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Interview with Jane Wood Reno, October 21, 1971

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Title:
Interview with Jane Wood Reno, October 21, 1971
Creator:
Reno, Jane Wood ( Interviewee )
Publication Date:
Language:
English

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Subjects / Keywords:
Seminole Indians
Seminoles -- Florida
Seminole Oral History Collection ( local )

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Funding:
This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.

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Source Institution:
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location:
This interview is part of the 'Seminoles' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
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Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.
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SEM 32 ( SPOHP IDENTIFIER )

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Full Text
SOUTHEASTERN INDIAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
INTERVIEWEE: Jane Wood Reno
INTERVIEWER: Marcia Kanner
DATE: October 21, 1971


INDEX
Airboating, 21
Alcohol, 20, 36
Big Cypress Indian Reservation, 1-3, 28, 39
Billie, Josie, 2
Brickell, Mary, 27-28
Brighton Reservation, 13, 39
Buckskin Declaration, 9
Bureau of Indian Affairs, 19, 36, 41
Calusas, 12-13
Caldwell, Millard, 10, 25
Castro, Fidel, 40, 42
Choctaw, 6
Civil Rights, 42
Clans, 7, 26
Clewiston, Fla., 1
Clothing, 28
Coacoochee, 13, 35
Collins, LeRoy, 9-10
Crow, Jim, 27
Dade County Park Dept., 22
Dances, 31, 33


Dania Reservation, 10, 39
Education, 19-20
Employment, 21, 29
Everglades, 2, 6-7, 12, 21-22
Food, 22-24
Green Corn Dance, 4, 6, 11-12, 30, 32, 34, 36
Health and Medicine, 22, 29-30
Hialeah, 6, 8
Hialeah Race Track, 20
Indian "villages", 26, 37
Jones, Sam (Arpeika), 2
Jumper, Betty Mae, 10, 14, 16, 40
Kennedy, John F., 9-10
Ku Klux Klan, 27
Lake Okeechobee, 31
Language, 13, 17
Loxahatchee River, 12, 14
Lucayan Indians, 24
Mad Bear, 42
Marriage and the Family, 18, 24, 35
Miami Herald, 3
Miami News, 1, 4, 9


Miccosukee Restaurant, 37-38
Miccosukee Tribe 4-6, 9-10, 12-13, 19
Morris, Sippi, 1, 30
Muskogee, 12-13
Old Town, 2
Osceola, 13
Osceola, Alice, 10, 32, 35, 39
Osceola, Homer, 11, 38-39
Osceola, Howard, 3-4, 12, 22, 30, 32, 36, 39
Osceola, Wild Bill, 16
Osceola, William McKinley, 5, 7, 29, 37
Poinsett, Joel R., 14
Princess Apoongo Stahnegee, 4-5
Seminole Indian News, 8
Seminole meaning, 12
Silver, Morton, 5, 9-11, 26, 30, 34
Tamiami Trail, 4-5, 7, 9, 21, 37
Tequestas, 13
Tiger, Buffalo, 2, 6, 8, 10, 14, 22-26, 35, 37, 39
Tiger, Jimmy, 37, 41
Tiger, Louise, 2, 20, 39
Tiger, Tiger, 5


Whites, 7
Women, 25-26


K: I'm Marcia Kanner, and I want to thank you, Jane Wood Reno,
for agreeing to be interviewed today this October 21, 1971,
on Florida Indians as part of the Oral History Project on
Indians at the University of Florida. Perhaps we ought to
begin by asking you when and how you came to know the Florida
Indians.
R: Well, the first time was in 1950. I came to Florida from
Georgia in 1925, and played cowboys and Indians as a child.
Indians were so romantic to me. Really, they were all ro-
mance, but I never really knew or met an Indian until I was
on a dark road in a place called Devil's Garden leading down
from the road that goes from Clewiston to Fort Myers into
the Big Cypress Indian Reservation. I was stuck there with
a guy named Sippi Morris in a swamp buggy, and his wife and
two children, and my two young kids; and down the road came
two truck fulls of Indians. I thought--in the middle of the
swamp--maybe they're drunk Indians: maybe I should be scared!
And that's where I first met 'em.
K: What happened?
R: Well, Sippi stepped out there, and all the Indians piled out
of the truck and beat him on the back and said, "Hey, Sippi."
The white man and his wife driving the truck got out,
and they said, "Oh Mr. Morris, if you only knew what was
happening in the Big Cypress. There are fourteen Indian
children with temperatures of 104, and we can't get any help
down here. We got them in the hospital in Clewiston, but
it's dreadful."
Sippi Morris said, "Well, ah, now this Mrs. Wood...ah,
this Mrs. Reno." (You know there was always a confusion. I
wrote under my maiden name, Jane Wood, for the Miami News.)
"And she's from the Miami News. She'll tell the world all
about it."
K: How did Sippi Morris know the Indians, and how do we spell
Sippi Morris?
R: He's from Mississippi.
K: Oh, I see.


2
R: S-I-P-P-I. He'd been hunting and fishing with them for years,
and told them more funny stories and more lies! Most Indians
laugh when they see or hear of Sippi, He's pushing eighty
now.
K: And then what did you do as a result of hearing about the..,?
R: I went down in the Big Cypress. We camped out, I met Josie
Billie, who had been an Indian medicine man for the Miccosukees.
Sippi said to Josie, "Many times Josie and I have been drunk
together."
Josie said, "Me no drink no more, Sippi. I am a Baptist
minister."
But Josie showed us Sam Jones's Old Town, which was at
that time marked on the maps of Gulf Oil, Tex Oil, every oil
company. It's some place there way off in the middle of the
Big Cypress Swamp. What it was, was a hammock where Sam
Jones [Arpeika], who had been the leader of the Seminoles
when they fell back the last time into the Everglades and
tried to retreat away from white men, and that's where he
camped. We camped there, and then Josie Billie, about
eighty, showed us where Sam Jones had been buried. And you
buried in the hammock up on stuff. We went there, and Josie
showed it to us, and we looked and there was the warm place
that a panther had laid the night before right beside where
Sam Jones had been buried,
K: How long had Sam Jones been buried there?
R: 110 years. And Josie Billie knew the place right under the
old cypress tree where Sam Jones had been buried.
K: Would you think that they would know where other less famous
Indians were buried? Do they...?
R: Every one. But unless you had become a Baptist like Josie
had, no Indian would ever take you back to a hammock that
another Indian had been buried in, because they devoutly be-
lieve in ghosts. Buffalo Tiger told me once, "I've never
seen a ghost, but my mother has." And Louise Tiger told me,
"They all believe in ghosts. The time my daddy was in the
hospital, and then he died, and then I fainted because I was
pregnant, my husband Bobby Tiger came in, and he said, 'That
old man's come back to get ya!' They believe in ghosts. You
don't go where somebody's buried unless you become a Baptist."
K: Josie Billie you met, then. Who are some of the other Indians


3
that you met initially, and were they all from the Big
Cypress?
R: Initially, they were around the Big Cypress. I remember most
vividly that was just a weekend. It was not where I really
made friendships, though. I was able to go back and write
some stories for the Miami Herald, oddly enough--though I
was working on the Miami News--that brought a great deal of
attention and help down to 'em. I mean, after all, fourteen
Indian babies in the middle of Big Cypress Swamp with tempera-
tures of 104! That's a pretty big newspaper story.
K: What happened with those children?
R: They got well. And they went in and put in some decent water
supply. Their wells are pipes driven into the ground, and
they're rather surface wells, and the water was low, so they
were drinking pretty surface water. I met the most interest-
ing person there. He was absolutely coal black, and he didn't
speak any English, and he was in his eighties. Sippi said
to me, "Dat's de black sheriff of the Seminoles."
K: Black sheriff of the Seminoles?
R: Many years later I said to Howard Osceola, who's my good
friend, "Howard, you remember that old black man that lived
in the Big Cypress in 1950?"
"Yeah, sure!"
"Sippi Morris told me once he was the black sheriff of
the Seminoles."
"And Howard said to me, "That's ridiculous! That sounds
like Sippi! That man was a slave of my family! He was a
Negro slave."
K: How old was Howard Osceola at the time he was telling you
this story in 1950 about?
R: Howard was telling me this about 1955 or '60.
K: Right.
R: Howard was about forty. "And that was a black slave of my
family." He said, "My relative somewhere back there had a
wife who was unfaithful to him. And the first time she was
unfaithful, he cut off the tip of one ear. The next time, he
cut off the tip of her other ear; the next time, he cut off


4
the tip of her nose. Then he thought, 'Hmm.' So he said to
this black slave of his, he said, 'Look, my wife's no more
use to me. If you will kill the man that she's been being
unfaithful with, I'll give her to you as a wife.' And so
that black man--that was a long, long ago," said Howard,
"--got a shotgun, and the guy that was being unfaithful to
her, he picked up the shotgun and killed him, and so she was
his wife, and so he got to be a member of the tribe."
K: That's one way of doing it.
How did you become to be named Princess Apoongo Stahnegee?
Who gave you that name? Tell what it means.
R: Well, later--four or five years later in the early 1950s, be-
cause the Indians on the reservations had organized to sue
the United States for money for treaties that had been clearly
and recognizably violated. But the Indians along the Trail,
their fathers and mothers had told them for generations, "Do
not ever sell your land." So they organized to try to get
the state of Florida and the U.S. Government to make a land
settlement that would be in perpetuity. It would be 60,000
acres north of the Tamiami Trail, and nobody in the tribe could
ever sell it. It could never be cut up, and it would belong
to the Indians forever. What they wanted was a land settlement.
I was writing for the Miami News then, and I got interested
in it. I went out and talked to 'em, and I talked to 'em about
Indian stories. I was kind of freelancing. I wasn't working
under office hours, so when I wrote a story about Indians,
I would go back and read it to them, because I early recog-
nized that these people have a great ear for accuracy, and
they dislike inaccuracies far more than white people who read
all these newspapers, magazines, and everything. And in a
sense I got to be an unpaid P.R. counsel for the Miccosukee
Tribe. I went to Washington with them, and I got drunk with
them, and I went to Green Corn Dances with 'em, and I went to
snake dances with 'em, and I wrote a lot about 'em. And so
when they decided to make me a princess, I think it was about
1957. There aren't any princesses in the Seminoles and
Miccosukees! They just thought it would be fun, and I would
like it. I wept, and Small-Pox Tommy pinned this egret head-
dress around my head, and Howard Osceola said, "Jane Wood,
we do this because we like the way you do things."
K: What does Princess Apoongo Stahnegee mean?
R: There's no written language in Miccosukee, but the way you'd


5
spell it would be A-P-O-0-N-G-O S-T-A-H-N-E-G-E-E, And so
I said, "What is Apoongo Stahnegee?"
And Morton Silver, the lawyer of Indian tribes, says,
"That means rumor-bearer."
And I said, "Howard!"
And Howard said, "Morton, don't be ridiculous!"
Howard Osceola said to me, "Jane, Apoongo Stahnegee is
a man. He's a messenger. He goes around to all the villages
telling them about what arrangements are being made this year
for the Green Corn Dance and the snake dance. He's a messen-
ger." But Morton preferred to translate it "rumor-bearer,"
which kinda amused everybody.
K: What messages did you take back?
R: Well, the messages I had taken back in the intervening years
between 1950 and about 1957, when I got this egret headdress
feather...well....
K: Do you still have it?
R: Yes, my mother put it in her cedar chest to keep the bugs out
of it.
I made quite a number of friends, close personal friends,
among the Miccosukees on the Tamiami Trail. These are not
reservation Indians. They live on pieces of land that their
daddies had staked out, or bought, or something in the 1930s,
and most of them were born there. I became very good friends
with William McKinley Osceola's children, and with Tiger
Tiger's children. William has eight children; and very de-
voted, all of them. Their names are Homer, and Mittie Jim--
who doesn't speak any English, but makes the prettiest shirts
on the Tamiami Trail--and Wild Bill Osceola, who has a daughter
named after me--Jane Wood Osceola--and Howard, and Alice, who
is married to a nice white man who is a stock car racer.
And Ethel, who is married to a nice white man. Ethel just
had an eleven pound baby; her husband was extremely proud.
And John, who was a charming man and drinks; and Douglas,
who is the handsomest Indian in the Everglades. Those are
eight of William's children. He has another son, Mike,
who none of them speak to, because Mike, back many years ago,
sued his daddy over land, and that's considered as bad taste
among Indians as it is among white people. But the Osceola
family--William McKinley Osceola's children--I love 'em all,
and they have helped me out when my car was broken down,
helped me through waters and swamps. I love them.


6
Also, Tiger Tiger's children that I know are Jimmy
Tiger, who's a very handsome man. He might be the second
handsomest Indian in the Everglades, and has a fine thriving
camp, and is prosperous and a great sense of humor, and
has some lovely aunts--old aunts and old grandmothers--
beautiful family. And Buffalo Tiger, who is now the chair-
man--it's a salaried job--of the Miccosukee Tribe, who's a
very nice man. I talked to Buffalo a lot. Buffalo was
married to two different white women. And Bobby Tiger, who's
a darling man who wrestles alligators and had one finger bit
off, and laughs and jokes and has the prettiest daughters
in the Everglades; and Bobby's wife, Louise, is half Choctaw
and half Mississippi white person, and she prefers to live
in the Everglades to Hialeah, where she and Bobby used to
live. So anyway, along the Tamiami Trail, my personal friends
are Miccosukees, and they're Osceolas and Tigers.
K: Jane, where do these Indians names come from?
R: Well, Buffalo Tiger--his friends call him, Buff--and I were
working on a book that never came out, about 1955 or so,
and let me read you from some notes from that time. This
is just what I took down from what Buffalo said, so this is
Buffalo talking: "When it comes to names, that was one of
the things I found it hard to understand when I came to know
white men. Indians don't teach their children the names of
their fathers and mothers. I don't know the Indians names
of my parents. Indian names are very private things. My
mother's white name is Sally Willie, and my father's white
name is Doctor Tiger, but these are just names for white
people to use. A baby is given a name when he is born, but
he is never called by this name. He is called by a nickname.
When I was little, they called me Magnusee, "old man," because
they said I talked like an old man. When a boy successfully
passes through his first Green Corn Dance, he gets another
name. Girls keep their same name, but they are always called
by the Indian nickname. It is impolite to call anybody by
their real name, though it is all right to use that name when
you talk about them to some other person. You can see why I
found the names of white people and the way they use the
names confusing."
Well, that's what Buffalo said to me, and so you can
see how confused I was and how elated, because I was in a
business--newspapers, approaching public relations--where
everybody wanted their name known, and I thought: "Wonderful
people!"


7
K: Well, what did you learn from some of these people about what
it was to grow up in the Everglades in the twenties and
thirties?
R: Well, I tell you some of what Buffalo was telling me. He
said...I'm reading' from notes, but I can hear him say it now:
"I was born in the Everglades in 1920. At that time the
Tamiami Trail had been built about as far as William McKinley
Osceola's camp about twenty-five miles west of Miami. My
grandfather had a nice little village about two and a half
miles west of where the Blue Shanty was on the Tamiami Trail,
about ten miles west of the road end. My grandfather bought
skins from Indians, took them into Miami and sold them, bought
groceries to take back. He had a store in the swamp. The
families of my mother's two sisters lived there, so there
were many children with my sisters and brothers and cousins.
My mother had ten children--five boys and five girls. Eight
are still alive. Two died when they were about twelve years
old. One had appendicitis, but I don't know what the other
died of. My grandfather built the camp, but it belonged to
my grandmother, because all villages belonged to the wife.
"The only things that belong to the husband are his guns
and his traps. All the children are members of their mother's
clan or family. When a man tells his wife, "I am going to
my camp," she knows he is going to his sister's camp or his
mother's camp. This is the first place I know is home.
"Sometimes families get together, go on visits to each
other. During the visits they always tell each what happened
in the war between the Indians and the white men, but we
never see any white men. The first thing we are taught
when we are little is to watch where we step so as not to
step on a snake. The next thing we were taught was to be
quiet and good and to mind the older people. They pointed
out why we should be good. White men were the reason. They
taught us about the wars, and how the Indians had to run off
to islands in the sawgrass and the Everglades through the
swamps away from the white soldiers. A child who wasn't quiet
and wasn't good might be left behind, and he would be carried
back to the white folks by the soldiers. I can tell you"--
and I'm quotin' Buff; I can hear his voice now--"they scared
you. The little ones all felt the same way at that time.
They had no warm feelings toward white folks.
"The first white man that I ever saw had stopped at
William McKinley Osceola's camp on the Tamiami Trail. I
thought if I talked to him I would get shot or taken away from
my mother. They shot guns all the time--they were always shooting'


8
something When I was a little boy we liked to watch white
men, but we were afraid to let them see us so we would sneak
around half a day in the saw grass just watching a man fish
in the canal or watch hunters shooting guns,
"My father's work was hunting. Most of the men folks
in the village would go away for two weeks to a month at a
time on huntin' trips. You know, I was so scared of white men,
and then I went off when I was about twelve or thirteen to
Hialeah, where my uncle had a alligator wrestling camp--
you know, showing off to the white people how you wrestling
alligators. And I went there, and I went to school a little,
and I discovered white people are just-like any other people,
some good, some bad."
K: This is a very interesting story, the story on Buffalo Tiger.
I'm wondering if we couldn't get a copy of your notes, or if...
I know they're rough notes, but I think that they're very valu-
able. I found them very touching and poignant and beautiful.
You think we could?
R: Sure. Buff said to me, he said, "You know, it really is impor-
tant." I'm sorry it never got in print, these notes, 'cause
he said, "It really is important. 'Cause these kids, they're
growing' up now; they're young punks. They won't remember
anything about it."
Actually, I don't think Buff's right. I think the young
punks could tell you some great narratives and stories by the
time they're fifty or eighty. Their mothers and their grand-
mothers and their aunts and their uncles are telling them
stories, too. There are lots of 'em living around that are
telling stories.
K: I should mention here that before we did this interview, you
were kind enough to give me your file that contains some
material on the Florida Indians, some old newspaper clippings,
and so forth. And I think that the thing I found most interest-
ing of all the things were three issues of the newspaper called
the Seminole Indian News, published in August, September, and
October of 1961. What were the origins of this paper? Did you
have something to do with it, and is it still being published?
R: Best paper I ever wrote for. I loved it. You see, this is
the way it happened. In the late 1940s, Indians on the reser-
vations of Florida organized as a Seminole tribe, I don't
know the exact name, but I think it's the Seminole Tribe of


9
Florida Indians, and you had to organize to sue the United
State government. I believe it was in 1948 that the govern-
ment passed a bill that allowed Indian tribes to sue them
under violated treaties. Well, if any treaties were ever
more violated than the Indian treaties of Florida, they're
just sections I'm not familiar with. So the Indians along
the Tamiami Trail organized in the early 1950s as the Miccosukee
Tribe of Seminole Indians for the purpose of suing. And they
got themselves a lawyer named Morton Silver. And I got en-
tranced...clear violations--what they were asking was not
unreasonable. As I said, I believe 60,000 acres north of
the Tamiami Trail to be held in perpetuity, and no tribal
member would own it; it would be held by the tribe, it could
never be alienated from the tribe. These are bright and
sophisticated guys even though they don't read. And Morton
Silver, their lawyer was great. They set out to embarrass
the U.S. government and I assisted in that.
K: And this was right after John F. Kennedy...?
R: Now, wait a minute. We embarrassed them throughout the 1950s,
too.
K: OK.
R: We went to...they went before I got.... I wish I'd been there
--they went to the United Nations. Buffalo presented the United
nations with a Buckskin Declaration.
K: Who organized that, and when was that?
R: That was served in 1951 or 1952, and I got in on that in 1953.
They went up to speak to the U.S. government, and the Miami
News sent me along as a reporter. Oh, well, really that was
interesting too. But it was public relations, and it was
designed to make a pitch to embarrass the U.S. government into
straightening up and flying right. The nearest we came to
success was under LeRoy Collins. He came down and met with
the Indians, and they came darn near setting aside this 60,000
acres that the Miccosukees of the Trail wanted north of the
Trail, except they wouldn't do it in perpetuity. They would
do it 100 years.
K: But the state technically had the power...?
R: Oh yeah! It's state land. They almost did it, but the Indians


