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Interview with Robert Davis, August 31, 1972

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Title:
Interview with Robert Davis, August 31, 1972
Creator:
Davis, Robert ( 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 66 ( SPOHP IDENTIFIER )

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SOUTHEASTERN INDIAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
In cooperation with the Seminole Tribe of Florida
INTERVIEWEE: Robert Davis, Tribal Realty Officer
INTERVIEWER: R. T. King
DATE: August 31, 1972


K: Mr. Davis, I'd like to start the interview with having you
give a brief description of the contacts that you have had
with Seminoles, of how you came to get this job.
D: Prior to coming to Florida in June of 1963, I was realty
officer in Oklahoma for three years at Anadarko, Oklahoma
where I served the Wichita, Caddo, Delaware, Kiowa, Commanche
and Apache tribes, and other Indians in Southwestern Oklahoma.
This job became open, and I heard about it, and I thought I'd
like to move to Florida. So I applied for it and was selected.
K: How long have you been here?
D: Since June, 1963.
K: Can you give me a description of what your job entails?
D: The Seminoles own 487 acres in the Hollywood Reservation,
36,000 in the Brighton Reservation in Glades County, northwest of Lake Okeechobee,
and 42,000 acres in Hendry County--
that's right at the border of Hendry and Broward County, just
south of Clewiston. These lands vary greatly in their value
and in their utility. We have one little parcel of land that's
right behind you here on the corner of Sterling Road and 441
[U.S. 441] that probably is worth a couple hundred thousand
dollars an acre, and we have some land out in the Big Cypress Reservation
that probably isn't worth over $100 an acre.
Now, my job is to advise the tribe, and utilize all the
technical help that we have at our disposal in the central
office [Bureau of Indian Affairs] and in our office here to
best use this land so that the proceeds from it can help the
tribe in their programs--their health and social welfare pro-
grams. You get the best rent you can out of the lands--and
it's been rather difficult to do, because the title to the
lands must remain in the tribe and in the United States.
This makes it difficult to encumber the land for any develop-
ment. If it were deeded land, where you could encumber the
title to the land, there'd be no problem. It makes it a
little different from the average land management proposition.
K: Are you involved in any way with conservation of resources,
or are you concerned strictly with leasing of property and


2
accruing money for the tribe?
D: Oh yes, we're deeply involved in that. All of our programs
in the leasing program have had to be approved by the tribe,
and the tribe.... As you know, Indians are good conservationists,
and they are the ones that decide whether the lease will be
approved, and whether they should approve the lease or not.
We have, for instance, oil and gas leases out on the Big Cypress Reservation
that bring the tribe about $36,000 a year. There
have been two holes drilled out there, and neither one of them
produces. Before they're drilled, and after they're drilled,
they're inspected by the state of Florida, Environmental Protection Agency,
United States Geological Survey, and our
own people.
K: Who leased the property? Who leased the oil rights, the gas
rights?
D: Mobil Oil.
K: How long ago was that?
D: I think it was about three years ago, maybe four years ago.
Three years ago, I think it is.
K: Do you know how the research was done to determine whether
or not there might be a possibility of oil and gas out there?
D: Yes. Over the years there have been different seismograph crews
that have gone through and taken their low impact shots
as they call them, which is an electronic device which bounces
sound waves off the formations deep in the earth, and the
experts can read the graphs that are produced from that.
K: Before they initiated this research, did they get in contact
with the [Bureau of Indian Affairs] or with the Seminole Tribe?
Who did they go through?
D: Both.
K: Who did they initiate it with? Did they come to the BIA
first, or to the Seminole Tribe?
D: Well, I would think that they probably came to the BIA first
at that time, because that was several years ago.


3
K: And the BIA then advised the Seminoles that this is a good
thing, and the Seminoles went along with it?
D: Yes.
K: Do you know anything about the sabal palm harvesting that's
going on out at Brighton right now?
D: It's under the forestry branch. I'm sorry I can't post you
very well on that because that's a forestry function, and
forestry is not in the realty branch.
K: I would imagine, then, that there hasn't been any lease
given. Are the Seminoles doing this themselves, or is some
other company?
D: Remember, the Seminoles do everything themselves; we're technical advisors.
All of the instruments that are negotiated, are negotiated with the tribal officials;
and the officials are elected by the constituency of the tribe.
K: What I meant was, are the Seminoles themselves harvesting the
sabal palm, or have they leased a plot of land to another
company?
D: They have leased it out--or given a permit, I believe it's
called in the branch of forestry--given a permit to harvest
sabal palms on a piece basis.
K: Perhaps you can explain this dichotomy here, then, between....
You say your office does not handle this, even though it is
a lease.
D: No, it's not a lease. It's a permit. It's more like a permit
to harvest a wild plant in that it isn't defined in a specific
area, I don't believe.
K: Could you tell me some of the more important transactions that
have taken place since you took over in this office?
D: I would say the most important transactions on Brighton and
Big Cypress were the ones with the reputable vegetable growers
out there who have developed thousands of acres of improved
pasture for the cattle program. We've dealt with Gulf and
Western, Jeffers Brothers and others who have done a good job
in developing improved pasture in accordance with the speci-
fications of the tribe and the BIA experts in that...in con-


