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Title: Seminole Indians of Florida
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Title: Seminole Indians of Florida
Series Title: Seminole Indians of Florida
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Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page 470
        Title Page 2
    Table of Contents
        Page 471
        Page 472
    List of Illustrations
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        List of Illustrations 2
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Full Text






Letter of transmittal...... ................................................. 475
Introduction ...... ...... ........ ..... .... ..... ... ......... .... ........ 477


Personal characteristics ...................................................... 481
Physical characteristics .........-....... ....... .................... ... 481
Physique of the men--............................................... 481
Physique of the women............................................ 482
Clothing ...-... ....... ...... ......... ............ .. .......... ........ 482
Costume of the men ................................................. 483
Costume of the women .............................................. 485
Personal adornment..... ------........----.........--- ................ ..... 486
Hairdressing ............ ............ ............ ................... 466
Ornamentation of clothing ................... ...............---- ---- 487
Use of beads .... ............... ................................... 487
Silver disks ......................................................... 488
Earrings ........................................................... 488
Finger rings ............................................. ............ 489
Silver vs. gold .......... ...................... .... .......... ...... 489
Crescents ................................ .......................... 489
M e-le ........................ ... ....... ............. .................. 489
Psychical characteristics .................. ............................. 490
Ko-nip-ha-tco ...... .... ................. ... ......................... 492
Intellectual ability .................................................... 493


Seminole society ................. .............................. .......... 495
The Seminole family.... ................................................ 495
Courtship .............................. ... ............... .......... 496
Marriage-.................. ............... ........ .................. 496
Divorce ...... .................... ..... .... .......... ... ...... 496
Childbirth ................................................ ... ..... 497
Infancy.............. ................... ................ ...... ..... 497
Childhood................................................. .......... 498
Seminole dwellings I-ful-lo-ha-tco's house......-----.......--...--...... 499
Home life .......................................................... 503
Food ..... ......................... .. ................ ....... .... 504
Camp fire ......................................................... 505
Manner of eating................................................... 505
Amusements ................................................. .... 506
The Seminole gens ...................................................... 507
Fellowhood .............................. .......................... 508

__~_~ ~I__~_~


Seminole society- Continued. Page.
The Seminole tribe.......... ......................................... 508
Tribal organization ....................... .......................... 508
Seat of government .................................. ............... 508
Tribal officers.............................. ....... ............... 509
Name of tribe....................................................... 509


Seminole tribal life........ .................................................. 510
Industries.. /...........-----............................... 510
Agriculture ......................................................... 510
Soil.............................................................. 510
Corn.................................................... ....... 510
Sugar cane...................................................... 511
Hunting.........-.....................-............... ......... ---- 512
Fishing...... ..................................... .................. 513
Stock raising ....................................................... 513
Koonti ........... ............ ...... ............................ 513
Industrial statistics......................... ........................ 516
Arts ....................................... ......... ...... .............. 516
Industrial arts.................................... .................. 516
Utensils and implements ....----.......................------.........--- 516
W weapons .......... ................... ...... .... ...... ....... 516
Weaving and basket making .................................... 517
Uses of the palmetto ................ ............................ 517
Mortar and pestle ..............-..- .-....-..........-........--- 517
Canoe making ................ ............ ..................... 517
Fire making ............- ..... ............. .................... 518
Preparation of skins .................................--......... 518
Ornamental arts ...-................................................ 518
M usic ....................................-...................- .. 519
Religion ................................................................. 519
Mortuary customs ................ .... ........-.........-.......... 520
Green Corn Dance ................................................. 522
General observations ................... .... .........-................. 523
Standard of value-................................................... 523
Divisions of time ...............................................-.... 524
Numeration .............-- ....--..........----.-------------.---- 525
Sense of color....................................................... 525
Education ..-....--...........................-.........----........ 526
Slavery ...... .....................................-........... .... 526
Health ....................................... .................... .. 526


Environment of the Seminole ............................................... 527
Nature ........ ................................. ....................... 527
Man .................................................................... 529

I"'""- - -


PLATE XIX. Seminole dwelling............................................. 500
FIG. 60. Map of Florida ................... ................................ 477
61. Seminole costume ................... ........................ .... 483
62. Key W est Billy..................................................... 484
3. Seminole costume..........--......................... ............ 485
64. Manner of wearing the hair.......................................... 486
65. Manner of piercing the ear.......................................... 488
66. Baby cradle or hammock .......................................... 497
67. Temporary dwelling.................................... ............ 502
68. Sugar cane crusher ................................................ 511
69. Koonti log .............. ........................... ......... 514
70. Koonti pestles ............................................... 514
71. Koonti mash vessel................................................ 514
72. Koonti strainer ...................................................... 515
73. Mortar and pestle.................................................. 517
74. Hide stretcher...................................................... 518
75. Seminole bier............................ ...................... 520
76. Seminole grave................................................... 521
77. Green Corn Dance .................................................. 523


~~-...~.~.~-c'a--- ----~----.-.-.,,~. ~ ... .____

_ I~ _.


MINNEAPOLIS, MINN., June 24, 1884.
SIR: During the winter of 1880-'81 I visited Florida, commissioned by
you to inquire into the condition and to ascertain the number of the In-
dians commonly known as the Seminole then in that State. I spent
part of the months of January, February, and March in an endeavor to
accomplish this purpose. I have the honor to embody the result of my
work in the following report.
On account of causes beyond my control the paper does not treat of
these Indians as fully as I had intended it should. Owing to the igno-
rance prevailing even in Florida of the locations of the homes of the Sem-
inole and also to the absence of routes of travel in Southern Florida,
much of my time at first was consumed in reaching the Indian country.
On arriving there, I found myself obliged to go among the Indians
ignorant of their language and without an interpreter able to secure
me intelligible interviews with them except in respect to the commonest
things. I was compelled, therefore, to rely upon observation and upon
very simple, perhaps sometimes misunderstood, speech for what I have
here placed on record. But while the report is only a sketch of a sub-
ject that would well reward thorough study, it may be found to possess
value as a record of facts concerning this little-known remnant of a once
powerful people.
I have secured, I think, a correct census of the Florida Seminole
by name, sex, age, gens, and place of living. I have endeavored to
present a faithful portraiture of their appearance and personal charac-
teristics, and have enlarged upon their manners and customs, as indi-
viduals and as a society, as much as the material at my command will
allow; but under the disadvantageous circumstances to which allusion
has already been made, I have been able to gain little more than a
superficial and partial knowledge of their social organization, of the
elaboration among them of the system of gentes, of their forms and
methods of government, of their tribal traditions and modes of think-
ing, of their religious beliefs and practices, and of many other things
manifesting what is distinctive in the life of a people. For these reasons
I submit this report more as a guide for future investigation than as a
completed result.


47i; LE TI::n 1'r T' .\N[ .1IITI .\I o.

At the begiluiug o(f my visit I t;und but one Seminole with whom I
coiul hohl :even the setmilanol oft an English conuver'atiou. To Lim I
am indllited fitr a large part of the tmatc.ial he-'r icolleted. To him,
in palrticuelair, I owe. the extensiver Se-wmiioll vtl.ab)ll ary Uowi ill po'
s.'-s.iou of the Butieai (tf Ethut.li.gy. Thie kolt.wledge .of the Semuiunle
lauiguage which I gratluallyl acqi.i real enabled lme, inu mL intercourse
with other IndialuD, to. verify al iii lcere;Ie the infiormati.ll I hadl re-
erivii-d from him.
In c.ncluhsio:n, I hu.pe that, niotwithstuandiung th'h ntutortnuiate delays
Shiich have occurre'l in the piiblicatlon of this lt-Ort, it will still b e
ftiiund l to oall onethig tour k(.) wi 1 of this Inilian ti ibe not with-
out valueto o thlie who, make man their pecenliart stuily.
r-r\ r.eslPe t ftully,
Maij. J. W\. I'OWELL,
Diiv'e'to" 1ure'ii ofr' Ethuology.







There were in Florida, October 1, 1880,
known as Seminole, two hundred and eight.
seven families, living in twenty-two camps,

of the Indians commonly
They constituted thirty-
which were gathered into

FIG. 60. Map of Florida.

five widely separated groups or settlements. These settlements, from
the most prominent natural features connected with them, I have named,

4apr~Faa*~-:-~~~`'.*--- --- --. ---r-- ._---i__l;.. .-n------~ --i~----x-l ---_ _- _. ......,.__ II...~~~__~___ ~~~__~~~_~~~ ~~~_~__~_~~_~ _~__~__ ~ ~;~_~~_~


(1) The Big Cypress Swamp settlement; (2) Miami River settlement;
(3) Fish Eating Creek settlement; (4) Cow Creek settlement; and (5)
Cat Fish Lake settlement. Their locations are, severally: The first, in
Monroe County, in what is called the Devil's Garden," on the north-
western edge of the Big Cypress Swamp, from fifteen to twenty miles
southwest of Lake Okeechobee; the second, in Dade County, on the
Little Miami River, not far from Biscayne Bay, and about ten miles
north of the site of what was, during the great Seminole war, Fort Dal-
las; the third, in Manatee County, on a creek which empties from the
west into Lake Okeechobee, probably five miles from its mouth; the
fourth, in Brevard County, on a stream running southward, at a point
about fifteen miles northeast of the entrance of the Kissimmee River into
Lake Okeechobee; and the fifth, on a small lake in Polk County, lying
nearly midway between lakes Pierce and Rosalie, towards the head-
waters of the Kissimmee River. The settlements are from forty to sev-
enty miles apart, in an otherwise almost uninhabited region, which is
in area about sixty by one hundred and eighty miles. The camps of
which each settlement is composed lie at distances from one another
varying from a half mile to two or more miles. In tabular form the
population of the settlements appears as follows:


1. Big Cypress....
2. Miami River...
3. Fish Eating
4. Cow Creek....
5. Cat Fish Lake..

Totals .....


Divided according to age and sex.
__---------------------- --- Respmei
B Below 5 to 10 10 to 15 5to20 20 to 60 Over 60 by sex.
a years. years. years. years. years. years.

No.M. F. M. F. M. M. F. M. F. M. F.

10 4 5 a2 2 10 4 9 2 15 b15 2 3 42 31 73
. 5 5 4 4 4 5 3 7 5 10 13 1 2 32 31 63
4 al 1.. 2 a2 .... 3 1 as ablO 4 3 15 17 32

1 2 1 ...... .. 1 .-.. . 1 4 3 ...--- .... 7 Z 12
.. 2 ... 2 3 2 4 1 4 1 a4 ab 1 1 1612 28
( 12 13 9 10 22 8 23 10 38 46 8 9 112 96 208
S22 25 19 30 33 84 17 208
22 25 19 30 5 33 84 17 28

a One mixed blood.

b One black.

Or, for the whole tribe--
Males under 10 years of age -...--........................................- 21
Males between 10 and 20 years of age.-..........-................--. ..... .. 45
Males between 20 and 60 years of age... .................. .. .............. 38
Males over 60 years of age ..............-............... ..... ---........- 8
Females under 10 years of age..............-....... ................. ....--. 23
Females between 10 and 20 years of age .............. ..-.....- ....-...... 18
Females between 20 and 60 years of age...........- ... ...-... ............ 46
Females over 60 years of age...............................-..........--.. 9
-- 96


___ _I_~_ _ ~__ I ____ ~_ ~_I_




In this table it will be noticed that the total population consists of 112
males and 96 females, an excess of males over females of 16. This excess
appears in each of the settlements, excepting that of Fish Eating Creek, a
fact the more noteworthy, from its relation to the future of the tribe, since
polygamous, or certainly duogamous, marriage generally prevails as a
tribal custom, at least at the Miami River and the Cat Fish Lake settle-
ments. It will also be observed that between twenty and sixty years of
age, or the ordinary range of married life, there are 38 men and 46 women;
or, if the women above fifteen years of age are included as wives for the
men over twenty years of age, there are 38 men and 56 women. Now,
almost all these 56 women are the wives of the 38 men. Notice, how-
ever, the manner in which the children of these people are separated in
sex. At present there are, under twenty years of age, 66 boys, and,
under fifteen years of age, but 31 girls; or, setting aside the 12 boys who
are under five years of age, there are, as future possible husbands and
wives, 54 boys between five and twenty years of age and 31 girls under
fifteen years of age-an'excess of 23 boys. For a polygamous society,
this excess in the number of the male sex certainly presents a puzzling
problem. The statement I had from some cattlemen in mid-Florida I
have thus found true, namely, that the Seminole are producing more
men than women. What bearing this peculiarity will have upon the
future of these Indians can only be guessed at. It is beyond question,
however, that the tribe is increasing in numbers, and increasing in the
manner above described.
There is no reason why the tribe should not increase, and increase
rapidly, if the growth in numbers be not checked by the non-birth
of females. The Seminole have not been at war for more than twenty
years. Their numbers are not affected by the attacks of wild, ani-
mals or noxious reptiles. They are not subject to devastating diseases.
But once during the last twenty years, as far as I could learn, has
anything like an epidemic afflicted them. Besides, at all the settle-
ments except the northernmost, the one at Cat Fish Lake, there is an
abundance of food, both animal and vegetable, easily obtained and easily
prepared for eating. The climate in which these Indians live is warm
and equable throughout the year. They consequently do not need
much clothing or shelter. They are not what would be called in-
temperate, nor are they licentious. The "sprees" in which they indulge
when they make their visits to the white man's settlements are too in-
frequent to warrant us in classing them as intemperate. Their sexual
morality is a matter of common notoriety. The white half-breed does
not exist among the Florida Seminole, and nowhere could I learn that
the Seminole woman is other than virtuous and modest. The birth of
a white half-breed would be followed by the death of the Indian mother
at the hands of her own people. The only persons of mixed breed
among them are children of Indian fathers by negresses who have
been adopted into the tribe. Thus health, climate, food, and personal

_ _ ~ __i~




habits apparently conduce to an increase in numbers. The only ex-
planation I can suggest of the fact that there are at present but 208
Seminole in Florida is that at the close of the last war which the United
States Government waged on these Indians there were by no means so
many of them left in the State as is popularly supposed. As it is,
there are now but 17 persons of the tribe over sixty years of age, and
no unusual mortality has occurred, certainly among the adults, during
the last twenty years. Of the 84 persons between twenty and sixty
years of age, the larger number are less than forty years old; and un-
der twenty years of age there are 107 persons, or more than half the
whole population. The population tables of the Florida Indians pre
sent, therefore, some facts upon which it may be interesting to specu-







It will be convenient for me to describe the Florida Seminole as they
present themselves, first as individuals, and next as members of a soci-
ety. I know it is impossible to separate, really, the individual as such
from the individual as a member of society; nevertheless, there is the
miiai as we see him, having certain characteristics which we call per-
San Il, (or his own, whencesoever derived, having a certain physique and
c<'-rtain distinguishing psychical qualities. As su .n' Twill first attempt
to describe the Seminole. Then we shall be able the better to look at
hlimi as he is in his relations with his fellows: in the family, in the com-
mlnity, or in any of the forms of the social life of his tribe.

