee to oapture his, he escaped. How
ever, he left behind a large box with a key on top of it. The
white people did not know what to do with it,' so the Great Father
revealed to them the way to open the box with the key. In the
box were tools with whioh boats oould be made.

The white people were afraid of the Great Father because he
knew so nuoh, and wanted to kill him. After searohing-the forest
and waters, they finally captured and tortured him. But the Great
Father would not diee He told the Indians to send the blind man
to him. When the blind man came, the white people placed a orow.
bar on the Great Father's Adam's apple, at his own direction. The
blind man was told to hit the bar, whioh he did, the blood spat-
tering all over him. As the blood touched his eyee, the blind nan
could see and realized that he had killed the great rather.

Covering the body, the people kept watoh to see that the Great
Father did not leave. He had a dog and rooster, and oould tell
time only by the bark of the dog and the rooster' sorowiag. The
dog and the rooster sat by the Great Fathers body and' atohed with
the people. One day he jut rose up before the people' eyes and
left the earth, takin the dog and rooster with him to the sy. (l)
Thus the world was created.

TMOeb inole Indians tell another story of creation. A long,

long time ago, in a rich valley bordering on a river, Eshaokete
isLse (God) scattered seeds about hi. After some time, fingers
began springing froa the soil- and, following the fingers, cae
the rest of the body, When these people went to the river to
bathe, som of them remained in the water too long and became
white and weak. They were the white rae. Others stayed n the
water the right length of time, booming strong and courageous.
These people oomprise the red raose Still others did not bathe
at all, and they form the Negro raose

The Seminoles boliev that the Son of God oame many, many
years ago and inhabited the southernmost part of Florida. When
he arrived he wa carried on the shoulders of three braTs, scat-
terng ooontie seeds all over the peninsula. The oontie, or -
sago palm, ie "a gift from God," aooording to their belief.(2)

Fire is one of the most scored of all things to the Florida
Seminoles. They tell a strange legend of how the seoret of fire
oame into their possession.

Many, many moons ago thee was on on oe Indian tribe that
knwo the seoret of fire. The other Indian tribes tried ceaseless-
ly to learn the secret. Eaoh year when the Green Oorn Dance wa
held, the Indians danced around a 1ireol of fire. Indians froa
other tribes were always there, bt could never got close enough
to the fire to secure the secret, it was guarded so well.

One tin the biggest, finest, handsomest rabbit the Indian
had ever seen oame to the Green Oor Danoe, and begged to be al-
lowed to danoe around the fire with then. He could sing .
sweeter, daneo better, and whoop louder than any person or animal
they had evrr seen. But the older Indian were suspioous of the
rabbit. The younger Indiana were more assoptibli to his ohar
and the rabbit was allowed to take part in the danoe. He danced
closer and closer to the blase, extending first one paw and then
the other toward the fire. Suddenly, he reached forward, secured
a burning stiok, and before the startled Indians could prevent
him, he disappeared swiftly into the forest.

After holding a oounoil, the wise mon of the tribe decided to
bring rain in order to extinguish the fire. The medicine men went
to the spring, and, for four mornings, made magio by oharming the
snake who kept guard there. Torrents of rain oaae down, soakingg
the rabbit who was fleeing through the forest. The fire went out.

However, the rabbit did not despair, but attended the Green
Oorn Danoe the following year. This time it was harder to pet-
suade the reluctant Indians to let him danoe with those, but final-
ly they oonsented. Again he seised a buying brand and escaped
to the forest. The nmdioine men made magio the eooond time, oaus-
ing heavy rains and the fire was again extinguished. .Tor three
oonseoutiTv years the rabbit suooeedea in getting the fire, but

eph time the medicine men oaused the fire to be put out by rain.

The fourth year the rabbit was wiser. After, uoh peouasion,
I .tndians again allowed his to attend the Green Oorn Deaoe. He
ouroed the fire and eeoaped. Again the Indiana ade the rains
lat, this time, the rabbit hid under a ooral ref and protected
Ibh fire under the shelter of the rook. lhen the rain oeased, he
rrited to his tribe with the fire, and now all the Indiana know
he se ret of fie.(l)

One legend told by the Seminoles is of unusual local inter
ht beoauae it explains the origin of New River at Fort Lauderdale.
Iend has it that the Indians had gone peacefully to rest after
long, hard day of hunting in the forest. An angry ind started

ouh the Juagles as the ground shook njd trembled. Even the
favest Indians feared to venture forth until the break of a new
r. But their fear was turned to wonder when they looked out
isd aw a mighty river flowing where before there had been land.
&marshee they called it, and it is still known by the white man's
banlation, 'New River.'