4
junction with the University of Florida people who recommended
them to us. We work very closely with the University of Florida,
and I would suggest that when you get back, you go
to the Extension Service and the Agriculture Department and
talk to those people about it.
K: I'm familiar with some of the work they've done with cattle
down here. What were the provisions of these agreements with
the farms?
D: The leases run from one to five years. The longest agricultural
lesse we've had in developing these pastures has been five years.
Some of them are as short as one year. The leasee agrees to
come in and clear the land, and grow vegetables on it for the
term of the lease. By the time that he's through with the
farming operation, he goes in and busts the beds, leaves in
the perimeter dikes and ditches and other ditches that we might
want him to leave, and leaves in the wells and pays for half
of the fencing of the field, and then establishes it to improved
pasture grass like bahia or pangola or something like that.
The tribe has done some development on their own, and the
nearest we can figure, that on today's costs--it's too expensive
for the tribe to do now--but on today's costs, that would cost
about $150 an acre to develop an acre of pasture. Well, as
you can see, an average lease being two to three years, land
that starts out being worth $150, $200 and acre...and then in
addition to that, they do pay five dollars an acre a year, rent,
which amounts to another twenty to thirty dollars. You add that
on to the enhancement of the value of the land through develop-
ment, and you can see we're getting pretty good rent. It gets
to be upward towards $200 for the two or three years rent,
because that's how much the land value's been increased. Now
that operation, although it's not one transaction, but I'd say
that phase of the operation has accounted for...we'vegot about
15,000 acres, 20,000 all together--there's been probably $68,000,000
land value enhancement on the two reservations over the past fifteen
years or so.
K: It's been going on for fifteen years or so?
D: Yeah. Now on the Hollywood Reservation, I think probably the
breakthrough in getting the first developer--and his financier
to come in and lend money to the developer--to develop an enter-
prise was probably the most important thing that happened. [It]
was a fellow by the name of Allen B. Forbes who put in the
Seminole Park for mobile homes over on the east side of 441.


5
There were leases negotiated before, but they happened to be
with people that had the cash in their pocket, which was...
they were more simple to negotiate, but Peninsular Life
Insurance Company--I believe they're in Jacksonville--finally
loaned money to Mr. Forbes to develop the Seminole Park for
mobile homes, and that opened the floodgate on our office for
development there.
K: You said that that was an important breakthrough; that indicates
that there must have been some problems before.
D: Yes, there were.
K: Can you tell me what they were?
D: It has to do with the title to the land. When title to the
land is vested in the United States and held in trust for the
Seminole Indians of Florida in perpetuity, which is tantamount
to ownership as you know, title to the land cannot be encumbered.
K: Could you explain that? I don't understand.
D: That means...well now, you go buy a car, and you buy it on
time; GMAC [General Motors Acceptance Corporation] holds
title until you make your last payment. Now, on the develop-
ment of land on the Seminole reservations, the encumberancer
could never hold title to the land, because title to the land
cannot be subrogated. All right, the only thing they could
give, then, as collateral for the loan, was the lease-hold
interest, and most encumberancers didn't want to do that.
Finally, Peninsular Life did come and say, "We'll do it."
They did some research around the country and found that it
had been done before on Indian land, but it was very new in
Florida. And that, I think, was the first real break that we
had and that happened in 1965.
Not long after that we started getting more offers from
different types of entrepreneurs. My goodness, you would be
amazed at some of the quality of entrepreneurs we had coming
into the office. They'd come in with wild schemes that you
wouldn't believe, crazy. But then Mr. Antonucci, who is from
Chicago originally, was contacted by the BIA representative
there about putting in a mobile home factory someplace on an
Indian reservation because he was in business there. And our
industrial development man asked him if he would like to put
a mobile home plant on a reservation someplace, and he said,
"Yeah, I'd like to go to Florida." He liked it down here.


6
Well, he came down and contacted us here. He wanted to
put in a mobile home factory, and a mobile home park and
shopping centers, and travel trailer park and so forth. So
with the help of our Washington people, and the tribe, and
a fellow by the name of Bob Simon, who was one of the dollar-
a-year men who advised with me in the Bureau of Indian Affairs
they're experts in high financing and big business--who was...
a sidelight you might.find interesting: his father used to own
Carnegie Hall. Isn't that interesting? He came down and helped
in the negotiations with Mr. Antonucci. Between the tribal
attorney, and the tribal leaders and the BIA representatives
and Mr. Simon, we negotiated five leases with him covering a
total of about 260 acres all together.
K: Was that here in Hollywood?
D: Yeah, here on the Hollywood Reservation. For fifty years,
which was later extended five years for the convenience of
financing. And, as you can see, he's started developing the
120 acre tract, and starting getting along very nicely with
that. He's going to have a clubhouse and a recreation facility
that is going to run over a million dollars, and it's not going
on too rapidly because of the clearance that has to occur for...
it's the same old story with disposition of waste, but it's going
by the book, so it's keeping us happy, and also various environ-
mental protection people happy too.
K: I've talked with some Seminoles here at Hollywood who told me
they weren't particular satisfied with the first lease. I
suppose that was the one with Forbes that you were talking about.
Apparently they.dont't think they got a very good deal out of
it; that the money that they got was not as much as they should
have.
D: Well, I think the first lease, the one that they're talking
about, is possibly the one. No, I would hesitate to say that
was the one, 'cause that's bringing in pretty darn good rent.
The first one might be the Shell Oil station lease across the
street. That's a very valuable corner. It was negotiated in
about 1960, and it isn't bringing in very...it's bringing in
$275 a month, which isn't very good.
K: No, it isn't.
D: That's pretty lousy. But at the time, this was pretty much
in the country, and the lease that was negotiated didn't take