10
said, "No, no term on it. It must be forever, and all ours.
But LeRoy came nearest to doing it, and the Indians liked
him. And one of the most fascinating things I ever saw....
Millard Caldwell [governor of Florida (1945-1949)]was associ-
ated with Morton Silver and the Miccosukees in their land
claim. And obviously, as far as potency, because he was a
former governor of Florida, a long-legged man, and with all
that Southern long-legged authority. And he came out there,
and he gave 'em a pitch sometime in the mid 1950s that they
should join the Indians of the reservations in their money
claim. Those old Indians got up and talked, and they talked
to him through Buffalo Tiger, their spokesman. They said,
"No!" They shamed that man, and he walked--that long-legged,
arrogant, ex-governor of Florida--walked down the hills
of shame because he had suggested in effect that they sell
out.
K: We've come a long way around the barn, 'cause I asked you
about the newspaper. You said that was the best paper you
ever worked for. What, actually, did you have to do with it,
since your name nowhere appears in the paper?
R: It is well known that the rewrite man's name doesn't appear.
But this paper was purely designed to embarrass the U.S. govern-
ment. It was the last gasp of the Miccosukees. Kennedy had
just been elected, and it was before they dropped their land
claim and decided to join the money claim. Betty Mae Jumper
was the editor from the reservation. Betty Mae is now the
chairman of the council. A lot of city people call her, the
lady Indian chief or something' like that, but she's the chair-
man of the council of the Dania Reservation and of the Seminole
Tribe. Alice Osceola was the other editor, and so the two lady
editors met on my porch, and the editorial board consisted of
Alice's five brothers, and the whole editorial board had to
bring a six-pack of beer apiece. They would tell me what
they wanted to say, and I would turn around and put it in my
typewriter, and read it back to them then and there. We had
a lot of fun.
K: And you're going to be willing to let...?
R: Oh, yeah. May I say that my great and good friend Morton Silver,
the Indian's attorney, who had had a course in Journalism at
the University of Florida made it up and laid it out.
K: There was a serial running in each of the issues about the


11
little-known history of the Florida Indians.
R: Morton had done a great deal of research in his job as
attorney for the Miccosukees who were trying to get land.
And he's a fascination' person too!
K: This is as good a time as any to talk a little bit about Morton
Silver.
R: Once upon a time I was down at the Green Corn Dance about three
o'clock in the morning with my daughter, Janet Reno, a lovely,
long-legged girl. At the Green Corn Dance you're not allowed
to go to sleep, you're not allowed to eat, but you drink.
And so I said to Homer Osceola (Morton and Janny and I were
there) I said, "Ah-h, Homer, Homer. Someday Morton will die
as all men must, and you're still gonna have an Indian land
claim going on, and my daughter, Janny baby, who's a Harvard
law school student, can take it over."
And Homer looked at Janny and he said, "Janny, baby,
you will never make a good Indian lawyer, because you're too
beautiful and too young and you will wanta be popular. Morton
Silver's a Jew. He doesn't care whether he's popular or not,
and he makes a great Indian lawyer."
K: That's a good story. How did Morton Silver.... Where does
he practice law--in Miami?
R: He practices law in Miami. I think Buffalo Tiger had come
to him for a divorce or something When I first met him,
everybody would say, "Naah...this Jew lawyer, he's trying to
get in on those land claims--make all that money." His
family remembers it and the Indians remember it as the time
Morton was wasting all his time and not making much money at
all. On Indian claims, he got really wrapped up. He was a
crusader, and I thought, to a certain extent, Homer might have
been right, 'cause he was Jewish, which is a minority. Then
I realized another thing--Morton had fallen out of a window
when he was a boy, and had to lay in bed for about a year and
was crippled, and had to have several operations. He was not
only a Jew, but he was a crippled Jew, and he was on the side
of every Indian in that swamp! He wasted more time and a great
deal of money, and the Indians knew it--they knew it.
K: Is he still practicing law?


12
R: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Oh, now that the Indians have dropped their
land claims, Morton is making quite a decent living for his
six children.
K: We talked about the name of the Indians, but the term Seminole
is misleading. What does it really mean?
R: Well, you hear it--most of the books say it's "runaway." But
I asked Howard Osceola, I said, "What does it mean?"
He said, "Well, my daddy" (that would be William McKinley)
"told me that back yonder....you remember when they were chasing'
them all, asked me too about Loxahatchee, the 'Lie River.'
When they were chasing all the Indians, some white soldier
said to one of our fellows, one of the Miccosukees, 'Who are
those Indians we see out there way-a-ways on the horizon, the
ones we can never catch up with, the ones that are always
running away. Who are they?'
And our fellow said, "Seminolay." And he said, "It's
a word of our language, the Miccosukee language. It means
'wild.' A seminolay pig, a seminolay horse--wild, not fenced
in, feral. It doesn't really mean 'runaway,' it means a
wild hog, a wild horse, a free man.
K: In trying to do some research so that I could at least ask
you some intelligent questions, I came across another fact
that really I should have known but I didn't know, I had
always known that there were Indians named Miccosukees, but
I then became aware that there is an Indian known as the
Muskogee Seminoles, and that actually at one time during the
Seminole wars there probably were a number of different Indian
groups that were known by the name Seminoles. But there
really are today ah, some distinctions, aren't there, between
Muskogee Seminoles and Miccosukees?
R: Well, that's kind of fascinating. There are remnants of two
Indian tribes here now, Miccosukee, and Muskogee, and they
speak two different languages. But I was told not too long
ago...I guess it was Howard Osceola who told me, he said,
"Jane, you know there are still some Spanish Indians in the
Everglades?"
And I said, "Really!" You know, the Spanish Indians we
read in history were called the Calusas, I said, "Really!"
And he said, "There are some out there, they say." He
said, "Of course this is a story or legend that don't speak
any language we know. I've never seen one, but my mother and
daddy did. And there's supposed to be some living out there


13
on the hammocks."
But originally the Indians in South Florida had nothing
to do with anything called Seminole. There were Calusa,
Tequestas, and all that. Spanish Indians!
K: Yes, I heard that term before, and nearest we can tell is
that if there ever were such, then they've all died out, but
that's an interesting....
R: Well, at least it's a legend with people who are my contempor-
aries and a little younger. But these guys came down. They
were two separate and distinct tribes; the Muskogees are Creeks,
and the Miccosukees were initially found around North Florida
in the panhandle north of Tallahassee. They were pushed down
and down and down and down, and they speak quite different
languages. Their languages--their words--are not the same.
K: And neither is the written language, is that correct?
R: They have no written language. Any written language they have
is somebody's interpretation. In a minute, I'll tell you
about the difference between words. They're different in back-
ground entirely. When they have a Green Corn Dance, they have
to go up to Brighton and practically kidnap some of the old
men to come down to sing 'em the chants.
K: Which men, the Muskogees?
R: The Muskogees. Also called the Cow Creeks. They're a Creek
tribe. They're largely on the northwest shore of Lake Okeechobee,
and Brighton Reservation.
K: But that would then lead one to believe that the Green Corn
Dance was a Muskogee ritual, and....
R: I have no idea on that score, but they all love to dance together.
It's a great party. I'll tell you about that too, if you want
me to. I was told by Homer, I think, or Howard that in the
last Seminole wars, when they had become in effect a group
working right together, "the Muskogees gave us the songs, and
the Miccosukees gave us the leaders." Osceola and Coacoochee
(Wildcat) were Miccosukee, and they were the Indians fighting,
but the Muskogees gave them the songs. By the way, I should
tell you something about leaders. Leaders are not chiefs.
These men have been more democratic than you and I could ever
imagine. My own theory is--I feel it in my bones; I've read


14
it since I knew--they taught white American people democracy!
They didn't have any chiefs. They said to Osceola, "You
lead us. You fight better." There was delegated authority.
K: Tell me the funny story about Osceola.
R: Well, Buffalo Tiger told me once...and all these Indians know
the old stories from their side. Illiterate people are very
articulate and well-spoken people, but they don't read, and
they know it from their side of the fence. And Buffalo said,
"Well, the story we know goes that Coacoochee and Osceola
were captured under that flag of truce when they went in.
And they all went in and were taken to that place at St.
Augustine, and they were in that fort. They sang a song and
they made a magic, and they got the dogs quiet, and they got
the white soldiers asleep, and all the Indians--Coacoochee
and all but Osceola--got out through those narrow little slits."
Buffalo had been up there. He says, "You know how narrow
they are."
I said, "Yeah!" He said, "Osceola was too fat to get
out."
So I told that to Howard Osceola. It's a certain touching
tragedy that fatness does run in the Osceola family today.
They're diabetics. They can't drink anymore! And Howard said,
"That sounds like Buffalo! That wasn't true at all! Osceola
and Coacoochee, who was Wildcat, made a deal that Wildcat
would get out and Osceola would stay there and try to reason
with the white people. It is well known he died, and Coacoochee
escaped. The Loxahatchee River, which runs into the Ocean
at Jupiter, Florida, is a touching place. There is a place
near it called Hungry Land Slough. And why I know it's touch-
ing is I was talking to Betty Mae Jumper when we were doing
the newspaper, and we were doing place names, and I said, "What
does the Loxahatchee River mean?"
And she said, "My grandmother," (that was her Indian grand-
mother) "said that's the Lie River."
I said, "What do you mean, the Lie River?"
She said, "It's another place that white men lied to Indians."
And by our own history, white people's history that is so
true, the Indians came in there and.... It was before the Civil
War, and the white general in charge sent word to Secretary of
War Poinsett [Joel R. Poinsett]: "The Indians said, 'We would
like to surrender, but we don't want to go to' (this was right
at the tail end of the Seminole War) 'but we don't want to go
to Oklahoma'."


15
He said, "Ooh, ooh, ooh," and he got 'em all drunk and
he sent off a dispatch to Secretary of War Poinsett.
Poinsett wrote back, "Capture 'em all, and send 'em
to Oklahoma." So that was that.
K: And that's what they feel...?
R: The Lie River, that.... Well, they captured a good lot of
'em, a great many of 'em, and at the end I have been told
that there were only 300 Seminoles that finally moved back
down there and didn't go out largely to die in Oklahoma.
They have increased greatly in number. I remember in the
1950s it was 1200 here, and I don't know now, but there are
more.
Betty Mae, the councilwoman, the chieftan of the...you
know, at Dania, told me another beautiful story. She said
(Betty Mae's about fifty-five, I'd say; I think she's a little
diabetic, too), "We've only got 300 Indians. There's a good
bit of recessive genes going in. You don't marry into your
mother's clan, but you can marry your first cousin on your
father's side, because the blood goes with the mother."
And Betty Mae said, "I was born in the Big Cypress Swamp.
I'm half-white."
And I said, "You are? Your mother or father?"
She said, "My father was white, of course. I'm Indian."
Her mother was Indian. And she said, "When I was born,
they wanted to kill me. Later, I got along well enough with
Corey Osceola." Corey was an old, old Indian medicine man,
whom I believe is dead now. [As of September, 1976, he was
still alive.] But she said, "I will always remember that
Corey wanted me to be killed when I was born. And my grand-
father picked up a shotgun and said, 'Anybody bothers this
baby, I will kill them.' That's why I always loved my grand-
mother and grandfather. They were Indian. My mother's cousin
had a baby by a white man at the same time I was born, and
the tribe put it out under a pine tree and stuffed its mouth
with clay, and it died."
Betty Mae is the only Indian I know that has some college
training. She went to the Oklahoma School for Indians, and
she has some college training, and she's a very intelligent,
wonderful woman.
K: That brings me to something else. One of the questions I had
prepared to ask you was how many of the Florida Indians that
you know go to college. You say that she's the only one? The


16
history of education of the Florida Indians as far as schools
as we know it is kind of recent, isn't it?
R: Betty Mae did go to college. I'm not so familiar with the
Dania Indians who are part Miccosukee and a little Muskogee,
but I know the Tamiami Trail Indians, the first Indian to
graduate from high school is my dear Alice Osceola. They
always claimed that Mike Osceola, her brother, who the rest
of the family doesn't like, was the first one. But Mike
didn't really graduate. He played football for Miami High
way back yonder, circa 1930, but he didn't graduate. Alice
did graduate. I know of no Miccosukee Indians along the Trail
--and these are the independent, non-reservation Indians that
live on their own land--that have ever been to college. But
they're going to school now.
The most romantic thing happened to me. I went out to
Wild Bill's camp....
K: That's Wild Bill Osceola?
R: Yes. And some of the Indians, out on the Trail live in nice
cypress board and batten houses--very pleasant houses now.
It's a government deal, and they're pleasant, and there's a
pleasant school there. Wild Bill lives near the school, but
he lives in an Indian camp. Really! I mean, five wrecked
cars and a very large ficus tree, and a great mound of beer
cans around the ficus tree.
I walk in, and here's the older brother of my namesake--
Jane Wood Osceola--Pudgy sitting' there. Pudgy's a very
handsome young Indian, about sixteen, with a tooth broken
off and long hair. Pudgy's a doll! And I was taking out this
photographer. "Oh," she said, "isn't he romantic?"
And I said, "Yeah, he is. I know him."
So I walk over and I say, "Hey! She says you're very ro-
mantic. Would you consent," (he's known me since he was three
foot high, and twinkled at me) "would you consent to accepting
a modeling fee of two dollars if you would sit there and let
her take your picture?"
He said, "Yeah, I will for you."
So I stepped back into the family kitchen, and it's a
shack, and there's a door, and everybody in the place has
written graffiti. This is last February, and there were a
lof of valentines and all, and people's children's names-
and what not, but the thing that touched me most--the hearts,
the hearts and then "True love, Jane Wood." I thought I was


17
gonna faint! I wanted to buy the door!
K: I keep going back to this language thing. You mentioned
early on that you had met one particular Indian lady who
spoke no English at all. Are there many Indians that you
have met that do not speak English at all?
R: Most of the Indian women of my age--I'm fifty-eight--don't.
Mittie Jim doesn't. She smiles at me, a very beautiful
smile--she's got gold teeth--but younger Indians take the
measurements when she makes the shirts. The Indian women
in their fifties--along the Tamiami Trail, anyway, which
is what I really know--in their late fifties, don't speak
any English, or much. And the older ones, none at all.
K: And these are Miccosukees, now?
R: Yes.
K: And so they speak Miccosukee, and probably not Muskogee?
R: Right. The different....
K: OK, we're talking about the....
R: The Miccosukee and the Muskogee languages are quite different.
Betty Mae was telling me Muskogee, which she knew, and Alice
Osceola was telling me Miccosukee. Neither have any written
langauge, and the words have to be spelled phonetically, but
they were really quite different. For example, the English
word "man" in Miccosukee is nognee; in Muskogee, it's woonawa.
"Boy" is, in Miccosukee, nognochee; in Muskogee it's wonowatchee.
How in the world would you call, "Boy, you come home?" "Wono-
watchee, you come home!" "Town," for example, in Miccosukee
is ocoee, the name of a town on the Tamiami Trail, but in
Muskogee, it's talotha. Uh, there is no resemblance between
the words of the two languages.
Oh baby, I don't know how we worked out this dictionary,
but "I want" is one of the things you need. In Miccosukee,
it's sabana; in Muskogee it's chayashuse. There's just no
resemblance, is what I'm trying to tell you.
K: We should say here that we were refreshing your memory by
going back to the newspaper again, in which you did try to
publish a Seminole dictionary so that people could see that


18
the languages were quite different, and I like that, Now,
I would like to ask you about the Indians in terms of num-
bers. Is the population of Indians declining in Florida?
R: Oh, no. It is increasing, as I believe I told you earlier.
I had understood that after the tragic removal to Oklahoma,
they left from here. There's some memory of it among Indians,
some tales from Tampa, the ones that did leave, and so many
died. It was a trail of tears for Seminoles as well as
Cherokees. But there were about 300 that fell back down
into this swamp. I think one reason I respect and love
them so is because I think these folks came from the high
clay hills that I know, where I was born-the Appalachian
hills of Georgia and North Florida, Tallahassee.,.those
pretty, high clay hills, To fall back down to this trackless
saw grass that was so different from their home, and to live
at all, seems to me a hell.... Could I have done it? And
live they did, and change their way of life they did. And
there were about 300; in 1950-odd there was supposed to be
about 1200, and now I think there is supposed to be over
2,000. Initially, I was told back in the fifties that
Indians didn't really marry until they were about thirty,
but then they encouraged marriage earlier, and to have children
earlier in recent years, in my lifetime because, hell, we want
'em to be more of us.
K: And you don't know of any conscious Indian effort for birth
control?
R: Oh, by no means!
K: OK.
R: But I'll tell you a nice thing about Indians. I am told--
women don't hear this from their Indian friends so much, but
I am told and I have seen it--that an Indian girl who has an
illegitimate child, nobody is mean to her. She brings it home
to her mother and daddy, and they bring it up very happily
and they are not condemnatory or censorious about pre-marital
relationships off in the bushes, or even the fruit of those pre-
marital relationships. Once you get married, it was always
supposed to be forever!
K: That's why sheriff shot the...had the rival done away with?
R: Yes.