Oeologiets say that it was an underground river running through~
imd coral ridges, an outlet for the water in the Evrglades
Sanoient earthquake oansed these rooks to oollapee, and new waters
Bee to form a river. loh of the enohantment and mntery still

remain. Gray mose hanaa on the large oak and oyprese trees that
sway to touch the quiet dark after. The banks are covered with
ferns. Old yet ever new ie HimLarsuhee New River.(1)

The Seminole Indiaan ae a people of the forest. They leo
animals and a large part of their existence centers around them
,Man legends conosening them have oome down to us through the ages.
In legendary form they tell why the lion roars.

Once upon a time there was an old woman who lived by herself.
She was lonely and decided to adopt an orphan boy. The old wman
always told the boy when he was young not to go to the east. As
he grew older, he beaame ourious and one day slipped away to the
East. He saw nothing unumsal and after walking beside a olear,.
lean oreek for som distance, returned home. The old woman was
wise and knew what he had done. She told his that now he was old-
er he could o east, and also told him what he would find.

The boy ran fast to the oreek and found that his mother had
told the truth. He found three girls bathing in the oreek, their
clothes on the banks. Snatching their olothes, he olifbed a tree.
The girls begged and begged the boy to gire baok their olothes,
but he would not. They offered his money, battle, anything if he
would return their olothes. One girl offered to become his wife.
He agreed and gave back the clothes, The girl told bim that her
father was a very mean man, but she would try to get him to let


the boy stay if he went home with her. When she tobl her father,
he instructed her to bring the boy before him.

The father did not seem angry and was wry nioe to the boy.
The next day he decided to teet him to learn if he Lus a fit mate
for his daughter. He took the boy to a steep hill and oomanded
him to flatten it. The boy knew he could not so he went to his
wife-to-be and told her. She had great power but her father did
not know it. then the boy told her of the father's request, she
said, #Come with me. She stretohed out her hands, when they ar .
rived at the hill, and it immediately became flat and the ground

The father oould not believe that this was true until he
looked at the hill. He was moh pleased, but he decided to put
the boy to another teat before he oould marry his daughter. Many,
many moons ago, the old man said,, he had lost a gold ring in he
oreek and oould not find it, IZ the boy could get it for his, he
would consent to his marriage with any of the daughters, also he
would receive mob gold, land, and battle.

The boy told the girl of her father's second desire, and she
promised to help again She said he must kill her, ut her into
tiny pieoes and throw every piece into the water. A fish would
then eat the flesh, and, a it did so, the boy mnut put his hand
into its mouth, and be would got the ring The girl promised to


oome baok to life, when the boy hesitated to kill her. He did as
she directed him, but he failed to throw one little finger into
the water. After putting his hand into the fish's month and obh.

taining the ring, he started to take it to her father. B was
sad because the girl was gone, but as he turned away from the
oreek, she ouam smilingly down the oreek bank to meet him.

They went to the father and he seemed very pleased, telling
the boy he oould choose the girl he wanted. The boy oboee the
girl who had helped hin, distinguishing her from the others by
her short finger, and they got married.

row, the old man seemed happy over the marriage, but he was
orafty and had the power to roar like a lion. Eaoh night after
the girl and boy went to bed, he beoame a lion and would yell,
"Are you asleep? n* The girl was wise and always answered "yes.
After a long time the girl told the .boy they met go far away
from her father* He scoured a Mle for then to ride on. The girl

left amoh spit to answer the lion and orpt out into the wood to
meet her husband.