7
into consideration sufficiently change in the economic con-
ditions that has been brought about here in this part of
Broward County. If it had been negotiated five years later,
the lease would have been a heck of a lot more than $275 a
month.
K: The reason I brought this up was that I was wondering if per-
haps that initial lease, the first one that had been let, had
been given on terms that were not necessarily satisfactory
to the Seminoles, just in order to get something started.
D: Well, the first one covers about 32 acres, and it's bringing
in almost $1,000 an acre. You see, we built in that one with
Mr. Forbes, percentage clauses that have let it keep pace with
the economy. It started out at $11,000, and the last lease
payment was $27,000-$28,000--something like that. So you can
see that in the seven years it has more than doubled; it's
about two and a half times what it started out at. And at the
time the guaranteed rental on the property was in accordance
with a fair return on the appraised value of the land.
K: How long does that lease run?
D: It runs for sixty-five years. That's the longest one on the
reservation.
K: A fifty-five year lease for one trailer park and a sixty-five
year lease for the other?
D: Yeah.
K: Can you tell me what that will bring in?
D: Well, I would think that all of Mr. Antonucd.i{'sslLeaaes bhoauld
bring in.... I've had to upgrade my projections. I used to
think that it would probably bring in $350,000 a year, but I
think that the way things are going now, it will probably bring
in close to a half a million a year. In fact, all the commercial
leases of the Seminoles, next year, will be about half a million
dollars. Counting the citrus leases and the agriculture leases
on this reservation, and some moratorium rent on this one 120
acre lease, $50,000 a year for three years will be coming in,
so their lease income will be about a half a million dollars
next year.
K: Now I'm aware that none of the property on the reservation is
taxable. Can you tell me what the tax story is on the money
brought in on leases? Is that taxable?


8
D: No. Any income that is generated to the tribe from the
reservations is not taxable.
K: Now, you told me that on Big Cypress and Brighton, the major
real estate transactions involved pasturage, and leasing land
to be developed as farm land, and then turned over into pasture.
Were there any other leases of another nature?
D: Yes, we have two leases on Big Cypress Reservation that are
for development of citrus groves. And they will bring in
from their production about seventy or eighty dollars per acre
a year.
K: That would have to be a pretty long-term lease for citrus,
wouldn't it?
D: Well, let's see, Zach Savage--an orange juice specialist up
at the University of Florida--told me once that we could
probably never negotiate a citrus lease for less that thirty-
five years. So I was hamstrung with that because the longest
possible time I could get on Big Cypress or Brighton was
twenty-five years, but finally I did get these two lease nego-
tiated for twenty-five years.
K: Regular payment basis, rather than turning over improved
property, right?
D: Well you see, a citrus grove can last much longer than twenty-
five years, and at the end of the twenty-five years, the Indians
will own a couple of nice citrus groves. The residual value
there is quite considerable, I think, even if it is something
that you're going to receive value for down the line quite a
ways. It's all right.
K: Are you involved in any way with the Miccosukees on the Trail
Reservation?
D: None, none at all.
K: Who handles their...?
D: Well, as of a little better than a year ago, they're handling
their own business down there. They didn't have a realty
officer because they didn't have any federal land. So they
couldn't ask me for particular advice on their land. It's kind
of an unusual title, the kind of title they have. I think it
was park[Everglades National Park] land that they're permitted
to use, and of course they can't go leasing it out.
K: Do you know the details to it? You say they're permitted to
use it....


9
D: No, I don't know enough about it to really discuss it intelli-
gently, and I think if I were you and wanted to know about it,
I would talk to Mr. Buffalo Tiger. He's chief down there, and
he would put you in touch with probably their tribal attorney.
I can't remember his name either.
K: Is it still Silver?
D: No, he's no longer connected with them.
K: I'm going to ask you a question now that I'm not so sure you
can answer, but if you can, I really need help with this. I
know that most of the property that has been let out at Brighton
and Big Cypress has, of course, been returned as range land.
It's been returned to pasturage. Why do the Indians themselves
not get into any agricultural endeavors? Why don't they farm
it themselves?
D: Well, I asked the same question when I first came here, and
I'll give you the same answer I got. The longer I'm here, the
more I'm inclined to believe it. Whether you know it or not,
vegetable farming is a high-risk business. The average farmer
makes one crop out of three. The cost of putting in and taking
out an acre of tomatoes is, for instance, around $800. One acre.
Now, the Seminoles are not a rich tribe. If they'd lose three
or four crops to start with at $800 an acre, even if there are
only a couple or three hundred acres in the business, it could
be a financial disaster for them. We operate on a budget too
in the BIA, and that's a highly technical field, and we don't
have any experts to send down here to help them if they did
want to do it and had the money to do it. They don't have any-
one in their tribe that knows how to do it, so the way it stands
now economically and technologically, we're kind of behind the
eight ball.
K: How did they pick up their expertise in ranching? How did they
have cattle so long?
D: Well, this is what I've been told. Back in the 1930s whenever
they were shooting cattle and drowning and burning and everything,
[many cattle were destroyed rather than being allowed to die in
the Southwestern drought] the Seminoles got ahold of some of
those cattle from Texas and they were shipped down there. They
had to buy them. They were cheap--paid freight on them. And
they were crossbred with some of the old Spanish cattle that
were brought here four of five hundred years ago, something like


