Citation
Interview with Joe Dan Osceola, August 31, 1972

Material Information

Title:
Interview with Joe Dan Osceola, August 31, 1972
Creator:
Osceola, Joe Dan ( Interviewee )
Publication Date:
Language:
English

Subjects

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

Notes

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.

Record Information

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
Rights Management:
Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.
Resource Identifier:
SEM 67 ( SPOHP IDENTIFIER )

Downloads

This item has the following downloads:


Full Text
INDIAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
In cooperation with The Seminole Tribe of Florida
INTERVIEWEE: Joe Dan Osceola
INTERVIEWER: Tom King
DATE: August 31, 1972
DORIS DUKE FOUNDATION


SUMMARY
Joe Dan Osceola, first public high school graduate
among the Seminoles, was elected president of the Seminole
Tribe, Inc. in 1967. During this interview he discusses the
relationship between the Seminoles and the U.S. Government in
terms of the Indian Health Service, Indian claims,
law and order, and some past history. He also considers
motivations for education, Indian health problems and the
differences between the Seminole and Miccosukee Tribes.


INDEX
BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs), 2, 5-7
Billie, Josie, 21
Clay group (of Florida Indians), 23
Education, 1-2, 7-8, 15-16
Health (problems), 19-20
Indian claims, 6-7, 11-13
Indian Health Service, 2, 7, 18-20
Johnson, Dr. Emory, 19
Jumper, Bettie Mae, 12-13
Law and order, 9-12
Medicine men, 20-21
Osceola,
Billy, 16-17
Chief, 5
Richard, 16-17
Osceola group (of Florida Indians), 23
Politics and leadership, 3-5, 8-9, 13
Reservation (formation), 14, 16
Stranahan, Frank, 16
Transcultural contacts, 11-12, 17-18
Tribes
formal organization, 2, 15-17
Seminole-Miccosukee differences, 21-23
United Southeastern Tribes, Inc. (USET), 18
United States Government, 5-7, 11, 18


K: Mr. Osceola, to start the interview, could you give me a
brief description of your life, education, jobs you've held,
and so on.
O: First of all, in education, I was one of the first, well I'll
say I was the first Seminole Indian to graduate from public
high school in 1957. You know you might wonder why we are
so far behind in education because I was the first one in 1957
and it's really an honor to me. It shows how far this is
to show you how far we are behind in education, and so on.
But there's a complete history and story behind the Seminole tribe of Florida
and this is one of them. Even as late as
1940, that the Indians in the State of Florida couldn't go
to public school, so this is why they went to boarding school in Cherokee, North Carolina.
In late, early 50's, they
finally went on to schools out in the State of Oklahoma, for
the boarding schools. Prior to 1957, there's been several
high school graduates but it was in boarding schools or
Indian schools, government schools. This is why I have this ..
the pleasure of being the first one to graduate from high school
and I went on to a college for four years to Georgetown College in Georgetown,
Kentucky, and I didn't receive my
degree even though I had four years I lacked about a year.
I lacked the money. I stayed on the reservation and worked
for the Bureau of Indian Affairs on the Brighton Indian
Reservation where I went there when I was ten years old after
my father got killed in a car accident. The place where
I graduated from a small town named Okechobee- near the
Lake Okeechobee, and this was nearest to the Indian reservation
to Brighton so this was where we went and many of the Indians that graduated
from there from Brighton and Okeechobee
that are now tribal leaders and also people are in the
political structure in any way for the tribe. And also, for
the Bureau and the Indian Health Service and the other people
connected in any way to the office work and I would say due
to the reason why so many people from the Brighton who were
able to receive their high school in the way of training.
Many of them went to the boarding school out in Oklahoma
after receiving high school diplomas and this is why they are
able to advance more than the three reservations here in the
State of Florida this is why.
K: Let me interrupt you for a second You said that prior to
around 1957, or when you graduated in 1957 around '53,
'54, then, the Indians were not allowed to attend public
schools.
O: Public schools no, sir.


2
K: Who changed that? Can you tell me?
0: Well, I'll say that most of the people are from all over the
United States, most of them from the Eastern part of the
United States, and they're familiar with the integration.
To us, they were treating us separately like what the
Negroes went back through the '50's and '60's. They couldn't
even go to the public schools until in late '60's.I would say
because of the civil law, I believe it was, and they integrated
but prior to that, here the people here in the State of
Florida were treating the Indians separately as people, but
finally they could see the Indians, American Indians have a
lot to offer in the way of sports and if you can look ...
K: Sports? What possibilities?
0: Quite a bit because many of the Indians who have ever played
football or any kind of sport, they become to be a star on
the team, so that has a lot to do with it. A lot of the schools
have took the Indians in without them playing any kind of sport,
so what I would say is that they finally realize that the
Indians have to have an education this was back in the 1950's,
not the 1850's, so they finally realized that. I would say
that they gave us a chance later on to start playing ball
and they really became pretty good athletes.
K: The reason I asked this question as you probably are well
aware, in 1954, there was an historic thing called the
Supreme Court Civil Right Decision, which made it necessary
for all of the schools to give equal treatment. Actually,
it didn't work out that way, but that's what it was supposed
to do to blacks and Indians and other minority groups as
well. I was wondering whether that was the primary reason
why you were allowed to attend school or .
0: No, we started going about 1950, in public school, but it was
late as 1940 that we couldn't, but in 1950, '40, '50, was when
we started the go to public school. So about the Seminoles from Brighton Reservation
there have been outstanding citizens
in my opinion because of the contributions made to the Bureau of Indian Affairs personnel
and Indian Health and, of course,
Indian Health is something new for us because we didn't
take over our program until about two years ago, but the
tribe has been existing as an organized group in 1957, and
that's when they organized and finally the federal government
drafted a charter so that way we were able to elect our own