'lIhy.ically both men and women are remarkable. The men, as a rule,
ant t act attention by their height, fullness and symmetry of development,
nil the regularity and agreeableness of their features. In muscular
po:wr and constitutional ability to endure they excel. While these qual-
v lies d distinguish, with a few exceptions, the men of the whole tribe, they
are Ia rt icularly characteristic of the two most widely spread of the fam-
i lies of which the tribe is composed. These are the Tiger and Otter clans,
which, Iproud of their lines of descent, have been preserved through a
long anad tragic past with exceptional freedom from admixture with
degrading blood. To-day their men might be taken as types.of phys-
it.a. excellence. The physique of every Tiger warrior especially I met
would furnish proof of this statement. The Tigers are dark, copper-
cl hreil fellows, over six feet in height with limbs in good proportion;
t hiir hands and feet well shaped and not very large; their stature erect;
the-ir bearing a sign of self-confident power; their movements deliber-
ate, persi-stent, strong. Their heads are large, and their foreheads full
a nl in marked. An almost universal characteristic of the Tiger's face is its
squareness, a widened and protruding under jawbone givingtthis effect
to it. Of other features, I noticed that under a large forehead dre deep
s-rt, bright, black eyes, small, but expressive of inquiry and vigilance;
the uo.se is slightly aquiline and sensitively formed about the.anstrils;
the lips are mobile, sensuous, and not very full, disclosing, when they
ETH- 31 481



smile, beautiful regular teeth; and the whole face is expressive of the
man's sense of having extraordinary ability to endure and to achieve.
Two of the warriors permitted me to manipulate the muscles of their
bodies. Under my touch these were more like rubber than flesh. Notice-
able among all are the large calves of their legs, the size of the tendons
of their lower limbs, and the strength of their toes. I attribute this ex-
ceptional development to the fact that they are not what we would call
"horse Indians" and that they hunt barefoot over their wide domain.
The same causes, perhaps, account for the only real deformity I noticed
in the Seminole physique, namely, the diminutive toe nails, and for the
heavy, cracked, and seamed skin which covers the soles of their feet.
The feet being otherwise well formed, the toes have only narrow shells
for nails, these lying sunken across the middles of the tough cushions of
flesh, which, protuberant about them, form the toe-tips. But, regarded
as a whole, in their physique the Seminole warriors, especially the men of
the Tiger and Otter gentes, are admirable. Even among the children this
physical superiority is seen. To illustrate, one morning Ko-i-ha-tco's son,
Tin-fai-yai-ki, a tall, slender boy, not quite twelve years old, shouldered a
hea y "Kentucky" rifle, left our camp, and followed in his father's long
footsteps for a day's hunt. After tramping all day, at sunset he reap-
peared in the camp, carrying slung across his shoulders, in addition to
rifle and accouterments, a deer weighing perhaps fifty pounds, a weight
he had borne for miles. The same boy, in one day, went with some older
friends to his permanent home, 20 miles away, and returned. There
are, as I have said, exceptions to this rule of unusual physical size and
strength, but these are few; so few that, disregarding them, we may
pronounce the Seminole men handsome and exceptionally powerful.
The women to a large extent share the qualities of the men. Some
are proportionally tall and handsome, though, curiously enough, many,
perhaps a majority, are rather under than over the average height of
women. As a rule, they exhibit great bodily vigor. Large or small, they
possess regular and agreeable features, shapely and well developed
bodies, and they show themselves capable of long continued and severe
physical exertion. Indeed, the only Indian women I have seen with at-
tractive features and forms are among the Seminole. I would even
venture to select from among these Indians three persons whom I could,
without much fear of contradiction, present as types respectively of a
handsome, a pretty, and a comely woman. Among American Indians,
I am confident that the Seminole women are of the first rank.

But how is this people clothed? While the clothing of the Seminole
is simple and scanty, it is ample for his needs and suitable to the life
he leads. The materials of which the clothing is made pre now chiefly




fabrics manufactured by the white man : calico, cotton cloth, ginghams,
and sometimes flannels. They also use some materials prepared by
themselves, as deer and other skins. Of ready made articles for wear
found in the white trader's store, they
buy small woolen shawls, brilliantly col-
ored cotton handkerchiefs, now and then
light woolen blankets, and sometimes,
lately, though very seldom, shoes.

The costume of the Seminale warrior
at home consists of a shirt, a necker-
chief, a turban, a breech cloth, and, very /
rarely, moccasins. On but one Indian \
in camp did I see more than this; on
many, less. The shirt is made of some
figured or striped cotton cloth, generally
of quiet colors. It hangs from the neck
to the knees, the narrow, rolling collar
being closely buttoned about the neck,
the narrow wristbands of the roomy
sleeves buttoned about the wrists. The
garment opens in front for a few inches,
downward from the collar, and is pock-
etless. A belt of leather or buckskin
usually engirdles the man's waist, and
from it are suspended one or more
pouches, in which powder, bullets, pocket
knife, a piece of flint, a small quantity
of paper, and like things for use in hunt-
ing are carried. From the belt hang. 6. Seminole costume.
FIG. 61. Seminole costume.
also one or more hunting knives, each
nearly 10 inches in length. I questioned one of the Indians about
having no pockets in his shirt, pointing out to him the wealth in this
respect of the white man's garments, and tried to show him how, on his
shirt, as on mine, these convenient receptacles could be placed, and to
what straits he was put to carry his pipe, money, and trinkets. He
Showed little interest in my proposed improvement on his dress.
Having no pockets, the Seminole is obliged to submit to several in-
conveniences; for instance, he wears his handkerchief about his neal..
I have seen as many as six, even eight, handkerchiefs tied around his
throat, their knotted ends pendant over his breast; as a rule, they are
bright red and yellow things, of whose possession and number he is,
quite proud. Having no pockets, the Seminole, only here and there
one excepted, carries whatever money he obtains from time to time in
a knotted corner of one or more of his handkerchiefs.



The next article of the man's ordinary costume is the turban. This
is a remarkable structure and gives to its wearer much of his unique
appearance. At present it is made of one or more t :all shawls. These
shawls are generally woolen and copied in figure and color from the
plaid of some Scotch clan. They are so folded that they are about 3
inches wide and as long as the diagonal of the fabric. They are then,
one or more of them successively, wrapped tightly around the head, the
top of the head remaining bare; the last end of the last shawl is tucked
skillfully and firmly away, without the use of pins, somewhere in the
many folds of the turban. The structure when finished looks like a
section of a decorated cylinder crowded down upon the man's head. I
examined one of. these turbans and
found it a rather firm piece of work,
made of several shawls wound into
seven concentric rings. It was over
20 inches in diameter, the shell of
the cylinder being perhaps 7 inches
thick and 3 in width. This head-
dress, at the southern settlements,
f is regularly worn in the camps and
sometimes on the hunt. While hunt-
ing, however, it seems to be the gen-
eral custom for the warriors to go
bareheaded. At the northern camps,
a kerchief bound about the head
"frequently takes the place of the
turban in everyday life, but on dress
or festival occasions, at both the
northern and the southern settle-
ments, this curious turban is the
customary covering for the head of
the Seminole brave. Having no
pockets in his dress, he has discov-
ered that the folds of his turban may
be put to a pocket's uses. Those
who use tobacco (I say those" be-
cause the tobacco habit is by no
means universal among the red men
of Florida) frequently carry their
pipes and other articles in their tur-
FIG. 62. Key West Billy.bans.
When the Seminole warrior makes his rare visits to the white man's
settlements, he frequently adds to his scanty camp dress leggins and
In the camps I saw but one Indian wearing leggins (Fig. 62); he,
however, is in every way a peculiar character among his people, and
is objectionable favorable to the white man and the white man's ways.

L~ _~--~*ll--rrr~-------~ ~..._c--~-


He is called by the white men Key West Billy," having received this
name because he once made a voyage in a canoe out of the Everglades
and along the line of keys south of the Florida mainland to Key West,
where he remained for some time. The act itself
was so extraordinary, and it -was so unusual for
a Seminole to enter a white man's town and re-
main there for any length of time, that a corn.
memorative name was bestowed upon him. The
materials of which the leggins of the Seminole
are usually made is buckskin. I saw, however,
one pair of leggins made of a bright red flannel,
and ornamented along the outer seams with a
blue and white cross striped braid. The moc-
casins, also, are made of buckskin, of either a
yellow or dark red color. They are made to lace
high about the lower part of the leg, the lacing [
running from below the instep upward. As show-
ing what changes are going on among the Semi-
nole, I may mention that a few of them possess
shoes, and one is even the owner of a pair of fron-
tier store boots. The blanket is not often worn \
1by the Florida Indians. Occasionally, in their
cool weather, a small shawl, of the kind made to
do service in the turban, is thrown about the
shoulders. Oftener a piece of calico or white
cotton cloth, gathered about the neck, becomes t '
the extra protection against mild coolness in
their winters.
The costume of the women is hardly more FIG. 63. Seminole costume.
complex than that of the men. It consists, ap-
parently, of but two garments, one of which, for lack of a better Eng-
lish word, I name a short shirt, the other a long skirt. The shirt
is cut quite low at the neck and is just long enough to cover the
breasts. Its sleeves are buttoned close about the wrists. The gar-
ment is otherwise buttonless, being wide enough at the neck for it to be
easily put on or taken off over the head. The conservatism of the
Seminole Indian is shown in nothing more clearly than in the use, by the
women, of this much abbreviated covering for the upper part of their
bodies. The women are noticeably modest, yet it does not seem to
have occurred to them that by making a slight changein their upper gar-
ment they might free themselves from frequent embarrassment. In
going about their work they were constantly engaged in what our
street boys would call "pulling down.their vests." This may have
been done because a stranger's eyes were upon them; but I noticed that
in rising or in sitting down, or at work, it was a perpetually renewed



effort on their part to lengthen by a pull the scanty covering hanging
over their breasts. Gathered about the waist is the other garment, the
/ skirt, extending to the feet and often touching the ground. This is
usually made of some dark colored calico or gingham. The cord by
which the petticoat is fastened is often drawn so tightly about the
waist that it gives to that part of the body a rather uncomfortable ap-
pearance. This is especially noticeable because the shirt is so short that
a space of two or more inches on the body is left uncovered between it
and the skirt. I saw no woman wearing moccasins, and I was told
that the women never wear them. For headwear the women have noth-
ing, unless the cotton cloth, or small shawl, used about the shoulders
in cool weather, and which at times is thrown or drawn over the head,
may be called that. (Fig. 63.)
Girls from seven to ten years old are clothed with only a petticoat, and
boys about the same age wear only a shirt. Younger children are, as
a rule, entirely naked. If clothed at any time, it is only during ex-
ceptionally cool weather or when taken by their parents on a journey
to the homes of the palefaces.
The love of personal adornment shows itself among the Seminole as
among other human beings.
The coarse, brilliant, black hair of which they are possessors is taken
care of in an odd manner. The men cut all their hair close to the head,
except a strip about an inch wide, run-
ning over the front of the scalp from
I temple to temple, and another strip,
~o: f about the same width, perpendic-
S'' ular to the former, crossing the crown
Si of the head to the nape of the neck.
~A' ' t each temple a heavy tuft is allowed
to hang to the bottom of the lobe of
the ear. The long hair of the strip
S crossing to the neck is generally gath-
ered and braided into two ornamental
queues. I did not learn that these
% Indians are in the habit of plucking
t the hair from their faces. I noticed,
SB however, that the moustache is com-
monly worn among them and that a
few of them are endowed with a rather
64. anger of hearing the hair. bold looking combination of mous-
FIG. 64. Manner of wearing the hair.
tache and imperial. As an exception
to the uniform style of cutting the hair of the men, I recall the comical
appearance of a small negro half breed at the Big Cypress Swamp.


His brilliant wool was twisted into many little sharp cones, which stuck
out over his head like so many spikes on an ancient battle club. For
some reason there seems to be a much greater neglect of the care of
the hair, and, indeed, of the whole person, in the northern than in the
southern camps.
The women dress their hair more simply than the men. From a line
crossing the head from ear to ear the hair is gathered up and bound,
just above the neck, into a knot somewhat like that often made by the
civilized woman, the Indian woman's hair being wrought more into the
shape of a cone, sometimes quite elongated and sharp at the apex. A
piece of bright ribbon is commonly used at the end as a finish to the
structure. The front hair hangs down over the forehead and along the
cheeks in front of the ears, being what we call "banged." The only
exception to this style of hair dressing I saw was the manner in which
Ci-ha-ne, a negress, had disposed of her long crisp tresses. Hers was
a veritable Medusa head. A score or more of dangling, snaky plaits,
hanging down over her black face and shoulders gave her a most repul-
sive appearance. Among the little Indian girls the hair is simply
biaidel into a queue and tied wiwh a ribbon, as we often see the hair
upln the heads of our school children.

ThIr, nothing of both men and women is ordinarily more or less orna-
ineinrel. Braids and strips of cloth of various colors are used and
wr.,,l;2ht upon the garments into odd and sometimes quite tasteful
.shapes. The upper parts of the shirts of the women are usually em-
lbridli-adI with yellow, red, and brown braids. Sometimes as many as
live ot' these braids lie side by side, parallel with the upper edge of the
g.arnmeit or dropping into a sharp angle between the shoulders. Occa-
siounllY\ a very narrow cape, attached, I think, to the shirt, and much
ornamented with braids or stripes, hangs just over the shoulders and
bIack. The same kinds of material used for ornamenting the shirt are
;aIs.) uni-d in decorating the skirt above the lower edge of the petti-
ce:at. The women embroider along this edge, with their braids and the
nU'row. colored stripes, a border of diamond and square shaped figures,
which is often an elaborate decoration to the dress. In like manner
many of the shirts of the men are made pleasing to the eye. I saw
uo orunimentation in curves: it was always in straight lines and angles.

My attention was called to the remarkable use of beads amopg these
Indiin women, young and old. It seems to be the ambition of the
Seminole squaws to gather about their necks as many strings of beads
as ca.n 1 e- hung there and as they can carry. They aPe particular as to
the quality of the beads they wear. They are satisfied with nothing
men:ner than a cut glass bead, about a quarter of an inch or more in


length, generally of some shade of blue, and costing (so I was told by a
trader at Miami) $1.75 a pound. Sometimes, but not often, one sees
beads of an inferior quality worn.
These beads must be burdensome to their wearers. In the Big Cy-
press Swamp settlement one day, to gratify my curiosity as to how
many strings of beads these women can wear, I tried to count those
worn by "' Young Tiger Tail's" wife, number one, Mo-ki, who had come
through the Everglades to visit her relatives. She was the proud
wearer of certainly not fewer than two hundred strings of good sized
beads. She had six quarts (probably a peck of the beads) gathered about
her neck, hanging down her back, down upon her breasts, filling the
space under her chin, and covering her neck up to her ears. It was an
effort for her to move her head. She, however, was only a little, if any,
better off in her possessions than most of the others. Others were
about equally burdened. Even girl babies are favored by their proud
mammas with a varying quantity of the coveted neck wear. The cum-
bersome beads are said to be worn by night as well as by day.