10
that, when Spain was over here. And there was Brahman blood
in the Spanish cattle--I'd suppose from the Moors or something--
but anyway, the Indian people in South Florida kind of grew
up with cattle, and they've always had an interest in cattle,
and they've gone to school to the short course that the univer-
sity [University of Florida] conducts, both at Gainesville and
the various field stations, and they've taken to it. Boy, they
really go for the cattle business, and they've learned a lot,
and they've become good at it.
Of course, you can't know everything about cattle, but it's
no good in South Florida unless you know about the land. They
learned through experience, and through what the BIA and what
the university has helped to teach them in water control and fer-
tilizer control and so forth. And Dr. Crockett--he's a national
if not international expert on beef cattle, and he's at the
University of Florida--he's worked very closely with them.
That's the reason they've gone into the cattle business, and
after all, the investment to start out is a lot less.
Now we're getting sophisticated enough that we don't--
I say we; I'm talking like I was a Seminole--the Seminoles don't
let the Indians go into cattle business unless he starts out
with at least seventy-five head. He gets his loan from the
Farmer's Home Administration now. He doesn't have to get it
from the tribe or the BIA, because the Farmer's Home Administration
is very proud of the Seminole Indians and the way they've kept
up the payments on their cattle. They have, in fact, the
best record of anyone that borrows money from the Farmer's Home
Administration. They do a better job of paying the money back.
K: Do you know how the tribe goes about allocating pasturage to
individuals?
D: It's kind of you just do the best you can. They have their
cattle committees on each reservation, and some people think
they're getting gypped one year, and the next year they'll be
happy. It's kind of like walking down the chow line with your
platter out. Sometimes you get a fat piece of meat, and some-
times you don't. Well, that's the way it is, 'cause sometimes
the pastures are better in one area than in another [at] certain
times of the year, because rains vary on the reservations. But
it's done by the Seminoles themselves, pasture allocation.
K: You mentioned before that your position here was strictly that
of a technical advisor. Have the Seminoles ever ignored your
advice, and gone ahead and done something else?
D: Well, that's a frank question. I'll give you a frank answer.


11
I didn't want to lease all the land to Mr. Antonucci. I was
pretty much against that. I didn't think that all of this
Hollywood Reservation should be devoted to one type develop-
ment. They're all good leases, and he's a good operator, but
being a little more conservative in nature, I thought perhaps
they should diversify somewhat in the use to which they put
the land.
K: Now, did they reach this decision themselves, or did they have
perhaps another lawyer who advises them?
D: No. They reached the decision to lease to Mr. Antonucci by
themselves. And I feel confident of that. However, they do
have a tribal attorney that advises with the tribe and with
me. The name's A. J. Ryan, Jr. He's lived in Dania; he's an
ex-senator and a very active attorney in the area. In fact,
he grew up over in Dania, so he grew up with some of the Seminoles
from around here. He's an old friend of the Seminoles.
K: Can the government, as represented by yourself or by anyone
else, arbitrarily enter into any negotiations between the
Seminoles and whites who live off the reservation who want to
lease property or anything in its own interest?
D: Well, that's kind of a loaded question. I'll tell you why:
you see, the Secretary of the Interior has a responsibility
to protect the land and also to protect the interests of the
Indians who own the land...trustees. Now if the tribal leaders....
About this corner property over here, say they wanted to lease
that for less than fair market value, considerably less than
fair market value for an enterprise conducted by a third party
who had no interest in the tribe other than to get the land to
develop it, it would be within the power of the Secretary of
the Interior to say, "No. You cannot do that because it isn't
good for the rest of the tribe. You tribal leaders think it's
good, but it isn't." I say he has the authority and the power
to do that. Now, the way things are operating today, whether
he would do that, I cannot say. I know I would hesitate to,
because this is the day when the Indians want to do their own
thing, and I'm for them 100 percent.
K: He has only a negative power then, isn't that correct? He can't
initiate anything himself. He can't decide in the best interests
of the Seminoles to lease property to, let's say, Gulf Western
or something?
D: Well, it's a negative power, yes. That's a good way to describe


12
it, I'd say. Nothing happens to any land of the Seminoles that
the tribe doesn't approve. Nothing, absolutely nothing.
K: Now, this approvalcomes entirely from the tribal council, not
necessarily from the rest of the tribe?
D: No, not necessarily. But there are certain powers vested in
the tribe by the constitution.
K: Can you tell me exactly what the difference is between the
Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Inc.?
D: The Seminole Tribe of Florida, Inc. is a business organization,
and they have to do with anything of a business nature that the
tribe has to do with. They have to do with leases and permits
on lands that do not cover a period of longer than ten years.
Anything over ten years is handled by the Seminole Tribal Council.
And the Seminole Tribal Council handles things of more the
human resources nature and also land transactions of more than
ten years. Now, the chairman of the tribal council is also
vice-president of the board of directors, and the president of
the board of directors is also vice-chairman of the tribal council.
So they turn about in their functions. Now, there's one member
from each reservation on the board of directors, and one member
from each reservation on the tribal council. That makes a total
of five voters in the council and five voters in the board of
directors.
K: Prior to 1957, and the organization of the Seminole Tribe of
Florida, was there any provision for leasing Indian land?
D: Yeah. They didn't have a formal organization prior to that
time, but they did have superintendencies, and they had a real
estate branch in Muskogee, Oklahoma, that handled the leasing
of lands.
K: That handled the leasing of Florida lands?
D: Yes.
K: Was there any property leased at that time?
D: Yes. In the late forties, there was some land leased to a
corporation called Florida Tomato Packers, and they were
doing the same thing that Gulf and Western's doing today. Of
course, those are somewhat worn out now, and they've reverted


13
to the native pasture, but we didn't have the water control
that we have today.
K: Where was that?
D: That was at Brighton Reservation.
K: Is there any other activity that your office engages in?
D: We also handle the rights of ways, easements for public utili-
ties that have to cross Indian lands. Of course, these are all
approved by the tribe, and some of the work that's done by the
Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District involves
the Indian lands, and also the Department of Transportation
for road right of way and transactions like that are handled
through this office.
K: Do you handle the public paving of the roads within the reservation,
such as here at Hollywood?
D: No. We have a branch of roads which does the construction
work.
K: It's not done by the city, then?
D: So far, it hasn't been.
K: I was interested in how it would be maintained if the Seminoles
didn't pay taxes to the city, and so on.
D: The way it's done, as I understand it--now it may be slightly
different than this, but I don't think it is--the Bureau builds
the raod, and then they turn it over to the appropriate political subdivision for maintenance.
And usually, the maintenance
isn't too good. We end up doing the maintenance too, but that's
the way it's supposed to work.
K: Well, thank you. You've been very helpful. Is there anything
else you'd like to say before we close the interview?
D: No, except that I enjoyed it very much, Tom, and I hope you
get what you're after.
K: Thank you very much.