3
leaders and start getting government programs and tribal
programs.
K: Before we go on any further, I'd like to ask how old you
are and where you were born.
0: All right. Back in December 20, 1936, there's a baby boy
born out in the Everglades--was near Alligator Alley
--Miles City used to be the name of it. There used to be
a settlement there of timber--people cutting the timber
there and everything, but now, there isn't one person
living out in Miles City now. There used to be an Indian
settlement there as well. That's where I was born--out in
the Everglades. Then at the age of 30, right at the age
of 30, that I entered politics. This was 1967 that I was
elected as President of Seminole Tribe of Florida, Inc.
and it was a most unusual thing because we had been voting
for our elected leaders for ten years--started from '57
and when I entered into politics was '67, and what I
meant by this unusual thing was that I won it by a land-
slide. I got more votes than all the other four guys put
together, so the people had enough confidence in me
through the election. There were several people, of course,
who weren't gonna be satisfied with the person, who the
guy is, and the election official in the position anyway.
So, I did have political enemies--the people who used to
be in it and so a lot of people are not Indians and Ind-
ians are from the other tribe as well. They tried to get
me out of office. The first six months in the office, so
we finally had to take it to the people, and have a vote
on it again. I won the election again by 3-1.
K: Why did they try to get you out of office?
0: Political opposition.
K: How is this possible? How can they? What excuse did they
use to try to take your decision away from you? You had
already been elected, therefore, you were the president.
0: They can through the acquisition of many different ways.
As strange as it may seem to the non-Indians why the e-
lected officials out of a tribe can be impeached or to
see if they can get him out of office. Actually, it was
a white man in Washington that make the rules and regu-
lations for us anyway, so this is why there was a possible
way that they could...right now we could...if we have a leader
anywhere in the United States that is an Indian working for


4
the Indian tribe, they can impeach him. It has been done
before in other tribes, so this is what they base their
theories on that I wasn't doing the job right, and everything.
But our political structures are no different than other
organizations say in the community or state or national wide.
So there's why this happened, that I should leave the office
and they were using some tactics like they use in the funds,
the misappropriated funds, and you can think any kind of
charges imaginable. In fact, I was, oh about the second or
third year in office, I was accused of selling the tribal
government properties and many other accusations that I was
investigated on by the FBI three times and also Secretary
of the Interior office. Of course, they found it negative.
Of course, they advised me if any other charges were true,
I would not hold this job where I had now. Actually, that
was the best recommendation they could have done for me.
My political opposition in this way, I was able to get
another job. In fact, I know many of the political people
in national wide and also in the State of Florida, the
senators and congressmen and the governor also. The last
two governors that I had been appointed to the Indian
Commission First by Governor Kirk and then by Askew.
K: Can you tell me how the electoral vote process works? How
do you go about campaigning for election, who is eligible
to vote and that kind of information?
0: All right. In the Seminole Tribe of Florida, what we have
is you have to be a member of a tribe and have to be at
least half blood of the Seminole and you have to be 21
years of age. Now we haven't lowered the voting age yet
in the Seminoles, so you have to be 21 to vote and enable
to run for any of the positions open. The election is every
four years for the Semihole Tribal Chairman and the
President of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Inc. Then the
council and the board of representatives are every two years.
How you go about it in our tribe, it is a very, very small
tribe it's only a little over 1200 enrollment,
so the people who are members of a tribe can vote who
they wanted to sometimes they work on a platform, three
or four different guys work on a platform, but most of them
work and run as an independent or individual person. So
this is how they go about their campaign, meeting at a
barbecue or fishfry, any way they can. Like I said a while
ago, politics are no different than yours. This is what
we do, but they know us, I'm sorry to say, from the day