Conspicuous among the other ornaments worn by women are silver
disks, suspended in a curve across the shirt fronts, under and below the
beads. As many as ten or more are worn by one
woman. These disks are made by men, who may
1 \ be called "jewelers to the tribe," from silver quar-
/ ters and half dollars. The pieces of money are
Sounded quitevthin, made concave, pierced with
fill I anholes, and ornamented by a groove lying just in-
1i^ side the circumference. Large disks made from
I half dollars may be called breast shields." They
Share suspended, one over each breast. Among the
disks other ornaments are often suspended. One
: young woman I noticed gratifying her vanity with
not only eight disks made of silver quarters, but
also with three polished copper rifle shells, one
bright brass thimble, and a buckle hanging among
them. Of course the possession of these and like
treasures depends upon the ability and desire of
FIG. 65. Manner of piercing
the ear. one and another to secure them.

Ear rings are not generally worn by the Seminole. Those worn are
usually made of silver and are of home manufacture. The ears of most
of the Indians, however, appear to be pierced, and, as a rule, the ears
of the women are pierced many times; for what purpose I did not.dis-
cover. Along and in the upper edges of the ears of the women from
one to ten or more small holes have been made. In most of these holes


I noticed bits of palmetto wood, about a fifth of an inch in length and
in diameter the size of a large pin. Seemingly they were not placed
there to remain only while the puncture was healing. (Fig. 65.)
Piercing the ears excepted, the Florida Indians do not now mutilate
their bodies for beauty's sake. They no longer pierce the lips or the
nose; nor do they use paint upon their persons, I am told, except at
their great annual festival, the Green Corn Dance, and upon the faces of
their dead.

Nor is the wearing of finger rings more common than that of rings
for the ears. The finger rings I saw were all made of silver and showed
good workmanship. Most of them were made with large elliptical tab-
lets on them, extending from knuckle to knuckle. These also were

I saw no gold ornaments. Gold, even gold money, does not seem to be
considered of much value by the Seminole. He is a monometalist, and
his precious metal is silver. I was told by a cattle dealer of an Indian
who once gave him a twenty dollar gold piece for $17 in silver, although
assured that the gold piece was worth more than the silver, and in my
own intercourse with the Seminole I found them to manifest, with few
exceptions, a decided preference for silver. I was told that the Semi-
nole are peculiar in wishing to possess nothing that is not genuine of
its apparent kind. Traders told me that, so far as the Indians know,
they will buy of them only what is the best either of food or of material
for wear or ornament.

The ornaments worn by the men which are most worthy of attention
are crescents, varying in size and value. These are generally about
five inches long, an inch in width at the widest part, and of the thick-
ness of ordinary tin. These articles are also made from silver coins
and are of home manufacture. They are worn suspended from the neck
by cords, in the cusps of the crescents, one below another, at distances
apart of perhaps two and a half inches. Silver wristlets are used by
the men for their adornment. They are fastened about the wrists by
cords or thongs passing through holes in the ends of the metal. Belts,
and turbans too, are often ornamented with fanciful devices wrought
out of silver. It is not customary for the Indian men to wear these-
ornaments in everyday camp life. They appear with them on a fes-
tival occasion or when they visit some trading post.


A sketch made by Lieutenant Brown, of Saint Francis Barracks,
Saint Augustine, Florida, who accompanied me on my trip to the Cat


Fish Lake settlement, enables me to show, in gala dress, Me-le, a half
breed Seminole, the son of an Indian, Ho-laq-to-mik-ko, by a negress
adopted into the tribe when a child.
Me-le sat for his picture in my room at a hotel in Orlando. He had
just come seventy miles from his home, at Cat Fish Lake, to see the
white man and a white man's town. He was clothed "in his best,"
and, moreover, had just purchased and was wearing a pair of store
boots in addition to his home-made finery. He was the owner of the
one pair of red flannel leggins of which I have spoken. These
were not long enough to cover the brown skin of his sturdy thighs.
His ornaments were silver crescents, wristlets, a silver studded belt,
and a peculiar battlement-like band of silver on the edge of his tur-
ban. Notice his uncropped head of luxuriant, curly hair, the only
exception I observed to the singular cut of hair peculiar to the
Seminole men. Me-le, however, is in many other more important re-
spects an exceptional character. He is not at all in favor with the
Seminole of pure blood. "Me-le ho-lo-wa kis" (Me-le is of no account)
was the judgment passed upon him to me by some of the Indians.
Why? Because he likes the white man and would live the white man's
life if he knew how to break away safely from his tribe. He has been
progressive enough to build for himself a frame house, inclosed on all
sides and entered by a door. More than that, he is not satisfied with the
hunting habits and the simple agriculture of his people, nor with their
ways of doing other things. He has started an orange grove, and in a
short time will have a hundred trees, so he says, bearing fruit. He has
bought and uses a sewing machine, and he was intelligent enough, so
the report goes, when the machine had been taken to pieces in his
presence, to put it together again without mistake. He once called
off for me from a newspaper the names of the letters of our alphabet.
and legibly wrote his English name, "John Willis Mik-ko." Mik-ko
has a restless, inquisitive mind, and deserves the notice and care of
those who are interested in the progress of this people. Seeking him
one day at Orlando, I found him busily studying the locomotive engine
of the little road which had been pushed out into that part of the fron-
tier of Florida's civilized population. Next morning he was at the sta-
tion to see the train depart, and told me he would like to go with me
to Jacksonville. He is the only Florida Seminole, I believe, who had
at that time seen a railway.


I shall now glance at what may more properly be called the psychical
characteristics of the Florida Indians. I have been led to the conclu-
sion that for Indians they have attained a relatively high degree of
psychical development. They are an uncivilized, I hardly like to call
them a savage, people. They are antagonistic to white men, as a race,
and to the white man's culture, but they have characteristics of their

-~ - -- .d


own, many of which are commendable. They are decided in their enmity
to any representative of the white man's government and to every thing
which bears upon it the government's mark. To one, however, who is
acquainted with recent history this enmity is but natural, and a con-
fessed representative of the government need not be surprised at
finding in the Seminole only forbidding and unlovely qualities. But
when suspicion is disarmed, one whom they have welcomed to their
confidence will find them evincing characteristics which will excite
his admiration and esteem. I was fortunate enough to be introduced
to the Seminole, not as a representative of our National Government,
but under conditions which induced them to welcome me as a friend.
In my intercourse with them, I found them to be not only the brave,
self reliant, proud people who have from time to time withstood our
nation's armies in defense of their rights, but also a people amiable,
affectionate, truthful, and communicative. Nor are they devoid of a
sense of humor. With only few exceptions, I found them genial. In-
deed, the old chief, Tfis-te-nfig-ge, a man whose warwhoop and deadly
hand, during the last half century, have often been heard and felt
'among the Florida swamps and prairies, was the only one disposed to
sulk in my presence and to repel friendly advances. He called me to
him when I entered the camp where he was, and, with great dignity of
manner, asked after my business among his people. After listen.
ing, through my interpreter, to my answers to his questions, he turned
from me and honored me no further. I call the Seminole communi-
cative, because most with whom I spoke were eager to talk, and, as
tfr as they could with the imperfect means at their disposal, to give
me the information I sought. "Doctor Na-ki-ta" (Doctor What-is-it)
1 was playfully named at the Cat Fish Lake settlement; yet the peo-
ple there were seemingly as ready to try to answer as I was to ask,
- What is it ? I said they are truthful. That is their reputation with
ma.uy of the white men I met, and I have reason to believe that the rep-
ut;ation is under ordinary circumstances well founded. They answered
promptly and without equivocation No" or" Yes or" I don't know."
And they are affectionate to one another, and, so far as I saw, amiable
in their domestic and social intercourse. Parental affection is charac-
teristic of their home life, as several illustrative instances I might men-
tion would show. I will mention one. TIl-la-bhs-ke is the father of six
lime looking boys, ranging in age from four to eighteen years. Seven
months before I met him his wife died, and when I was at his camp this
st ong Indian appeared to have become both mother and father to his
children. His solicitous affection seemed continually to follow these
boys, watching their movements and caring for their comfort. Es-
pecially did he throw a tender care about the little one of his house-
hold. I have seen this little fellow clambering, just like many a little
paleface, over his father's knees and back, persistently demanding
attention but in no way disturbing the father's amiability or serenity,


even while the latter was trying to oblige me by answering puzzling
questions upon matters connected with his tribe. One night, as Lieu-
tenant Brown and I sat by the campfire at TIl la-his-ke's lodge-the
larger boys, two Seminole negresses, three pigs, and several dogs, to-
gether with Til-la-his-ke, forming a picturesque circle in the ashes
around the bright light- I heard muffled moans from the little palmetto
shelter on my right, under which the three smaller boys were bundled
up in cotton cloth on deer skins for the night's sleep. Upon the moans
followed immediately the frightened cry of the baby boy, waking out of
bad dreams and crying for the mother who could not answer; "Its-
ki, Its-ki" (mother, mother) begged the little fellow, struggling from
under his covering. At once the big Indian grasped his child, hugged
him to his breast, pressed the little head to his cheek, consoling him all
the while with caressing words, whose meaning I felt, though I could
not have translated them into English, until the boy, wide awake,
laughed with his father and us all and was ready to be again rolled up
beside his sleeping brothers. I have said also that the Seminole are
frank. Formal or hypocritical courtesy does not characterize them.
One of my party wished to accompany Ka-tca-la-ni ("Yellow Tiger")
on a hunt. He wished to see how the Indian would find, approach,
and capture his game. Me go hunt with you, Tom, to-day?" asked
our man. No," answered Tom, and in his own language continued,
"not to-day; to-morrow." To-morrow came, and, with it, Tom to our
camp. "You can go to Horse Creek with me; then I hunt alone and
you come back," was the Indian's remark as both set out. I.after-
wards learned that Ka-tca-la-ni was all kindness on the trail to Horse
Creek, three miles away, aiding the amateur hunter in his search for
game and giving him the first shot at what was started. At Horse
Creek, however, Tom stopped, and, turning to his companion, said, "Now
you hi-e-pus (go)!" That was frankness indeed, and quite refreshing to
us who had not been honored by it. But equally outspoken, without
intending offense, I found them always. You could not mistake their
meaning, did you understand their words. Diplomacy seems, as yet, to
be an unlearned art among them.

Here is another illustration of their frankness. One Indian, Ko-nip-
ha-tco (" Billy"), a brother of "Key West Billy," has become so desirous
of identifying himself with the white people that in 1879 he came to Capt.
F. A. Hendry, at Myers, and asked permission to live with him. Permis-
sion was willingly given, and when I went to Florida this "Billy" had
been studying our language and ways for more than a year.. At that time
he was the only Seminole who had separated himself from his people and
had cast in his lot with the whites. He had clothed himself in our dress
and taken to the bed and table, instead of the ground and kettle, for sleep
and food. Me all same white man," he boastfully told me one day. But


I will pot here relate the interesting story of "Billy's" previous life or
of his adventures in reaching his present proud position. It is sufficient
to say that, for the time at least, he had become in the eyes of his people
a member of a foreign community. As may be easily guessed, Ko-nip-
ha-tco's act was not at all looked upon with favor by the Indians; it
was, on the contrary, seriously opposed. Several tribal councils made
him the subject of discussion, and once, during the year before I met
him, five of his relatives came to Myers and compelled him to return
with them for a time to his home at the Big Cypress Swamp. But to my
illustration of Seminole frankness: In the autumn of 1880, Mat-te-lo, a
prominent Seminole, was at Myers and happened to meet Captain Hen-
dry. While they stood together "Billy" passed. Hardlyhad the young
fellow disappeared when Mat-te-lo said to Captain Hendry, "Bum-by,
Indian kill Billy." But an answer came. In this case the answer of
the white man was equally frank: Mat-te-lo, when Indian kill Billy,
white man kill Indian, remember." And so the talk ended, the Semi-
nole looking hard at the captain to try to discover whether he had
meant what he said.

In range of intellectual power and mental processes the Florida In-
dians, when compared with the intellectual abilities and operations of
the cultivated American, are quite limited. But if the Seminole are to be
judged by comparison with other American aborigines, I believe they
easily enter the first class. They seem to be mentally active: When the
full expression of any of my questions failed, a substantive or two, an
adverb, and a little pantomime generally sufficed to convey the meaning
to my hearers. In their intercourse with one another, they are, as a rule,
voluble, vivacious, showing the possession of relatively active brains and
mental fertility. Certainly, most of the Seminole I met cannot justly
be called either stupid or intellectually sluggish, and I observed that,
when invited to think of matters with which they are not familiar or
which are beyond the verge of the domain which their intellectual facul-
ties have mastered, they nevertheless bravely endeavored to satisfy me
before they were willing to acknowledge themselves powerless. They
would not at once answer a misunderstood or unintelligible question,
but'would return inquiry upon inquiry, before the decided "I don't
know" was uttered. Those with whom I particularly dealt were ex-
ceptionally patient under the strains to which I put their minds. Ko-
nip-ha-tco, by no means a brilliant member of his tribe, is much to be
commended for his patient, persistent, intellectual industry. I kept
the young fellow busy for about a fortnight, from half-past eight in the
morning until five in the afternoon, with but an hour and a half's in-
termission at noon. Occupying our time with inquiries not very inter-
esting to him, about the language and life of his people, I could see
how much I wearied him. Often I found by his answers that his brain
was, to a degree,paralyzed by the long continued tension to which it was


subjected. But he held on bravely through the severe heat of an attic
room at Myers. Despite the insects, myriads of which took a great in-
terest in us and our surroundings, despite the persistent invitation of
the near woods to him to leave Doctor Na-ki-ta and to tramp off in
them on a deer hunt (for "Billy" is a lover of the woods and a bold and
successful hunter), he held on courageously. The only sign of weak-
ening he made was on one day, about noon, when, after many, to me,
vexatious failures to draw from him certain translations into his own
language of phrases containing verbs illustrating variations of mood,
time, number, &c., he said to me: "Doctor, how long you want me to
tell you Indian language?" "Why?" I replied, "are you tired, Billy?',
"No," he answered, "a little. Me think me tell you all. Me don't know
English language. Bum-by you come, next winter, me tell you all.
Me go school. Melearn. Me gohunt deer to-mollow." I was afraid of
losing my hold upon him, for time was precious. Billy," I said, "you
go now. You hunt to-day. I need you just three days more and then
you can hunt all the time. To-morrow come, and I will ask you easier
questions." After only a moment's hesitation, "Me no go, Doctor; me
stay," was his courageous decision:



As I now direct attention to the Florida Seminole in their relations
with one another, I shall first treat of that relationship which lies at
the foundation of society, marriage or its equivalent, the result of
which is a body of people more or less remotely connected with one
another and designated by the term kindred." This is shown either
in the narrow limits of what may be named the family or in the larger
bounds of what is called the clan or gens. I attempted to get full in-
sight into the system of relationships in which Seminole kinship is em-
bodied, and, while my efforts were not followed by an altogether satis-
factory result, I saw enough to enable me to say that the Seminole re-
lationships are essentially those of what we may call their "mother
tribe," the Creek. The Florida Seminole are a people containing, to
some extent, the posterity of tribes diverse from the Creek in language
and in social and political organization; but so strong has the Creek in-
fluence been in their development that the Creek language, Creek
customs, and Creek regulations have been the guiding .forces in their
history, forces by which, in fact, the characteristics of the other peoples
have yielded, have been practically obliterated.
I have made a careful comparison of the terms of Seminole relation-
ship I obtained with those of the Creek Indians, embodied in Dr. L. H.
Morgan's Consanguinity and Affinity of the American Indians, and I
find that, as far as I was able to go, they are the same, allowing for the
natural differences of pronunciation of the two peoples. The only
seeming difference of relationships lies in the names applied to some
of the lineal descendants, descriptive instead of classificatory names
being used.
I have said, "as far as I was able to go." I found, for example, that
beyond the second collateral line among consanguineous kindred my
interpreter would answer my question only by some such answer as "I
don't know" or "No kin," and that, beyond the first collateral line of
kindred by marriage, except for a very few relationships, I could obtain
no answer.