For many hours after they left the old man called to them and

the spit always answered By and by, the spit dried up and oould
not speak. When he failed to get an answer to his questions the
old. man juped up and ran joyfully in to eat the boy, but of ooure,
he and the daughter were gone.. This made the old man angry and he

pt out to look for them. He searched and searched everywhere
fough the forests but could not find them He came to the
ek where the boy and girl had crossed on a log. But they wer
[fty and wise, too, for after crossing they had pulled the log
Np the bank. The girl used her powers tofoake her father re-
li a lion, and he could not oross the water because he was a-
raid. To this day, the lion roars through the forest, looking
Pr the girl and boy and he is still afraid to oross the water.(1)

Many legends are told about the alligator whiob has long been
favorite animal with the Oeminoles. Nearly every Indian hut to-
Shaa an alligator pen near by. The story the Indians tell a-
the loud '*Ah-aah-ah the alligator makes when he is surprised
| perhaps the favorite one,

When the world first began, according to the legend, nothing
B birds and anuials lived on the earth. All of then oould talk.
Sday the birds set a date to V b4J The birds, large and
all, gathered on the day arranged. One large, strong bird threw
F ball higher than anyone else had. An old alligator was lying
Sthe sun watching the birds play. He was angry because he was
I invited to play with them. Ihen he saw the ball go high into
o air, he made magio and kept it in aid air. All the birds flew
iout trying to bring the ball beak to earth, but it oould not con


After a long time, the alligator let the ball drop, and

caught it in his mouth. The birds tried in vain to pry his mouth
open. A vise, cunning eagle sat on a rock and watched the weak,
helpless little birds fluttering around the great reptile, begging

him to return their ball. Finally he decided to help. He flew

down and pinched the alligator's back with his sharp olaw. The
alligator was so surprised his mouth flew wide open and he hissed
"Ah-ah-ah I at the eagle. As he hissed, the ball dropped out of
his mouth, and the birds quickly seizing it, flew away. That is
the reason the alligator opens his mouth and hisses "Ah-ah-ah I

to this day when he is surprised.(l)

Another legend about the alligator shows how the rabbit
tricked him into a confession. When all the animals could talk
to each other, before the Great Father put people on the earth,

some of them did not get along very well together. The smart,
quick rabbit was worried so much by the alow, stupid alligator

that he decided to kill him. Every time the rabbit saw him ly-

ing in the grass placidly sunning himself, he set fire to it, but
each time the alligator succeedd in reaching the water before the

fire could touch him.

One day the rabbit decided he would hav* to find some other

way of killing the worrisome alligator. But he did not know where
to strike to kill him. However, the rabbit was cunning oo he pre-

tended to be friendly and finally got the alligator's confidence.
Through trickery and olever questioning, he made the stupid alli-
gator admit that he oould be killed by a blow in the middle of the

baok. The wise rabbit picked up a large stiok and hit the big
reptile hard on the baok. The alligator took a deep breath and
died. ()

But not all of the interesting legends are about animals
The origin of the stars and the marvelous feats of birds are heard
in a story that is told often to the children by the aged and
venerated elders of the tribe. Chok-fee, an Indian lad, lived
with his grandmother in a great cypress forest. Ohok-fee spent
a great deal of his time hunting and making good, straight arros.
When he was a little boy his grandmother told him that a young
man'e part in life was to be a good warrior and hunter. To ao-
oouplish this, he eat be able to shoot straight and be a swift
runner. Ohok-fee grew to be a tall man and was the fastest run.
ner and the best marksman in .his tribe.

Mhen Ohok-fee was young his grandmother would not allow him
to hunt far from hoes, but as he grew older, he ventured farther
and farther into the forest. One morning as he sat eating break-
fast, his grandmother said to him, 'Now o dear grandson, you a
a grown man and you are going to be covering more and more tern.
tory in your hunting trip. That is very good, but, Ohok-fee, m
grandson, be careful, in wandering through the great forget that


you do not go two days' journey towar the south, I am warning
you, my grandson, you must not go th /Way. If you do. great mis-
fortune will befall you and yon ay never come back. When you go
hunting, you mat go east, north, or west. There are many deer
and turkeys there, but do not go south.

After finishing his breakfast, Ohok-fee soured his bows and
arrows and started out. As ha traveled, he wondered why his grand-
mother had told him not to travel south. The farther he traveled,

the more ourious he became, until finally he deoided to do as his

-grandmother had instruoted him not to do. He traveled southward
all day, not killing any game although there were msamrous deer
and turkeys. The next morning he continued his trip to the south.
After a time, he saw some big deer traokeg all leading southward.