5
we was born until the day we run, for anything we run for
public office in our tribe, and normally, if we run for the
county or state or national wide, the people, I'll say,
five percent or two percent, if you run national wide, they
don't know you that well. But in the tribe they know you,
like I said, all the bad things and good things you done
back when you were a teenager. So this is a handicap in
many ways and it's advantage in many ways.
K: How is the polling conducted?
O: We hold the elections, like I say a while ago, every four
years on each reservation and the people who live off the
reservations they can only vote for the tribal chairman
or the president. They can't vote for the representatives
or council men. So on each reservation they vote, and they
count all the votes back on the reservation and they bring
it in on the tribal headquarters, which is here in Hollywood
and also we have a Bureau of Indian Affairs headquarters and
Indian Health Service so this is one of the most progressive
reservations in the state, and a matter of fact, in the
whole United States in my opinion, because I visited many,
many reservations since 1967, and because of the location
and because of the news media people took so much interest
in the Seminoles anyway mDre than I would say, the Seminoles -
I haven't had anything to do with it or my family, we didn't -
since we've been organized. They didn't have anything to
do with it, I would say the locality and also how the
Seminoles have been treated back during the Indian War in
fact, it says on the back of Mahon's book, [John K. Mahon's,
History Of The Second Seminole War, University Of Florida
Press, 1967]. Other Indians from the other tribes were
recruited to try and fight against the Seminoles thinking
that they could ... they're Indians so they can fight as
well as Seminoles in the Everglades, but it doesn't work
out that way. In fact, they even went as far as recruit some
bloodhounds from Cuba to try and fight against the Seminoles,
but due to the public response on this saying this isn't
the way to fight for our country, so they had to drop it and
then due to the disgrace of the United States Government and
armies and, which, of course, has been so very honorable,
one of our main leaders, in those days, was Chief Osceola,
the original, was captured under the white flag of truce
and he was put in prison in St. Augustine and eventually,


6
Fort Moultrie, South Carolina, where he died. So things
like that, is what most of the public remembers and this
is why the Seminoles are one of the most popular tribes
in the United States.
K: Let me bring something up perhaps you can explain it, I
know the Seminoles are very proud of being the "unconquer-
ed Seminoles"--they've never signed a treaty of peace with
the United States Government. However, the Constitution of
the Seminole Tribe of Florida states that anybody who holds
office is self included to uphold the Constitution of the
United States of America and will defend it against all of
its enemies. There's something wrong there.
0: Well, like I said a while ago, through the Bureau of Indian
Affairs in Washington drafted the Constitution for us.
K: Then you have no choice.
0: We have no choice because many of my friends, cousins, and
friends have served their time in the Viet Nam or started
way back in the '40's where they've been taking parts in
the army, marines, fighting, and navy, so it's nothing new
to us. We don't have to be drafted, but we join, we enlist
for the armed services. As a matter of fact, there's not a
member of my tribe who has burned their draft card or even
burned the American flag. To me, this is more honor than
the people you see on the street burning draft cards and
United States flag. You can't name a Seminole who has burn-
ed any of the property that doesn't belong, or even belongs
to us that we do not destroy anybody's property. This is
what's wrong with us. I would say, you may wonder, what's
wrong with us. People nowadays say news media, say they want
to see who's burning the draft card, the flag, or demonstra-
ting and so on, destroying the property. This isn't the In-
dian way and sure isn't the Seminole's way, but we've been
trying to do the right thing--say fighting against the
United States Government trying to get our reimbursement
for the State of Florida--something like 32-40 million
acres the State of Florida promised to pay us back in 1832.
We haven't received one red penny, so we have to file
through the court back in 1949, and we've been fighting them
courts ever since--that's about 23 years ago. So, what can
you do? You can't just sit back--we haven't been sitting


7
back we have attorneys fighting legally in court and they
take advantage of us. People in Washington .
K: The attorneys are taking advantage of you?
0: No, not our attorneys, but their attorneys. They got their
own attorneys, and of course, political people in Washington
and the more you keep quiet, this is how they want you.
Many times, tribal leaders and the people on the reservation
threaten them, well, if you go out against the United States
Government, we'll cut your funds off. And, of course ...
K: Can you give me a specific example? I'm really interested
in that.
0: It's very possible for them to say that. Because you can
see how much money has been spent on the Indians through the
tax money our tax money out of my own money it's come
back to us in some way. But about ten years ago, maybe
eight years ago, I say five years ago, that most of the
money, ninety percent of the money that has been appropriated
to the Bureau of Indian Affairs used to go to non-Indians.
You say, yes, we've got a lot of Indian workers working for
our agency the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Indian Health
Service. The Indian Health Service is different now,
'cause they took ... they work directly with the tribal
leaders and council, but the Bureau as you remember, has been
established back in a hundred fifty .. two ... years ago and
this was the way a lot of the tribes weren't organized yet
and they ran their political structures in their life, and
there's been more regulation and law has been written for
the American Indians more than for any race of people
here in the face of earth. This is what ... you can't have
too many regulations and laws, especially for the American
Indians because many of them never went to school and this
is one of our biggest problems. Now we like to thihk that
we're coming up as far as reading and trying to speak
English. You know that the Indians can speak two, three
different languages. As a matter of fact, here in Seminoles,
here in Florida, we have two languages in our own tribe,
which is not a dialect, it's a language itself, so this
where non-Indians or people who don't work with the Indians
doesn't realize that, but we have another language -
it's unwritten and you have to learn it orally. So, to be
an Indian is really tough especially when you go into
public school and especially when you have never had any