The family consists of the husband, one or more wives, and their
children. I do not know what limit tribal law places to the number of
wives the Florida Indian may have, but certainly he may possess two.
There are several Seminole families in which duogamy exists.



I learned the following facts concerning the formation of a family:
A young warrior, at the age of twenty or less, sees an Indian maiden
of about sixteen years, and by a natural impulse desires to make her
his wife. What follows? He calls his immediate relatives to a coun-
cil and tells them of his wish. If the damsel is not a member of the
lover's own gens and if no other impediment stands in the way of the
proposed alliance, they select, from their own number, some who, at an
appropriate time, go to the maiden's kindred and tell them that they
desire the maid to receive their kinsman as her husband. The girl's rel-
atives then consider the question. If they decide in favor of the union,
they interrogate the prospective bride as to her disposition towards the
young man. If she also is willing, news of the double consent is con-
veyed through the relatives, on both sides, to the prospective husband.
From that moment there is a gentle excitement in both households.
The female relatives of the young man take to the house of the be-
trothed's mother a blanket or a large piece of cotton cloth and a bed
canopy-in other words, the furnishingof a new bed. Thereupon there
is returned thence to the young man a wedding costume, consisting of
a newly made shirt.

Arrangements for the marriage being thus completed, the marriage
takes place by the very informal ceremony of the going of the bride-
groom, at sunset of an appointed day, to the home of his mother-in-law,
where he is received by his bride. From that time he is her husband.
The next day, husband and wife appear together in the camp, and are
thenceforth recognized as a wedded pair. After the marriage, through
what is the equivalent of the white man's honeymoon, and often for a
much longer period, the new couple remain'at the home of the mother-
in-law. It is the man and not the woman among these Indians who
leaves father and mother and cleaves unto the mate. After a time,
especially as the family increases, the wedded pair build one or more
houses for independent housekeeping, either at the camp of the wife's
mother or elsewhere, excepting among the husband's relatives.


The home may continue until death breaks it up. Sometimes, how-
ever, it occurs that most hopeful matrimonial beginnings, among the
Florida Seminole, as elsewhere, end in disappointment and ruin. How
divorce is accomplished I could not learn. I pressed the question upon
Ko-nip-ha-tco, but his answer was, "Me don't know; Indian no tell me
much." All the lightI obtained upon the subject comes from Billy's
first reply, He left her." In fact, desertion seems to be the only cer-
emony accompanying a divorce. The husband, no longer satisfied with
his wife, leaves her; she returns to her family, and the matter is ended.



There is no embarrassment growing out of problems respecting the
woman's future support, the division of property, or the adjustment of
claims for the possession of the children. The independent self-support
of every adult, healthy Indian, female as well as male, and the gentile re-
lationship, which is more wide reaching and authoritative than that of
marriage, have already disposed of these questions, which are usually
so perplexing for the white man. So far as personal maintenance is
concerned, a woman is, as a rule, just as well off without a husband as
with one. What is hers, in the shape of property, remains her own
whether she is married or not. In fact, marriage among these Indians
seems to be but the natural mating of the sexes, to cease at the option
of either of the interested parties. Although I do not know that the
wife may lawfully desert her husband, as well as the husband his wife,
from some facts learned I think it probable that she may.
According to information received a prospective mother, as the hour
of her confinement approaches, selects a place for the birth of her child
not far from the main house of the family, and there, with some friends,
builds a small lodge, covering the top and sides of the structure gener-
ally with the large leaves of the cabbage palmetto.. To this secluded
place the woman, with some elderly female relatives, goes at the time
the child is to be born, and there, in a sitting posture, her hands grasp-
ing a strong stick driven into the grountq before her, she is delivered of
her babe, which is received and cared for by her companions. Rarely is
the Indian mother's lab:r difficult or followed by a prolonged sickness.
Usually she returns to her home with her little one within four days
after its birth.
The baby, well into the world, learns very quickly that he is to make
his own way through it as best he may. His mother is prompt to
nourish him and solicitous in her care for him if he falls ill, but, as far
as possible, she goes her own way and leaves the little fellow to go his.

FIG. 66. Baby cradle or hammock.
From the first she gives her child the perfectly free use of his body
and, within a limited area, of the camp ground. She does not bundle him
into a motionless thing or bind him helplessly on a board; on the con-
trary, she does not trouble her child even with clothing. The Florida
Indian baby, when very young, spends his time, naked, in a hammock,
or on a deer skin, or on the warm earth. (Fig. 66.)
5 ETH- 32


The Seminole mother, I was informed, is not in the habit of soothing
her baby with song. Nevertheless, sometimes one may hear her or an
old grandam crooning a monotonous refrain as she crouches on the
ground beside the swinging hammock of a baby. I heard one of these
refrains, and, as nearly as I could catch it, it ran thus:

0 1D.C.ad lib.

No-wut-tca, No-wut-tca.
The hammock was swung in time with the song. The singing was
slow in movement and nasal in quality. The last note was unmusical
and uttered quite staccato.
There are times, to be sure, when the Seminole mother carries her
baby. He is not always left to his pleasure on the ground or in a ham-
mock. When there is no little sister or old grandmother to look after
the helpless creature and the mother is forced to go to any distance
from her house or lodge, she takes him with her. This she does, usually,
by setting him astride one of her hips and holding him there. If she
wishes to have both her arms free, however, she puts the baby into the
center of a piece of cotton cloth, ties opposite corners of the cloth to-
gether, and slings her burden over her shoulders and upon her back,
where, with his brown legs astride his mother's hips, the infant rides,
generally with much satisfaction. I remember seeing, one day, one jolly
little fellow, lolling and rollicking on his mother's back, kicking her and
tugging away at the strings of beads^hich hung temptingly between
her shoulders, while the mother, hand-free, bore on one shoulder a log,
which, a moment afterwards, still keeping her baby on her back as she
did so, she chopped into small wood for the camp fire.


But just as soon as the Seminole baby has gained sufficient strength
to toddle he learns that the more he can do for himself and the more he
can contribute to the general domestic welfare the better he will get
along in life. No small amount of the labor in a Seminole household
is done by children, even as young as four years of age. They can stir
the soup while it is boiling; they can aid in kneading the dough for
bread'; they can wash the Koonti" root, and even pound it; they can
watch and replenish the fire; they contribute in this and many other
small ways to the necessary work of the home. I am not to be under-
stood, of course, as saying that the little Seminole's life is one of severe
labor. He has plenty of time for games and play of all kinds, and of
these I shall hereafter speak. Yet, as soon as he is able to play, he
finds that with his play he must mix work in considerable measure.


I II blll~LI~ ~----I----- -




Now that we have seen the Seminole family formed, let us look at its
home. The Florida Indians are not nomads. They have fixed habita-
tions: settlements in well defined districts, permanent camps, houses
or wigwams which remain from year to year the abiding places of their
families, and gardens and fields which for indefinite periods are used by
the same owners. There are times during the year when parties gal her
into temporary camps for a few weeks. Now perhaps they gather upon
some rich Koonti ground, that they may dig an extra quantity of this
root and make flour from it; now, that they may have a sirap making
festival, they go to some fertile sugar cane hammock ; or again, that they
may have a hunt, they camp where a certain kind of game has been
discovered in abundance. And they all, as a rule, go to a central point
once a year and share there their great feast, the Green Corn Dance.
Besides, as I was told, these Indians are frequent visitors to one another,
acting in turn as guests and hosts for a few days at a time. But it is
the fact, nevertheless, that for much the greater part of the year the
Seminole families are at their homes, occupying houses, surrounded by
many comforts and living a life of routine industry.
As one Seminole home is, with but few unimportant differences, like
nearly all the others, we can get a good idea of what it is by describ-
ing here the first one I visited, that of I-ful-lo-ha-tco, or Charlie Osce-
ola," in the "Bad Country," on the edge of the Big Cypress Swamp.
When my guide pointed out to me the locality where Charlie lives,
I could see nothing but a wide saw-grass marsh surrounding a small
island. The island seemed covered with a d. isi I;r.w tl of palmetto and
tther trees and tangled shrubbery, with a few banana plants rising
among them. No sign of human habitation was visible. This invis-
ibility of a Seminole's house from the vicinity may be taken as a
marked characteristic of his home. If possible, he hides his house,
placing it on an island and in a jungle. As we neared the hammock
we found that approach to it was difficult. On horseback there was no
trouble in getting through the water and the annoying saw-grass, but I
found it difficult to reach the island with my vehicle, whie vas loaded
with our provisions and myself. On the shore of Charlie's" island is a
piece of rich land of probably two acres in extent. At length I landed,
Sand soon, to my surprise, entered a small, neat clearing, around which
were built three houses, excellent of their kind, and one insignificant
e structure. Beyond these, well fenced with palmetto logs, lay a small
garden. No one of the entire household-father, mother, and child -
was at home. Where they had gone we did not learn until later. We
found them next day at a sirup making at "Old Tommy's" field, six miles
away. Having, in the absence of the owner, a free range of the camp,
I busied myself in noting what had been left in it aull what were its
peculiarities. Among the first things I picked up was a cow's horn."
This, my guide informed me, was used in calling from camp to camp.


Mountin a pile of log.s, "Billy" tried with it to summon "Charlie,"
thinking he might be somewhere near. Meanwhile I continued my
search. I noticed some terrapin shells lying on a platform in one of the
houses, the breast shell pierced with two holes. Wear them at Green
Corn Dance," said Billy." I caught sight of some dressed buckskins
lying on a rafter of a house, and an old fashioned rifle, with powder horn
and shot flask. I also saw a hoe; a deep iron pot; a mortar, made from
a live oak (?) log, probably fifteen inches in diameter and twenty-four in
height, and beside it a pestle, made from mastic wood, perhaps four feet
and a half in length.
A bag of corn hung from a rafter, and near it a sack of clothing,
which I did not examine. A skirt, gayly ornamented, hung there also.
There were several basketware sieves, evidently home made, and vari-
ous bottles lying around the place. I did not search among the things
laid away on the rafters under the roof. A sow, with several pigs, lay
contentedly under the platform of one of the houses. And near by,
in the saw-grass, was moored a cypress "dug-out," about fifteen feet
long, pointed at bow and stern.
Dwellings throughout the Seminole district are pi.Itiiclly uniform
in construction. With but slight variations, the accompanying sketch
of I-ful-lo-ha-tco's main dwelling shows what style of architecture pre-
vails in the Florida Everglades. (P1. XIX.)
This house is approximately 16 by 9 feet in ground measurement,
made almost altogether, if not wholly, of materials taken from the
palmetto tree. It is actually but a platform elevated about three feet
from the ground and covered with a palmetto thatched roof, the roof
being not more than 12 feet above the ground at the ridge pole, or 7 at
the eaves. Eight upright palmetto logs, unsplit and undressed, support
the roof. Many rafters sustain the palmetto thatching. The platform is
composed of split palmetto logs lying transversely, flat sides up, upon
beams which extend the length of the building and are lashed to the up-
rights by palmetto ropes, thongs, or trader's ropes. This platform is pe-
culiar, in that it fills the interior of the building like a floor and serves
to furnish the family with a dry sitting or lying own place when, as
often happens, the whole region is under water. The thatching of the
roof is quite a work of art: inside, the regularity and compactness of
the laying of the leaves display much skill and taste on the part of the
builder; outside-with the outer layers there seems to have been less
care taken than with those within -the mass of leaves of which the roof
is composed is held in place and made firm by heavy logs, which, bound
together in pairs, are laid upon it astride the ridge. The covering is, I
was informed, water tight and durable and will resist even a violent
wind. Only hurricanes can tear it off, and these are so infrequent in
Southern Florida that no attempt is made to provide against them.
The Seminole's house is open on all sides and without rooms. It is,
in fact, only a covered platform. The single equivalent for a room in it

I ---nns~llrara-~F8sr~- l~l~lllb~g~kll~

1 L _ _

I ln



i, Iln- -'.peo above the joists which ar', extrn-led acro.i., the 1111.iillhug iat
the loii er edges- of the root. In this are pinced surplus food awl gen-
eral household effects out of use from time to time. Household utceln
ils.nre usually suspeulded from the uprights of the buitliling nud fiom
prounged .-ticks driven into the ground ne.r by at convelniijet places.
FrImu this description the Seminole's house may seem a Ip:ir kinu of
strii'tiire to use as a dwelling; yet if we take into account the climate
ilf' Smthern Florida nothing more would seem to be ncee.salry. A
.heltcr from the hot sun and the frequent rains and ;i dry floor aliovf
th- il.amp or water covered ground are sufficient for the Florida In.
cli,n'.s needs.
I ftl llo-ha-tco's three houses are placed at three corners of an oblong
cli aring, which is perhaps 40 by 30 feet. At the fourth corner is the
entrance into the garden, which is in shape an ellipse, the louner diam-
uter Ieing about 25 feet. The three houses are alike, with the excep-
tion that in one of them the elevated platform is only half the size of
t hose of the others. This difference seems to have been made on account
of the camp fire. The fire usually burns in the space around which the
iuilings stand. During the wet season, however, it is moved into the
shbl-te ed floor in the building having the half platform. At Tus-ko.na's
c.ialmt, where several families are gathered, I noticed one building with-
nut tlhe interior platform. This was probably the wet weather kitchen.
To nll appearance there is no privacy in these open houses. The ouly
mltri.n by which it seems to be secured is by suspeiiding, over wher-e oui.,
sleeps, a canopy of thin cotton cloth or calico, made s-Ilare or oblong
in shll.pe, and nearly three feet in height. This serves a double use, ;s a
private room and as a protection against gnats and mosquitoes.
But while I-ful-loha-tco's house is a fair example of the kind of
dwelling in use throughout the tribe, I may not pass unnoticed some
innovations which have lately been made upon the general style. There
are. I understand, five inclosed houses, which were built an d are owned
by Florida Indians. Four of these are covered with split cypress plllnks
or 1slb1s; one is constructed of logs.
Progressive Key West Billy" has gone further than anyi otheron e,
excepting perhaps Me-le, in the white man's ways of bIsh.e billing.
He has erected for his family, which consists of one wife and three dhil-
dren, a cypress board house, and furnished it with doo s and \\ illnows,
partitions, floors, and ceiling. In the house are one Ippl)lr and one or
two lower rooms. Outside, he has a stairway to the upper fioor, and
fii,,i the upper floor a balcony. He possesses also ;il ele-vated bed, a
trun t for his clothing, and a straw hat.
Besides the permanent home for the Seminole family, there is ;ti.-o the
lolge which it occupies when for any cause it temporarily leaves the
house. The lodges, or the temporary structures which the Seminole
m.ae when "camping out," are, of course, much sinliler and less
comfortable than their houses. I had the privilege of visiting tIl)