19
K: What's happening to the young Indian as he grows up, and
presumably has received some schooling? By the way, maybe
it would be a good thing for ask you here: is the school
that's been set up along the Trail...? That was set up
when--in the fifties, or...?
R: No, what that was set up for was.... Finally, my good
friends the Miccosukees dropped their land claim and joined
the money claim, and they got a school built, and they got
some houses built, and they got a restaurant built, and
they got a filling station built that was supposed to employ
Indians, and it was just plain realistic of 'em. Some of
'em dropped out of participation. These benefits of the
restaurant and the school and the houses came from the
Bureau of Indian Affairs after we--by "we" I can include
myself--had sufficiently embarrassed them on the land claim
for a decade. They did set up some benefits for these
Miccosukees to make a living and some money off of, and
whatnot out on the Trail, where they don't live on reserva-
tions. But they have some Federal money, and so they joined
the land claim. Some of them just held quite aloof like the
Osceolas, Howard....
K: You mean they joined the money claim, or...?
R: They dropped their land claim and joined the money claim.
Some of them held quite aloof, and as Howard said to me,
"My daddy told me never to sign away the land I love, Jane
Wood! If we get that money, what will it be? Divided up
after this and that. Thirty or forty thousand dollars an
Indian. We'll buy cars, drive 'em in the canal, get drunk
and get cheated by white men, and it'll be all gone, all
gone, all gone." But, they saw....
K: The school...?
R: The school was part of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
K: Doesn't this go all the way through? Is it...?
R: I don't know. I think it does go all the way through.
K: And it's not like our public schools, in the sense that it is
compulsory education, or do you know?
R: I don't know. I do not believe that anybody out there will make


20
an Indian child go to school that doesn't want to go. But
generally they're going. They're learning English, and
they speak English. But I find along there, with these
teenage Indians, a funny sense. The real tragedy of them is
that they drink and drive. The Tamiami Trail is not a
safe place for that, and every now and then I hear of some
son of a dear friend of mine that's been driven in a canal
or killed a'drinkin' and driving' or something. They are
learning English, but you'd be surprised the way they stay
Indian, and I'm not surprised.
I spoke to you earlier about Louise Tiger. Louise is
nominally a white woman. She's half Choctaw and half
Mississippi [white]. She met Bobby Tiger when he was
wrestling in his uncle's camp in Hialeah, and married him
then. She prefers to live on the Trail. There's a great
freedom. It's...hell, those Indian boys have got their
hair down to their shoulders. They're the handsomest
hippies you ever saw. They'll give you the peace sign.
This is what the whole hippy world's living for. Why should
they run away from their families? Their families let them
be like they want to be and do what they want to do.
K: Well, now, you're giving me that impression that most....
R: Well, those boys around there just plain look hippy. These
fifteen, sixteen, and whatnot.
K: OK, but wait. Let me ask you this, Jane. Are they staying
there in the...?
R: They're staying there, living there, driving their airboats,
running around, driving stock cars. I mean they run into
town. They prefer [it] there.
K: Are any of them moving into the city?
R: Less now, I believe, than did a decade ago. Because now...for
example, Indian families would always take turns camping out
in the center of Hialeah Race Track. That was a job in town.
K: Right. Well, now, in case people who might hear this tape
would wonder at that, maybe you should elaborate on that.
R: Hialeah Race Track is the most beautiful in the world. It
has a moat in the center, and beyond the moat, it has an island
upon which is an Indian chickee. During the race season,


21
there's some flamingos walking about and some Indians camping
there. Wild Bill camped there sometime--that's a job. You
go into town and camp out, cook, and pay no attention to
anybody, and live there for a month or two and get pretty
well paid. They go up to alligator villages, which are
tourist attractions. At one time I used to see a lot of
Indian boys parking cars in Miami. They're great at,..
love parking cars. I see fewer in town now, 'cause they're
making' more, a better living airboating off the Trail.
K: Why do you suppose they particularly got into parking cars?
R: They're mad about it. Alice married a stock car racer. All
these Indians are expert...you know, they drive airboats.
They can make a living driving airboats,
K: You mean taking passengers, and...?
R: Yeah, and they make their airboats run.
K: How much do they get for an airboat ride?
R: -$2.50 per person for ten minutes. They're really quite good
at motors. They do their own motors. They're mad about motors
of cars and little ole airboats.
K: How old is the airboat in the Everglades?
R: The airboat was invented in the Everglades in the 1930s. It
is a vehicle that is shaped like a mortar box in which you mix
cement. It has no keel, it has a small old airplane engine,
and it is powered by a propeller which is in the air, and
steered by a rudder which is in the air. The thing will go
over that wet grass, the saw grass of the Everglades, at
thirty miles an hour. I have heard people tell me that they
went out on the dew at dawn--it goes better over damp grass
than it does in deep water--went out over the dew at dawn,
and got stuck when the dew dried.
K: Ohhh. And so airboats are...?
R: A product of the Everglades.
K: Right, and they are owned by a tribe, or owned by individuals,
or both?


22
R: Families. Oh, many, many families and all their children work
on them. And all their brothers and uncles work on them.
K: You know of cases where young Indians have left Florida all
together?
R: No, I don't know any. You have a sense out there...when you
go out there now in the Osceola camp, there's a sadness, be-
cause the people of my age, about fifty, in that particular
family have diabetes, and they can't drink, and it's a
sense of....
Howard, who worked for nineteen years for the Dade County
Park Department, had to retire because of a kidney thing.
He said to me, "When I retired, the guys said to me, 'Howard,
how are you gonna live? If you could hang on one more year
you could get retirement."'
He'd been running a grader for the Dade County Park Department.
And Howard said, "Well, I can live. I can live
off garfish."
It's not prospering on the Trail. The traffic has gone
off there, but still they have things they can make money
that they need. And there are so many garfish in that canal,
and you have no idea how good garfish are!
K: I'm reminded, having read the notes on your story by Buffalo
Tiger, the accounts of him as a child, and this now.... When
was this? His childhood was in....
R: Buff was born in 1920, and I'm looking' at those notes, and
this was what he told me. He said, "There was never any
reason to go hungry in the Everglades when I was a little boy.
Fish were everywhere. Indians like garfish. They prepare them
so that they taste very well. And even today it is impossible
to go hungry in the Everglades if you like garfish."
May I add, and this is Jane Wood speaking, I have had garfish
with the Indians, and if you have ever hunted 'em or
got one and broken it open, it's oily, greasy, yellowish fish.
You think it wouldn't be, but it's a delicious fish! Oh, I
like garfish.
K: But it's a mudfish, and it's a fish that white people....
R: If you cut open this scaly thing, and it looks so yellowish
and somehow greasy, you think, "Yuck! White people wouldn't
eat that." But I have eaten it and enjoyed it very much.


23
K: How do they prepare it, do you know?
R: Fried. Well, at least that's the way I ate it.
He said there was never anything like famine or thought
of famine. The only thing that might worry you in the
Everglades then--he was born in the 1920s--was the idea of
what white men might do. "My father's work was hunting,"
Buffalo said. "Most of the men folks in the village would
go away for two weeks to a month at a time on hunting trips.
Before they would ever go away, they would collect all the
firewood they could find for their wives and children.
They would get plenty of meat in--usually turtles or birds
or fish. They would salt the meat, dry it in the sun, then
it would keep in vats. Sometimes they smoked the meat, and
it would keep longer. Also, they usually smoked sweet pota-
toes, and then they would keep a long time.
While the men got the meat, their wives and mothers
would prepare groceries for their husbands. They would
roast corn they grew in corn garden plots, and then grind
it to make sofkee, which is something like grits but tastes
a little different and better than grits. When I was little
we used very little stuff that we bought from white men.
What we bought was cloth material, salt, and a little bit
of flour and lard."
I had a feeling after we got that panic in the fifties
on the atom bomb that of all places I would run to if my
world and railroads and communications blew up, I would run
to the 'Glades. What I would lay in would be enough of those
small gigs and long spears, because you can gig so many gar-
fish, and they are tasty, no matter how they look to us.
Anybody could live on garfish. It is a well-rounded diet.
K: The account that you read, which goes back to the twenties,
mentioned turtles a lot. Are they still abundant in the
Everglades as a food source?
R: Yes, yes. Buffalo said they always liked turtle meat very
much. You know, these are freshwater turtles. The kind that
sit on the logs, and they're still sitting' out there. And
they always liked alligator tails, but oddly enough....
K: Alligator tails??
R: Oddly enough, they never ate turkeys.. They always thought
turkeys were a white man's bird. When you come to think of
it, it needs an oven, and these people are great...in Buffalo's


24
lifetime and probably since the eighteenth century, they're
great with frying pans, but they haven't had ovens.
K: Now, I know that you have been around Indians a long time,
so I'd like to ask you a few questions about what you've
observed about their general mode of life and so forth.
Are there any unique aspects in the way that the Indians
raise their young? In modern times, I'm talking about.
R: The things I remember the most--I think I said earlier that
Jimmy's and Buffalo's father was Tiger Tiger, but it was Doctor
Tiger--was the way this eighty year old man would walk around
with his small great-grandchildren, one year olds and two
year olds. I think the sweetness...I think Mittie Jim
rocking her grandchildren in the hammock. You know, Indians
invented the hammock. Columbus's sailors found them in Lucaya,
the Lucayan Indians using them, and then years later all the
sailors of Europe were using hammocks. A hammock is an inven-
tion of the Western Hemisphere, and I know it was in the
Bahamas, so I asked Buff and Howard once, "Hey, have you al-
ways used hammocks?" They know what I mean, "Have you always
used them? I mean, did you before white men?"
And, "Oh, yeah, we've always had 'em."
Of course, those Indian grandmothers rocking their grand-
children in the hammock, and there is a gentleness and kind-
ness. Another thing: they apparently manage very deftly to
pair 'em off. I 'member old Pudgy when he was three, and my
namesake, Jane Wood Osceola, when she was two. It was a time
when I had to go out there to meetings a lot, and Pudgy would
come up to me holding this little girl's hand. An older
brother, one year older, taking a little sister by the hand--
she was his charge, and he was very gentle with the child.
Very, very, very gentle people with children. Very gentle.
Much more so. And see they all live together! Brothers and
sisters...well, in the Osceola camp, now, I think there are
five brothers and sisters and all their children living to-
gether in the whole camp. You can't be a big, fat, harsh
disciplinarian--you gotta be sweet.
K: What is their attitude toward the aged? Maybe you could quote
from the interview you did with Buffalo Tiger, because I
thought it was.... Maybe we ought to put in what Buffalo
Tiger said, and perhaps you could add when you have witnessed
on your own.
R: Buffalo said about real old people, "If my mother was real old


25
and she had daughters, and they were married, her daughters
would take her and look after her. "Never had trouble with
old people. When they are real old the young people help
them walk around and eat food.
I have the sweetest story: Louise Tiger introduced me
to this woman who was eighty-seven. She said, "This is
Bobby Tiger's aunt." And she said, "You know, it's wonder-
ful, Jane. She had an operation for cataracts, and she
can see again."
When she [Louise] said, "We love her so, because when
Bobby's father died his mother was supposed to grieve for
some weeks--I don't know, one or two--and not eat anything,
or anything prepared by her own.... She was just supposed
to grieve, and Bobby's aunt went and cooked all the food for
his mother while she was grieving. So there are complicated
and beautiful rituals taking care of the old, but they are
well prized, and they stand very tall and are very well be-
loved, and they all live together in a way. It gentles
people.
The problem is we're all crowded together, us in the
cities, ghettos and whatnot. If you've ever seen an Indian
camp and five families and all their children and several
of their grandparents living together in a small place,
and how gently they live.... Of course, they've got the
saw grass coun...they're just gentle people.
K: That reminds me of your house on Sunday. Maybe you got that
from the Indians.
R: I don't bark at small children. Don't bark at small children
when they're small, and they won't bark at you when you're
eighty-seven.
K: What about in this day of women's liberation in the American
society? What is the Indian attitude toward women, and what
is the status of women within the Indian culture?
R: I have always since I knew the Seminoles had an idea that
these folks that came here originally and called Indians
squaw, and got that squaw sense were a stupid bunch of jerks,
and had a bad ear, and brought their ear from England, largely.
In the Indian tribe, it is delegated to the old men: you do
the deciding' about these kind of things; you listen to Millard
Caldwell; you make these decisions; you do this stuff, and
the younger men--this is delegated and delegated. But Morton


26
Silver said to me--and I got this hunch after I had talked
to him a long, long time--Morton said, "The old women do
all the deciding. The sons go home and say to them, 'What
would you do?"' The blood flows with the mother. It is
the mother's camp. You are your mother's tribe. Buffalo's
a member of the Wind clan, which is his mother's tribe. There
were Wind, Panther, Frog, Beaver clans. The blood flows
through the mother, and the mother delegates the authority.
I believe I said earlier...Janet said to Wild Bill Osceola,
"How do you know how to deliver your babies?"
Wild Bill had just delivered his fifth. He said, "Janny,
baby, my mother taught me how."
So you cannot believe...and these women stand very tall.
The girls say if you ask 'em somethin'...Alice says, "What
about thus and so?"
"You'll have to talk to my brothers--they're taking
care of that."
But it's a matter of delegated authority. "Boys, you
take care of that, we take care of this. I take care of this,
you take care of that,"
K: Isn't that funny, because I think that the average Florida
tourist who's gone to one of these "Indian villages" gets a
very different impression when they see the Indian lady sit-
ting in the chickee with the Singer sewing machine.
R: Well, the average Florida tourist gets a very different impres-
sion from Southern ladies, but for five generations in my
family--it goes back to the Southern--the men in the family
have delegated the authority to run their lives to the women.
It goes back to my grandmother in the Civil War, who ran the
plantation, and they just delegated to their wives: "You
run the place and make the decisions for me." And when I
was married, my husband said, "You have to manage my money."
He was vain: "You have to manage my money. My mother did."
It's delegated authority. We just run the world! I felt
quite at home among Indian women.
K: Well, I can see why. What about the ladies and the Singer
sewing machines?
R: I have something This is just my own hunch on the Singer
sewing machines. I took a nice writer out there once and
looking' at those shirts...
K: Excuse me. Could I interject here that at the present time
you're employed by Hank Meyer and Associates, who are publicists,


27
public relations firm. Every time some national or inter-
national writer comes to Florida and wants to know a little
bit about Indians, they delegate you to go and show them the
Indians. You're talking about a writer you took out to meet
the Indians.
R: Yeah. I forgot where we were.
K: About the Singer sewing machines.
R: Well, this is a thesis of mine entirely. These sewing machines
came into this part of the world about 1890 with the Brickells,
and not long thereafter they were making these beautiful quilted
patterns which require a sewing machine. It was pedal operated
then. Well, actually it was hand-operated. Now they're doing
it with electric ones. I took a very perceptive writer
out there once. She was especially interested in that, and
she said, "I think these shirts and skirts are the only authen-
tic Seminole craft."
I said, "Oh, quite right! Right'" And my own thesis is
that I don't know where they got the quilting--it was probably
circa 1900 and Mary Brickell, or something like that--but they
make them initially so that they would not be Jim Crowed.
K: What do you mean?
R: Jim Crow. Oh. You wouldn't know, not being a Southerner.
K: I know what Jim Crow means in the black-white context, but
I don't understand....
R: Bah! Here are these Indians coming into town, and they are
dusky-skinned, and our Seminoles have a prognathous chin and
full lips that might be Negroid. Their Indian features, they
carried over from Mongolia are the black eyebrows and the
straight, light black hair, but they are by no means red-
skinned. And any fool Ku Kluxer, a Southern immigrant to
South Florida--obviously all South Florida is not Southern;
they were immigrants coming down here--might of thought they
were "niggers" and could treat them badly. And so they made
these shirts which said in effect, "I am Seminole and I'm an
Indian." And every little Ku Kluxer that ever came to Florida
was pretty scared of Indians!
K: But you think these were based on the dress that the Indians
actually wore?


28
R: No, no, no! They had no basis. They were based on the
sewing machine, They were what the Indians gave the sewing
machine. There's an art and a creativity that goes on from
a sewing machine, right?
K: Yes. I would like to know how the first sewing machine ever
got to the Indians, but I believe I....
R: So would I. But I'll tell you--it was Mary Brickell, probably.
K: I think I have also read something about the salesman from
the sewing machine companies going out and soliciting business,
but it must have been an interesting thing, and I...,
R: No, the interesting thing to me, or my justification is
Indians off in there, in the Big Cypress and whatnot, don't
wear this stuff.
K: What do they wear?
R: Blue shirts and dungarees.
K: And the women?
R: Oh, blouses and skirts of some description, But actually,
the young women wear blouses and dungarees, I remember in
the 1920s when we would see them in town--and I think we saw
them more in town then when we first came--they said in
effect by the costumes and those beautiful blouses the
Indian women wore, and the skirts and the shirts of the men,
"We are Indians!" And nobody put 'em down, or made 'em sit
in the back of the bus, or gave 'em any trouble,
K: That's interesting, because I remember as a child seeing 'em
on Flagler Street in downtown Miami, but I never really
thought at the time what their general acceptance was, and
what they came to town for, and how the people acted toward
them.
R: They probably came to town to work in a parking lot. There
were more of them working in the parking lots then than there
are now,
K: Let's go back to that a minute. You know we talked about the
Indians that did come to town, and what they did or do, and


29
you said parking lot attendants. Maybe I've got my Indian
history crisscrossed, but a lot of Indians in some parts of
the country have done a lot of construction work, and worked
up in high places. Is this true of Florida Indians?
R: Marcia, don't be silly. Where are some high places in Florida?
K: No, I'm talking about tall buildings. We don't have too many
tall buildings.
R: I remember in the 1930 and '40s asking about that, And
William McKinley Osceola had the contacts, and he would get
Indian boys jobs in towns, parking in parking lots. Indians
of the Tamiami Trail--young Indians for two generations, at
least--have been enchanted with cars, and they've killed too
many of them.
K: Let's get to something else, 'cause we were a while ago talking
about...was it Howard Osceola who was the diabetic and had to...?
R: Howard and Homer both. Smallpox Tommy, old Indians.... It's
not coming on young, of course. You know, it's recessive,
but it's not become a young disease. But the men in their
fifties are coming down with it, and they can't drink.
K: This brings up another thought to me about medical care.
Where do they go for it? We're talking about the Trail Indians
now.
R: I well remember, circa 1957 I happened to be over by Doctor's
Hospital when I saw a bunch at a stoplight, and somebody waved
and said, "Hey, Jane."
I said, "Hey."
And William McKinley Osceola was in Doctor's Hospital in
Coral Gables for some illness, and I mean serious illness,
and they operated on him, and his heart stopped. They cut
open his chest, and they got his heart started again. He
lived for several years thereafter. But he said to his sons
while he lay in Doctor's Hospital, "I have ghosts." So they
went out to the medicine man and they got some medicinal
things, and came in and pinned it on his pillows. He said,
"Thank you. The ghosts went away."
K: But they will go to a hospital for a serious illness?
R: Oh, by all means. I said to tell me something' about medicine--


30
you know, Indian medicine, There's a root of a plant--
it's called a porchee root--that they chew up and put on a
snake or a rattlesnake bite, and they chant a medicine that
is called...they chant "Hasee-dona-hursee, hasee-doria-hursee,"
(earth, land, sky) and this cures the snake bite. But the
chant's important. I was told by my friend, Sippi Morris,
whom I've earlier explained-he's one of the world's great
inventors of legend--"That porchee root, Jane is better than
marijuana, and it's not illegal!" But I know about Indian
medicine....
K: And Sippi Morris, himself, is an inventor of a snake bite cure.
You said you had an interesting story about Alice Jones. Now,
who is she?
R: Well, once upon a time we were sitting' out there at the Green
Corn Dance....
K: And where was that held?
R: About two or three miles north of the Tamiami Trail--beautiful
place with a dead pine tree. Howard Osceola and Morton Silver
and I were sitting' there with a bottle of whiskey and a bottle
of wine, and watching the dance, and Morton says, "There's
Alice Jones. Have you ever told Jane Wood about Alice Jones?"
And Morton Silver, the Jewish lawyer, said, "She's an
Indian who is ambidextrous."
And I said, "What do you mean?"
Howard Osceola, the Indian said, "She's a hermaphrodite,
Jane Wood."
I said, "Hmm, really! How do you know?"
He said, "Well, she's a woman, and she used to date our
girls, and she knocked them up."
I said, "My goodness! She was a man."
Howard said, "No, she had big breasts on her."
And I said, "Well, my goodness! Where does she live now?"
He said, "She lives with an old, old Indian woman."
And I said, "Well what does Indian legend say about this?"
We'd been talking about what the Indian past said about things.
Howard said, "We never knew it before. When the world
gets old, you see strange things, Jane Wood."
K: We've mentioned several times this evening about the Green
Corn Dance, and I want to ask you just what ceremonials and
rituals you have witnessed among the Indians. I know that you
have told me a number of times about the Green Corn Dance,


31
and then in the newspapers it is mentioned something about
the Snake Dance.
R: There are two beautiful parties. The Snake Dance is later
in the summer--it's late in August, It doesn't have all the
religious connations that the Green Corn Dance has, It's
just a beautiful party, It's just beautiful, beautiful, beau-
tiful! But it's somewhat like the Green Corn Dance, which
occurs around the first of June, Everybody gathers on this
hammock--this island with old dead pine trees that I can still
see--for a week, and they came not from miles around, but
from hundred of miles around. All Indians, Indians, Indians....
K: Even the Indians on the reservations?
R: What do you mean, even? Even the Musko...they had to practi-
cally kidnap the Muskogees from Brighton, which is north of
Lake Okeechobee! Well, yeah, and the last night of the Green
Corn Dance....
K: How long does it last?
R: It lasts a week. And there were chickees set up, and people,
families, groups--whole big families, I mean like seven sis-
ters and all their brothers can camp about, and whatnot, The
last night of the Green Corn Dance nobody is allowed to go
to sleep once they begin dancing, and nobody is allowed to
eat. But in at every stop in the chanting...it's a snake-
like dance, handholding like you did in college in the 1920s,
and going around snake-dancing around a fire, and chanting
out things that sound like, ahsee-dow-ho-asee, and these
things.
They would line 'em out, you know. The three old, old
men sitting' there, they would sorta line out the dance, and
everybody would go around. I said to Howard, "Who's the neat
little guy on the end?"
He said, "He's my sister's son. We call him Weepers."
I said, "How old is he?"
"Three."
And this was about midnight. And I said, "What do ya
mean, Weepers?"
And he said, "Don't you know 'finders keepers, loser
weepers?' We call him Weepers. That's his nickname."
But men, women, children chanting around. And in between
every dance the sheriffs, who carry a long pole--a slender
cypress pole'about ten feet long with a thing on the end that


32
is a palmetto spine circle, tied with two of 'em, with a beer
can on the end. The Indian sheriffs walk around, and I said,
"What do the Indian sheriffs do, Howard?" I hadn't gotten
into the dance yet.
And Howard said, "The Indian sheriffs make sure that
anybody that gets in the dance has to take a drink when the
dance stops, and cannot go to sleep."
K: Even the children?
R: Right. And so you passed out a ritual bottle of wine, beer,
or whiskey.
K: What do you mean, a ritual bottle? In other words, they don't
drink anything in particular, or..,?
R: They drink everything in particular. Everything. Alice
Osceola was dispensing beer. But you passed down a bottle.
Along towards dark at the Green Corn Dance everybody having
not been allowed to sleep, and not had anything to eat for
twenty-four hours, and having had these ritual drinks, is
pretty damn drunk! And it gets pretty out there, you know.
The light, light, lightness of dark--that pretty color, and
I'll always remember that pine tree. And then what comes is
a ritual, scraping.
K: What's that?
R: Well, Howard says, "Come over here and let Jane see what's
happening." It's a block of wood that's about the size of
matches, and through it is stuck about six needles--just
plain sewing needles--and they stick out about one-sixteenth
to one-eighth of an inch. And the medicine man goes around...
[scraping sound is made].
K: Let's tell what you're doing while you're....
R: Well, he scrapes 'em, and it sounds just like this! [scraping
sound]. He scrapes their arms, their chests, and their back.
It sounds pretty gruesome, since he scrapes 'em. Howard
said, "Oh, we use to have a mean ole medicine man that really
scraped us deep." But you know, it scrapes and they bleed;
then they go off into small tents where there are hot rocks
on which are thrown water, and,...
K: Tents?