8
training for the English language and when you have to
write in numbers, when you first start out in the schools.
But now, thanks to OEO and Head Start, it's under HEW,
but we have a Head Start on the reservation. Most of the
reservations throughout the United States now, that they are
taking advantage of, where students can be trained to speak
English and also count their numbers, in colors, and all
that. They are not behind us as they once was.
K: To get back to the electoral system, I would like to know
who counts the votes.
O: Oh, we have a council, tribal council, selects each different
people on the reservation, about 5 or 6 people, to work on
the election on whatever reservation it may be in the commu-
nity. Then, they would have the people to take the list,
and if you're eligible to vote, and as a matter of fact,
I would say we have a stiffer rule on the regulation of
voting than in the county or state than anywhere, because
you have to live on the reservation something like four
years before you can vote I could be wrong, we'll have to
check this, but I know it's pretty stiff. And if you live
just block, even half a block from the reservation, due
to the housing shortage and they don't take that into
consideration at all. So, whatever the reason it may be -
If you're away to college, boarding school, boarding school
wouldn't count too much because you have to be 21 to go any-
way, so I say college or in the services, like army or
any of the services, they can count that as living on the
reservation, however.
K: The voting is well regulated?
O: Oh, yes. We have a weekend protest if you want a candidate
and he lost by one vote or any kind of vote and you don't
think it was handled right, you can protest that and bring
it back to the council and they can check into this. We
have a pretty good government a private government
working for us.
K: Once you were elected president, chairman rather, what
were your powers? What could you do to effect change
within the reservation?
O: One of the best things about the democracy even in our own
system is that we can change some of the laws or amend the


9
constitution but when you do that, it has to go back to the
people to vote on. First the council has to think it is
the right thing and they have to agree on it and have a
majority vote and then take it to the people and we have
to discuss this over and over. It's not like here, you know,
where you can get the paper at a moment's notice and
read the amendments to the constitution or the law where
he can go ahead and vote on it. The Indian community
doesn't work that way, because you would have to explain
this over and over, maybe two or three different times
until they finally understand what you are trying to do
then if they support you, that's good. If they're not,
then even though a chairman has a lot of power in many respects,
but the other tribal chairman as far as voting and voice,
expressing their opinion. So we encourage this very much.
K: Are referendums held on every piece of legislation or is
it just on constitutional amendments?
0; Let's see. The constitution we have to take it back to
the tribal people out on the reservation, on the reservation,
but there's a resolution this is tribal council can take
an act on it the resolution itself.
K: What is the authority behind that resolution?
0: The resolution can be enforced by the tribal government, the
tribal office.
K: Can you give me an example of a typical resolution?
0: Resolution could be, say we are going to have a pow wow or
a field day a certain day. They would work on it and they
support from the tribal office and they would have it. It
did not go to the people like you would in the constitution.
The constitution goes back to something stronger like law
and order. We have to have our I wouldn't say that, law
and order is a different works in a different manner. The
city curfew you know, that has to go to the people. Curfew
is something stronger than say, the pow wow, because even
though both things is important and everything, the curfew,
if you don't enforce the law or the regulation or constitu-
tion, that they don't take advantage of, and most of the
reservations are that way because of the money shortage and
staff shortage, where armies we don't have law and order.
Back in 1962, the state said that they would take up law and
order. Up to now, they haven't worked we have never been


10
satisfied with their law and order protection.
K: Let's talk about that for a minute. I have interviewed
several people concerning law and order on the Brighton
Reservation--I don't know about the others--but they told
me--they told me, the two men, Richard Smith and Tom Dol-
lars on the reservation are paid by the county or rather
by the council. However, they are listed as deputy sheriffs
in the Glades County Sheriff's Department. This is a concept
which I find it hard to come to grips with. If they are dep-
uty sheriffs, why aren't they paid by the county? If they are
not deputy sheriffs, why are they called that?
0: Well, they could be a deputy from Lake County. The reason
why the council are paying them is this--you are talking
about Dade County, that's in Moore Haven--the Brighton Re-
servation--it's best for us to have a law and order out
there paid by the council than not to have any law and or-
der enforcement out there, 'cause that's what's gonna happen.
Our, like any other counties, are run on a very limited bud-
get even though the state said they'd take care of this back
in 1962. I wouldn't say there's a conflict, but to me, the
tribes are splitting its own bill where the state or county
is supposed to have and the reason why they don't take care
of it, is because they don't have the money. Problems within
the town or city and this is the problems we have all over
the State of Florida on the Indian community.
K: I can understand the county not wanting to pay for sheriff's
deputies out on the reservation, but what I can not under-
stand is that the tribal council would pay the salaries of
these men but would not assume authority over these men. In
effect, the tribal council is paying for Richard Smith and
Tom Dollars, but they don't have any authority over them.
Glades County Sheriff's Department does and does not pay
their salaries. The sheriff can tell both of them what to
do and the sheriff and the two policemen-on the reservation
told me this themself that the sheriff has authority over
them.
O: Right. They do have authority because not every man--well,
let me say this. The Seminole Tribe of Florida has a lot of
other problems and other organizations to work with. They
can let somebody else do the counciling and give authority
and power to have somebody and let them be trained.