"camping" parties-one of forty-eight Indians, at Tak-o-si-macla's
cane field, on the edge of the Big Cypress Swamp; the other of twenty-
two persons, at a Koonti ground, on Horse Creek, not far from the site
of what was, long ago, Fort Davenport.
I found great difficulty in reaching the camp at the sugar cane field.
I was obliged to leave my conveyance some distance from the island on
which the cane field was located. When we arrived at the shore of the
saw-grass marsh no outward sign indicated the presence of fifty Indians
so close at hand; but suddenly three turbaned Seminole emerged from
the marsh, as we stood there. Learning from our guide our business,
they cordially offered to conduct us through the water and saw-grass
to the camp. The wading was annoying and, to me, difficult; but at
length we secured dry footing in the jungle on the island, and aster a
tortuous way through the tangled vegetation, which walled in the camp
from the prairie, we entered the large clearing and the collection of
lodges where the Indians were. These lodges, placed very close to-
gether and seemingly without order, were almost all made of white
cotton cloths, which were each stretched over ridge poles and tied to
four corner posts. The lodges were in shape like the fly of a wall tent,
simply a sheet stretched for a cover.
At a Koonti ground on Horse Creek I met the Cat Fish Lake In-
dians. They had been forced to leave their homes to secure an extra
supply of Koonti flour, because, as I understood the woman who told
me, some animals had eaten all their sweet potatoes. The lodges of
this party differed from those of the southern Indians in being covered
above and around with palmetto leaves and in being shaped some
like wall tents and others like single-roofed sheds. The accompanying
sketch shows what kind of a shelter Til-la-has-ke had made for himself
at Horse Creek. (Fig. 67.)

:}4*z I

FIG. 67. Temporary dwelling.

111 *llllL*11111113Llll~ ~-.-,- --?---,,.~--1~-- --~--9-.1~-,- 1111111111 1111 rr~m~

Adjoining each of these lodges was a platform, breast high. These
were made of small poles or sticks covered with the leaves of the pal-
metto. Upon and under these, food, clothing, and household utensils,
generally,. were kept; and between the rafters of the lodges and the
roofs, also, many articles, especially those for personal use and adorn-
ment, were stored.

Having now seen the formation of the Seminole family and taken a
glance at the dwellings, permanent and temporary, which it occupies,
we are prepared to look at its household life. I was surprised by the
industry and comparative prosperity and, further, by the cheerfulness
and mutual confidence, intimacy, and affection of these Indians in their
family intercourse.
The Seminole family is industrious.. All its members work who are
able to do so, men as well as women. The former are not only hunters,
fishermen, and herders, but agriculturists also. The women not only
care for their children and look after the preparation of food and the
general welfare of the home, but are, besides, laborers in the fields. In
the Seminole family, both husband and wife are land proprietors and
cultivators. Moreover, as we have seen, all children able to labor con-
tribute their little to the household prosperity. From these various
domestic characteristics, an industrious family life almost necessarily
follows. The disesteem in which Tfis-ko-na, a notorious loafer at the
Big Cynress Swamp, is held by the other Indians shows that laziness
is not countenanced among the Seminole.
But let me not be misunderstood here. By a Seminole's industry I do
not mean the persistent and rapid labor of the white man of a northern
community. The Indian is not capable of this, nor is he compelled to
imitate it. I mean only that, in describing him, it is but just for me to
say that he is a worker and not a loafer.
As a result of the domestic industry it would be expected that we
should find comparative prosperity prevailing among all Seminole fami-
lies; and this is the fact. Much of the Indian's labor is wasted through
his ignorance of the ways by which it might be economized. He has
no labor saving or labor multiplying machines. There is but little dif-
ferentiation of function in either family or tribe. Each worker does all
kinds of work. Men give themselves to the hunt, women to the house,
and both to the field. But men may be found sometimes at the cook-
ing pot or toasting stick and women may be seen taking care of cattle
and horses. Men bring home deer and turkeys, &c.; women spend
days in fishing. Both men and women are tailors, shoemakers, flour
makers, cane crushers and sirup boilers, wood hewers and bearers, and
water carriers. There are but few domestic functions which may be
said to belong exclusively, on the one hand, to men, or, on the other, to






Out of the diversified domestic industry, as I have said, comes com-
parative prosperity. The home is all that the Seminole family needs or
desires for its comfort. There is enough clothing, or the means to get
it, for every one. Ordinarily more than a sufficient quantity of clothes
is possessed by each member of a family. No one lacks money or the
material with which to obtain that which money purchases. Nor need
any ever hunger, since the fields and nature offer them food in abun-
dance. The families of the northern camps are not as well provided for
by bountiful nature as those south of the Caloosahatchie River. Yet,
though at my visit to the Cat Fish Lake Indians in midwinter the
sweet potatoes were all gone, a good hunting ground and fertile fields
of Koonti were near at hand for Tcup-ko's people to visit and use to
their profit.

Read the bill of fare from which the Florida Indians may select, and
compare with that the scanty supplies within reach of the North Caro-
lina Cherokee or the Lake Superior Ch'ippewa. Here is a list of their
meats: Of flesh, at any time venison, often opossum, sometimes rabbit
and squirrel, occasionally bear, and a land terrapin,called the "gopher,"
and pork whenever they wish it. Of wild fowl, duck, quail, and turkey
in abundance. Of home reared fowl, chickens, more than they are will-
ing to use. Of fish, they can catch myriads of the many kinds which
teem in the inland waters of Florida, especially of the large bass, called
" trout" by the whites of the State, while on the seashore they can get
many forms of edible marine life, especially turtles and oysters.
Equally well off are these Indians in respect to grains, vegetables, roots,
and fruits. They grow maize in considerable quantity, and from it
make hominy and flour, and all the rice they need they gather from
the swamps. Their vegetables are chiefly sweet potatoes, large and
much praised melons and pumpkins, and, if I may classify it with veg-
etables, the tender new growth of the tree called the cabbage palmetto.
Among roots, there is the great dependence of these Indians, the
abounding Koonti; also the wild potato, a small tuber found in black
swamp land, and peanuts in great quantities. Of fruits, the Seminole
family may supply itself with bananas, oranges (sour and sweet), limes,
lemons, guavas, pineapples, grapes (black and red), cocoa nuts, cocoa
plums, sea grapes, and wild plums. And with even this enumeration
the bill of fare is not exhausted. The Seminole, living in a perennial
summer, is never at a loss when he seeks something, and something
good, to eat. I have omitted from the above list honey and the sugar
cane juice and sirup, nor have I referred to the purchases the Indians
now and then make from the white man, of salt pork, wheat flour,
coffee, and salt, and of the various canned delicacies, whose attractive
labels catch their eyes.
These Indians are not, of course, particularly provident. I was told,

however, that they are beginning to be ambitious to increase their little
herds of horses and cattle and their numbers of chickens and swine.

Entering the more interior, the intimate home life of the Seminole,
one observes that the center about which it gathers is the camp fire.
This is never large except on a cool night, but it is of unceasing inter-
est to the household. It is the place where the food is prepared, and
where, by day, it is always preparing. It is the place where the social
intercourse of the family, and of the family with their friends, is en-
joyed. There the story is told; by its side toilets are made and house-
hold duties are performed, not necessarily on account of the warmth
the fire gives, for it is often so small that its heat is almost imper-
ceptible, but because of its central position in the household economy.
This fire is somewhat singularly constructed; the logs used for it are of
considerable length, and are laid, with some regularity, around a center,
like the radii of a circle. These logs are pushed directly inward as the
inner ends are consumed. The outer ends of the logs make txi.eell01"
seats; sometimes they serve as pillows, especially for old lmerund
women wishing to take afternoon naps.
Beds and bedding are of far less account to the Seminole family than
the camp fire. The bed is often only the place where one chooses to
lie. It is generally, however, chosen under the sheltering roof on the
elevated platform, or, when made in the lodge, on palmetto leases. It
is pillowless, and has covering or not, as the sleeper may wish. If a
cover is used, it is, as a rule, only a thin blanket or a sheet of cotton
cloth, besides, during most of the year, the canopy or mosquito bar.