33
R: Little bitty tents about four feet high with hot rocks, and
they throw water in, and the guy sits in there and he sweats.
He's been scraped, and he's bleeding, and he comes out and
he's covered with blood and sweat. If you walk in there at
about that moment at dawn and have never seen it before,
you are in shock, Everybody was drunk, and this didn't
hurt more than...you know it didn't hurt at all.
I said, "Now what is this for? Is it for health, or
punishment of sin?"
And Howard said, "It is for health, A woman loses blood...
everybody knows a woman loses blood, but a man doesn't lose
blood, and so a man gets impurities and everything, and
this is health. He needs a blood-letting and a sweating
once a year.
K: And so this is not done with the women?
R: Only men and boys. He said the punishment of sins comes
later. So I said, "Well, what about the punishment of sins."
"Well," he said, "we got one here we're gonna talk about
tonight. There's some fellows here from that clan, and some
fellows here from this, and one of their fellows killed one
of our fellows, and we're gonna decide what to do."
And I said, "What might you do?"
And he said, "Well, we might take one of theirs."
I said, "You mean you might kill the man that killed
your man?"
"No," he said. "Look, this guy that got killed in our
clan was a big--man he was a good man. This guy that did
the killing from the other clan--you know about 'po' white
trash'?"
"Right!"
He said, "You know about 'po' nigger trash'?"
I said, "Right!"
He said, "This was 'po' Indian trash'. He did the killing ,
so we could take not him but one of their good guys. He
killed one of our good guys."
And I said, "That's Indian justice?" He said, "Right!"
I said, "What are you liable to do?"
He said, "We're liable to talk about it all night, and
we'll leave it so that one of our guys takes one of their
guys...in effect, he'll be home free,
K: Anything else that happens at the Snake Dance that you...?
R: Well, I walked out. I'm the only person I have ever known that


34
walked out of the Green Corn Dance at nine o'clock in the
morning and got home, got dressed, and went to a Jewish
wedding at noon at the Seville Hotel, And the Seville
pictures are of the most beautiful Jewish weddings in the
world! The bridegroom's mother gets drunk, the men dance,
they.... And I thought, "Boy! I've seen it all!"
K: Who else besides you and Morton Silver have been around to
see this? Do they have many other visitors come?
R: Less and less. Janny and Maggy and Marky..
K: These are your children?
R: ...have been there at one time or another over the years, but
they don't like a bunch of gawking strangers. It's only dear
friends, and I never wrote about it. I thought it would be
very rude and very vulgar, and not get the message across at
all if I wrote about it.
K: How 'bout the Green Corn Dance, now?
R: Oh, the Green Corn Dance was this. The Snake Dance is the
same thing, but no punishment, no scraping--just larking and
just fun. I said, "What in the hell's the Snake Dance about?"
Howard said, "Well, you know the water's high, and the
snakes are high too. They get over the road. It's to keep
the snakes quiet." Snake Dance is just purely for fun, and
it doesn't have any scraping.
K: And it's held at a different time of year?
R: Uh, Snake Dance is held, as I recall, late in August when the
fall winds are coming up. They are the most beautiful parties,
and then these beautiful Indian friends of yours like Alice
Osceola and Mittie Jim bring you hominy grits, fried bacon,
and biscuits. I think they're Bisquicks baked in Seminole
style for breakfast the next morning. It's a beautiful party,
It's a week-long party. It makes you wish you were Indian.
I know why those little Indians aren't running away!
K: I hate to leave the Green Corn Dance, but perhaps we might say
something--we've been talking around it for quite a while--
about the structure of tribal leadership as you know it.
R: They've given me a new view on life in the sense--I believe


35
I said this earlier--the old men that run the tribe, that's
your assigned role.
K: Your what?
R: Your assigned role. The wife says to the old men, "You go
off and run the tribe; I'll do the cooking or whatever."
It's a matter of assigned roles, and they do believe that
comparisons are odious. Even if you're mad with another
Indian or disagree with him, you don't fob him off against
another--you don't put him down. They are people that do
not believe in the put-down of any age or any thing or any
people. There's that sense that comparisons are odious--
competition is awful--that makes you think you folks learned
how to be aristocrats long before some of my Southern lady
and gentlemen people did. And you learned how to be aristo-
crats and democrats, and I really do believe there's a
certain spirit you can get if you're around Indians for
a while and are lucky enough to talk to 'em for awhile.
It's not original with me. First time I ran across it, I
thought it was sentimentality,
K: This speaks to us as your suggesting perhaps that there is
a lot more cooperation than competition.
R: It's just everybody's nice to each other: "We only do so
well as our family, our tribe, our clan, We can only do that
well, and it's very vulgar to try to stand out and win all the
races and be a chief or something. Let us be gentle and
sweet to one another, and take care of each other, Alice
Jones is being taken care of by....
K: What about the selection of leaders?
R: My entire impression from all I ever heard from my Indian friends
is that this is an assigned role. Look, Osceola and Coacoochee,
they probably said, "You fight good!"
Their wives and their fellow Indians--their wives said
to them, "Yes, certainly! Well, you fight good." And the
other older men said, "Hmm, you fights best? Osceola, you
fight pretty good, and Coacoochee, you fight pretty good.
You lead us!" And it's always been that.
Buffalo Tiger, they call him a chief--they assigned
Buffalo the role. "Look Buff," the old men said, "you've been
married." In effect they said this, "You've been married to
two white woman. You talk English better than anybody. Keep


36
talking!"
K: Course, this doesn't account for rivalry or jealousy, or....
R: They don't like rivalry. Rivalry is not a motive, but they
do have fights, and this was amusing to me, I had heard
about it and wondered about it. John Osceola, who is a
great guy--he gets in a fight with Howard Osceola at the
Green Corn Dance early in the dawn. John is drunk as a
skunk,..well, everybody's drunk, but John's a little riotous
drunk. He gets in a fight with Homer, and I saw something
that I had heard about from,,.oh, Buff told me this, Indians
feel different about drinking than white people. White
people don't like it--they say it's bad, bad--but Indians
say, "Man has troubles. A man has problems, and if he gets
drunk it's all right." I keep telling them, "If you get
drunk, you're gonna drive in the canal." But they get
drunk--they don't feel censorious about their drinking is
what I'm trying to say.
So John gets stone drunk, and he gets in a fight with
Homer, and who rushes out--I heard this story and it's true--
but Alice and Mittie Jim, and they say, "Stop it!" They tie
his legs together, they tie his hands together, they tie his
arms in back of him, they tie a cord between him and his legs.
He lies there...I don't know what he said-you know, a lot
of Indian language. He lies there for an hour or two and so-
bers up, and some gentle young Indians comes and cuts the
cords in two, and he crawls off into the bushes and goes to
sleep. But when a man gets drunk, it is an Indian.,.they don't
have laws...that his wife and his sister, or his mother, or
both sisters if both are living, are entitled to go out, and
he does not resist this. You know, he's fighting drunk.
Not just if he's fighting' drunk, they tie his hands behind
his back, tie his legs together, and he doesn't resist.
K: I'm gonna change the subject a little bit. We also touched
on this before. You had said that the Miccosukee Restaurant
was something that came to the Indians by virtue of the settle-
ment made with the Bureau, and this came from the Bureau of
Indian Affairs.
R: Yes. The Miccosukees circa the early 1960s thought, "To heck
with it." They were gonna win, and they were gonna get the
land. They tried, and LeRoy Collins came nearest to doing it.
So then they thought, "We will join the land claim--the money
claim." They are now in the money claim, and it has been


37
settled to a degree, but not to a certain degree, A great
many people who have got a great deal of money, including
some Seminoles in Oklahoma, and end up..,oh, I don't know,
I don't remember the last figure. And end up 3,000--oh, I
don't know what.
K: The Miccosukee Restaurant--perhaps you ought to tell what that
is and where it is.
R: It's a nice, pleasant restaurant about thirty-five miles west
of Miami, and it's very attractive and whatnot. It was
established near Jimmy Tiger's camp, which was the center
of the Miccosukee tribal meetings and whatnot and then there
was a gas station established there that is supposed to employ
Indians. The purpose was to employ Indians. Last time I was
in there were three white ladies, two cooking and one waiting
tables, and I think one Indian girl. But anyway, it's a
nice restaurant.
K: And who gets the profits now?
R: The group.
K: The other thing that this brings up in my mind is the "Indian
villages." I'm talking not about the place where the Indians
live; I'm talking about the commercial ventures--tourist
attractions.
R: Well, let me explain that. Buffalo Tiger said.... I said,
"Where do your stories say you began?"
"We began in North Florida, and there were big, big--
these were really towns. The story goes that sometime some
white people came and then they went away, and they left
something, and it must have been a bomb. They came in
ships, and their ships sailed away, and the bomb blew up,
The town was all destroyed. So since then we have been
living in scattered villages, and they were until recently.
I'm sure there are not any more off the Trail--just camps
with four chickees and one cooking hut. Three old people
and four grandchildren lived and had a little patch, and
their grandsons came and brought them what necessities--
honey and some hominy grits. Those were the original vil-
lages.
The Tamiami Trail really did not go through to Tampa
until 1928. When the Tamiami Trail went through there,
William McKinley [Osceola] came down and got this piece of


38
place. He bought it, or somehow I guess it's purchased, and
all his children were born there in the 1930s, They make
shirts and do little carvings, and do needlework, and they
live there. They charge white people fifty cents to come
in, and they can walk around and look and play and stuff.
The Indians treat the white people like they were chickens.
I once took a Britisher, an aging Britisher, He said, "It's
appalling that people should come in and exploit themselves
so that we can see their living life,"
I said, "Honeybunch, they think of you as a chicken.
Look at that chicken. They don't think you're important at
all or nothing!" But I was amused since they never.... One
is being poker-faced, and then if they knew you at all, or
have had a couple of drinks, they bust out in giggles and
give you a great twinkle.
I go into the Osceola camp occasionally, Now I'm getting'
older, I only get a small alligator. I'll say, "Let me show
you how to hypnotize an alligator, I reach in, I catch the
tail of a little alligator, and I pull him out and all, and
I show 'em how, So this little three year old Indian boy,
or maybe four, ran up to me--I thought, "Hey, maybe I'm
getting' to be an Indian legend'"--and said in perfectly clear
and beautiful English, "Jane Wood, you caught the littlest."
K: That's one of your accomplishments I really didn't know any-
thing about. Now, for example, this Osceola Indian Village--
does the profits from this go..,? Whatever they make in the
tourist money, the family keeps. Is that right?
R: I don't know how they work it out, but I'm gonna tell you who
lives there. It's Howard and his family, and he has a number
of children and grandchildren. Mittie Jim, the dowager
duchess of the family, she and her children and grandchildren.
Homer-I don't know whether Homer's married now--Homer is
the one that married a white woman, rented a tux and took her
to Fontainebleau [a Miami hotel] for New Year's Eve. He's
living there now...Ethel, Douglas, and Alice, So there are
six children of one father, their wives, husbands, grand-
children, and maybe some of them have got great-grandchildren.
Some of 'em may have moved around or somewhere, but they are
all living there together, and how in the hell they split up
the take, God only knows!! But they seem very happy, and these
people have withdrawn from the bit about the restaurant and
that stuff, and the houses and that stuff.
K: They have?


39
R: They have just withdrawn from the whole money claim, If
the money claim comes, they'll take it, But they aren't
takin' nothing' from the U.S.A. They're livinI on their own--
they're doing very pleasant. But a little cold on some
cold nights.
K: You hear a lot in history of Indians and the United States
government..about the Indian agents. Do you know any? Do
you know where he hangs out in South Florida, and what the
relationship is with the Indians?
R: No, I just know there used to be an elderly Indian agent up
at Dania. I don't know,..they've never had.... They have
somebody--he can't be called an agent--that's working with
these guys on the Trail, but since they own their land and
are pretty damned independent, it's not quite an agent. I
don't know. I don't know anything about it.
K: We have brought out in this interview that you're really more
familiar with the Indians that live along the Trail and in
the Everglades than you are with the Indians on the reserva-
tions.
R: Right.
K: But have you visited any of the Indian reservations?
R: The Big Cypress. And Dania, I know a bit. And the Big Cypress
out there stood in the 1950s, but I don't know Brighton. At
Brighton, they raise cattle. It's probably really quite inter-
esting, but I don't know anything about it, It's very different,
It's Muskogee. I believe the Muskogees on Brighton are quite
a bit more really remote and untouched, but through the Indian
agent have been twenty years ago going into cattle raising,
and have made a certain amount of living off of it.
K; Can you think of any particular Indians of your acquaintance
who could by their own accounts be helpful in transmitting
information about Florida Indians?
R: I would suggest Homer Osceola, Howard Osceola, Bobby and Louise
Tiger, And now Buffalo Tiger has become the chairman, and he
has a salaried job, and Buffalo is extremely articulate. What
I have been reading is from Buffalo about.... He has, in a
sense, an uneasy position, and is a little uneasy and is a little
more inclined than he was when he told me those things to say


40
what he felt various people might want him to say. I mean,
he might not speak from the heart. If you could really get
going...if it was a woman's story with Alice Osceola--Alice
is great, you know--if you could get relaxed and going with
Betty Mae Jumper, Betty Mae's great. She's a great good talker,
but you sort of have to take some time and lean back and win
some confidence and joke along, and sort of things like that,
because these people measure each individual that comes into
their life, and I think it's been true throughout all their
history, by that one person. At one time I broke down and
I walked in, and Alice said, "Well, I'll send Ethel down to
help you. Jane Wood, we only do it for friends." This is
the way they are. They judge people and they respond to
people as a friend, as a person they trust that won't screw
'em up, or misquote 'em, or play it wrong, or do something'
silly.
The tail end of the organized Indian effort to embarrass
the U.S.A. came about in 1960 when I was called, and said, "How
would you like to go with a group of Seminole Indians to be
a guest of Fidel Castro in Cuba?" And by that time, we weren't
broken off with Fidel, but I was working for Hank Meyer
Associates in public relations, and no longer in newspapering.
I said, "Oh, God! How I envy you." This was the first
anniversary of Castro's Revolution. I said, "Why don't you
take my son, Bobby Reno, who's working on the Miami Herald?"
So they took Bobby. They had the thirteenth floor of the
Hilton Hotel, and Bobby said, "It was the wildest, most beau-
tiful weekend. The crowds and everything, and all us Indians--
including me--were on the balcony with Castro, and he kissed
us with the tears streaming down his cheeks. We all got drunk
on champagne on the thirteenth floor of the Hilton, and those
Indians can drink up a storm!" That was the last gasp, of,
in effect, the Miccosukee Revolution of 1950, which was a
PR Revolution, which was an attempt to embarrass the damned
United States government into paying. I always wished I'd
been there in Havana.
K: You did say earlier that you had been to Washington?
R: Oh, I went to Washington with 'em.
K: When was that, and who'd you go with?
R: When was that, and who'd you go with?
R: I think it was about 1956. They were going up for a hearing,
and they were gonna be very eloquent and whatnot, and I'd been
writing' some stories for the Miami News. The News said yes I
could go, and they would pay my way to go. Buffalo was the


41
spokesman, and Homer and Howard and five or six other Indians
--I think Jimmy Tiger footed the bill for the Indians,
K: By himself?
R: Well, you see, Jimmy,..I say to Jimmy occasionally, still...
Jimmy is a rich Indian. He's got a great big pillowcase full
of ten dollar bills hidden up under his chickee, and Jimmy
looks at me and then laughs when he turns to me. I think
Jimmy from his village footed most of the bill for the Indians
to go there, and we were trying to talk. I say we--it helps
to have a reporter who's by then gotten to be your own
unpaid, personal PR person sitting' there writing But we
did have a little problem--we went up by train, and going
through Georgia our spokesman got so damned drunk that I had
to take away his drinks, because it was at that point illegal
to drink in Georgia. But we fixed that up, and by the time
he came to negotiate with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, he had
such a hangover! I really have learned to believe with my
Indian friends, and I won't criticize 'em for that, 'cause
I do too, but it is quite right--white man cheated 'em out of
it with firewater,
K; What was accomplished by this trip to Washington, if anything?
R: They promised us that they would listen attentatively to....
K: And they were well received?
R: Oh, beautifully received. Oh, it was a The
same thing that's been going on since about 1700. Yes, yes,
by all means! I've had an occasion to write a history of the
dealings with the U.S. Indians lately--I'm moonlighting up
to here--and the same thing is true today that was initially
true. I think John Adams said it--"These people live on
the land, but do they think they own it?"
K: Are there any things in conclusion that you would care to add
to what you've already said about your knowledge and your
association with the Florida Indians?
R: Well, I would like to say this: that all children of my age--
and I'm sure a great many of all ages--have had a great ro-
mantic thing about red Indians, and Indians, and Indians.
And when I became a friend of Indians, and when I went to the
dances and slogged through and got drunk with 'em, oh, Lord!