11
K: But they haven't been trained. They told me this and the
sheriff told me this.
O: Yea, right. They haven't been trained, but look at what
happened. You know, what is the solution. You know, right
now that's a problem I've been facing when I was in the tribal
council and the board. What are you gonna do? The council
isn't gonna pay them so you gonna let those two guys so
because Glades County isn't gonna pay them this I know for
a fact. We wrote a letter to the governor, called him
and everything else and you just don't know those big cats
up there. Believe me, like I said I've been on the Indian
Commission under two governors but still we talk about this
and say, yeah, we'll get this next legislation meeting,
we'll do it, but there again, it's government white tape.
K: Do the Seminole tribes of Florida have any laws that are
different from the laws of the State of Florida?
O: No, back in 1962, again, that the tribal council decided and
made resolutions and ... to let the State of Florida handle
the law and order in the State of Florida for the Seminoles.
K: That means that the Seminoles have to obey the law of the
State of Florida on the reservation?
O Even on the reservation, even though it's federal government.
There again generally anywhere else that the federal
government land, federal land and also state does not have
any kind of jurisdiction anywhere else but on the reservation.
There again, like I said a while ago, the American Indians
have more government white tape and the rules and regulations
and law have been written for them. There again, you can
take back in history, it was a popular thing to fight
the American Indian and to beat them. As a matter of
fact many of them have made to be a president because they
defeated Indian tribes. One man that was to be the President
of the United States was General Custer and he didn't make
it. One incident where he didn't make it, but many of
them made it and up to this day, I don't know what it is
about the American Indians and the government when it
comes down to the nitty gritty, they have never really been
given a fair shake. I can prove this what has been documented
in Washington and also a lot of different land and many
different timber land has been taken away from the water
rights and a matter of fact, exactly what I said a while ago


12
about the State of Florida, heck, if I owe you some money -
the American Indians owe the United States some money, how
long do you think it would take me to pay up? I assure you,
not a 132 years, so that's what I was talking about. You
have to be an Indian to see our side. Again, unfortunately
most of the people in power in the United States have seen
this and said this, not say it, but they only believe this
through the American history book even up to this day
they said that there is one thing, when they win, one side
when they win, it's victory, but on the other side wins,
it's a massacre. You know what I'm talking about it's
the American Indians against the United States Army. So it's
up to the state it's like that, because you ought to read
up on some of the bills that have been written for the Amer-
ican Indians have been able to defend themselves through the
help of the non-Indians but this is within ten years. Prior
to that, we lost many lands and also lost a lot of money.
K: Why did the Seminoles decide to let the state take over law
and enforcement in 1962?
0: Tom, you're asking me why did the Seminole tribe of Florida
let the state take over law and order? Well, I would say
I haven't checked that record on how much we had at the time,
but if you are gonna have law and order, you're gonna have
to spend a little money or even recreation and this is
still the most important position in the way they had never
really had it for most of the time it's been organized due
to the lack of money. Funny thing that happened when I was
president, we had to lease some land in order to get the
revenues. Either that or borrow our money from the federal
government. Hell, they didn't mind lending us some money
because they know they'll eventually get it back through
the State of Florida when we paid up, because we had to
borrow two or three million dollars when we organized back
in 1957, and when they were running the tribal office and
everything, in 1967, the money was depleted As a matter
of fact, they were right on the verge of borrowing some
from the federal government and it was approved by the council
and the government approved that something like half a
million dollars but I took it to the people. Fortunately,
there was another person with me he was chairman at the
time her hame was Betty Mae Jumper. Her and I worked,
I'll say, pretty hard for the Seminole tribe and with the
Indian organization as well. So we took it to the people&
and they turned it down. More people were against


13
borrowing more money, so this is why it was turned down, and
so, we just didn't want to borrow any more money from the
government. Keep borrowing it, and borrowing it and
borrowing it and eventually you would borrow more money than
you have in equity, so this is why I'll say a third of
the reservation to the non-developer. Now it's working out
well, where the money revenue is coming into the tribe
and now we are able to function more and pay your tribal
officials. As a matter of fact, Betty Mae Jumper has worked
three years without salary because it was cut off. Like I
said the money was depleted for the tribe and this was why
the chairman's salary was cut off. Now, about fifty more
years, all of the Hollywood reservation will be ours again.
K: In fifteen years?
0: Fifty. It's quite a while, but other leases have been
made for sixty years and ninty-nine years so, this is one
of the better leases.
K: I want to ask you how much you got for that If you'd
rather not tell me, I won't ask.
0: Well, I'd rather not say on record, but it's not hidden
record. It's the tribal clerk that has that information.
Commission and Lynn Realty is the officers and Bob Davis.
They all have that information, so it's no secret. For how
much an acre the tribe has received, you'd be interested
to see how much money people prior to me in the office
leased the land, about 10 or 20 acres and they're only
receiving about a dollar an acre, so I assure you it's worth
a bit more than that.
K: Well, everytime you borrow money from the government, is it
necessary that you first have a referendum for the people
before you vote on it?
0: No, not everytime. Unfortunately, no. They did have power
to do it, but my philosophy was different. It's not that
I'm any smarter, but as a matter of fact, when I was running
for ... when I was on my campaign, I wanted to give power
back to the people because to me I'm sorry to say this,
the Bureau and the Indian leaders they were running their
things like they wanted to and this is why I ran I
thought I could do something to help the people.