Full Text

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SOUTHEASTERN INDIAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA In cooperation with the Seminole Tribe of Florida INTERVIEWEE: Robert Davis, Tribal Realty Officer INTERVIEWER: R. T. King DATE: August 31, 1972

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K: Mr. Davis, I'd like to start the interview with having you give a brief description of the contacts that you have had with Seminoles, of how you came to get this job. D: Prior to coming to Florida in June of 1963, I was realty officer in Oklahoma for three years at Anadarko, Oklahoma where I served the Wichita, Caddo, Delaware, Kiowa, Commanche and Apache tribes, and other Indians in Southwestern Oklahoma. This job became open, and I heard about it, and I thought I'd like to move to Florida. So I applied for it and was selected. K: How long have you been here? D: Since June, 1963. K: Can you give me a description of what your job entails? D: The Seminoles own 487 acres in the Hollywood Reservation, 36,000 in the Brighton Reservation in Glades County, northwest of Lake Okeechobee, and 42,000 acres in Hendry County-that's right at the border of Hendry and Broward County, just south of Clewiston. These lands vary greatly in their value and in their utility. We have one little parcel of land that's right behind you here on the corner of Sterling Road and 441 [U.S. 441] that probably is worth a couple hundred thousand dollars an acre, and we have some land out in the Big Cypress Reservation that probably isn't worth over $100 an acre. Now, my job is to advise the tribe, and utilize all the technical help that we have at our disposal in the central office [Bureau of Indian Affairs] and in our office here to best use this land so that the proceeds from it can help the tribe in their programs--their health and social welfare programs. You get the best rent you can out of the lands--and it's been rather difficult to do, because the title to the lands must remain in the tribe and in the United States. This makes it difficult to encumber the land for any development. If it were deeded land, where you could encumber the title to the land, there'd be no problem. It makes it a little different from the average land management proposition. K: Are you involved in any way with conservation of resources, or are you concerned strictly with leasing of property and

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2 accruing money for the tribe? D: Oh yes, we're deeply involved in that. All of our programs in the leasing program have had to be approved by the tribe, and the tribe.... As you know, Indians are good conservationists, and they are the ones that decide whether the lease will be approved, and whether they should approve the lease or not. We have, for instance, oil and gas leases out on the Big Cypress Reservation that bring the tribe about $36,000 a year. There have been two holes drilled out there, and neither one of them produces. Before they're drilled, and after they're drilled, they're inspected by the state of Florida, Environmental Protection Agency, United States Geological Survey, and our own people. K: Who leased the property? Who leased the oil rights, the gas rights? D: Mobil Oil. K: How long ago was that? D: I think it was about three years ago, maybe four years ago. Three years ago, I think it is. K: Do you know how the research was done to determine whether or not there might be a possibility of oil and gas out there? D: Yes. Over the years there have been different seismograph crews that have gone through and taken their low impact shots as they call them, which is an electronic device which bounces sound waves off the formations deep in the earth, and the experts can read the graphs that are produced from that. K: Before they initiated this research, did they get in contact with the [Bureau of Indian Affairs] or with the Seminole Tribe? Who did they go through? D: Both. K: Who did they initiate it with? Did they come to the BIA first, or to the Seminole Tribe? D: Well, I would think that they probably came to the BIA first at that time, because that was several years ago.

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3 K: And the BIA then advised the Seminoles that this is a good thing, and the Seminoles went along with it? D: Yes. K: Do you know anything about the sabal palm harvesting that's going on out at Brighton right now? D: It's under the forestry branch. I'm sorry I can't post you very well on that because that's a forestry function, and forestry is not in the realty branch. K: I would imagine, then, that there hasn't been any lease given. Are the Seminoles doing this themselves, or is some other company? D: Remember, the Seminoles do everything themselves; we're technical advisors. All of the instruments that are negotiated, are negotiated with the tribal officials; and the officials are elected by the constituency of the tribe. K: What I meant was, are the Seminoles themselves harvesting the sabal palm, or have they leased a plot of land to another company? D: They have leased it out--or given a permit, I believe it's called in the branch of forestry--given a permit to harvest sabal palms on a piece basis. K: Perhaps you can explain this dichotomy here, then, between.... You say your office does not handle this, even though it is a lease. D: No, it's not a lease. It's a permit. It's more like a permit to harvest a wild plant in that it isn't defined in a specific area, I don't believe. K: Could you tell me some of the more important transactions that have taken place since you took over in this office? D: I would say the most important transactions on Brighton and Big Cypress were the ones with the reputable vegetable growers out there who have developed thousands of acres of improved pasture for the cattle program. We've dealt with Gulf and Western, Jeffers Brothers and others who have done a good job in developing improved pasture in accordance with the specifications of the tribe and the BIA experts in that...in con-