42
It was really something! But from all that, and beyond all
that romanticism, I got something from these people, these
friends. I don't compete--stand tall, stand friendly.
Comparisons are odious. Do let your mother and daddy tell
you what you're best at doing. If they tell you to be chief,
go be chief! Tell you to be Indian man--go be Indian man.
As far as career goes, a quality that is very sweet and very
wonderful, and I am grieved that we let the spirit that is
still very vivid and alive in the families--and the kids,
even the half-white kids out there, with their families are
a certain sense--we're in it together, against the wilderness,
and we're all together. We let something' pass us by by not
becoming a little more Indian, though I do think they gave us
the stamp that's America. We are free and equal, and we
don't take any shit off anybody. If they give it to us we
move off down the road.
K: Over the last few years we've heard quite a bit about Indians
in this country--mostly, I think, the Western Indians--taking
part in the civil rights movement along with the Blacks
and the Chicanos. Has there been any representation to you know-
ledge of the Florida Indians in this effort?
R: Well, let's see. Down there in 1960 when our boys were leaders
in the "embarrass the U.S.A.".... See, actually, really, the
Seminoles were a guest of Fidel on his first anniversary, so
we were working at embarrassing 'em a pretty long time before
these latecomers from the West came along.. But old Mad Bear
came down with a pretty girl who was half-white.
K: Who is Mad Bear?
R: Mad Bear was from up around Ithaca, New York--a trouble- making'
Indian from Ithaca, New York. He went down to Havana on that
beautiful first anniversary where Fidel kissed all the Indians
and wept because of how badly they were treated here. It was
still legal and all, but our boys.... What they were fighting
for was land, and....
K: And they gave it up when they accepted the money claim?
R: Naturally, Well, the gave it up when they went into the
money claim. Some of 'em didn't go into the money claim, and
said, "Well, let 'em go, let 'em go. We can take care of
our families for ever and ever." You know, like the Osceolas
own the land they are on. "We can live on garfish, we can run


43
airboats, we can live out here," You talking' about the kids
goin' away--these kids have a touch, as I say, the long hair,
and they love driving fast cars. In the Indian village on
the Tamiami Trail today, if you are a native-born hippie would
be where you wanta live. You wouldn't run to town, you'd run
right out there if you had a trace of Indian blood. They
aren't running' away. Not any that I know of or have heard of.
K: Well, thank you very much for giving us the time to record
some of your thoughts and recollections on the Indians of
Florida.


Full Text

PAGE 1

SOUTHEASTERN INDIAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA INTERVIEWEE: Jane Wood Reno INTERVIEWER: Marcia Kanner DATE: October 21, 1971

PAGE 2

Airboating, 21 Alcohol, 20, 36 INDEX Big Cypress Indian Reservation, 1-3, 28, 39 Billie, Josie, 2 Brickell, Mary, 27-28 Brighton Reservation, 13, 39 Buckskin Declaration, 9 Bureau of Indian Affairs, 19, 36, 41 Calusas, 12-13 Caldwell, Millard, 10, 25 Castro, Fidel, 40, 42 Choctaw, 6 Civil Rights, 42 Clans, 7, 26 Clewiston, Fla., 1 Clothing, 28 Coacoochee, 13, 35 Collins, LeRoy, 9-10 Crow, Jim, 27 Dade County Park Dept., 22 Dances, 31, 33

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' Dania Reservation, 10, 39 Education, 19-20 Employment, 21, 29 Everglades, 2, 6-7, 12, 21-22 Food, 22-24 Green Corn Dance, 4, 6, 11-12, 30, 32, 34, 36 Health and Medicine, 22, 29-30 Hialeah, 6, 8 Hialeah Race Track, 20 Indian "villages", 26, 37 Jones, Sam (Arpeika), 2 Jumper, Betty Mae, 10, 14, 16, 40 Kennedy, John F., 9-10 Ku Klux Klan, 27 Lake Okeechobee, 31 Language, 13, 17 loxahatchee River, 12, 14 Lucayan Indians, 24 Mad Bear, 42 Marriage and the Family, 18, 24, 35 Miami Herald, 3 Miami News, 1, 4, 9

PAGE 4

Miccosukee Restaurant, 37-38 Miccosukee Tribe 4-6, 9-10, 12-13, 19 Morris, Sippi, 1, 30 Muskogee, 12-13 Old Town, 2 Osceola, 13 Osceola, Alice, 10, 32, 35, 39 Osceola, Homer, 11, 38-39 Osceola, Howard, 3-4, 12, 22, 30, 32, 36, Osceola, Wild Bill, 16 Osceola, William McKinley, 5, 7, 29, 37 Poinsett, Joel R., 14 Princess Apoongo Stahnegee, 4-5 Seminole Indian News, 8 Seminole meaning, 12 Silver, Morton, 5, 9-11, 26, 30, 34 Tamiami Trail, 4-5, 7, 9, 21, 37 Tequestas, 13 39 Tiger, Buffalo, 2, 6, 8, 10, 14, 22-26, 35, 37, 39 Tiger, Jinnny, 37, 41 . Tiger, Louise, 2, 20, 39 Tiger, Tiger, 5

PAGE 5

--------------------------------Whites, 7 Women, 25-26

PAGE 6

K: I'm Marcia Kanner, and I want to thank you, Jane Wood Reno, for agreeing to be interviewed today this October 21, 1971, on Florida Indians as part of the Oral History Project on Indians at the University of Florida. Perhaps we ought to begin by asking you when and how you came to know the Florida Indians. R: Well, the first time was in 1950. I came to Florida from Georgia in 1925, and played cowboys and Indians as a child. Indians were so romantic to me. Really, they were all ro mance, but I never really knew or met an Indian until I was on a dark road in a place called Devil's Garden leading down from the road that goes from Clewiston to Fort Myers into the Big Cypress Indian Reservation. I was stuck there with a guy named Sippi Morris in a swamp buggy, and his wife and two children, and my two young kids; and down the road came two truck fulls of Indians. I thought--in the middle of the swamp--maybe they're drunk Indians: maybe I should be scared! And that's where I first met 'em. K: What happened? R: Well, Sippi stepped out there, and all the Indians piled out of the truck and beat him on the back and said, "Hey, Sippi." The white man and his wife driving the truck got out, and they said, "Oh Mr. Morris, if you only knew what was happening in the Big Cypress. There are fourteen Indian children with temperatures of 104, and we can't get any help down here. We got them in the hospital in Clewiston, but it's dreadful." Sippi Morris said, "Well, ah, now this Mrs. Wood ah, this Mrs. Reno." (You know there was always a confusion. I wrote under my maiden name, Jane Wood, for the Miami News.) "And she's from the Miami News. She'll tell the world all about it." K: How did Sippi Morris know the Indians, and how do we spell Sippi Morris? R: He's from Mississippi. K: Oh, I see.

PAGE 7

2 R: S~I-P-P-I. He'd been hunting and fishing with them for years, and told them more funny stories and more lies! Most Indians laugh when they see or hear of Sippi. He 1 s pushing eighty now. K: And then what did you do as a result of hearing about the ? R: I went down in the Big Cypress. We camped out. I met Josie Billie, who had been an , Indian medicine man for the Miccosukees. Sippi said to Josie, "Many times Josie and I have been drunk together." Josie said, "Me no drink no more, Sippi. I am a Baptist minister." But Josie showed us Sam Jones's Old Town, which was at that time marked on the maps of Gulf Oil, Tex Oil, every oil company. It's some place there way off in the middle of the Big Cypress Swamp. What it was, was a hammock where Sam Jones [Arpeika], who had been the leader of the Seminoles when they fell back the last time into the Everglades and tried to retreat away from white men, and that's where he camped. We camped there, and then Josie Billie, about eighty, showed us where Sam Jones had been buried. And you buried in the hammock up on stuff. We went there, and Josie showed it to us, and we looked and there was the warm place that a panther had laid the night before right beside where Sam Jones had been buried. K: How long had Sam Jones been buried there? R: 110 years. And Josie Billie knew the place right under the old cypress tree where Sam Jones had been buried. K: Would you think that they would know where other less famous Indians were buried? Do they ? R: Every one. But unless you had become a Baptist like Josie had, no Indian would ever take you back to a hammock that another Indian had been buried in, because they devoutly be lieve in ghosts. Buffalo Tiger told me once, "I've never seen a ghost, but my mother has." And Louise Tiger told me, "They all believe in ghosts. The time my daddy was in the hospital, and then he died, and then I fainted because I was pregnant, my husband Bobby Tiger came in, and he said, 'That old man's come back to get ya!' They believe in ghosts. You don't go where somebody's buried unless you become a Baptist." K: Josie Billie you met, then. Who are some of the other Indians

PAGE 8

that you met initially, and were they all from the Big Cypress? 3 R: Initially, they were around the Big Cypress. I remember most vividly that was just a weekend. It was not where I really made friendships, though. I was able to go back and write some stories for the Miami Herald, oddly enough--though I was working on the Miami News--that brought a great deal of attention and help down to 'em. I mean, after all, fourteen Indian babies in the middle of Big Cypress Swamp with tempera tures of 104! That's a . pretty big newspaper story. K: What happened with those children? R: They got well. And they went in and put in some decent water supply. Their wells are pipes driven into the ground, and they're rather surface wells, and the water was low, so they were drinking pretty surface water. I met the most interest ing person there. He was absolutely coal black, and he didn't speak any English, and he was in his eighties. Sippi said to me, "Dat's de black sheriff of the Seminoles." K: Black sheriff of the Seminoles? R: Many years later I said to Howard Osceola, who's my good friend, "Howard, you remember that old black man that lived in the Big Cypress in 1950?" "Yeah, sure!" "Sippi Morris told me once he was the black sheriff of the Seminoles." "And Howard said to me, "That's ridiculous! That sounds like Sippi! That man was a slave of my family! He was a Negro slave." K: How old was Howard Osceola at the time he was telling you this story in 1950 about? R: Howard was telling me this about 1955 or '60. K: Right. R: Howard was about forty. "And that was a black slave of my family." He said, "My relative somewhere back there had a wife who was unfaithful to him. And the first time she was unfaithful, he cut off the tip of one ear. The next time, he cut off the tip of her other ear; the next time, he cut off

PAGE 9

4 the tip of her nose. Then he thought, 'Hmm.' So he said to this black slave of his, he said, 'Look, my wife's no more use to me. If you will kill the man that she's been being unfaithful with, I'll give her to you as a wife.' And so that black man--that was a long, long ago," said Howard, "--got a shotgun, and the guy that was being unfaithful to her, he picked up the shotgun and killed him, and so she was his wife, and so he got to be a member of the tribe." K: That's one way of doing it. How did you become to be named Princess Apoongo Stahnegee? Who gave you that name? Tell what it means. R: Well, later--four or five years later in the early 1950s, be~ cause the Indians on the reservations had organized to sue the United States for money for treaties that had been clearly and recognizably violated. But the Indians along the Trail, their fathers and mothers had told them for generations, "Do not ever sell your land." So they organized to try to get the state of Florida and the U.S. Government to make a land settlement that would be in perpetuity. It would be 60,000 acres north of the Tamiami Trail, and nobody in the tribe could ever sell it. It could never be cut up, and it would belong to the Indians forever. What they wanted was a land settlement. I was writing for the Miami News then, and I got interested in it. I went out and talked to 'em, and I talked to 'em about Indian stories. I was kind of freelancing. I wasn't working under office hours, so when I wrote a story about Indians, I would go back and read it to them, because I early recog nized that these people have a great ear for accuracy, and they dislike inaccuracies far more than white people who read all these newspapers, magazines, and everything. And in a sense I got to be an unpaid P.R. counsel for the Miccosukee Tribe. I went to Washington with them, and I got drunk with them, and I went to Green Corn Dances with 'em, and I went to snake dances with 'em, and I wrote a lot about 1 em. And so when they decided to make me a princess, I think it was about 1957. There aren't any princesses in the Seminoles and Miccosukees! They just thought it would be fun, and I would like it. I wept, and Small-Pox Tommy pinned this egret head dress around my head, and Howard Osceola said, "Jane Wood, we do this because we like the way you do things." K: What does Princess Apoongo Stahnegee mean? R: There's no written language in Miccosukee, but the way you'd

PAGE 10

5 spell it would be A-P-0-0-N-G-O S-T-A-H-N-E-G-E-E, And so I said, "What is Apoongo Stahnegee?" And Morton Silver, the lawyer of Indian tribes, says, "That means rumor-bearer." And I said, "Howard! 11 And Howard said, ''Morton, don' t be ridiculous!" Howard Osceola said to me, ''Jane, Apoongo Stahnegee is a man. He's a messenger. He goes around to all the villages telling them about what arrangements are being made this year for the Green Corn Dance and the snake dance. He's a messen ger. 11 But Morton pref erred to translate it ''rumor-bearer, 11 which kinda amused everybody. K: What messages did you take back? R: Well, the messages I had taken back in the intervening years between 1950 and about 1957; when I got this egret headdress feather well K: Do you still have it? R: Yes, my mother put it in her cedar chest to keep the bugs out of it. I made quite a number of friends, close personal friends, among the Miccosukees on the Tamiami Trail. These are not reservation Indians. They live on pieces of land that their daddies had staked out, or bought, or something in the 1930s, and most of them were born there. I became very good friends with William McKinley Osceola's children, and with Tiger Tiger's children. William has eight children; and very de voted, all of them. Their names are Homer, and Mittie Jimwho doesn't speak any English, but makes the prettiest shirts on the Tamiami Trail--and Wild Bill Osceola, who has a daughter named after me--Jane Wood Osceola--and Howard, and Alice, who is married to a nice white man who is a stock car racer. And Ethel, who is married to a nice white man. Ethel just had an eleven pound baby; her husband was extremely proud. And John, who was a charming man and drinks; and Douglas, who is the handsomest Indian in the Everglades. Those are eight of William's children. He has another son, Mike, who none of them speak to, because Mike, back many years ago, sued his daddy over land, and that's considered as bad taste among Indians as it is among white people. But the Osceola family--William McKinley Osceola's children--! love 'em all, and they have helped me out when my car was broken down, helped me through waters and swamps. I love them.

PAGE 11

6 Also, Tiger Tiger's children that I know are Jimmy Tiger, who's a very handsome man. He might be the second handsomest Indian in the Everglades, and has a fine thriving camp, and is prosperous and a great sense of humor, and has some lovely aunts--old aunts and old grandmothersbeautiful family. And Buffalo Tiger, who is now the chair man--it's a salaried job--of the Miccosukee Tribe, who's a very nice man. I talked to Buffalo a lot. Buffalo was married to two different white women. And Bobby Tiger, who's a darling man who wrestles alligators and had one finger bit off, and laughs and jokes and has the prettiest daughters in the Everglades; and Bobby's wife, Louise, is half Choctaw and half Mississippi white person, and she prefers to live in the Everglades to Hialeah, where she and Bobby used to live. So anyway, along the Tamiami Trail, my personal friends are Miccosukees, and they're Osceolas and Tigers. K: Jane, where do these Indians names come from? R: Well, Buffalo Tiger--his friends call him, Buff--and I were working on a book that never came out, about 1955 or so, and let me read you from some notes from that time. This is just what I took down from what Buffalo said, so this is Buffalo talking: "When it comes to names, that was one of the things I found it hard to understand when I came to know white men. Indians don't teach their children the names of their fathers and moth~rs. I don't know the Indians names of my parents. Indian names are very private things. My mother's white name is Sally Willie, and my father's white name is Doctor Tiger, but these are just names for white people to use. A baby is given a name when he is born, but he is never called by this name. He is called by a nickname. When I was little, they called me Magnusee, "old man," because they said I talked like an old man. When a boy successfully passes through his first Green Corn Dance, he gets another name. Girls keep their same name, but they are always called by the Indian nickname. It is impolite to call anybody by their real name, though it is all right to use that name when you talk about them to some other person. You can see why I found the names of white people and the way they use the names confusing." Well, that's what Buffalo said to me, and so you can see how confused I was and how elated, because I was in a business--newspapers, approaching public relations--where everybody wanted their name known, and I thought: "Wonderful people!"

PAGE 12

7 K: Well, what did you learn from some of these people about what it was to grow up in the Everglades in the twenties and thirties? R: Well, I tell you some of what Buffalo was telling me. He said I'm readin' from notes, but I can hear him . say it now: "I was born in the Everglades in 1920. At that time the Tamiami Trail had been built about as far as William McKinley Osceola's camp about twenty-five miles west of Miami. My grandfather had a nice little village about two and a half miles west of where the Blue Shanty was on the Tamiami Trail, about ten miles west of the road end. My grandfather bought skins from Indians, took them into Miami and . sold them, bought groceries to take back. He had a store in the swamp. The families of my mother's two sisters lived there, so there were many children with my sisters and brothers and cousins. My mother had ten children--five boys and five girls. Eight are still alive. Two died when they were about twelve years old . One had appendicitis, but I don't know what the other died of. My grandfather built the camp, but it belonged to my grandmother, because all villages belonged to the wife. "The only things that belong to the husband are his guns and his traps. All the children are members of their mother's clan or family. When a man tells his wife, "I am going to !!!Y_ camp," she knows he is going to his sister's camp or his mother's camp. This is the first place I know is home. "Sometimes families get together, go on visits to each other. During the visits they always tell each what happened in the war between the Indians and the white men, but we never see any white men. The first thing we are taught when we are little is to watch where we step so as not to step on a snake. The next thing we were taught was to be quiet and good and to mind the older people. They pointed out why we should be good. White men were the reason. They taught us about the wars, and how the Indians had to run off . to islands in the sawgrass and the Everglades through the swamps away from the white soldiers. A child who wasn't quiet and wasn't good might be left behind, and he would be carried back to the white folks by the soldiers. I can tell you"and I'm quotin' Buff; I can hear his voice now--"they scared you. The little ones all felt the same way at that time. They had no warm feelings toward white folks. "The first white man that I ever saw had stopped at William McKinley Osceola's camp on the Tamiami Trail. I thought if I talked to him I would get shot or taken away from my mother. They shot guns all the time--they were always shootin'

PAGE 13

8 somethin'. When I was a little boy we liked to watch white men, but we were afraid to let them see us so we would sneak around half a day in the saw grass just watching a man fish in the canal or watch hunters shooting guns. "My father's work was hunting. Most of the men folks in the village would go away for two weeks to a month at a time on huntin' trips. You know, Twas so scared of white men, and then I went off when I was about twelve or thirteen to Hialeah, where my uncle had a alligator wrestling camp-you know, showing off to the white people how you wrestling alligators. And I went there, and I went to school a little, and I discovered white people are justlike any other people, some good, some bad." K: This is a very interesting story, the story on Buffalo Tiger. I'm wondering if we couldn't get a copy of your notes, or if I know they're rough notes, but I think that they're very valu able. I found them very touching and poignant and beautiful. You think we could? R: Sure. Buff said to me, he said, "You know, it really is impor tant." I'm sorry it never got in print, these notes, 'cause he said, "It really is important. 'Cause these kids, they're growin' up now; they're young punks. They won't remember anything about it. 11 Actually, I don't think Buff's right. I think the young punks could tell you some great narratives and stories by the time they're fifty or eighty. Their mothers and their grand mothers and their aunts and their uncles are telling them stories, too. There are lots of 'em living around that are telling stories. K: I should mention here that before we did this interview, you were kind enough to give me your file that contains some material on the Florida Indians, some old newspaper clippings, and so forth. And I think that the thing I found most interest ing of all the things were three issues of the newspaper called the Seminole Indian News, published in August, September, and October of 1961. What were the origins of this paper? Did you have something to do with it, and is it still being published? R: Best paper I ever wrote for. I loved it. You see, this is the way it happened. In the late 1940s, Indians on the reser vations of Florida organized as a Seminole tribe. I don't know the exact name, but I think it's the Seminole Tribe of