14
K: Did you run for re-election?
0: No, I didn't.
K: Why not?
0: Because I the Public Health Service is a government job.
I could run and nothing would stop me from running, but when
you work for a tribe as a tribal president or chairman,
at the end of two or three years or four years, you became
a very tired man, traveling and meeting out in the reserva-
tions. You go to Brighton and have a meeting and you don't
leave until about 12 or 1 o'clock in the morning. Then
you have to get up in the morning and go to work. Not too many
people can last under that situation.
K: Can you make a comparison between the system of government
now and the tribal council and so on, and the old Seminole
system of what you really can't call government the old
way of leadership that held things together?
0: Depends on how far you want to go back.
K: As far as you care to go. As far as your memory goes Tell
me how things used to be run as opposed to how they are now.
0: Well, I can't tell you how things were 40 or 50 years, because
I'm only 35 now, but let me tell you something what really
happened. Some people can tell you in different ways in
better ways but prior to 1957 in the Seminole tribe of
Florida, there wasn't any kind of activities or jobs for
the Indians on the reservation none whatsoever. It was
a typical Indian reservation. That is the most depressed
and oppressed area that you can imagine, so now what you
see today, is the difference between day and night. I wouldn't
say that the Seminole tribes was organized was the one that
really saved the Seminole tribe. Back in the 30's and 40's,
anything prior to that, Indians were roaming all over the
State of Florida like gypsies, because we didn't have any
land to call our own. The whole State of Florida was ours,
but yet wasn't ours, if you know what I mean. So that was
the case. So finally in 1922, this reservation was established.
But then the Indians at the time didn't have any goals or
initiative they had a lot of initiative to do what they
wanted, but it wasn't towards the government they could
become one of the top heavy equipment operators or a ditch


15
digger, but that wasn't any goals or look forward to until
you received an education and this is why we started going
to school. You know, we had to go to school and we had a
lot of encouragement from our parents because they never had
any schooling so they worked out in the field they know
what it's like not to have an education and they didn't want
us to be like that, and so they encouraged us to go to
school and so I'm happy that they did encourage us because
I would say one thing, us coming from the reservation had
a better record attending the school than we have to travel
25 miles one way, better than a person living 5 blocks
from the school, because education means something to us
and still, it means something to us.
K: The question I ask you was about government on the reserva-
tion prior to 1957. Any form of government or leadership
at all?
0: Well, what I was getting to that's my way of explaining
things. I'm sorry because when I'm talking to Indians I
would have to explain things to him and give a brief history
and get back to that. But I know in a white man's way is
to get down to the point right away, but you know you might
not get full information if I don't explain this, so .
In 1920's and 30's, anything prior to that, like I said,
Indians used to roam all over the State of Florida, not having
any goals, then a man from Oklahoma, he was a missionary and
he started converting the Indians to the church.
K: Was this man's name Billy Stuart?
0: Uh, no, it wasn't. He took part in it, but it was another
man. He started converting the Indians and I would say this
really moved the Indians Seminoles who didn't have too
much goals and when a person doesn't have that, they're
gonna depend right on the drinking. This is what happened
to the Seminoles. They used to drink quite a bit. Green
corn dance and now, I'm sorry to say, that we're practically
losing now because there isn't much significance as there
was before it was one party the drinking. Then finally,
the Indians started realizing that there was such things as
churches and God and God we always believed in was the
master and breadmaker but still we didn't have that much
goal. Then, in 1957, that's when we started getting
organized into the tribe and up to this day, the tribe is
doing well.


16
0: Back during the wars back in 1812, through 1842, they had
one of the most well-organized governments within the tribe,
and this is why we had a lot of leaders back then. Chief
Micanopy, Osceola, and Alligator and that. What happened
was this each different group had their own leader. Matter
of fact, the Seminoles are made of from 15-20 small tribes
from here within the state of Florida. Then the very first
time you ever heard of a Seminole was back in 1775, or the
1770's because by then the white people were coming to
Florida to pioneer and-all'that, and they organized that so
they could fight against them as a unity. This is where
they got some of their Seminoles leaders. So it was a little
organized, but then after the war was over, say 1842,
from 1842, the last time they exchanged war, I mean fighting
was back in 1856, 1857, after that there was just a
complete blank about Seminoles. You just didn't hear about
them. Down in the Everglades, around Lake Okeechobee, -
they mistrusted the white people and everybody in general
- and the government In early 1900's, they were trying to
help the Indians and they said no, we want to be left alone
just leave us alone. So they finally give up, off and on,
until the 1920's, when the friend of Seminoles through
the leadership of Mr. Frank Stranahan of Ft. Lauderdale, he
is one of the most beloved friends in the history of the
Seminoles and of the state. What he has done for us and
the land was preserved for us here in Hollywood on the
reservation and at the time he was called Dania in the
reservation. Then the Seminoles went through many stages
of that. There again, mistrust we almost lost the land
in the middle of 1920 here in Hollywood. Then moved the
Indians to the Indian town and finally moved back because
through the friends of the Seminoles again. My father his
name was Richard Osceola the reservation was established
in Brighton in 1935 or 1936, when they started a school.
My father was the one who requested a school because he used
to be down here in Hollywood where they were trying to get
the Indians to go to school. He saw all of them and had
Stranahan send a letter. Learned English through Sunday
School and everything, so he saw that and he wondered who
was down there he could speak two different languages and
he was a great unofficial leader at the time because we didn't
have any organization prior to 1957, so he was a spokesman
for the tribe and helped the individual Indians. His brother
was Billy Osceola and he was chairman for fifteen years.
From 1957 to 1967, so those two men I am very very proud of.