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4 junction with the University of Florida people who recommended them to us. We work very closely with the University of Florida, and I would suggest that when you get back, you go to the Extension Service and the Agriculture Department and talk to those people about it. K: I'm familiar with some of the work they've done with cattle down here. What were the provisions of these agreements with the farms? D: The leases run from one to five years. The longest agricultural lesse we've had in developing these pastures has been five years. Some of them are as short as one year. The leasee agrees to come in and clear the land, and grow vegetables on it for the term of the lease. By the time that he's through with the farming operation, he goes in and busts the beds, leaves in the perimeter dikes and ditches and other ditches that we might want him to leave, and leaves in the wells and pays for half of the fencing of the field, and then establishes it to improved pasture grass like bahia or pangola or something like that. The tribe has done some development on their own, and the nearest we can figure, that on today's costs--it's too expensive for the tribe to do now--but on today's costs, that would cost about $150 an acre to develop an acre of pasture. Well, as you can see, an average lease being two to three years, land that starts out being worth $150, $200 and acre...and then in addition to that, they do pay five dollars an acre a year, rent, which amounts to another twenty to thirty dollars. You add that on to the enhancement of the value of the land through development, and you can see we're getting pretty good rent. It gets to be upward towards $200 for the two or three years rent, because that's how much the land value's been increased. Now that operation, although it's not one transaction, but I'd say that phase of the operation has accounted for...we'vegot about 15,000 acres, 20,000 all together--there's been probably $68,000,000 land value enhancement on the two reservations over the past fifteen years or so. K: It's been going on for fifteen years or so? D: Yeah. Now on the Hollywood Reservation, I think probably the breakthrough in getting the first developer--and his financier to come in and lend money to the developer--to develop an enterprise was probably the most important thing that happened. [It] was a fellow by the name of Allen B. Forbes who put in the Seminole Park for mobile homes over on the east side of 441.

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5 There were leases negotiated before, but they happened to be with people that had the cash in their pocket, which was... they were more simple to negotiate, but Peninsular Life Insurance Company--I believe they're in Jacksonville--finally loaned money to Mr. Forbes to develop the Seminole Park for mobile homes, and that opened the floodgate on our office for development there. K: You said that that was an important breakthrough; that indicates that there must have been some problems before. D: Yes, there were. K: Can you tell me what they were? D: It has to do with the title to the land. When title to the land is vested in the United States and held in trust for the Seminole Indians of Florida in perpetuity, which is tantamount to ownership as you know, title to the land cannot be encumbered. K: Could you explain that? I don't understand. D: That means...well now, you go buy a car, and you buy it on time; GMAC [General Motors Acceptance Corporation] holds title until you make your last payment. Now, on the development of land on the Seminole reservations, the encumberancer could never hold title to the land, because title to the land cannot be subrogated. All right, the only thing they could give, then, as collateral for the loan, was the lease-hold interest, and most encumberancers didn't want to do that. Finally, Peninsular Life did come and say, "We'll do it." They did some research around the country and found that it had been done before on Indian land, but it was very new in Florida. And that, I think, was the first real break that we had and that happened in 1965. Not long after that we started getting more offers from different types of entrepreneurs. My goodness, you would be amazed at some of the quality of entrepreneurs we had coming into the office. They'd come in with wild schemes that you wouldn't believe, crazy. But then Mr. Antonucci, who is from Chicago originally, was contacted by the BIA representative there about putting in a mobile home factory someplace on an Indian reservation because he was in business there. And our industrial development man asked him if he would like to put a mobile home plant on a reservation someplace, and he said, "Yeah, I'd like to go to Florida." He liked it down here.

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6 Well, he came down and contacted us here. He wanted to put in a mobile home factory, and a mobile home park and shopping centers, and travel trailer park and so forth. So with the help of our Washington people, and the tribe, and a fellow by the name of Bob Simon, who was one of the dollara-year men who advised with me in the Bureau of Indian Affairs-they're experts in high financing and big business--who was... a sidelight you might.find interesting: his father used to own Carnegie Hall. Isn't that interesting? He came down and helped in the negotiations with Mr. Antonucci. Between the tribal attorney, and the tribal leaders and the BIA representatives and Mr. Simon, we negotiated five leases with him covering a total of about 260 acres all together. K: Was that here in Hollywood? D: Yeah, here on the Hollywood Reservation. For fifty years, which was later extended five years for the convenience of financing. And, as you can see, he's started developing the 120 acre tract, and starting getting along very nicely with that. He's going to have a clubhouse and a recreation facility that is going to run over a million dollars, and it's not going on too rapidly because of the clearance that has to occur for... it's the same old story with disposition of waste, but it's going by the book, so it's keeping us happy, and also various environmental protection people happy too. K: I've talked with some Seminoles here at Hollywood who told me they weren't particular satisfied with the first lease. I suppose that was the one with Forbes that you were talking about. Apparently they.dont't think they got a very good deal out of it; that the money that they got was not as much as they should have. D: Well, I think the first lease, the one that they're talking about, is possibly the one. No, I would hesitate to say that was the one, 'cause that's bringing in pretty darn good rent. The first one might be the Shell Oil station lease across the street. That's a very valuable corner. It was negotiated in about 1960, and it isn't bringing in very...it's bringing in $275 a month, which isn't very good. K: No, it isn't. D: That's pretty lousy. But at the time, this was pretty much in the country, and the lease that was negotiated didn't take