PAGE 14

9 Florida Indians, and you had to organize to sue the United State government. I believe it was in 1948 that the govern ment passed a bill that allowed Indian tribes to sue them under violated treaties. Well, if any treaties were ever more violated than the Indian treaties of Florida, they're just sections I'm not familiar with. So the Indians along the Tamiami Trail organized in the early 1950s as the Miccosukee Tribe of Seminole Indians for the purpose of suing. And they got themselves a lawyer named Morton Silver. And I got en tranced clear violations--what they were asking was not unreasonable. As I said, I believe 60,000 acres north of the Tamiami Trail to be held in perpetuity, and no tribal member would own it; it would be held by the tribe, it could never be alienated from the tribe. These are bright and sophisticated guys even though they don't read. And Morton Silver, their lawyer was great. They set out ,to embarrass the U.S. government and I assisted in that. K: And this was right after John F. Kennedy ? R: Now, wait a minute. We embarrassed them throughout the 1950s, too. K: OK. R: We went to they went before I got I wish I'd been there --they went to the United Nations. Buffalo presented the United nations with a Buckskin Declaration. K: Who organized that, and when was that? R: That was serv~d in 1951 or 1952, and I got in on that in 1953. They went up to speak to the U.S. government, and the Miami News sent me along as a reporter. Oh, well, really that was interesting too. But it was public relations, and it was designed to make a pitch to embarrass the U.S. government into straightening up and flying right. The nearest we came to success was under LeRoy Collins. He came down and met with the Indians, and they came darn near setting aside this 60,000 acres that the Miccosukees of the Trail wanted north of the Trail, except they wouldn't do it in perpetuity. They would do it 100 years. K: But the state technically had the power •.. ? R: Oh yeah! It's state land. They almost did it, but the Indians

PAGE 15

10 said, "No, no term on it. It must be forever, and all ours. But LeRoy came nearest to doing it, and the Indians liked him. And one of the most fascinating things I ever saw Millard Caldwell [governor of Florida (1945-1949)1 was associ ated with Morton Silver and the Miccosukees in their land claim. And obviously, as far as potency, because he was a former governor of Florida, a long-legged man, and with all that Southern long-legged authority. And he came out there, and he gave 'em a pitch sometime in the mid 195Os that they should join the Indians of the reservations in their money claim. Those old Indians got up and talked, and they talked to him through Buffalo Tiger, their spokesman. They said, "No!" They shamed that man, and he walked--that long-legged, arrogant, ex-governor of Florida--walked down the hills ---of shame because he had suggested in effect that they sell out. K: We've come a long way around the barn, 'cause I asked you about the newspaper. You said that was the best paper you ever worked for. What, actually, did you have to do with it, since your name nowhere appears in the paper? R: It is well known that the rewrite man's name doesn't appear. But this paper was purely designed to embarrass the U.S. govern ment. It was the last gasp of the Miccosukees. Kennedy had just been elected, and it was before they dropped their land claim and decided to join the money claim. Betty Mae Jumper was the editor from the reservation. Betty Mae is now the chairman of the council. A lot of city people call her, the lady Indian chief or somethin' like that, but she's the chair man of the council of the Dania Reservation and of the Seminole Tribe. Alice Osceola was the other editor, and so the two lady editors met on my porch, and the editorial board consisted of Alice's five brothers, and the whole editorial board had to bring a six-pack of beer apiece. They would tell me what they wanted to say, and I would turn around and put it in my typewriter, and read it back to them then and there. We had a lot of fun. K: And you're going to be willing to let ? R: Oh, yeah. May I say that my great and good friend Morton Silver, the Indian's attorney, who had had a course in Journalism at the University of Florida made it up and laid it out. K: There was a serial running in each of the issues about the

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11 little-known history of the Florida Indians. R: Morton had done a great deal of research in his job as attorney for the Miccosukees who were trying to get land. And he's a fascinatin' person too! K: This is as good a time as any to talk a little bit about Morton Silver. R: Once upon a time I was down at the Green Corn Dance about three . o'clock in the morning with my daughter, Janet Reno, a lovely, long-legged girl. At the Green Corn Dance you're not allowed to go to sleep, you're not allowed to eat, but you drink. And so I said to Homer Osceola (Morton and Janny and I were there) I said, "Ah-h, Homer, Homer. Someday Morton will die as all men must, and you're still gonna have an Indian land claim going on, and my daughter, Janny baby, who's a Harvard law school student, can take it over." And Homer looked at Janny and he said, "Janny, baby, you will never make a good Indian lawyer, because you're too beautiful and too young and you will wanta be popular. Morton Silver's a Jew. He doesn't care whether he's popular or not, and he makes a great Indian lawyer." K: That's a good story. How did Morton Silver Where does he practice law--in Miami? R: He practices law in Miami. I think Buffalo Tiger had come to him for a divorce or somethin'. When I first met him, everybody would say, "Naah this Jew lawyer, he's trying to get in on those land claims--make all that money." His family remembers it and the Indians remember it as the time Morton was wasting all his time and not making much money at all. On Indian claims, he got really wrapped up. He was a crusader, and I thought, to a certain extent, Homer might have been right, 'cause he was Jewish, which is a minority. Then I :realized ariothe:r thing-'"'."Morton had fallen out of a window when he was a boy, and had to lay in bed for about a year and was crippled, and had to have several operations. He was not only a Jew, but he was a crippled Jew, and he was on the side of every Indian in that swamp! He wasted more time and a great deal of money, and the Indians knew it--they knew it. K: Is he still practicing law?

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12 R: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Oh, now that the Indians have dropped their land claims, Morton is making quite a decent living for his six children. K: We talked about the name of the Indians, but the term Seminole is misleading. What does it really mean? R: Well, you hear it--most of the books say it's "runaway." But I asked Howard Osceola, I said, "What does it mean?" He said, "Well, my daddy" (that would be William McKinley) "told me that back yonder; you remember when they were chasin' them all, asked me too abouLLoxahatchee, the 'Lie River.' When they were chasing all the Indians, some white soldier said to one of our fellows, one of the Miccosukees, 'Who are those Indians we see out there way-a-ways on the horizon, the ones we can never catch up with, the ones that are always running away. Who are they?' And our fellow said, "Seminolay~" And he said, ''It's a word of our language, the Miccosukee language. It means 'wild.' A seminolay pig, a seminolay horse--wild, not fenced in, feral. It doesn't really mean 'runaway,• it means a wild hog, a wild horse, a free man. K: In trying to do some research so that I could at least ask you some intelligent questions, I came across another fact that really I should have known but I didn't know. I had always known that there were Indians named Miccosukees, but I then became aware that there is an Indian known as the Muskogee Seminoles, and that actually at one time during the Seminole wars there probably were a number of different Indian groups that were known by the name Seminoles. But there really are today ah, some distinctions, aren't there, between Muskogee Seminoles and Miccosukees? R: Well, that's kind of fascinating. There are remnants of two Indian tribes here now, Miccosukee, and Muskogee, and they speak two different languages. But I was told not too long ago I guess it was Howard Osceola who told me, he said, "Jane, you know there are still some Spanish Indians in the Everglades?" And I said, "Really!" You know, the Spanish Indians we read in history were called the Calusas. I said, "Really!" And he said, "There are some out there, they say." He said, 11 0 course this is a story or legend that don't speak any language we know. I've never seen one, but my mother and daddy did. And there's supposed to be some living out there

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13 on the hannnocks." But originally the Indians in South Florida had nothing to do with anything called Seminole. There were Calusa, Tequestas, and all that. Spanish Indians: K: Yes, I heard that term before, and nearest we can tell is that if there ever were such, then theytve all died out, but that's an interesting R: Well, at least it's a legend with people who are my contempor aries and a little younger. But these guys came down. They were two separate and distinct tribes; the Muskogees are Creeks, and the Miccosukees were initially found around North Florida in the panhandle north of Tallahassee. They were pushed down and down and down and down, and they speak quite different languages. Their languages--their words--are not the same. K: And neither is the written language, is that correct? R: They have no written language. Any written language they have is somebody's interpretation. In a minute, I'll tell you about the difference between words. They're different in back ground entirely. When they have a Green Corn Dance, they have to go up to Brighton and practically kidnap some of the old men to come down to sing 'em the chants. K: Which men, the Muskogees? R: The Muskogees. Also called the Cow Creeks. They're a Creek tribe. They're largely on the northwest shore of Lake Okeechobee, and Brighton Reservation. K: But that would then lead one to believe that the Green Corn Dance was a Muskogee ritual, and R: I have no idea on that score, but they all love to dance together. It's a great party. I'll tell you about that too, if you want me to. I was told by Homer, I think, or Howard that in the last Seminole wars, when they had become in effect a group working right together, "the Muskogees gave us the songs, and the Miccosukees gave us the leaders." Osceola and Coacoochee (Wildcat) were Miccosukee, and they were the Indians fighting, but the Muskogees gave them the songs. By the way, I should tell you something about leaders. Leaders are not chiefs. These.men have been more democratic than you and I could ever imagine. My own theory is--I feel it in my bones; I've read

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14 it since I knew--they taught white American people democracy! They didn't have any chiefs. They said to Osceola, "You lead us. You fight better." There was delegated authority. K: Tell me the funny story about Osceola. R: Well, Buffalo Tiger told me once and all these Indians know the old stories from their side. Illiterate people are very articulate and well-spoken people, but they don't read, and they know it from their side of the fence. And Buffalo said, "Well, the story we know goes that Coacoochee and Osceola were captured under that flag of truce when they went in. And they all went in and were taken to that place at St. Augustine, and they were in that fort. They sang a song and they made a magic, and they got the dogs quiet, and they got the white soldiers asleep, and all the Indians--Coacoochee and all but Osceola--got out through those narrow little slits." Buffalo had been up there. He says, "You know how narrow they are." I said, "Yeah!" He said, "Osceola was too fat to get out." So I told that to Howard Osceola. It's a certain touching tragedy that fatness does run in the Osceola family today. They're diabetics. They can't drink anymore! And Howard said, "That sounds like Buffalo! That wasn't true at all! Osceola and Coacoochee, who was Wildcat, made a deal that Wildcat would get out and Osceola would stay there and try to reason with the white people. It is well known he died, and Coacoochee escaped. The Loxahatchee River, which runs into the Ocean at Jupiter, Florida, is a touching place. There is a place near it called Hungry Land Slough. And why I know it's touch ing is I was talking to Betty Mae Jumper when we were doing the newspaper, and we were doing place names, and I said, "What does the Loxahatchee River mean?" And she said, "My grandmother," (that washer Indian grandmother) "said that's the Lie River." I said, "What do you mean, the Lie River?" She said, "It's another place that white men lied to Indians." And by our own history, white people's history that is so true, the Indians came in there and It was before the Civil War, and the white general in charge sent word to Secretary of War Poinsett [Joel R. Poinsett]: "The Indians said, 'We would like to surrender, but we don't want to go to' (this was right at the tail end of the Seminole War) 'but we don't want to go to Oklahoma ! ."

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15 He said, he sent off a Poinsett to Oklahoma." "Ooh, ooh, ooh," and he got 'em all drunk and dispatch to Secretary of War Poinsett. wrote back, "Capture 'em all, and send 'em So that was that. K: And that's what they feel ? R: The Lie River, that Well, they captured a good lot of 'em, a great many of 'em, and at the end I have been told that there were only 300 Seminoles that finally moved back down there and didn't go out largely to die in Oklahoma. They have increased greatly in number. I remember in the 1950s it was 1200 here, and I don't know now, but there are more. Betty Mae, the councilwoman, the chieftan of the you know, at Dania, told me another beautiful story. She said (Betty Mae's about fifty-five, I'd say; I think she's a little diabetic, too), "We've only got 300 Indians. There's a good bit of recessive genes going in. You don't marry into your mother's clan, but you can marry your first cousin on your father's side, because the blood goes with the mother." And Betty Mae said, "I was born in the Big Cypress Swamp. I'm half-white." And I said, "You are? Your mother or father?i' She said, "My father was white, of course. I'm Indian." Her mother was Indian. And she said, "When I . was born, they wanted to kill me. Later, I got along well enough with Corey Osceola." Corey was an old, old Indian medicine man, whom I believe is dead now. [As of September, 1976, he was still alive.] But she said, "I will always remember that Corey wanted me to be killed when I was born. And my grand father picked up a shotgun and said, 'Anybody bothers this baby, I will kill them.! That's why I always loved my grand mother and grandfather. They were Indian. My mother's cousin had a baby by a white man at the same time I was born, and the tribe put it out under a pine tree and stuffed its mouth with clay, and it died." Betty Mae is the only Indian I know that has some college training. She went to the Oklahoma School for Indians, and she has some college training, and she's a very intelligent, wonderful woman. K: That brings me to something else. One of the questions I had prepared to ask you was how many of the Florida Indians that you know go to college. You say that she's the only one? The

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16 history of education of the Florida Indians as far as schools as we know it is kind of recent, isn't it? R: Betty Mae did go to college. I'm not so familiar with the Dania Indians who are part Miccosukee and a little Muskogee, but I know the Tamiami Trail Indians, the first Indian to graduate from high school is my dear Alice Osceola. They always claimed that Mike Osceola, her brother, who the rest of the family doesn't like, was the first one. But Mike didn't really graduate. He played football for Miami High way back yonder, circa 1930, but he didn't graduate. Alice did graduate. I know of no Miccosukee Indians along the Trail --apd these are the independent, non-reservation Indians that live on their own land--that have ever been to college. But they're going to school nDW, The most romantic thing happened to me. I went out to Wild Bill's camp K: That's Wild Bill Osceola? R: Yes. And some of the Indians, out on the Trail live in nice cypress board and batten houses--very pleasant houses now. It's a government deal, and they're pleasant, and there's a pleasant school there. Wild Bill lives near the school, but he lives in an Indian camp. Really! I mean, five wrecked cars and a very large ficus tree, and a great mound of beer cans around the ficus tree. I walk in, and here's the older brother of my namesakeJane Wood Osceola--Pudgy sittin' there. Pudgy's a very handsome young Indian, about sixteen, with a tooth broken off and long hair. Pudgy's a doll! And I was taking out this photographer. "Oh," she said, "isn't he romantic?" And I said, "Yeah, he is. I know him." So I walk over and I say, "Hey: She says you're very ro mantic. Would you consent," (he's known me since he was three foot high, and twinkled at me) "would you consent to accepting a modeling fee of two dollars if you would sit there and let her take your picture?" He said, "Yeah, I will for you." So I stepped back into the family kitchen, and it's a shack, and there's a door, and everybody in the place has written graffiti. This . is last February, and there were a lof of valentines and all, and people's children's names and what not, but the thing that touched me most--the hearts, the hearts and then "True love, Jane Wood." I thought I was

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17 gonna faint! I wanted to buy the door! K: I keep going back to this language thing. You mentioned early on that you had met one particular Indian lady who spoke no English at all. Are there many Indians that you have met that do not speak English at all? R: Most of the Indian women of my age--I'm fifty-eight--don't. Mittie Jim doesn't. She smiles at me, a very beautiful smile--she's got gold teeth--but younger Indians take the measurements when she makes the shirts. The Indian women in their fifties--along the Tamiami Trail, anyway, which is what I really know--in their late fifties, don't speak any English, or much. And the older ones, none at all. K: And these are Miccosukees, now? R: Yes. K: And so they speak Miccosukee, and probably not Muskogee? R: Right. The different K: OK, we're talking about the .... R: The Miccosukee and the Muskogee languages are quite different. Betty Mae was telling me Muskogee, which she knew, and Alice Osceola was telling me Miccosukee. Neither have any written langauge, and the words have to be spelled phonetically, but they were really quite different. For example, the English word "man" in Miccosukee is nognee; in Muskogee, it's woonawa. "Boy" is, inMiccosukee, nognochee; in Muskogee it's wonowatchee. How in the world would you call, "Boy, you come home?" "Wono watchee, you come home!" "Town," for example, in Miccosukee is ocoee, the name of a town on the Tamiami Trail, but in Muskogee, it's talotha. Uh, there is no resemblance between the words of the two languages. Oh baby, I don't know how we worked out this dictionary, but "I want" is one of the things you need. In Miccosukee, it's sabana; in Muskogee it's chayashuse. There's just no resemblance, is what I'm trying to tell you, K: We should say here that we were refreshing your memory by going back to the newspaper again, in which you did try to publish a Seminole dictionary so that people could see that

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----18 the languages were quite different, and I like that, Now, I would like to ask you about the Indians in terms of num~ hers. Is the population of Indians declining in Florida? R: Oh, no. It is increasing, as I believe I told you earlier. I had understood that after the tragic removal to Oklahoma, they left from here. There's some memory of it among Indians, some tales from Tampa, the ones that did leave, andso many died. It was a trail of tears for Seminoles as well as Cherokees. But there were about 300 that fell back down into this swamp. I think one reason I respect and love them so is because I think these folks came from the high clay hills that I know, where I was born--the Appalachian hills of Georgia and North Florida, Tallahassee those pretty, high clay hills. To fall back down to this trackless saw grass that was so different from their home, and to live at all, seems to me a hell Could I have done it? And live they did, and change their way of life they did. And there were about 300; in 1950-odd there was supposed to be about 1200, and now I think there is sapposed to be over 2,000. Initially, I was told back in the fifties that Indians didn't really marry until they were about thirty, but then they encouraged marriage earlier, and to have children earlier in recent years, in my lifetime because, hell, we want 'em to be more of us. K: And you don't know of any conscious Indian effort for birth control? R: Oh, by no means! K: OK. R: But I'll tell you a nice thing about Indians. I am toldwomen don't hear this from their Indian friends so much, but I am told and I have seen it--that an Indian girl who has an illegitimate child, nobody is mean to her. She brings it home to her mother and daddy, and they bring it up very happily and they are not condemnatory or censorious about pre.-marital relationships off in the bushes, or even the fruit of those pre marital relationships. Once you get married, it was always supposed to be . forever! K: That's why sheriff shot the ..• had the rival done away with? R: Yes.