17
Then the tribe was organized and he carried on the traditions.
From 1967 to about 1970, I was the tribal president.
I never would have done what they did, because
I'm not capable of doing it, but those two men, Richard Osceola and
Billy Osceola have been good leaders and I'm
happy to say they're my relatives. So the tribal govern-
ment has been run that way. If we could have it in writ-
ing it would be nice, and I'm glad that's what you come
to do and I'm glad the tribal council will receive the
tape and also in writing, 'cause too many times we give
out the information and after it's completed, we never
see it again, we never see them again, so.
K: I haven't seen any of it yet either. That's what they
told me that you would receive transcripts of each of
these tapes.
O: I hope so, because, well, are they gonna listen to it,
too. Well, that's good. Don't let us down, Dr. Mahon,
because you've done a great justice for I would say for
the Seminoles through your book. The Second Seminole's War
is the title of that, and I haven't really finished the book
yet, but that's some book because many, many people recommend
this. I recommend this to any kind of people for a reference
book, any kind of book. They should even teach this in the
high schools, this kind of book and I would like to some day
hope they will because it's time we re-written the history
book because back then they didn't even consult the Indians
or leaders about but now what they're trying to do is for--
they document it for private people maybe, but, I mean pri-
vate company or whatever the case may be, but what I'm say-
ing is about the history books and the United States, it
ought to be re-written not like it was. I know many people
said that the General of the Army gave false information--
it was documented in Washington to make their country look
good, but there's also on the other side, the American Indians,
I don't care what tribe it is. They had something to
offer back in those days and still do, matter of fact, and
because of that, let me go again, this second world war was
one example thanks to the Navajo Indians in the west because
as you remember, the Japanese nation could break any kind of
code in numbers, language--they was breaking it right and
left until they got the idea of two of their men, Navajo Indians to talk in
their language and used that as a code. I
mean they used their own language, their tongue to give them


18
direction in what they were gonna do. That's one thing
the Indians did to help win the war, but how many times
do you see that in the history books? Well, so much for
the history, and I'm so glad that we Seminoles and other
Indian tribes in the nation are proud to be an American
and this is why we took part in the war and this is our
country before any other people that ever...I saw the
sign the other day, or bumper sticker, that said Indians
discovered Columbus. I thought that was a pretty neat
saying because again in history books they say that Col-
umbus discovered America, you know. Well.
K: Thank you Joe Dan, and I want to stop the interview now.
We will resume the interview with some information about
the Indian Health Services.
K: How did you become a part of Indian Health Services, Joe?
O: Well, the Indian Health Service has been with the Indian
reservation throughout the United States, since 1955, but
here in the State of Florida, the State of Florida was
handling all of our medical problems and this means the
doctors, the pharmacies, and the hospitals, but the state
was contracting through the Indian Health Service out of
Oklahoma City. Then last year was when we took over our own
program because we should, the tribal council should run it
through the help of the United Southeastern Tribes. I was
the president of the United Southeastern Tribes, Inc. at the
time so we started working on this so we could take over.
Sure enough, people in the Rockville, Md., that is the head-
quarters for the Indian Health Service, agreed to let us take
over our own program because it is ours and we should know
our problems better than anybody else. So this is why they
granted us power to take over our program and while it may
sound like in the earlier interviews I was relating this to
United States Government and all the congressional acts, I
am not so. I can only feel hurt and be bitter of what has
happened to my people, their initiative out on the reserva-
tion because they're actually, they are not well to do,
they are barely getting by and when you go out to the re-
servation, you can only get depressed. Then when we come
back to the office and try to help and get a lot of static
and get a lot of government white tape, you can't blame a
person--I don't care what color skin or who the person is.
Then a person gets depressed and gets stuck and gets stuck
out in the Everglades where the tires will spin down in the
mud and you can't go anywhere.