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7 into consideration sufficiently change in the economic conditions that has been brought about here in this part of Broward County. If it had been negotiated five years later, the lease would have been a heck of a lot more than $275 a month. K: The reason I brought this up was that I was wondering if perhaps that initial lease, the first one that had been let, had been given on terms that were not necessarily satisfactory to the Seminoles, just in order to get something started. D: Well, the first one covers about 32 acres, and it's bringing in almost $1,000 an acre. You see, we built in that one with Mr. Forbes, percentage clauses that have let it keep pace with the economy. It started out at $11,000, and the last lease payment was $27,000-$28,000--something like that. So you can see that in the seven years it has more than doubled; it's about two and a half times what it started out at. And at the time the guaranteed rental on the property was in accordance with a fair return on the appraised value of the land. K: How long does that lease run? D: It runs for sixty-five years. That's the longest one on the reservation. K: A fifty-five year lease for one trailer park and a sixty-five year lease for the other? D: Yeah. K: Can you tell me what that will bring in? D: Well, I would think that all of Mr. Antonucd.i{'sslLeaaes bhoauld bring in.... I've had to upgrade my projections. I used to think that it would probably bring in $350,000 a year, but I think that the way things are going now, it will probably bring in close to a half a million a year. In fact, all the commercial leases of the Seminoles, next year, will be about half a million dollars. Counting the citrus leases and the agriculture leases on this reservation, and some moratorium rent on this one 120 acre lease, $50,000 a year for three years will be coming in, so their lease income will be about a half a million dollars next year. K: Now I'm aware that none of the property on the reservation is taxable. Can you tell me what the tax story is on the money brought in on leases? Is that taxable?

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8 D: No. Any income that is generated to the tribe from the reservations is not taxable. K: Now, you told me that on Big Cypress and Brighton, the major real estate transactions involved pasturage, and leasing land to be developed as farm land, and then turned over into pasture. Were there any other leases of another nature? D: Yes, we have two leases on Big Cypress Reservation that are for development of citrus groves. And they will bring in from their production about seventy or eighty dollars per acre a year. K: That would have to be a pretty long-term lease for citrus, wouldn't it? D: Well, let's see, Zach Savage--an orange juice specialist up at the University of Florida--told me once that we could probably never negotiate a citrus lease for less that thirtyfive years. So I was hamstrung with that because the longest possible time I could get on Big Cypress or Brighton was twenty-five years, but finally I did get these two lease negotiated for twenty-five years. K: Regular payment basis, rather than turning over improved property, right? D: Well you see, a citrus grove can last much longer than twentyfive years, and at the end of the twenty-five years, the Indians will own a couple of nice citrus groves. The residual value there is quite considerable, I think, even if it is something that you're going to receive value for down the line quite a ways. It's all right. K: Are you involved in any way with the Miccosukees on the Trail Reservation? D: None, none at all. K: Who handles their...? D: Well, as of a little better than a year ago, they're handling their own business down there. They didn't have a realty officer because they didn't have any federal land. So they couldn't ask me for particular advice on their land. It's kind of an unusual title, the kind of title they have. I think it was park[Everglades National Park] land that they're permitted to use, and of course they can't go leasing it out. K: Do you know the details to it? You say they're permitted to use it....

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9 D: No, I don't know enough about it to really discuss it intelligently, and I think if I were you and wanted to know about it, I would talk to Mr. Buffalo Tiger. He's chief down there, and he would put you in touch with probably their tribal attorney. I can't remember his name either. K: Is it still Silver? D: No, he's no longer connected with them. K: I'm going to ask you a question now that I'm not so sure you can answer, but if you can, I really need help with this. I know that most of the property that has been let out at Brighton and Big Cypress has, of course, been returned as range land. It's been returned to pasturage. Why do the Indians themselves not get into any agricultural endeavors? Why don't they farm it themselves? D: Well, I asked the same question when I first came here, and I'll give you the same answer I got. The longer I'm here, the more I'm inclined to believe it. Whether you know it or not, vegetable farming is a high-risk business. The average farmer makes one crop out of three. The cost of putting in and taking out an acre of tomatoes is, for instance, around $800. One acre. Now, the Seminoles are not a rich tribe. If they'd lose three or four crops to start with at $800 an acre, even if there are only a couple or three hundred acres in the business, it could be a financial disaster for them. We operate on a budget too in the BIA, and that's a highly technical field, and we don't have any experts to send down here to help them if they did want to do it and had the money to do it. They don't have anyone in their tribe that knows how to do it, so the way it stands now economically and technologically, we're kind of behind the eight ball. K: How did they pick up their expertise in ranching? How did they have cattle so long? D: Well, this is what I've been told. Back in the 1930s whenever they were shooting cattle and drowning and burning and everything, [many cattle were destroyed rather than being allowed to die in the Southwestern drought] the Seminoles got ahold of some of those cattle from Texas and they were shipped down there. They had to buy them. They were cheap--paid freight on them. And they were crossbred with some of the old Spanish cattle that were brought here four of five hundred years ago, something like