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-----------------------------19 K: What's happening to the young Indian as he grows up, and presumably has received some schooling? By the way, maybe it would be a good thing for ask you here: is the school that's been set up along the Trail ? That was set up when--in the fifties, or ? R: No, what that was set up for was Finally, my good friends the Miccostikees dropped their land claim and joined the money claim, and they got a school built, and they got some houses built, and they got a restaurant built, and they got a filling station built that was supposed to employ Indians, and it was just plain realistic of 'em. Some of 'em dropped out of participation. These benefits of the restaurant and the school and the houses came from the Bureau of Indian Affairs after we--by "we" I can include myself--had sufficiently embarrassed them on the land claim for a decade. They did set up some benefits for these Miccosukees to make a living and some money off of, and whatnot out on the Trail, where they don't live on reserva tions. But they have some Federal money, and so they joined the larid claim. Some of them just held quite aloof like the Osceolas, Howard K: You mean they joined the money claim, or •.. ? R: They dropped their land claim and joined the money claim. Some of them held quite aloof, and as Howard said to me, "My daddy told me never to sign away the land I love, Jane Wood! If we get that money, what will it be? Divided up after this and that. Thirty or forty thousand dollars an Indian. We'll buy cars, drive 'em in the canal, get drunk and get cheated by white men, and it'll be all gone, all gone, all gone." But, they saw K: The school •.. ? R: The school was part of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. K: Doesn't this go all the way through? Is it ? R: I don't know. I think it does go all the way through. K: And it's not like our public schools, in the sense that it is compulsory education, or do you know? R : I don't know. I do not believe that anybody out there will make

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20 an Indian child go to school that doesn't want to go. But generally they're going. They're learning English, and they speak English. But I find along there, with these teenage Indians, a funny sense. The real tragedy of them is that they drink and drive. The Tamiami Trail is not a safe place for that, and every now and then I hear of some son of a dear friend of mine that's been driven in a canal or killed a'drinkin' and drivin' or something. They are learning English, but you'd be surprised the way they stay Indian, and I'm not surprised. I spoke to you earlier about Louise Tiger. Louise is nominally a white woman. She's half Choctaw and half Mississippi [white]. She met Bobby Tiger when he was wrestling in his uncle's camp in Hialeah, and married him then. She prefers to live on the Trail. There's a great freedom. It's hell, those Indian boys have got their hair down to their shoulders. They're the handsomest hippies you ever saw. They'll give you the peace sign. This is what the whole hippy world's living for. Why should they run away from their families? Their families let them be like they want to be and do what they want to do. K: Well, now, you're giving me that impression that most R: Well, those boys around there just plain look hippy. These fifteen, sixteen, and whatnot. K: OK, but wait. Let me ask you this, Jane. Are they staying there in the ? R: They're staying there, living there, driving their airboats, running around, driving stock cars. I mean they run into town. They prefer [it] there. K: Are any of them moving into the city? R: Less now, I believe, than did a decade ago. Because now for example, Indian families would always take turns camping out in the center of Hialeah Race Track. That was a job in town. K: Right. Well, now, in case people who might hear this tape would wonder at that, maybe you should elaborate on that. R: Hialeah Race Track is the most beautiful in the world. It has a moat in the center, and beyond the moat, it has an island upon which is an Indian chickee. During the race season,

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21 there's some flamingos walking about and some Indians camping there. Wild Bill camped there sometime--that's a job. You go into town and camp out, cook, and pay no attention to anybody, and live there for a month or two and get pretty well paid. They go up to alligator villages, which are tourist attractions. At one time I used to see a lot of Indian boys parking cars in Miami. They're great at love parking cars. I see fewer in town now, 'cause they're makin' more, a better living airboating off the Trail. K: Why do you suppose they particularly got into parking cars? R: They're mad about it. Alice married a stock car racer. All these Indians are expert you know, they drive airboats. They can make a living driving airboats. K: You mean taking passengers, and ? R: Yeah, and they make their airboats run. K: How much do they get for an airboat ride? R: $2.50 per person for ten minutes. They're really quite good at motors. They do their own motors. They're mad about motors of cars and little ole airboats. K: How old is the airboat in the Everglades? R: The airboat was invented in the Everglades in the 1930s. It is a vehicle that is shaped like a mortar box in which you mix cement. It has no keel, it has a small old airplane engine, and it is powered by a propeller which is in the air, and steered by a rudder which is in the air. The thing will go over that wet grass, the saw grass of the Everglades, at thirty miles an hour. I have heard people tell me that they went out on the dew at dawn--it goes better over damp grass than it does in deep water--went out over the dew at dawn, and got stuck when the dew dried. K: Ohhh. And so airboats are ? R: A product of the Everglades. K: Right, and they are owned by a tribe, or owned by individuals, or both?

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R: Families. on them. 22 Oh, many, many families and all their children work And all their brothers and uncles work on them. K: You know of cases where young Indians have left Florida all together? R: No, I don't know any. You have a sense out there when you go out there now in the Osceola camp, there's a sadness, be cause the people of my age, about fifty, in that particular family have diabetes, and they can't drink, and it's a sense of Howard, who worked for nineteen years for the Dade County Park Department, had to retire because of a kidney thing. He said to me, "When I retired, the guys said to me, 'Howard, how are you gonna live? If you could hang on one more year you could get retirement.'" He'd been running a grader for the Dade County Park De partment. And Howard said, "Well, I can live. I can live off garfish." It's not prospering on the Trail. The traffic has gone off there, but still they have things they can make money that they need. And there are so many garfish in that canal, and you have no idea how good garfish are! K: I'm reminded, having read the notes on your story by Buffalo Tiger, the accounts of him as a child, and this now When was this? His childhood was in R: Buff was born in 1920, and I'm lookin' at those notes, and this was what he told me. He said, "There was never any reason to go hungry in the Everglades when I was a little boy. Fish were everywhere. Indians like garfish. They prepare them so that they taste very well. And even today it is impossible to go hungry in the Everglades if you like garfish." May I add, and this is Jane Wood speaking, I have had gar fish with the Indians, and if you have ever hunted 'em or got one and broken it open, it's oily, greasy, yellowish fish. You think it wouldn't be, but it's a delicious fish! Oh, I like garfish. K: But it's a mudfish, and it's a fish that white people R: If you cut open this scaly thing, and it looks so yellowish and somehow greasy, you think, "Yuck! White people wouldn't eat that." But I have eaten it and enjoyed it very much.

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23 K: How do they prepare it, do you know? R: Fried. Well, at least that's the way:I ate it. He said there was never anything like famine or thought of famine. The only thing that might worry you in the Everglades then--he was born in the 1920s--was the idea of what white men might do. !'My father's work was hunting,'' Buffalo said. ''Most of the men folks in the village would go away for two weeks to a month at a time on hunting trips. Before they would ever go away, they would collect all the firewood they could find for their wives and children. They would get plenty of meat in--tisually turtles or birds or fish. They would salt the meat, dry it iri the sun, then it would keep in vats. Sometimes they smoked the meat, and it would keep longer. Also, they usually smoked sweet pota toes, and then they would keep a long time. While the men got the meat, their wives and mothers would prepare groceries for their husbands. They would roast corn they grew in corn garden plots, and then grind it to make sofkee, which is something like grits but tastes a little different and better than grits. When I was little we used very little stuff that we bought from white men. What we bought was cloth material, salt, and a little bit of flour and lard." I had a feeling after we got that panic . in the fifties on the atom bomb that of all places I would run to if my world and railroads and connnunications blew up, I would run to the 'Glades. What I would lay in wouid be enough of those small gigs and long spears, because you can gig so many gar fish, and they are tasty . , no matter how they look to us. Anybody could live on garfish. It is a well-rounded diet. K: The account that you read, which goes back to the twenties, mentioned turtles a lot. Are they still abundant in the Everglades as a food source? R: Yes, yes. Buffalo said they always liked turtle meat very much. You know, these are freshwater turtles. The kind that sit on the logs, and they're still sittin' out there. And they always liked alligator tails, but oddly enough K: Alligator tails?? R: Oddly enough, they never ate turkeys. They always thought turkeys were a white man's bird. Wh~n you come to think of it, it needs an oven, and these people are great in Buffalo's

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24 lifetime and probably since the eighteenth century, they're great with frying pans, but they haven't had ovens. K: Now, I know that you have been around Indians a long time, so I'd like to ask you a few questions about ' _, what . you ' ve _ observed about their general mode of life and so forth. Are there any unique aspects in the way that the Indians raise their young? In modern times, I'm talking .about. R: The things I remember the most-~I think I said earlier that Jimmy's and Buffalo's father was Tiger Tiger, but it was Doctor Tiger--was the way this eighty year old man would walk around with his small great-grandchildren, one year olds and two year olds. I think the sweetness ! think Mittie Jim rocking her grandchildren in the hammock. You know, Indians invented the hammock. Columbus's sailors found them in Lucaya, the Lucayan Indians using them, and then years later all the sailors of Europe were using hammocks. A hammock is an inven tion of the Western Hemisphere, and I know it was in the Bahamas, so I asked Buff and Howard once, "Hey, have you al ways used hammocks?" They know what I mean, "Have you always used them? I mean, did you before white men?" And, "Oh, yeah, we've always had 'em." Of course, those Indian grandmothers rocking their grand children in the hammock, and there is a gentleness and kind ness. Another thing: they apparently manage . very deftly to p:air 'em off. I 'member old Pudgy when he was three, and my namesake, Jane Wood Osceola, when she was two. It was a time when I had to go out there to meetings a lot, and Pudgy would come up to me holding this l ittle girl's hand. An older brother, one year older, taking a little sister by the handshe was his charge, and he was very gentle with the child. Very, very, very gentle people . with children. Very gentle. Much more so. And see they all live together! Brothers and sisters well, in the Osceola camp, now, I think there are five brothers and sisters and all their children living to gether in the whole camp. You can't be a big, fat, harsh disciplinarian--you gotta be sweet. K: What is their attitude toward the aged? Maybe you could quote from the interview you did with Buffalo Tiger, because I thought it was Maybe we ought to put in what Buffalo Tiger said, and perhaps you could add when you have witnessed on your own. R: Buffalo said about real old people, "If my mother was real old

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25 and she had daughters, and they were married, her daughters would take her and look after her. "Never had trouble with old people. When they are real old the young people help them walk around and eat food. I have the sweetest story: Louise Tiger introduced me to this woman who was eighty-seven. She said, "This is Bobby Tiger's aunt.II And she said, "You know, it's wonder ful, Jane. She had an operation for cataracts, and she can see again." When she [Louise] said, "We love her so, because when Bobby's father died his mother was supposed to grieve for some weeks--I don't know, one or two--and not eat anything, or anything prepared by her own She was just supposed to grieve, and Bobby's aunt went and cooked all the food for his mother while she was grieving. So there are complicated and beautiful rituals taking care of the old, but they are well prized, and they stand very tall and are very well be loved, and they all live together in a way. It gentles people. The problem is we're all crowded together, us in the cities, ghettos and whatnot. If you've ever seen an Indian camp and five families and all their children and several of their grandparents living together in a small place, and how gently they live . Qf course, they 1 ve got the saw grass coun they're just gentle people. K: That reminds me of your house on Sunday. Maybe you got that from the Indians. R: I don't bark at small children. Don't bark at small children when they're small, and they won't bark at you when you're eighty-seven. K: What about in this day of women's liberation in the American society? What is the Indian attitude toward women, and what is the status of women within the Indian culture? R: I have always since I knew the Seminoles had an idea that these folks that came here originally and . called Indians squaw, and got that squaw sense were a stupid bunch of jerks, and had a bad ear, and brought their ear from England, largely. In the Indian tribe, it is delegated to the old men: you do the decidin' about these kind of things; you listen to Millard Caldwell; you make these decisions; you do this stuff, and the younger men--this is delegated and delegated. But Morton

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26 Silver said to me--and I got this hunch after I had talked to him a long, long time--Morton said, "The . old women do all the deciding. The sons go home and say to thein, 'What would you do?'" The blood flows with the mother. It is the mother's camp. You are your mother's tribe. Buffalo's a member of the Wind clan, which is his mother"s tribe. There were Wind, Panther, Frog, Beaver clans. The blood flows through the mother, and the mother delegates the authority. I believe I said earlier Janet said to Wild Bill Osceola, "How do you know how to deliver your babies?" Wild Bill had just delivered his fifth. He said, "Janny, baby, my mother taught me how." So you cannot believe and these women stand very tall. The girls say if you ask 'em somethin' Alice says, "What about thus and so?'' "You'll have to talk to my brothers--they're taking care of that." But it's a matter of delegated authority, "Boys, you take care of that, we take care of this. I take care of this, you take care of that," K: Isn't that funny, because I think that the average Florida tourist who's gone to one of these "Indian villages" gets a very different impression when they see the Indian lady sit ting in the chickee with the Singer sewing machine, R: Well, the average Florida tourist gets a very different impres sion from Southern ladies, but for five generations in my family--it goes back to the Southern--the men in the family have delegated the authority to run their lives to the women. It goes back to my grandmother in the Civil War, who ran the plantation, and they just delegated to their wives: "You run the place and make the decisions for me." And when I was married, my husband said, "You have to manage my money." He was vain: "You have to manage my money. My mother did." It's delegated authority. We just run the world! I felt quite at home among Indian women. K: Well, I can see why. What about the ladies and the Singer sewing machines? R: I have somethin! , This is just my own hunch on the Singer sewing machines. I took a nice writer out there once and lookin' at those shirts K: Excuse me. Could I interject here that at the present time you're employed by Hank Meyer and Associates, who are publicists,

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27 public relations firm. Every time some national or inter national writer comes to Florida and wants to know a little bit about Indians, they delegate you to go and show them the Indians. You're talking about a writer you took out to meet the Indians. R: Yeah. I forgot where we were. K: About the Singer sewing machines. R: Well, this is a thesis of mine entirely. These sewing machines came into this part of the world about 1890 with the Brickells, and not long thereafter they were making these beautiful quilted patterns which require a sewing machine. It was pedal operated then. Well, actually it was hand-operated. Now they're doing it with electric ones. I took a very perceptive writer out there once. She was especially interested in that, and she said, "I think these shirts and skirts are the only authen tic Seminole craft.'' I said, "Oh, quite right! Right!" And my own thesis is that I don't know where they got the quilting--it was probably circa 1900 and Mary Brickell, or something like that--but they make them initially so that they would not be Jim Crowed. K: What do you mean? R: Jim Crow. Oh. You wouldn't know, not being a Southerner. K: I know what Jim Crow means in the black~white context, but I don't understand , R: Bah! Here are these Indians coming into town, and they are dusky-skinned, and our Seminoles have a prognathous chin and full lips that might be Negroid. Their Indian features, they carried over from Mongolia are the black eyebrows and the straight, light black hair, but they are by no means red skinned. And any fool Ku Kluxer, a Southern immigrant to South Florida--obviously allSouth Florida is not Southern; they were immigrants coming down here--might of thought they were "niggers" and could treat them badly. And so they made these shirts which said in effect, ''I am Seminole and I'm an Indian." And every little Ku Kluxer that ever came to Florida was pretty scared of Indians! K: But you think these were based on the dress that the Indians actually wore?

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28 R: No, no, no! They had no basis. They were based on the sewing machine. They were what the Indians gave the sewing machine. There's an art and a creativity that goes on from a sewing machine, right? K: Yes. I would like to know how the first sewing machine ever got to the Indians, but I believe I R: So would I. But I'J.l tell you--it was Mary Brickell, probably. K: I think I have also read something about the salesman from the sewing machine companies going out and soliciting business, but it must have been an interesting thing, and I. R: No, the interesting thing to me, or my justification is Indians off in there, in the Big Cypress and whatnot, don't wear this stuff, K: What do they wear? R: Blue shirts and dungarees. K: And the women? R: Oh, blouses and skirts of some description. But actually, the young women wear blouses and dungarees, I remember in the 1920s when we would see them in town--and I think we saw them more in town then when we first came--they said in effect by the costumes and those beautiful blouses the Indian women wore, and the skirts and the shirts of the men, "We are Indians!" And nobody put 'em down, or made 'em sit in the back of the bus, or gave 'em any trouble. K: That's interesting, because I remember as a child seeing 'em on Flagler Street in downtown Miami, but I never really thought at the time what their general acceptance was, and what they came to town for, and how the people acted toward them. R: They probably came to town to work in a parking lot. There were more of them working in the parking lots then than there are now. K: Let's go back to that a minute. You know we talked about the Indians that did come to town, and what they did or do, and

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29 you said parking lot attendants. Maybe Ilve got my Indian history crisscrossed, but a lot of Indians in some parts of the country have done a lot of construction work, and worked up in high places. Is this true of Florida Indians? R: Marcia, don't be silly. Where are some high places in Florida? K: No, r•m talking about tall buildings. We don't have too many tall buildings. R: I remember in the 1930 and '40s asking about that. And William McKinley Osceola had the contacts, and he would get Indian boys jobs in towns, parking in parking lots. Indians of the Tamiami Trail~-young Indians for two generations, at least--have been enchanted with cars, and they've killed too many of them. K: Let's get to something else, 'cause we were a while ago talking about was it Howard Osceola who was the diabetic and had to •.. ? R: Howard and Homer both. Smallpox Tommy, old Indians It's not coming on young, of course, You know, it's recessive, but it's not become a young disease. But the men in their fifties are coming down with it, and they canlt drink. K: This brings up another thought to me about medical care, Where do they go for it? We're talking about the Trail Indians now. R: I well remember, circa 1957 I happened to be over by Doctor's Hospital when I saw a bunch at a stoplight, and somebody waved and said, "Hey, Jane." I said, "Hey." And William McKinley Osceola was in Doctor's Hospital in Coral Gables for some illness, and I mean serious illness, and they operated on him, and his heart stopped. They cut open his chest, and they got his heart started again. He lived for several years thereafter. But he said to his sons while he lay in Doctor's Hospital, "I have ghosts." So they went .out to the medicine man and they got some medicinal things, and came in and pinned it on his pillows. He said, "Thank you. The ghosts went away." K: But they will go to a hospital for a serious illness? R: Oh, by all means. I said to tell me somethin' about medicine-

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30 you know, Indian medicine, There's a root of a plantit's called a porchee root--that they chew up and put on a snake or a rattlesnake bite, and they chant a medicine that is called they chant "Hasee-dona-hutsee; hasee,.;,dona-hursee," (earth, land, sky) and this cures the snake bite. But the chant's important. X was told by my friend, Sippi Morris, whom I've earlier explained--he's one of the world's great inventors of legend--''That porchee root, Jane is better than marijuana, and it's not illegal!" But I know about Indian medicine K: And Sippi Morris, himself, is an inventor of a snake bite cure. You said you had an interesting story about Alice Jones. Now, who is she? R: Well, once upon a time we were sittin' out there at the Green Corn Dance K: And where was that held? R: About two or three miles north of the Tamiami Trail--beautiful place with a dead pine tree. Howard Osceola and Morton Silver and I were . sittin' there with a bottle of whiskey and a bottle of wine, and watching the dance, and Morton says, "There's Alice Jones. Have you ever told Jane Wood about Alice Jones?" And Morton Silver, the Jewish lawyer, said, ''She's an Indian who is ambidextrous." And I said, "What do you mean?" Howard Osceola, the Indian said, "She's a hermaphrodite, Jane Wood." I said, ''Hmm, really! How do you know?" He said, ''Well, she's a woman, and she used to date our girls, and she knocked them up." I said, "My goodness! She was a man," Howard said, "No, she had big breasts on her. 11 And I said, "Well, my goodness! Where does she live now?" He said, ''She lives with an old, old Indian woman." And I said, "Well what does Indian legend say about this?" We'd been talking about what the Indian past said about things. Howard said, "We never knew it before. When the world gets old, you see strange things, Jane Wood. 11 K: We've mentioned several times this evening about the Green Corn Dance, and I want to ask you just what ceremonials and rituals you have witnessed among the Indians. I know that you have told me a number of times about the Green Corn Dance,

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31 and then in the newspapers it is mentioned something about the Snake Dance. R: There are two beautiful parties. The Snake Dance is later in the summer--it' s late in August,. It doesn't have all the religious connations that the Green Corn Dance has, It's just a beautiful party, It's just beautiful 1 beautiful, beau tiful! But it's somewhat like the Green Corn Dance, which occurs around the first of June, Everybody gathers on this hammock--this island with old dead pine trees that I can still see--for a week, and they catne not from miles around, but from hundred of miles around, All Indians, Indians, Indians K: Even the Indians on the reservations? R: What do you mean, even? Even the Musko, they had to practi cally kidnap the Muskogees from Brighton, which is north of Lake Okeechobee! Well, yeah, and the last night of the Green Corn Dance K: How long does it last? R: It lasts a week. And there were chickees set up, and people, families, groups--whole big families, I mean like seven sis ters and all their brothers can camp about, and whatnot, The last night of the Green Corn Dance nobody is allowed to go to sleep once they begin dancing, and nobody is allowed to eat. But in at every stop in the chanting, it's a snake like dance, handholding like you did in college in the 1920s, and going around snake-dancing around a fire, and chanting out things that sound like, ahsee-dow-ho-asee, and these things. They would line 'em out, you know, The three old, old men sittin' there, they would sorta line out the dance, and everybody would go around. I said to Howard, "Who's the neat little guy on the end?" He said, ' 1 He' s my sister's son. We call him Weepers." I said, "How old is he?" "Three." And this was about midnight. And I said, "What do ya mean, Weepers?" And he said, "Don't you know 'finders keepers, loser weepers?' We call him Weepers. That's his nickname." But men, women, children chanting around, And in between every dance the sheriffs, who carry a long pole--a slender cypress pole"about ten feet long with a thing on the end that

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is a palmetto spine circle, tied with two can on the end. The Indian sheriffs walk 11 What do the Indian sheriffs do, Howard?" into the dance yet. And Howard said, "The Indian sheriffs anybody that gets in the dance has to take dance stops, and cannot_go to sleep." K: Even the children? 32 of 'em~ with a beer around, and I said, I hadn't gotten make sure that a drink when the R: Right. And so you passed out a ritual bottle of wine, beer, or whiskey. K: What do you mean, a ritual bottle? In other words, they don't drink anything in particular, or ? R: They drink everything in particular. Everything. Alice Osceola was dispensing beer, But you passed down a bottle. Along towards dark at the Green Corn Dance everybody having not been allowed to sleep, and not had anything to eat for twenty-four hours, and having had these ritual drinks, is pretty damn drunk! And it gets pretty out there, you know. The light, light, lightness of dark--that pretty color, and I'll always remember that pine tree, And then what comes is a ritual, scraping. K: What's that? R: Well, Howard says, "Come over here and let Jane see what's happening." It's a block of wood that's about the size of matches, and through it is stuck about six needles--just plain sewing needles--and they stick out about one-sixteenth to one-eighth of an inch. And the medicine man goes around [scraping sound is made]. K: Let's tell what you're doing while you're R: Well, he scrapes 'em, and it sounds just like this! [scraping sound], He scrapes their arms, their chests, and their back. It sounds pretty gruesome, since he scrapes 'em. Howard said, "Oh, we use to have a mean ole medicine man that really scraped us deep." But you know, it scrapes and they bleed; then they go off into small tents where there are hot rocks on which are thrown water, and K: Tents?