Next in importance to the camp fire in the life of the Seminole house-
hold naturally comes the eating of what is prepared there. There is
nothing very formal in that. The Indians do not set a table or lay
dishes and arrange chairs. A good sized kettle, containing stewed
meat and vegetables, is the center around which the family gat.eili-
for its meal. This, placed in some convenient spot on the ground
near the fire, is surrounded by more or fewer of the members of the
household in a sitting posture. If all that they have to eat at that
time is contained in the kettle, each extracts, with his fingers or his
knife, a piece of meat or a bone with meat on it, and, holding it in one
hand, eats, while with the other hand each, in turn, supplies himself,
by means of a great wooden spoon, from the porridge in the pot.
The Seminole, however, though observing meal times with some reg-
ularity, eats just as his appetite invites. If it happens that he has a
side of venison roasting before the fire, he will cut from it at any time
during the day and, with the piece of meat in one hand and a bit of
Koonti or of different bread in the other, satisfy his appetite. Not


~~~-P~-F---------------L*IICllb-ll~ I I




seldcm, too, he rises during the night and breaks his sleep by eating a
piece of the roasting meat. The kettle and big spoon stand always
ready for those who at any moment may hunger. There is little to be
said about eating in a Seminole household, therefore, except that when
its members eat together they make a kettle the center of their group
and that much of their eating is done without reference to one another.


But one sees the family at home, not only working and sleeping and
eating, but also engaged in amusing itself. Especially among the chil-
dren, various sports are indulged in. I took some trouble to learn what
amusements the little Seminole had invented or received. I obtained
a list of them which might as well be that of the white man's as of the
Indian's child. The Seniinole has a doll, i. e., a bundle of rags, a stick
with a bit of cloth wrapped about it, or s.iu-rlhiing that serves just as
well as this. The children build little houses for their dolls and name
them "camps." Boys take their bows and arrows and go into the
bushes'and kill small birds, and on returning say they have been
" turkey-hunting." Children sit around a small piece of land and, stick-
ing blades of grass into the ground, name it a "corn field." They have
the game of "hide and seek." They use the dancing rope, manufacture
a" see-saw," play "leap frog," and build a "merry-go-round." Carrying
a small stick, they say they carry a rifle. I noticed some children at
play one day sitting near a dried deer skin, which lay before them stiff
and resonant. They had taken from the earth small tubers about an
inch in diameter found on the roots of a kind of grass and called "deer-
food." Through them they had thrust shatp sticks of the thickness
of a match and twice as long, making what we would call teetotumss."
These, by a quick twirl between the palms of the hands, were set to
spinning on the deer skin. The four children were keeping a dozen or
more of these things going. The sport they called "a dance."
I need only add that the relations among the various members of the
Indian family in Florida are, as a rule, so well adjusted and observed
that home life goes on without discord. The father is beyond question
master in his home. To the mother belongs a peculiar domestic im-
portance from her connection with her gens, but both she and her
children seek first to know and to do the will of the actual lord of the
household. The father is the master without being a tyrant; the
mother is a subject without being a slave; the children have not yet
learned self-assertion in opposition to their parents: consequently,
there is no constraint in family intercourse. The Seminole household
is cheerful, its members are mutually confiding, and, in the Indian's
way, intimate and affectionate.

1"U W WA _P '*W _.-, _P-4QFWW;W I -! I- I I I I I1 1 I 11 -. -




Of this larger body of kindred, existing, as I could see, in very dis-
tinct form among the Seminole, I gained but little definite knowledge.
What few facts I secured are here placed on record.
After I was enabled to make my inquiry understood, I sought to
learn from my respondent the name of the gens to which each Indian
whose name I had received belonged. As the result, I found' that the
two hundred and eight Seminole now in Florida are divided into the
following gentes and in the following numbers:

1. W ind gens ...................... 21 7. Bear gens...................... 4
2. Tiger gens....................... 58 8. W olf gens...................... 1
3. Otter gens- ....................... 39 9. Alligator gens ...-- ......-- ..... 1
4. Bird gens.---..................... 41 Unknown gentes............--- 10
5. Deer geas ........................ 18
6. Snake gens ...................... 15 Total............ .......... .... 208
I endeavored, also, to learn the name the Indians use for gens or clan,
and was told that it is Po-ha-po-hUm-ko-sin; the best translation I
can give of the name is Those of one camp or house."
Examining my table to find whether or not the word as translated
describes the fact, I notice that, with but one exception, which may not,
after all, prove to be an exception, each of the twenty-two camps into
which the thirty-seven Seminole families are divided is a camp in which
all the persons but the husbands are members of one gens. The camp
at Miami is an apparent exception. There Little Tiger, a rather impor-
tant personage, lives with a number of unmarried relatives. A Wolf
has married one of Little Tiger's sisters and lives in the camp, as prop-
erly he should. Lately Tiger himself has married an Otter, but, instead
of leaving his relatives and going td the camp of his wife's kindred,
his wife has taken up her home with his people.
At the Big Cypress Swamp I tried to discover the comparative rank or
dignity of the various claus. In reply, I was told by one of the Wind
clan that they are graded in the following order. At the northernmost
camp, however, another order appears to have been established.
Big Cirews camp. Northernmost camp.
1. The Wind. 1. The Tiger.
2. The Tiger. 2. The Wind.
3. The Otter. 3. The Otter.
4. The Bird. 4. The Bird.
5. The Deer. 5. The Bear.
6. The Snake. 6. The Deer.
7. The Bear. 7. The Buffalo.
8..The Wolf. 8. The Snake.
9. The Alligator.
10. The Horned Owl.
This second order was given to me by one of the Bird gens and by
one who calls himself distinctively a Tallahassee Indian. The Buffalo

-^-~s~-~r*~F-- .7-..1Frrr~rll IIII 1


and the Horned Owl claus seem now to be extinct in Florida, and I am
not altogether sure that the Alligator clan also has not disappeared.
The gens is "a group of relatives tracing a common lineage to some
remote ancestor. This lineage is traced by some tribes through the
mother and by others through the father." "The gens is the grand
unit of social organization, and for many purposes is the basis of gov-
ernmental organization." To the gens belong also certain rights and
Of the .chia racteit .il:., of the gentes of the Florida Seminole, I know
only that a man may not marry a woman of his own clan, that the
children belong exclusively to the mother, and that by birth they are
members of her own gens. So far as diig.imy !ti:iV.il, now mio11,Mg the
Florida Indians, I observed that both the wives, in every case, were
members of one gens. I understand also that there are certain games
in which men selected from gentes as such are the contesting partici-

In this connection I may say that if I was understood in my inquiries
the Seminole have also the institution of "Fellowhood" among them.
Major Powell thus describes this institution: "Two young men agree
to be life friends, 'more than brothers,' confiding without reserve each
in the other aIl protecting each the other from all harm."



The Florida Seminole, considered as a tribe, have a very imperfect
organization. The complete tribal society of the past was much broken
up through wars with the United States. These wars having ended in
the transfer of nearly the whole of the population to the Indian Ter-
ritory, the few Indians remaining in Florida were consequently left in
a comparatively disorganized condition. There is, however, among
these Indians a simple form of government, to which the inhabitants of
at least the three southern settlements submits. The people of Cat Fish
Lake and Cow Creek settlements live in a large measure independent
of or without civil connection with the others. Tcup-ko calls his peo-
ple Tallahassee Indians." He says that they are not the same" as
the Fish Eating Creek, Big Cypress, and Miami people. I learned,
moreover, that the ceremony of the Green Corn Dance may take place
at the three last named settlements and not at those of the north. The
"Tallahassee Indians" go to Fish Eating Creek if they desire to take
part in the festival.

So far as there is a common seat of government, it is located at Fish
Eating Creek, where reside the head chief and big medicine man of


the Seminole, Tfis-ta-nudg-ge, and his brother, Ho6spa-ta-ki, also a medi-
cine man. These two are called the Tfis-ta-nfig-ul-ki, or great heroes"
of the tribe. At this settlement, annually, a council, composed of minor
chiefs from the various settlements, meets and passes upon the affairs of
the tribe.

What the official organization of the tribe is I do not know. My re-
spondent could not tell me. I learned, in addition to what I have just
written, only that there are several Indians with official titles, living at
each of the settlements, except at the one on Cat Fish Lake. These
were classified as follows:

Settlements. meCie an War chiefs. Little chiefs. Medicine men.
medicine man.

Big Cypress Swamp................... .. ............ 2 2 1
Miami River ..... ..... .............1 ................ 1
Fish Eating Creek..................... 1 ............ .. ....
Cow Creek ........................... .... ...... ........ .......... .......... 2
Total .......................... 1 3 2 5

I made several efforts to discover the tribal name by which these In-
dians now designate themselves. The name Seminole they reject. In
their own language it means a wanderer," and, when used as a term
of reproach, "a coward." Ko-nip-ha-tcd said, "Me no Sem-ai-no-le;
Seminole cow, Seminole deer, Seminole rabbit; me no Seminole. In-
dians gone Arkansas Seminole." iHe meant that timidity and flight
from danger are "Seminole" qualities, and that the Indians who had
goue west at the bidding of the Government were the true renegades.
This same Indian informed me that the people south of the Caloosa-
hatchie River, at Miami and the Big Cypress Swamp call themselves
" Kiin-yuk-sa Is-ti-tca-ti," i. e., "KIin-yuk-sa red men." Kdin-yuk-sa is
their word for what we know as Florida. It is composed of I-kan-a,
" ground," and I-yuk-sa, "point" or "tip," i. e., point of ground, or pen-
insula. At the northern camps the name appropriate to the people
there, they say, is Tallahassee Indians."

/ -



We may now look at the life of the Seminole in its broader relations
to the tribal organization. Some light has already been thrown on this
subject by the preceding descriptions of the personal characteristics and
social relations of these Indians. But there are other matters to be
considered, as, for example, industries, arts, religion, and the like.

Prominent among the industries is agriculture. The Florida Indians
have brought one hundred or more acres of excellent land under a rude
sort of cultivation. To each family belong, by right of use and agree-
ment with other Indians, fields of from one to four acres in extent. The
only agricultural implement they have is the single bladed hoe com-
mon on the southern plantation. However, nothing more than this is
required. .
Soil,- The ground they select is generally in the interiors of the rich
hammocks which abound in the swamps and prairies of Southern Flor-
ida. There, with a soil unsurpassed in fertility and needing only to
be cleared of trees, vines, underbrush, &c., one has but to plant corn,
sweet potatoes, melons, or any thing else suited to the climate, and keep
weeds from the growing vegetation, that he may gather a manifold re-
turn. The soil is wholly without gravel, stones, or rocks. It is soft,
black, and very fertile. To what extent the Indians carry agriculture I
do not know. I am under the impression, however, that they do not
attempt to grow enough to provide much against the future. But, as
they have no season in the year wholly unproductive and for which
they must make special provision, their improvidence is not followed
by serious consequences.
Corn.-The chief product of their agriculture is corn. This becomes
edible in the months of May and June and at this time it is eaten in
g~r.it qlcJI.titii-. Then it is that the annual festival called the Green
Corn Dance" is celebrated. When the corn ripens, a quantity of it is
laid aside and gradually used in the form of hominy and of what I
heard described as an "exceedingly beautiful meal, white as the finest
wheat flour." This meal is produced by a slow and tedious process.
The corn is hulled and the germ cut out,'so' that there is only a pure
white residue. This is then reduced by mortar and pestle to an almost
impalpable dust. From this flour a cake is made, which is said to be
very pleasant to the taste.

L I ir ----r.-n -------i--------- I Il


Sugar cane.-Another product of their agriculture is the sugar cane.
In growing this they are the producers of perhaps the finest sugar cane
grown in America; but they are not wise enough to make it a source of
profit to themselves. It seems to be cultivated more as a passing
luxury. It was at "Old Tommy's" sugar field I met the forty-eight of the
people of the Big Cypress Swamp settlement already mentioned. They
had left their homes that they might have a pleasuring for a few weeks
together, "camping out" and making and eating sirup. The cane which
had been grown there was the largest I or my companion, Capt. F. A.
Hendry, of Myers, had ever seen. It was two Inches or more in diam-
eter, and, as we guessed, seventeen feet or more in length. To obtain
the sirup the Indians had constructed two rude mills, the cylinders of
which, however, were so loosely adjusted that full half the juice was
lost in the process of crushing the cane The juice was caught in vari-
ous kinds of iron and tin vessels, kettles, pails, and cans, and after hav-
ing been strained was boiled until the proper consistency was reached.

Flo. 9& Sga =e o5uher.
At the time we were at the camp quite a quan ity of the sirup had
been made. It stood around the boiling place in kettles, large and
small, and in cans bearing the labels of well known Boston and New
York packers, which had been purchased at Myers. Of special interest
to me was a platform near the boiling place, on which lay several deer
skins, that had been taken as nearly whole as possible from the bodies
of the animals, and utilized as holders of the sirup. They were filled
with the sweet stuff, and the ground beneath was well covered by a
slow leakage from them. "Key West Billy" offered me some of the

cane juice to drink. It was clean looking and served in a silver gold
lined cup of spotless brilliancy. It made a welcome and delicious drink.
I tasted some of the sirup also, eating it Indian fashion, i. e., I pared
some of their small boiled wild potatoes and, dipping them into the
sweet liquid, ate them. The potato itself tastes somewhat like a boiled
The sugar cane mill was a poor imitation of a machine the Indians
had seen among the whites. Its cylinders were made of live oak; the
driving cogs were cut from a much harder wood, the mastic, I was told;
and these were so loosely set into the cylinders that I could take them
out with thumb and forefinger. (Fig. 68.)
It is not necessary to speak in particular of the culture of sweet
potatoes, beans, melons, &c. At best it is very primitive. It is, how-
ever, deserving of mention that the Seminole have around their houses
at least a thousand banana plants. When it is remembered that a
hundred-bananas are not an overlarge yield for one plant, it is seen
how well off, so far as this fruit is concerned, these Indians are.

Next in importance as an industry of the tribe (if it may be so called)
is hunting. Southern Florida abounds in game and the Indians have
only to seek in order to find it. For this purpose they use the rifle.
The bow and arrow are no longer used for hunting purposes except by
the smaller children. The rifles are almost all the long, heavy, small
bore "Kentucky" rifle. This is economicalof powder and lead, and for
this reason is preferred by many to even the modern improved weapons
which carry fixed ammunition. The Seminole sees the white man so
seldom and lives so far from trading posts that he is not willing to be
confined to the use of the prepared cartridge.
A few breech loading rifles are owned in the tribe. The shot gun is
much disliked by the Seminole. There is only one among them, and
that is a combination of shot gun with rifle. I made a careful count
of their fire arms, and found that they own, of Kentucky" rifles, 63;
breech loading rifles, 8; shot gun and rifle, 1; revolvers, 2-total, 74.
Methods of hunting.-The Seminole always hunt their game on foot
They can approach a deer to within sixty yards by their method of rap.
idly nearing him while he is feeding, and standing perfectly still when he
raises his head. They say that they are able to discover by certain
movements on the part of the deer when the head is about to be lifted.
They stand side to the animal. They believe that they can thus deceive
the deer, appearing to them as stumps or trees. They lure turkeys
within shooting distance by an imitation of the calls of the bird. They
leave small game, such as birds, to the children. One day, while some
of our party were walking near Horse Creek with Ka-tca-la-ni, a covey
of quail whirred out of the grass. By a quick jerk the Indian threw



n -~slas

his ramrod among the birds and killed one. He appeared to regard
this feat as neither accidental nor remarkable.
I sought to discover how many deer the Seminole annually kill, but
could get no number which I can call trustworthy. I venture twenty-
five hundred as somewhere near a correct estimate.
Otter hunting is another of the Seminole industries. This animal has
been pursued with the rifle and with the bow and arrow. Lately the
Indians have heard of the trap. When we left Horse Creek, a request
was made by one of them to our guide to purchase for him six otter
traps for use in the Cat Fish Lake camp.

Fishing is also a profitable industry. For this the hook and line are
often used; some also use the spoon hook. But it is a common practice
among them to kill the fish with bow and arrow, and in this they are
quite skillful. One morning some boys brought me a bass, weighing
perhaps six pounds, which one of them had shot with an arrow.

Stock raising, in a small way, may be called a Seminole industry.
I found that at least fifty cattle, and probably more, are owned by
members of the tribe and that the Seminole probably possess a thousand
swine and five hundred chickens. The latter are of an excellent breed.
At Cat Fish Lake an unusual interest in horses seems now to be devel-
oping. I found there twenty horses. I was told that there are twelve
horses at Fish Eating Creek, and I judge that between thirty-five and
forty of these animals are now in possession of the tribe.

The unique industry, in the more limited sense of the word, of the
Seminole is the making of the Koonti flour. Roonti is a root contain-
ing a large percentage of starch. It is said to yield a starch equal to
that of the best Bermuda arrowroot. White men call it the "Indian
bread root," and lately its worth as an article of commerce has been
recognized by the whites. There are now at least two factories in oper-
ation in Southern Florida in which the Koonti is made into a flour for
the white man's market. I was at one such factory at Miami and saw