He followed the trail, and finally oane to the end. Deep in a

jungle-like forest, were tuo lodges, a large one and a mall one,
but the trail led to the larger one. As he otood at the door,

wondering if this was the plaoe about which his grandmother had
warned him, a man's gruff voioe spoke from within the lodge. MVy
dear friend, do not stand outside wondering if. it would not be eafe
to oome in. Come right in, W friend, nothing will hurt you. I
am home alone.'

ohok-fee entered and sat down near the door. The old man sat
at the other end of the lodge, covered so that his head as hidden.


Ohok-fee was hungry, so the old man ordered food for hiam. hen
he had finished eating, he asked the man if there wa anything
he could do for him, in return for the food. The old man told
him to go do bed, and on the morrow he would tell him why he had
ooma to this place.

When Ohok-fee awoke the next morning, the sun was rising,
The man still had not uncovered his head. He spoke to Ohok-fee,

"My friend, I an the one who made you com here. Tour grandmother
was right in telling you not to come, but I made you come here,
because I need your help. This is the last day. So saying, the
man removed the oowr, and Ohok-fee observed that he had no head I

The man explained to Ohok-fee that four days ago, an Unga,
a very large bird with a face like a man, came and out off hiM
head. When Ohok-fee asked why, the man said that Unga wanted to
narry his daughter, Wa-seeo-get, and when he refused his peais.-
sion, Unga out off his head.. If, at the end of the fourth day,
the man had not changed his mind, he would/live any more and Unga
would take his daughter away.

When Ohok-fee offered to help, the man told him to go to the

big cypress tree that almost touched the sky, and their e he would

find the Unga. Ohok-fee must kill the Unga by shooting him in t
heart, and bring the man's head baok to hia by mid-day. Otherwise,

the man would die. Ohok-fee took his bow and arrows and followed
the directions the old man had given him. Just before noon, he
reached the tall ypress tr and nd f d t the Oga holding the maneo
head in his hands. The head had beautiful red hair.

There were two birds, and one of the flew toward Chok-fee,
dropping a big snake which failed to hit him. Ohok-fee shot it
down and, as he did so, the other bird flw at him. Again Ohok-
fee shot, with the same result. Three timee, the birds arose and
attacked Ohok-fee, coming so lose that once he was knocked from
his feet. The fourth time, Ohok-fee's arrow pieroed the large
bird's heart, and he fell to the ground dead.

Pioking up the head, which the bird had dropped near by,
Ohok-fee ran for the lodge, as t was very near id-day. In order
to save time, he threw the head to the man, as he ame near the
door. The man ought it and placed it on his shoulders, one min-
ute before mid-day.

'well done, said the man, and invited Ohok-fee into the lodge.s
*My friend, he said, *you have saved my life and saved your peo-
ple by killing the bad bird, and for your reward everything that
belongs to me is yours, but, y friend, do not enter that other
lodge for four days after leave. My beautiful daughter lives
there and she is going to be your wife. That is part of your re-
ward for your brave deed, bt remember what I ay. If you do not


Inside for four days after I leave, you will aooooplish a
or your people. You will never have to hunt. You will never
pyr and you will have anything you want by just wishing for
All the deer in the land are yours now, They all belong to
jnd that is the reason the deer trail leads to this lodge.

The man prepared to go, dressing himself in red; carrying red
Jnd arrow. Again warning the boy not to go to the other lodge
$our days, he walked skyward. He went higher and higher until
Swas nothing but a red spot in the sky. Evn to this day it
be seen, the only red star in the sky. It is the Indian with
ieautitul red hair.

bariosity overcame Ohok-fee and, at the end of the third day,
lped into the small lodge. There he saw a beautiful girl
gMd in white doeskin. He entered and stood staring at her.
eight became brighter and brighter, until he was blinded by
n he oould ee again, there was no sign of the lodge, only
it swanupland. The girl had risen to the sky in the blinding
fe and had become the bright morning star.

f Ohok-fee had waited four days to enter the lodge, as the
Md goes, to this day the Indians would have everything they
j only by wisfing for it. Instead, they have to walk miles
Mileo to get deer to eat. (3)

weagd totl bty MlN estuat (Indian), right, Plorida.

aoi files of Agnew Welsh, Ma i Daly NW writ,.e

seourd from Williaa Molinlry Ooeo0la (Indian).

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