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10 that, when Spain was over here. And there was Brahman blood in the Spanish cattle--I'd suppose from the Moors or something-but anyway, the Indian people in South Florida kind of grew up with cattle, and they've always had an interest in cattle, and they've gone to school to the short course that the university [University of Florida] conducts, both at Gainesville and the various field stations, and they've taken to it. Boy, they really go for the cattle business, and they've learned a lot, and they've become good at it. Of course, you can't know everything about cattle, but it's no good in South Florida unless you know about the land. They learned through experience, and through what the BIA and what the university has helped to teach them in water control and fertilizer control and so forth. And Dr. Crockett--he's a national if not international expert on beef cattle, and he's at the University of Florida--he's worked very closely with them. That's the reason they've gone into the cattle business, and after all, the investment to start out is a lot less. Now we're getting sophisticated enough that we don't-I say we; I'm talking like I was a Seminole--the Seminoles don't let the Indians go into cattle business unless he starts out with at least seventy-five head. He gets his loan from the Farmer's Home Administration now. He doesn't have to get it from the tribe or the BIA, because the Farmer's Home Administration is very proud of the Seminole Indians and the way they've kept up the payments on their cattle. They have, in fact, the best record of anyone that borrows money from the Farmer's Home Administration. They do a better job of paying the money back. K: Do you know how the tribe goes about allocating pasturage to individuals? D: It's kind of you just do the best you can. They have their cattle committees on each reservation, and some people think they're getting gypped one year, and the next year they'll be happy. It's kind of like walking down the chow line with your platter out. Sometimes you get a fat piece of meat, and sometimes you don't. Well, that's the way it is, 'cause sometimes the pastures are better in one area than in another [at] certain times of the year, because rains vary on the reservations. But it's done by the Seminoles themselves, pasture allocation. K: You mentioned before that your position here was strictly that of a technical advisor. Have the Seminoles ever ignored your advice, and gone ahead and done something else? D: Well, that's a frank question. I'll give you a frank answer.

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11 I didn't want to lease all the land to Mr. Antonucci. I was pretty much against that. I didn't think that all of this Hollywood Reservation should be devoted to one type development. They're all good leases, and he's a good operator, but being a little more conservative in nature, I thought perhaps they should diversify somewhat in the use to which they put the land. K: Now, did they reach this decision themselves, or did they have perhaps another lawyer who advises them? D: No. They reached the decision to lease to Mr. Antonucci by themselves. And I feel confident of that. However, they do have a tribal attorney that advises with the tribe and with me. The name's A. J. Ryan, Jr. He's lived in Dania; he's an ex-senator and a very active attorney in the area. In fact, he grew up over in Dania, so he grew up with some of the Seminoles from around here. He's an old friend of the Seminoles. K: Can the government, as represented by yourself or by anyone else, arbitrarily enter into any negotiations between the Seminoles and whites who live off the reservation who want to lease property or anything in its own interest? D: Well, that's kind of a loaded question. I'll tell you why: you see, the Secretary of the Interior has a responsibility to protect the land and also to protect the interests of the Indians who own the land...trustees. Now if the tribal leaders.... About this corner property over here, say they wanted to lease that for less than fair market value, considerably less than fair market value for an enterprise conducted by a third party who had no interest in the tribe other than to get the land to develop it, it would be within the power of the Secretary of the Interior to say, "No. You cannot do that because it isn't good for the rest of the tribe. You tribal leaders think it's good, but it isn't." I say he has the authority and the power to do that. Now, the way things are operating today, whether he would do that, I cannot say. I know I would hesitate to, because this is the day when the Indians want to do their own thing, and I'm for them 100 percent. K: He has only a negative power then, isn't that correct? He can't initiate anything himself. He can't decide in the best interests of the Seminoles to lease property to, let's say, Gulf Western or something? D: Well, it's a negative power, yes. That's a good way to describe

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12 it, I'd say. Nothing happens to any land of the Seminoles that the tribe doesn't approve. Nothing, absolutely nothing. K: Now, this approvalcomes entirely from the tribal council, not necessarily from the rest of the tribe? D: No, not necessarily. But there are certain powers vested in the tribe by the constitution. K: Can you tell me exactly what the difference is between the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Inc.? D: The Seminole Tribe of Florida, Inc. is a business organization, and they have to do with anything of a business nature that the tribe has to do with. They have to do with leases and permits on lands that do not cover a period of longer than ten years. Anything over ten years is handled by the Seminole Tribal Council. And the Seminole Tribal Council handles things of more the human resources nature and also land transactions of more than ten years. Now, the chairman of the tribal council is also vice-president of the board of directors, and the president of the board of directors is also vice-chairman of the tribal council. So they turn about in their functions. Now, there's one member from each reservation on the board of directors, and one member from each reservation on the tribal council. That makes a total of five voters in the council and five voters in the board of directors. K: Prior to 1957, and the organization of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, was there any provision for leasing Indian land? D: Yeah. They didn't have a formal organization prior to that time, but they did have superintendencies, and they had a real estate branch in Muskogee, Oklahoma, that handled the leasing of lands. K: That handled the leasing of Florida lands? D: Yes. K: Was there any property leased at that time? D: Yes. In the late forties, there was some land leased to a corporation called Florida Tomato Packers, and they were doing the same thing that Gulf and Western's doing today. Of course, those are somewhat worn out now, and they've reverted

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13 to the native pasture, but we didn't have the water control that we have today. K: Where was that? D: That was at Brighton Reservation. K: Is there any other activity that your office engages in? D: We also handle the rights of ways, easements for public utilities that have to cross Indian lands. Of course, these are all approved by the tribe, and some of the work that's done by the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District involves the Indian lands, and also the Department of Transportation for road right of way and transactions like that are handled through this office. K: Do you handle the public paving of the roads within the reservation, such as here at Hollywood? D: No. We have a branch of roads which does the construction work. K: It's not done by the city, then? D: So far, it hasn't been. K: I was interested in how it would be maintained if the Seminoles didn't pay taxes to the city, and so on. D: The way it's done, as I understand it--now it may be slightly different than this, but I don't think it is--the Bureau builds the raod, and then they turn it over to the appropriate political subdivision for maintenance. And usually, the maintenance isn't too good. We end up doing the maintenance too, but that's the way it's supposed to work. K: Well, thank you. You've been very helpful. Is there anything else you'd like to say before we close the interview? D: No, except that I enjoyed it very much, Tom, and I hope you get what you're after. K: Thank you very much.