another near Orlando. I ate of a Koonti pudding at Miami, and can
say that, as it was there prepared and served with milk and guava
jelly, it was delicious. As might be supposed, the Koonti industry, as
carried on by the whites, produces a far finer flour than that which
the Indians manufacture. The Indian process, as I watched it at Horse
Creek, was this: The roots were gathered, the earth was washed from
them, and they were laid in heaps near the "Koonti log."
Te Koonti log, so called, was the trunk of a large pine tree, in which
a number of holes, about nine inches square at the top, their sides
5 ETH-33






sloping downward to a point, had been cut side by side. Each of these
holes was the property of some one of the squaws or of the children of

FI. so. Kontiog.
the camp. For each of the holes, which were to serve as mortars, a
pestle made of some hard wood had been furnished. (Fig. 69.)
The first step in the process was to reduce the washed Koonti to a
kind of pulp. This was done by chopping it into small pieces and

--- -1

Flo. 70. Kwnti peatlei.
filling with it one of the mortars and pounding it with a pestle. The
contents of the mortar were then laid upon a small platform. Each
worker had a platform. When a sufficient quantity of the root had
been pounded the whole mass was taken to the creek near by and thor-
oughly saturated with water in a vessel made of bark.

FIG. 71. KIonti mash vssl.


The pulp was then washed in a straining cloth, the starch of the
Koonti draining into a deer hide suspended below.

When the starch had been thoroughly washed from the mass the lat-
ter was thrown away, and the starchy sediment in the water in the deer
skin left to ferment. After some days the sediment was taken from the
water and spread upon palmetto leaves to dry. When dried, it was a
yellowish white flour, ready for use. In the factory at Miami substan-
tially this process is followed, the chief variation from it being that the

--L -I~-^


Koonti is passed through several successive fermentation, thereby
making it purer and whiter than the Indian product. Improved appli-
ances for the manufacture are used by the white man.
The Koonti bread, as I saw it among the Indians, was of a bright
orange color, and rather insipid, though not unpleasant to the taste. It
was saltless. Its yellow color was owing to the fact that the flour had
had but one fermentation.

The following is a summary of the results of the industries now en-
gaged in by the Florida Indians. It shows what is approximately true
of these at the present time:
Acres under cultivation .................. ........... .................. 100
Corn raised ..- ...... ......----................... ... ............ bushels.. 500
Sugar cane ........ ............. .......- .. .. ................. gallons.. 1,500
Cattle.......--------......---..----------------............... number owned.. 50
Swine.......................................................do.... 1,000
Chickens................. .. .................. ............. ...... do.... 500
Horses ....... ............... ................... ................ do.... 35
Koonti ...................... .....................................bushels.. 5, 000
Sweet potatoes ...... ....... .... ... ...... .................... do.... .....
M elons ----.....---.--- ----...................................... number.. 3,000


In reference to the way in which the Seminole Indians have met ne-
cessities for invention and have expressed the artistic impulse, I found
little to add to what I have already placed on record.
Utensils and implements.-The proximity of this people to the Euro-
peans for the last three centuries, while it has not led them to adopt the
white man's civilization in matters of government, religion, language,
manners, and customs, has, nevertheless, induced them to appropriate
for their own use some of the utensils, implements, weapons, &c., of
the strangers. For example, it was easy for the ancestors of these
Indians to see that the iron kettle of the white man was better in every
way than their own earthenware pots. Gradually, therefore, the art of
making pottery died out among them, and now, as I believe, there is no
pottery whatever in use among the Florida Indians. They neither make
nor purchase it. They no longer buy even small articles of earthen-
ware, preferring tin instead, Iron implements likewise have supplanted
those made of stone. Even their word for stone, "Tcat-to," has been
applied to iron. They purchase hoes, hunting knives, hatchets, axes,
and, for special use in their homes, knives nearly two feet in length.
With these long knives they dress timber, chop meat, etc.
Weapons.-They continue the use of the bow and arrow, but no longer
for the purposes of war, or, by the adults, for the purposes of hunting.



The rifle serves them mnch better. It seems to be customary for every
male in the tribe over twelve years of age to provide himself with a
rifle. The bow, as now made, is a single piece of mulberry or other
elastic wood and is from four to six feet in length; the bowstring is
made of twisted deer rawhide; the arrows are of cane and of hard
wood and vary in length from two to four feet; they are, as a rule,
tipped with a sharp conical roll of sheet iron. The skill of the young
men in the use of the bow and arrow is remarkable.
lWeaving and basket making.-The Seminole are not now weavers.
Their few wants for clothing and bedding are supplied by fabrics man-
ufactured by white men. They are in a small way, however, basket
makers. From the swamp cane, and sometimes from the covering of
the stalk of the fan palmetto, they manufacture flat baskets and sieves
for domestic service.
Uses of the palmetto.-In this connection I call attention to the ines-
timable value of the palmetto tree to the Florida Indians. From the
trunk of the tree the frames and platforms of their houses are made; of
its leaves durable water tight roofs are made for the houses; with the
leaves their lodges are covered and beds protecting the body from the
dampness of the ground are made; the tough fiber which lies between
the stems of the leaves and the bark furnishes them with material from
which they make twine and rope of great strength and from which they
could, were it necessary, weave cloth for clothing; the tender new
growth at the top of the tree is a very
nutritious and palatable article of food,
to be eaten either raw or baked; its taste
is somewhat like that of the chestnut; its
texture is crisp like that of our celery
Mortar and pestle.-The home made.
mortar and pestle has not yet been sup-
planted by any utensil furnished by the
trader. This is still the best mill they
have in which to grind their corn. The
mortar is made from a log of live oak (?)
wood, ordinarily about two feet in length
and from fifteen to twentyinches in diam-
eter. One end of the log is hollowed out
to quite a depth, and in this, by the ham-
mering of a pestle made of mastic wood,
the corn is reduced to hominy or to the
impalpable flour of which I have spoken.
(Fig. 73.) .t aYo~rerti pe.ssa
Canoe making.-Canoe making is still
one of their industrial arts, the canoe'being their chief means of trans-
portation. The Indian settlements are all so situated that the inhabit-




I 11r II


ants of one can reach those of the others by water. The canoe is what
is known as a "'dugout," made from the cypress log.
Fire making.-The art of fire making by simple friction is now, I be-
lieve, neglected among the Seminole, unless at the starting of the
sacred fire for the Green Corn Dance. A fire is now kindled either by
the common Ma-tci (matches) of the civilized man or by steel and flint,
powder and paper. "Tom Tiger" showed me how he builds a fire when
away from home. He held, crumpled between the thumb and fore-
finger of the left hand, a bit of paper. In the folds of the paper he
poured from his powder horn a small quantity of gunpowder. Close
beside the paper he held also a piece of flint. Striking this flint with
a bit of steel and at the same time giving to the left hand a quick up-
ward movement, he ignited the powder and paper. From this he soon
made a fire among the pitch pine chippings he had previously prepared.
1 Preparation of skin.-I did not learn just how the Indians dress deer
skins, but I observed that they had in use and for sale the dried skin,
with the hair of the animal left on it; the bright yellow buckskin, very
soft and strong; and also the dark red buckskin, which evidently had
passed, in part of its preparation, through smoke. I was told that the
brains of the animal serve an important use in the skin dressing proc-
ess. The accompanying sketch shows a simple frame in use for stretch-
ing and drying the skin. (Fig. 74.)
._ ....'-- I - -........ .--;

Flo. 74. Hide aretcher.

In my search for evidence of the working of the art instinct proper,
i. e., in ornamental or fine art, I found but little to add to what has been


already said. I saw but few attempts at ornamentation beyond those
made on the person and on clothing. Houses, canoes, utensils, imple-
ments, weapons, were almost all without carving or painting. In fact,
the only carving I noticed in the Indian country was on a pine tree
near Myers. It was a rude outline of the head of a bull. The local
report is that when the white men began to send their cattle south of
the Caloosahatchie River the Indians marked this tree with this sign.
The only painting I saw was the rude representation of a man, upon
the shaft of one of the pestles used at the Koonti log at Horse Creek.
It was made by one of the girls for her own amusement.
I have already spoken of the art of making silver ornaments.
Music.-Music, as far as I could discover, is but little in use among
the Seminole. Their festivals are few; so few that the songs of the
fathers have- mostly been forgotten. They have songs for the Green
Corn Dance; they have lullabys; and there is a doleful song they sing
in praise of drink, which is occasionally heard when the white man
has sold Indians whisky on coming to town. Knowing the motive of
the song, I thought the tune stupid and maudlin. Without pretending
to reproduce it exactly, I remember it as something like this:

My preciousdrink, I fondlylovethee. Standingltakethee.Andwalkuntll morn- Yo-wan-ha-de.

I give a free translation of the Indian words and an approximation
to the tune. The last note in this, as in the lullaby I noted above, is
unmusical and staccato.

I could learn but little of the religious faiths and practices existing
among the Florida Indians. I was struck, however, in making my in-
vestigations, by the evident influence Christian teaching has had upon
the native faith. How far it has penetrated the inherited thought of
the Indian I do not know. But, in talking with Ko-nip-ha-tco, he told
me that his people believe that the Koonti root was a gift from God;
that long ago the "Great Spirit" sent Jesus Christ to the earth with the
precious plant, and that Jesus had descended upon the world at Cape
Florida and there given the Koonti to "'the red men." In reference
to this tradition, it is to be remembered that during the seventeenth
century the Spaniards had vigorous missions among the Florida In-
dians. Doubtless it was from these that' certain Christian names and
beliefs now traceable among the Seminole found way into the savage
creed and ritual.
I attempted several times to obtain from my interpreter a statement
of the religious beliefs he had received from his people. I cannot affirm
with confidence that success followed my efforts.


He told me that his people believe in a "Great Spirit," whose name
is His-a-kit-a-mis i. This word, I have good reason to believe, means
"the master of breath." The Seminole for breath is His-a-kit-a.
I cannot be sure that Ko-nip-ha-tco knew anything of what I meant
by the word "spirit." I tried to convey my meaning to him, but I think
I failed. He told me that the place to which Indians go after death is
called "Po-ya-fi-tsa" and that the Indians who have died are the
Pi-ya-fits-ul-ki, or "the people of Po-ya-fi-tsa." That was our nearest
understanding of the word "spirit" or "soul."

As the Seminole mortuary customs are closely connected with their
religious beliefs, it will be in place to record here what I learned of
them. The description refers particularly to the death and burial of a
The preparation for burial began as soon as death had taken place.
The body was clad in a new shirt, a new handkerchief being tied about
the neck and another around the head. A spot of red paint was placed
on the right cheek and one of black upon the left. The body was laid
face upwards. In the left hand, together with a bit of burnt wood, a
small bow about twelve inches in length was placed, the hand lying
naturally over the middleof the body. Across the bow, held by the right
hand, was laid an arrow, slightly drawn. During these preparations,
the women loudly lamented, with hair disheveled. At the same time
some men had selected a place for the burial and made the grave in

FIG. 75. Seminole bier.
this manner: Two palmetto logs of proper size were split. The four
pieces were then firmly placed on edge, in the shape of an oblong box,
lengthwise east and west. In this box a floor was laid, and over this a
blanket was spread. Two men, at next sunrise, carried the body from


the camp to the place of burial, the body being suspended at feet
thighs, back, an d neck from a long pole (Fig. 75). The relatives fol.
lowed. In the grave, which is called "To hbp-ki"-a word used by
the Seminole for "stockade," or "fort," also, the body was then laid
the feet to the east. A blanket was then carefully wrapped around the
body. Over this palmetto leaves were placed and the grave was tightly
closed by a covering of logs. Above the box a roof was then built
Sticks, in the form of an X, were driven into the earth across the over-
lying logs; these were connected by a pole, and this structure was cov-
ered thickly with palmetto leaves. (Fig. 76.)

ia. m. ieole gram.
The bearers of the body then made a large fire at each end of the "To-
hdp ki." With this the ceremony at the grave ended and all returned
to the camp. During that day and for three days thereafter the rela-
tives remained at home and refrained from work. The fires at the grave
were renewed at sunset by those who had made them, and after night-
fall torches were there waved in the air, that "the bad birds of the
night" might not get at the Indian lying in his grave. The renewal of
the fires and waving of the torches were repeated three days. The fourth
day the fires were allowed to die out. Throughoutthe camp "medicine"
had been sprinkled at sunset for three days. On the fourth day it was
said that the Indian "had gone." From that time the mourning ceased
and the members of the family returned to their usual occupations.
The interpretation of the ceremonies just mentioned, as given me, is
this: The Indian was laid in his grave to remain there, it was believed,
only until the fourth day. The fresh at head and feet, as well as the
waving of the torches, were to guard him from the approach of "evil
birds" who would harm him. His feet were placed toward the east,
that when he arose to go to the skies he might go straight to the sky


path, which commenced at the place of the sun's rising; that were be
laid with the feet in any other direction he would not know when he rose
what path to take and he would-be lost in the darkness. He had with
him his bow and arrow, that he might procure food on his way. The
piece of burnt wood in his hand was to protect him from the "bad
birds" while he was on his skyward journey. These "evil birds" are
called Ta-lak-i-9lak-o. The last rite paid to the Seminole dead is at
the end of four moons. At that time the relatives go to the To-hop-ki
and cut from around it the overgrowing grass. A widow lives with
disheveled hair for the first twelve moons of her widowhood.

The one institution at present in which the religious beliefs of the
Seminole find special expression is what is called the Green Corn
Dance." It is the occasion for an annual purification and rejoicing. I
could get no satisfactory description of the festival. No white man, so
I was told, has seen it, and the only Indian I met who could in any man-
ner speak English made but an imperfect attempt to describe it. In
fact, he seemed unwilling to talk about it. He told me, however, that
as the season for holding the festival approaches the medicine men
assemble and, through their ceremonies, decide when it shall take
place, and, if I caught his meaning, determine also how long the dance
shall continue. Others, on the contrary, told me that the dance is
always continued for four days.
Fifteen days previous to the festival heralds are sent from the lodge
of the medicine men to give notice to all the camps of the day when the
dance will commence. Small sticks are thereupon hung up in each
camp, representing the number of days between that date and the day
of the beginning of the dance. With the passing of each day one of
these sticks is thrown away. The day the last one is cast aside the fam-
ilies go to the appointed place. At the dancing ground they find the
selected space arranged as in the accompanying diagram (Fig. 77).
The evening of the first day the ceremony of taking the "Black
Drink," Pa-sa-is-kit-a, is endured. This drink was described to me as
having both a nauseating smell and taste. It is probably a mixture
similar to that used by the Creek in the last century at a like cere-
mony. It acts as both an emetic and a cathartic, and it is believed
among the Indians that unless one drinks of it he will be sick at some
time in the year, and besides that he cannot safely eat of the green corn
of the feast. During the drinking the dance begins and proceeds; in
it the medicine men join.
At that time the Medicine Song is sung. My Indian would not re-
peat this song for me. He declared that any one who sings the Medi.
cine Song, except at the Green Corn Dance or as a medicine man,
will certainly meet with some harm. That night, after the "Black
Drink" has had its effect, the Indians sleep. The next morning they




eat of the green corn. The day following is one of fasting, but the next
day is one of great feasting, Hom-pi-ta-lak-o," in which "Indian eat
all time," Hom-pis-yak-i-ta."

N. 4++++++++

or the Dance Circle,
Men who watch the
medicine fire.


++ + Medicine'
++ NNfire. +
+ The Fire or
House where the
warriors sit.

+t ++ + -+++ +t -

FIG. 77. Green Corn Dance.


Concerning the use by the Indians of medicine against sickness, I
learned only that they are in the habit of taking various herbs for their
ailments. What part incantation or sorcery plays in the healing of
disease I do not know. Nor did I learn what the Indians think of the
origin and effects of dreams. Me-le told me that he knows of a plant
the leaves of which, eaten, will cure the bite of a rattlesnake, and that
he knows also of a plant which is an antidote to the noxious effects
of the poison ivy or so-called poison oak.


I close this chapter by putting upon record a few general observa-
tions, as an aid to future investigation into Seminole life.


The standard ? value among the Florida Indians is now taken from
the currency of the United States. The unit they seem to have adopted,



at least at the Big Cypress Swamp settlement, is twenty-five cents,
which they call "Kan-cat-ka-hum-kin" (literally, "one mark on the
ground"). At Miami a trader keeps his accounts with the Indians in
single marks or pencil strokes. For example, an Indian brings to him
buck skins, for which the trader allows twelve "chalks." The Indian,
not wishing then to purchase anything, receives a piece of paper marked
in this way:

J. W. E. owes Little Tiger $3."

At his next visit the Indian may buy five "marks" worth of goods
The trader then takes the paper and returns it to Little Tiger changed
as follows:
J. W. E. owes Little Tiger

Thus the account is kept until all the "marks" are crossed off, when
the trader takes the paper into his own possession. The value of the
purchases made at Miami by the Indians, I was informed, is annually