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----33 R: Little bitty tents about four feet high with hot rocks, and they throw water in, and the guy sits in there and he sweats. He's been scraped, and he's bleeding, and he comes out and he's covered with blood and sweat. If you walk in there at about that moment at dawn and have never seen it before, you are in shock. Everybody was drunk, and this didn't hurt more than you know it didn't hurt at all, I said, ''Now what is this for? Is it for health, or punishment of sin?" And Howard said, "It is for health. A woman loses blood everybody knows a woman loses blood, but a man doesn't lose blood, and so a man gets impurities and eve"rything, and this is health. He needs a blood-letting and a sweating once a year. K: And so this is not done with the women? R: Only men and . boys. He said the punishment of sins comes later. So I said, "Well, what about the punishment of sins." "Well," he said, "we got one here we're gonna talk about tonight. There's some fellows here from that clan, and some fellows here from this, and one of their fellows killed one of our fellows, and we're gonna decide what to do." And I said, "What might you do?" And he said, "Well, we might take one of theirs." I said, "You mean you might kill the man that killed your man?" "No," he said. "Look, this guy that got killed in our clan was a big--man he was a good man. This guy that did the killing from the other clan--you know a.bout 1 po' white trash'?'' "Right!" He said, "You know about 1 po 1 nigger trash'?" I said, "Right!'' He said, "This was 1 po 1 Indian trash'. He did the killin', so we could take not him but one of their good guys. He killed one of our good guys." And I said, 11 That 1 s Indian justice?'' He said, "Right!" I said, "What are you liable to do?" He said, "We're liable to talk about it all night, and we'll leave it so that one of our guys takes one of their guys in effect, he 1 11 be home free. K: Anything else that happens at the Snake Dance that you ? R: Well, I walked out. I'm the only person I have ever known that

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34 walked out of the Green Corn Dance at nine o'clock in the morning and got home, got dressed, and went to a Jewish wedding at noon at the Seville Hotel. And the Seville pictures are of the most beautiful Jewish weddings in the world! The bridegroom's mother gets drunk, the men dance, they And I thought, "Boy! I've seen it all!" K: Who else besides you and Morton Silver have been around to see this? Do they have many other visitors come? R: Less and less. Janny and Maggy and Marky K: These are your children? R: have been there at one time or another over the years, but they don't like a bunch of gawking strangers. It's only dear friends, and I never wrote about it. I thought it would be very rude and very vulgar, and not get the message across at all if I wrote about it. K: How 'bout the Green Corn Dance, now? R: Oh, the Green Corn Dance was this. The Snake Dance is the same thing, but no punishment, no scraping--just larking and just fun. I said, "What in the hell's the Snake Dance about?" Howard said, "Well, you know the water's high, and the snakes are high too, They get over the road, It's to keep the snakes quiet.'' Snake Dance is just purely for fun, and it doesn't have any scraping. K: And it's held at a different time of year? R: Uh, Snake Dance is held, as I recall, late in August when the fall winds are coming up. They are the most beautiful parties, and then these beautiful Indian friends of yours like Alice Osceola and Mittie Jim bring you hominy grits, fried bacon, and biscuits. I think they're Bisquicks baked in Seminole style for breakfast the next morning. It's a beautiful party, It's a week-long party. It makes you wish you were Indian. I know why those little Indians aren't running away! K: I hate to leave the Green Corn Dance, but perhaps we might say something--we've been talking around it for quite a whileabout the structure of tribal leadership as you know it. R: They've given me a new view on life in the sense--! believe

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35 I said this earlier--the old men that run the tribe, that's your assigned role. K: Your what? R: Your assigned role. The wife says to the old men, "You go off and run the tribe; I'll do the cooking or whatever." It's a matter of assigned roles, and they do believe that comparisons are odious. Even if you're mad with another Indian or disagree with him, you don't fob him off against another--you don't put him down. They are people that do not believe in the put-down of any age or any thing or any people. There's that sense that comparisons are odiouscompetition is awful--.that makes you think you folks learned how to be aristocrats long before some of my Southern lady and gentlemen people did. And you learned how to be aristo crats and democrats, and I really do believe there's a certain spirit you can get if you're around Indians for a while and are lucky enough to talk to 'em for awhile. It's not original with me. First time I ran across it, I thought it was sentimentality. K: This speaks to us as your suggesting perhaps that there is a lot more cooperation than competition. R: It's just everybody's nice to each other: "We only do so well as our family, our tribe, our clan. We can only do that well, and it's very vulgar to try to stand out and win all the races and be a chief or something. Let us be gentle and sweet to one another, and take care of each other, Alice Jones is being taken care of by K: What about the selection of leaders? R: My entire impression from all I ever heard from my Indian friends is that this is an assigned role. Look, Osceola and Coacoochee, they probably said, "You fight good!" Their wives and their fellow Indians--their wives said to them, "Yes, certainly! Well, you fight good.'' And the other older men said, "Hmm, you fights best? Osceola, you fight pretty good, and Coacoochee, you fight pretty good. You lead us! 11 And it's always been that. Buffalo Tiger, they call him a chief--they assigned Buffalo the role. "Look Buff,'' the old men said, "you've been married." In effect they said this, "You've been married to two white woman. You talk English better than anybody. Keep

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36 talking!" K: Course, this doesn't account for rivalry or jealousy, or R: They don't like rivalry. Rivalry is not a motive, but they do have fights, and this was amusing to me. I had heard about it and wondered about it. John Osceola, who is a great guy--he gets in a fight with Howard Osceola at the Green Corn Dance early in the dawn. John is drunk as a skunk well, everybody's drunk, but John's a little riotous drunk. He gets in a fight with Homer, and I saw something that I had heard about from, •. oh, Buff told me this. Indians feel different about drinking than white people. White people don't like it.,.-they say it's bad, bad--but Indians say, "Man has troubles. A man has problems, and if he gets drunk it's all right." I keep telling them, "If you get drunk, you' re gonna drive in the canal. 0 But they get drunk--they don't feel censorious about their drinking is what I'm trying to 0 say. So John gets stone drunk, and he gets in a fight with Homer, and who rushes out--I heard this story and it's truebut Alice and Mittie Jim, and they say, "Stop it!" They tie his legs together, they tie his hands together, they tie his arms in back of him, they tie a cord between him and his legs. He lies there I don't know what he said--you know, a lot of Indian language. He lies there for an hour or two and so bers up, and some gentle young Indians comes and cuts the cords in two; and he crawls off into the bushes and goes to sleep. But when a man gets drunk, it is an Indian they don't have laws that his wife and his sister, or his mother, or both sisters if both are living, are entitled to go out, and he does not resist this. You know, he's fighting drunk. Not just if he's fightin' drunk, they tie his hands behind his back, tie his legs together, and he doesn't resist. K: I'm gonna change the subject a little bit. We also touched on this before. You had said that the Miccosukee Restaurant was something that came to the Indians by virtue of the settle ment made with the Bureau, and this came from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. R: Yes. The Miccosukees circa the early 196Os thought, "To heck with it.I' They were gonna win, and they were gonna get the land. They tried, and LeRoy Collins came nearest to doing it. So then they thought, ''We will join the land claim--the money claim." They are now in the money claim, and it has been

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37 settled to a degree, but not to a certain . degree. A great many people who have got a great deal of money, including some Seminoles in Oklahoma, and end up oh, I don 1 t know, I don't remember the last figure. And end up 3,OOO--oh, I don't know what. K: The Miccosukee Restaurant--perhaps you ought to tell what that is and where it is. R: It's a nice, pleasant restaurant about thirty-five miles west of Miami, and it's very attractive and whatnot. It was established near Jimmy Tiger's camp, which was the center of the Miccosukee tribal meetings and whatnot and then there was a gas station established there that is supposed to employ Indians. The purpose was to employ Indians. Last time I was in there were three white ladies, two cooking and one waiting tables, and I think one Indian gir 1. But anyway, it's a nice restaurant. K: And who gets the profits now? R: The group. K: The other thing that this brings up in my mind is the "Indian villages." I'm talking not about the place where the Indians live; I'm talking about the connnercial ventures;.. ... tourist attractions. R: Well, let me explain that. Buffalo Tiger said I said, "Where do your stories say you began?" "We began in North Florida, and there were big, bigthese . were really towns. The story goes that sometime some white people came and then they went away, and they left something, and it must have been a bomb. They came in ships, and their ships sailed away, and the bomb blew up, The town was all destroyed . So since then we have been living in scattered villages, and they were until recently. I'm sure there are not any more off the Trail--just camps with four chickees and one cooking hut. Three old people and four grandchildren lived and had a little patch, and their grandsons came and brought them what necessitieshoney and some hominy grits . Those were the original vil lages. The Tamiami Trail really did not go through to Tampa until 1928. When the Tamiami Trail went through there, William McKinley [Osceola] came down and got this piece of

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38 place. He bought it, or somehow I guess it's purchased, and all his children were born there in the 193Os, They make shirts and do little carvings, and do needlework, and they live there, They charge white people fifty cents to come in, and they can walk around and look and play and stuff. The Indians treat the white people like they were chickens. I once took a Britisher, an aging Britisher, He said, "It's appalling that people should come in and exploit themselves so that we can see their living life,'' I said, 11 Honeybunch, they think of you as a chicken. Look at that chicken. They don't think you're important at all or nothing!!' But I was amused since they never One is being poker-faced, and then if they knew you at all, or have had a couple of drinks, they bust out in giggles and give you a great twinkle. I go into the Osceola camp occasionally, Now I'm gettin' older, I only get a small alligator. I'll say, "Let me show you how to hypnotize an alligator, I reach in, I catch the tail of a little alligator, and I pull him out and all, and I show 1 em how. So this little three year old Indian boy, or maybe four, ran up to me--I thought, "Hey, maybe I'm get tin 1 to be an Indian legend! ''--and said in perfectly clear and beautiful English, "Jane Wood, you caught the littlest." K: That's one of your accomplishments I really didn't know any thing about. Now, for example, this Osceola Indian Villagedoes the profits from this go, .• ? Whatever they make in the tourist money, the family keeps. Is that right? R: I don't know how they work it out, but I'm gonna tell you who lives there. It's Howard and his family, and he has a number of children and grandchildren. Mittie Jim, the dowager duchess of the family, she and her children and grandchildren. Homer--! don't know whether Homer's married now--Homer is the one that married a white woman, rented a tux and took her to Fontainebleau [a Miami hotel] for New Year's Eve. He's living there now Ethel, Douglas, and Alice. So there are six children of one father, their wives, husbands, grand children, and maybe some of them have got great-grandchildren. Some of 'em may have moved around or somewhere, but they are all living there together, and how in the hell they split up the take, God only knows!! But they seem very happy, and these people have withdrawn from the bit about the restaurant and that stuff, and the houses and that stuff. K: They have?

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39 R: They have just withdrawn from the whole money claim. If the money claim comes, they'll take it. But they aren't takin' nothin' from the U.S,.A, They're livin' on their ownthey're doing very pleasant. But a little cold on some cold nights. K: You hear a lot in history of Indians and the United States government,,,about the Indian agents. Do you know any? Do you know where he hangs out in South Florida, and what the relationship is with the Indians? R: No, I just know there used to be an elderly Indian agent up at Dania. I don't know they've never had They have somebody--he can't be called an agent--that's working with these guys on the Trail, but since they own their land and are pretty damned independent, it's not quite an agent, I don't know. I don't know anything about it, K: We have brought out in this interview that you're really more familiar with the Indians that live along the Trail and in the Everglades than you are with the Indians on the reserva tions. R: Right. K: But have you visited any of the Indian reservations? R; The Big Cypress. And Dania, I know a bit. And the Big Cypress out there stood in the 195Os, but I don't know Brighton. At Brighton, they raise cattle. It's probably really quite inter esting, but I don't know anything about it, It's very different, It's Muskogee. I believe the Muskogees on Brighton are quite a bit more really remote and untouched, but through the Indian agent have been twenty years ago going into cattle raising, and have made a certain amount of living off of it. K; Can you think of any particular Indians of your acquaintance who could by their own accounts be helpful in transmitting information about Florida Indians? R: I would suggest Homer Osceola, Howard Osceola, Bobby and Louise Tiger, And now Buffalo Tiger has become the chairman, and he has a salaried job, and Buffalo is extremely articulate. What I have been reading is from Buffalo about,.,. He has, in a sense, an uneasy position, and is a little uneasy and is a little more inclined than he was when he told me those things to say

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K: R: K: R: 40 what he felt various people might want him to say. I mean, he might not speak from the heart. If you could really get going if it was a woman's story with Alice Osceola--Alice is great, you know--if you could get relaxed and going with Betty Mae Jumper, Betty Mae's great. She's a great good talker, but you sort of have to take some time and lean back and win some confidence and joke along, and sort of things like that, because these people measure each individual that comes into their life, and I think it's been true throughout all their history, by that one person. At one time I broke down and I walked in, and Alice said, "Well, I'll send Ethel down to help you. Jane Wood, we only do it for friends." This is the way they are. They judge people and they respond to people as a friend, as a person they trust that won't screw 'em up, or misquote 'em, or play it wrong, or do somethin' silly. The tail end of the organized Indian effort to embarrass the U.S.A. came about in 1960 when I was called, and said, "How would you like to go with a group of Seminole Indians to be a guest of Fidel Castro in Cuba?" And by that time, we weren't broken off with Fidel, but I was working for Hank Meyer Associates in public relations, and no longer in newspapering. I said, "Oh, God! How I envy you." This was the first anniversary of Castro's Revolution. I said, "Why don't you take my son, Bobby Reno, who's working on the Miami Herald?" So they took Bobby. They had the thirteenth floor of the Hilton Hotel, and Bobby said, "It was the wildest, niost beau tiful weekend. The crowds and everything, and all us Indiansincluding me--were on the balcony with Castro, and he kissed us with the tears streaming down his cheeks. We all got drunk on champagne on the thirteenth floor of the Hilton, and those . Indians can drink up a storm!" That was the last gasp, of, in effect, the Miccosukee Revolution of 1950, which was a PR Revolution, which was an attempt to embarrass the damned United States government into paying. I always wished I'd been there in Havana. You did say earlier that you had been to Washington? Oh, I went to Washington with 'em. When was that, and who'd you go with? When was that, and who'd you go with? R: I think it was about 1956. They were going up for a hearing, and they were gonna be very eloquent and whatnot, and I'd been writin' some stories for the Miami News. The News said yes I could go, and they would pay my way to go. Buffalo was the

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41 spokesman, and Homer and Howard and five or six other Indians --I think Jimmy Tiger footed the bill for the Indians. K: By himself? R: Well, you see, Jimmy I say to Jimmy occasionally, still Jimmy is a rich Indian. He's got a great big pillowcase full of ten dollar bills hidden up under his chickee, and Jinnny looks at me and then laughs when he turns to me. I think Jimmy from his village footed most of the bill for the Indians to go there, and we were trying to talk. I say we--it helps to have a reporter who's by then gotten to be your own unpaid, personal PR person sittin' there writin'. But we did have a little problem--we went up by train, and going through Georgia our spokesman got so damned drunk that I had to take away his drinks, because it was at that point illegal to drink in Georgia. But we fixed that up, and by the time he came to negotiate with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, he had such a hangover! I really have learned to believe with my Indian friends, and I won't criticize 'em for that, 'cause I do too, but it is quite right--white man cheated 1 em out of it with firewater. K: What was accomplished by this trip to Washington, if anything? R: They promised us that they would listen attentatively to K; And they were well received? R: Oh, beautifully received . Oh, it was a_______ The same thing that's been going on since about 1700. Yes, yes, by all means! I've had an occasion to write a history of the dealings with the U.S. Indians lately--I'm moonlighting up to here--and the same thing is true today that was initially true. I think John Adams said it--"These people live on the land, but do they think they own it?" K: Are there any things in conclusion that you , would care to add to what you've already said about your knowledge and your association with the Florida Indians? R: Well, I would like to say this: that all children of my ageand I'm sure a great many of all ages--have had a great ro mantic thing about red Indians, and Indians, and Indians, And when I became a friend of Indians, and when I went to the dances and slogged through and got drunk with 'em, oh, Lord!

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42 It was really something! But from all that, and beyond all that romanticism, I got something from these people, these friends. I don't compete--stand tall, stand friendly. Comparisons are odious. Do let your mother and daddy tell you what you're best at doing. If they tell you to be chief, go be chief! Tell you to be Indian man--go be Indian man. As far as career goes, a quality that is very sweet and very wonderful, and I am grieved that we let the spirit that is still very vivid and alive in the families--and the kids, even the half-white kids out there, with their families are a certain sense--we're in it together, against the wilderness, and we're all together. We let somethin' pass us by by not becoming a little more Indian, though I do think they gave us the stamp that's America. We are free and equal, and we don't take any shit off anybody. If they give it to us we move off down the road. K: Over the last few years we've heard quite a bit about Indians in this country--mostly, I think, the Western Indians--taking part in the civil rights movement along with the Blacks and the Chicanos. Has there been any representation to you know ledge of the Florida Indians in this effort? R: Well, let's see. Down there in 1960 when our boys were leaders in the "embarrass the U.S.A." See, actually, really, the Seminoles were a guest of Fidel on his first anniversary, so we were working at embarrassing 'em a pretty long time before these latecomers from the West catne along. , But old Mad Bear came down with a pretty girl who was half-white. K: Who is Mad Bear? R: Mad Bear was from up around Ithaca, New York--a troblemakin' Indian from Ithaca, New York. He went down to Havana on that beautiful first anniversary where Fidel kissed all the Indians and wept because of how badly they were treated here. It was still legal and all, but our boys What they were fighting for was land, and . K: And they gave it up when they accepted the money claim? R: Naturally ; Well, the gave it up when they went into the money claim. Some of 'em didn't go into the money claim, and said, "Well, let 'em go, let 'em go. We can . take care of our families for ever and ever." You know, like the Osceolas own the land they are on. "We can live on garfish, we can run

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43 airboats, we can live out here." You talkin' about the kids goin' away--these kids have a touch, as I say, the long hair, and they love driving fast cars. In the Indian village on the Tamiami Trail today, if you are a native-born hippie would be where you wanta live. You wouldn't run to town, you'd run right out there if you had a trace of Indian blood. They aren't runnin' away. Not any that I know of or have heard of. K: Well, thank you very much for giving us the time to record some of your thoughts and recollections on the Indians of Florida.