about $2,000. This is, however, an amount larger than would be the
average for the rest of the tribe, for the Miami Indians do a considera-
ble business in the barter and sale of ornamentalplumage.
What the primitive standard of value among the Seminole was is
suggested to me by their word for money, "Teat-to Ko-na-wa." "Ko-
na-wa" means beads, and "Teat-to," while it is the name for iron and
metal, is also the name for stone. Teat-to" probably originally meant
stone. Tcat-to Ko-na-wa (i. e., stone beads) was, then, the primitive
money. With Hat-ki," or white, added, the word means silver; with
"La ni," or yellow, added, it means gold. For greenbacks they use the
words "Nak-ho-tsi Tcat-to Ko-na-wa," which is, literally, "paper stone
Their methods of measuring are now, probably, those of the white
man. I questioned my respondent closely, but could gain no light upon
the terms he used as equivalents for our measurements.

I also gained but little knowledge of their divisions of time. They
have the year, the name for which is the same as that used for sum-
mer, and in their year are twelve months, designated, respectively:
1. Qla-fits-u-tsi, Little Winter. 7. Hai-yu-tsi.
2. Ho-ta-li-ha-si, Wind Moon. 8. Hai-yu-tsi-lak-o.
3. Ho-ta-li-ha-si-Olato, Big Wind Moon. 9. O-ta-wits-ku-tsi.
4. Ki-ha-su-tsi, Little Mulberry Moon. 10. O-ta-wnis-ka-nlak-o.
5. Ki-ha-si-glak-o, Big Mulberry Moon. 11. I-ho-li.
6. Ka-tco-ha-si. 12. Vla-fo-vlak-o, Big Winter.


I suppose that the spelling of- these words could be improved, but I
reproduce them phonetically as nearly as I can, not making what to me
would be desirable corrections. The months appear to be divided
simply into days, and these are, in part at least, numbered by reference
to successive positions of the moon at sunset. When I asked Til-la-
hils-ke how long he would stay at his present camp, he made reply by
pointing to the new moon in the west and sweeping his hand from west
to east to where the moon would be when he should go home. He
meant to answer, about ten-days thence. The day is divided by terms
descriptive of the positions of the sun in the sky from dawn to sunset.

The Florida Indians can count, by their system, indefinitely. 'Their
system of numeration is quinary, as will appear from the following list:
1. Ham-kin. 7, Ko-lo-pa-kin.
2. Ho-ko-lin. 8. Tci-na-pa-kin.
3. To-tci-nin. 9. Os-ta-pa-kin.
4. Os-tin. 10. Pa-lin.
5. Tsaq-ke-pin. 11. Pa-lin-htm-kin, i. e.,ten one, &c.
6. I-pa-kin. 20. Pa-li-ho-ko-lin, i. e., two tens.
As a guide towards a knowledge of the primitive manner of counting
the method used by an old man in his intercourse with me will serve.
He wished to count eight. He first placed the thumb of the right hand
upon the little finger of the left, then the right forefinger upon the
next left hand finger, then the thumb on the next finger, and the fore-
finger on the next, and then the thumb upon the thumb; leaving now
the thumb of the right hand resting upon the thumb of the left, he
counted the remaining numbers on the right hand, using for this pur-
pose the fore and middle fingers of the left; finally he shut the fourth
and little fingers of the right hand down upon its palm, and raising his
hands, thumbs touching, the counted fingers outspread, he showed me
eight as the number of horses of which I had made inquiry.

Concerning the sense of color among these Indians, I found that my
informant at least possessed it to only a very limited degree. Black
and white were clear to his sight, and for these he had appropriate
names. Also for brown, which was to him a "yellow black," and for
gray, which was a" white black." For some other colors his perception
was distinct and the names he used proper. But a name for blue he
applied to many other colors, shading from violet to green. A name
for red followed a succession of colors all the way from scarlet to pink.
A name for yellow he applied to dark orange and thence to a list of
colors through to yellow's lightest and most delicate tint. I thought
that at one time I had found him making a clear distinction between
green and blue, but as I examined further I was never certain that he
would not exchange the names when asked about one or the other color.



The feeling of the tribe is antagonistic to even such primary education
as reading, writing, and calculation. About ten years ago an attempt,
the only attempt in modern times, to establish schools among them was
made by Rev. Mr. Frost, now at Myers, Fla. He did not succeed.

By reference to the population table, it will be noticed that there are
three negroes and seven persons of mixed breed among the Seminole.
It has been said that these negroes were slaves and are still held as slaves
by the Indians. I saw nothing and could not hear of anything to jus-
tify this statement. One Indian is, I know, married to a negress, and
the two negresses in the tribe live apparently on terms of perfect
equality with the other women. Me-le goes and comes as he sees fit.
No one attempts to control his movements. It may be that long ago
the Florida Indians held negroes as slaves, but my impression is to the
contrary. The Florida Indians, I think, rather offered a place of refuge
for fugitive bondmen and gradually made them members of their tribe.

In the introduction to this report I said that the health of the Semi-
nole is good. As confirming this statement, I found that the deaths
during the past year had been very few. I had trustworthy inform.
tion concerning the deaths of only four persons. One of these deaths
was of an old woman, O-pa-ka, at the Fish Eating Creek settlement;
another was of Til-la-hlske's wife, at Cat Fish Lake settlement;
another was of a sister of Til-la-hiis-ke; and the last das of a child, at
Cow Creek settlement. At the Big Cypress Swamp settlement I was
assured that no deaths had occurred either there or at Miami during
the year. On the contrary, however, I was told by some white people
at Miami that several children had died at the Indian camp near there
in the year past. Til-la-his-ke said to me, "Twenty moons ago, heap
pickaninnies die!" And I was informed by others that about two
years before there had been considerable fatality among children, as
the consequence of a sort of epidemic at one of the northern camps.
Admitting the correctness of these reports, I have no reason to mod-
ify my general statement that the health of the Seminole is good and
that they are certainly increasing their number. Their appearance
indicates excellent health and their environment is in their favor.





Southern Florida, the region to which most of the Seminole have
been driven by the advances of civilization, is, taken all in all, unlike
any other part of our country. In climate it is subtropical; in char-
acter of soil it shows a contrast of comparative barrenness and abound-
ing fertility; and in topography it is a plain, with hardly any percept-
ible natural elevations or depressions. The following description, based
upon the notes of my journey to the Big Cypress Swamp, indicates
the character of the country generally. I left Myers, on the Caloosa-
hatchie River, a small settlement composed principally of cattlemen,
one morning in the month of February. Even in February the sun
was so hot that clothing was a burden. As we started upon our
journey, which was to be for a distance of sixty miles or more, my at-
tention was called to the fact that the harness of the horse attached to
my buggy was without the breeching. I was told that this part of the
harness would not be needed, so level should we find the country.
Our way, soon after leaving the main street of Myers, entered pine
woods. The soil across which we traveled at first was a dry, dazzling
white sand, over which was scattered a growth of dwarf palmetto. The
pine trees were not near enough together to shade us from the fierce
sun. This sparseness of growth, and comparative absence of shade, is
one marked characteristic of Florida's pine woods. Through this thin
forest we drove all the day. The monotonous scenery was unchanged
except that at a short distance from Myers it was broken by swamps
and ponds. So far as the appearance of the country around us indi-
cated, we could not tell whether we were two miles or twenty frn our
starting point. Nearly half our way during the first day lay through
water, and yet we were in the midst of what is called the winter dry
season." The water took the shape here of a swamp and there of a pond,
but where the swamp or the pond began or ended it was scarcely possible
to tell. one passed by almost imperceptible degrees from dry land to
moist and from moist land into pool or marsh. Generally, however, the
swamps were filled with a growth of cypress trees. These cypress
groups were well defined in the pine woods by the closeness of their
growth and the sharpness of the boundary of the clusters. Usually, too,
the cypress swamps were surrounded by rims of water grasses. Six
miles from Myers we crossed a cypress swamp, in which the water at its
greatest depth was from one foot to two feet deep. A wagon road had


been cut through the dense growth of trees, and the trees were covered
with hanging mosses and air plants,
The ponds differed from the swamps only in being treeless, They are
open sheets of water surrounded by bands of greater or less width of
tall grasses. The third day, between 30 and 40 miles from Myers, we
left the pine tree lands and started across what are called in Southern
Florida the "prairies." These are wide stretches covered with grass and
with scrub palmetto and dotted at near intervals with what are called
pine "islands" or "hammocks" and cypress swamps. The pine island
or hammock is a slight elevation of the soil, rising a few inches above
the dead level. The cypress swamp, on the contrary, seems to have its
origin only in a slight depression in the plain. Where there is a ring
of slight depression, inclosing a slight elevation, there is generally a
combination of cypress and pine and oak growth. For perhaps 15 miles
we traveled that third day over this expanse of grass; most of the way
we were in water, among pineislands, skirting cypress swamps and saw-
grass marshes, and being jolted through thick clumps of scrub palmetto.
Before nightfall we reached the district occupied by the Indians, pass-
ing there into what is called the "Bad Country," an immens, expanse
of submerged land, with here and there islands rising from it, as from
the drier prairies. We had a weird ride that afternoon and night:
Now we passed through saw-grass 5 or 6 feet high and were in water 6 to
20 inches in depth ; then we encircled some impenetrable jungle of vines
and trees, and again we took our way out upon a vast expanse of water
and grass. At but one place in a distance of several miles was it dry
enough for one to step upon the ground without wetting the feet. We
reached that place at nightfall, but found no wood there for making a fire.
We were 4 miles then from any good camping ground. Captain Hen-
dry asked our Indian companion whether he could take us through the
darkness to a place called the "Buck Pens." Ko-nip-ha-tco said he
could. Under his guidance we started in the twilight, the sky covered
with clouds. The night which followed was starless, and soon we were
splashing through a country which, to my eyes, was trackless. There
were visible to me no landmarks. But our Indian, following a trail
made by his own people, about nine o'clock brought us to the object
of our search. A black mass suddenly appeared in the darkness. It
was the pine island we were seeking, the Buck Pens."
On our journey that day we had crossed a stream, so called, the Ak-
ho-lo-wa-koo-tci. So level is the country, however, and so sluggish the
flow of water there that this river, where we crossed it, was more like
a swamp than a stream Indeed, in Southern Florida the streams, for
a long distance from what would be called their sources, are more a
succession of swamps than well defined currents confined to channels
by banks. They have no real shores until they are well on their way
towards the ocean.
Beyond the point I reached, on the edge of the Big Cypress Swamp,


lie the Everglades proper, a wide district with only deeper water and
better defined islands than those which mark the Bad Country" and
the "Devi's Garden" I had entered.
The description I have given refers to that part of the State of Florida
lying south of the Caloosahatchee River. It is in this watery prairie
and Everglade region that we find. the immediate environment of most
of the Seminole Indians. Of the surroundings of the Seminole north
of the Caloosahatchee there is but little to say in modification of what
has already been said. Near the Fish Eating Creek settlement there
is a somewhat drier prairie land than that which I have just described.
The range of barren sand hills which extends from the north along the
middle of Florida to the headwaters of the Kissimmee River ends at
Cat Fish Lake. Excepting these modifications, the topography of the
whole Indian country of Florida is substantially the same as that which
we traversed on the way from Myers into the Big Cypress Swamp and
the Everglades.
Over this wide and seeming level of land and water, as I have said,
there is a subtropical climate. I visited the Seminole in midwinter;
yet, for all that my northern senses could discover, we were in the
midst of summer. The few deciduous trees there were having a midyear
pause, but trees with dense foliage, flowers, fruit, and growing grass
were to be seen everywhere. The temperature was that of a northern
June. By night we made our beds on the ground without discomfort
from cold, and by day we were under the heat of a summer sun. There
was certainly nothing in the climate to make one feel the need of more
clothing or shelter than would protect from excessive heat or rain.
Then the abundance of food, both animal and vegetable, obtainable
in that region seemed to me to do away with the necessity, on the part
of the people living there, for a struggle for existence. As I have
already stated, the soil is quite barren over a large part of the district;
but, on the other hand, there is also in many places a fertility of soil
that cannot be surpassed. Plantings are followed by superabundant
harvests, and the hunter is richly rewarded. But I need not repeat
what has already been said; it suffices to note that the natural envi-
ronment of the Seminole is such that ordinary effort serves to supply
them, physically, with more than they need.


When we consider, in connection with these facts, what I have also
before said, that these Indians are in no exceptional danger from wild
animals or poisonous reptiles, that they need not specially guard against
epidemic disease, and when we remember that they are native to what-
ever influences might affect injuriously persons from other parts of the
country, we can easily see how much more favorably situated for phys-
ical prosperity they are than others of their kind.. In fact, nature has
made physical life so easy to them that their great danger lies in the
5 ETH 34



possible want or decadence of the moral strength needed to maintain
them in a vigorous use of their powers. This moral strength to some
degree they have, but in large measure it had its origin in and has
been preserved by their struggles with man rather than with nature.
The wars of their ancestors, extending over nearly two centuries, did
the most to make them the brave and proud people they are. It is
through the effects of these chiefly that they have been kept from be-
coming indolent and effeminate. They are now strong, fearless, haugh-
ty, and independent. But the near future is to initiate a new epoch in
their history, an era in which their career may be the reverse of what it
has been. Man is becoming a factor of new importance in their environ-
ment. The moving lines of the white 1pouliati. a re closing in upon the
land of the Seminole. There is no farther retreat to which they can go.
It is their impulse to resist the intruders, but some of them are at last
becoming wise enough to know that they cannot contend successfully
with the white man, It is possible that even their few warriors may
make an effort to stay the oncoming hosts, but ultimately they will
either perish in the futile attempt or they will have to submit to a
civilization which, until now, they have been able to repel and whose
injurious accompaniments may degrade and destroy them. Hitherto
the white man's influence has been comparatively of no effect except
in arousing in the Indian his more violent passions and in exciting him
to open hostility. For more than three centuries the European has
been face to face with the Florida Indian and the two have never really
been friends. Through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the
peninsula was the scene of frequently renewed warfare. Spaniard,
Frenchman, Englishman, and Spaniard, in turn, kept the country in an
unsettled state, and when the American Union received the province
from Spain, sixty years ago, it received with it, in the tribe of the
Seminole, an embittered and determined race of hostile subjects. This
people our Government has never been able to conciliate or to conquer.
A different Indian policy, or a different administration of it, might
have prevented the disastrous wars of the last half century; but, as all
know, the Seminole have always lived within our borders as aliens. It
is only of late years, and through natural necessities, that any friendly
intercourse of white man and Indian has been secured. The Indian
has become too weak to contend successfully against his neighbor and
the white man has learned enough to refrain from arousing the vindic-
tiveness of the savage. The few white men now on the border line in
Florida are, with only some exceptions, cattle dealers or traders seek-
ing barter with the red men. The cattlemen sometimes meet the In-
dians on the prairies and are friendly with them for the sake of their
stock, which often strays into the Seminole country. The other places
of contact of the whites and Seminole are the settlements of Myers,
Miami, Bartow, Fort Meade, and Tampa, all, however, centers of com-
paratively small population. To these places, at infrequent intervals,
the Indians go for purposes of trade.



The Indians have appropriated for their service some of the products
of European civilization, such as weapons, implements, domestic uten-
sils, fabrics for clothing, &c. Mentally, excepting a few religious ideas
which they received long ago from the teaching of Spanish missionaries
and, in the southern settlements, excepting some few Spanish words,
the Seminole have accepted and appropriated practically nothing from
the white man. The two peoples remain, as they always have been,
separate and independent. Up to the present, therefore, the human
environment has had no effect upon the Indians aside from that which
has just been noticed, except to arouse them to war and to produce
among them war's consequences.
But soon a great and rapid change must take place. The large immi-
gration of a white population into Florida, and especially the attempts
at present being made to drain Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades,
make it certain, as I have said, that the Seminole is about to enter a
future unlike any past he has known. But now that new factors are
beginning to direct his career, now that he can no longer retreat, now
that he can no longer successfully contend, now that he is to be forced
into close, unavoidable contact with men he has known only as enemies,
what will he ",..-.: I.' If we anger him, he still can do much harm be-
fore we can conquer him; but if we seek, by a proper policy, to do him
justice, he yet may be made our friend and ally. Already, to the dis-
like of the old men of the tribe, some young braves show a willingness
to break down the ancient barriers between them and our people, and
I believe it possible that with encouragement, at a time not far distant,
all these Indians may become our friends, forgetting their tragic past
in a peaceful and prosperous future.

I' I I



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