19
It's just that sometimes, but it's the system that we have
to follow and to get the thing started and not saying too
much about the United States Government, back in 1830, there
was a president named Andrew Jackson who signed the Indian
Removal Act--that was one of the bad things in government
United States Government, ours too. Congressional Act is
not so bad because in 1955, through the Congressional Act,
the Public Health Service was formed--I mean, the Indian
Health Service was formed through the Public Health Service,
so since then, they have helped us tremendously. The Indians
out in the West what used to be overwhelmed by disease such
as TB and colds and other disease, but they wasn't immune to
it. But here in the States, we have a lot of problems, with
many disease, but now thanks to the United States Government,
the Public Health Service has really helped us through the
Division of Indian Health. This is what I am a part of--the
Service Unit Directors throughout the country. Most of them
are Indians and they try--what we are--we're liason men from
tribe and the Public--Indian Health Service in Washington
and we try and work through the channels like that. Dr. Emory
Johnson has been one of the greatest men in our eyes. They
had faith in us and they have really helped us to do what we
have to do for our Indian people. But I understand just re-
cently he had got the promotion so he is out at Indian Health
Service Director in Rockville.
K: You say the money provided for Indian Health Services was pro-
vided by HEW?
O: I would say, Public Health Service--we are under Public Health
Service, so here again, it would be under HEW--I think HEW
took over that recently, didn't they?
K: I'm not sure, I think they did.
O: Yes, so, that's who we are under.
K: Can you give me a summary of some of the major health problems
the Seminoles have or have had in the past?
O: I would say the major problems we have on the reservation
would not be the illness directly, but indirectly it came
from malnutrition or not the right diet to begin with and
we eventually come down with something else more stronger


20
like colds, pneumonias, and due to inadequate housing--
this had been one of the biggest problems--because then
the Indians like to travel all over the United States
where they weren't immune to the disease anyway. Like in
alcohol, the Indians are again overwhelming, we are the
sickness of alcoholism. And now, mental health has been
coming into the picture and we needed this for quite some
time, but lately even more so, because we're--we have in-
herited what the white culture went through. The people
work in office and live in the urban areas. It's no differ-
ent than the Caucasion having their problems with alcohol-
ism and mental health. We are not immune to it, and as a
matter of fact, the Indians throughout the country probably
consume more alcohol than any other people because maybe
they're depressed, you know, of a locality area. Alcoholism
and mental health, I would say, is one of the biggest prob-
lems for here in the Seminoles.
K: What is being done to prevent such problems as dietary and
bad housing? Are you trying to educate...
0: Yes, sir, we are. As a matter of fact, since we took over our
program that the Public Health Service--the Indian Health
Service on the Seminoles and Miccosukees--we are able to get
more doctors and nurses and better treatment at the hospital
and our private physicians and pharmacies and through that,
we are able to come up with a different program, like sani-
tations and we have asked for a health educator. We hope to
receive this position before too long to start working on it.
We have already had people, that is mental health and alcohol-
ism program to be funded by the government agency in Washing-
ton so we do have personnel within our own tribes.
K: Can you tell me if there is any conflict between white medicine
and Indian medicine on the reservation. Are people a little re-
luctant to go to the white doctor and would rather go to the
Indian medicine man?
0: Well, about 20-30 years ago, they was really reluctant to
go and see a white doctor, but now, not too much anymore,
because when they are educated in the schools, they can
see that medicine doctors have very limited power like they
once did before. About 50, 75 years ago, medicine men
were the greatest men who ever could have existed in any-
body's country because this one man we had relied on to
do counseling,'medicine and almost perform the miracle,
but Seminoles, like any other tribes, have to have something
they can talk to and feel and see and talk to in person.


21
You can believe in God so much, but you can't touch it. So, this
is why medicine men was a vital part of our lives. But now,
more people has educated in public school, whatever schooling
that may be, are aware of what kind of disease it is, but
believe it or not, there's a doctor in Miami named Dr. Rip
and also we have a doctor here in Ft. Lauderdale, Dr. Rogers,
he was a great admirer of Joseph Billy, he was the last great
Indian medicine that the Seminoles ever had, a great one,
I mean, there's other doctors, medicine doctors, for the
Indians. But this medicine was so great This medicine man
was from Big Cypress reservation. I was gonna say that
the other non-Indians doctors, medical doctors in these two
great cities have heard about them so much, they wanted to
meet the medicine man but haven't had the opportunity yet.
As a matter of fact, he's getting on in age he's 90 years
or older. Because the reason they wanted to meet him, a lot
of times the Indian patients needed surgery or some kind of
a surgery and then they would go back to their reservation
and see this medicine man and would use some kind of herbs
and chant and he would make it happen. It, well it would
happen in about two or three weeks and then the doctors,
the medical doctors, would swear up and down that the
same patient needed a treatment, surgery, just three or four
weeks ago and now it didn't have to be performed, so this
is how they kind of wanted to meet this man not only those
two doctors but they have been other Indian tribes out of
Oklahoma who come and see him for medical consultations and
get medication as well. Not just the Indians but non-Indians,
so this man has something to offer and he is a very great
man.
K: Joe, I know that you were President of the Southeastern tribe
at one time, and of course, the Miccosukees are a member of
that southeastern tribe along with the Seminoles. I would
like to ask you why it is that the Miccosukees say they are
not Seminoles and do not wish to be treated as Seminoles -
they are a separate tribe. This is what has puzzled me and
several other people at times.
O: Okay, you know both of us are citizens of the United States
and I wouldn't appreciate it very much if they said we were
citizens of Cuba, would you? Okay, so that's you answer
right there, because Miccosukees are not Seminoles. Same
way that we do not want to be identified with Cuba or Russia
or any other thing like that, because they have their own
language, their own leaders, and they are separate. But due


22
to the ignorance of the federal government back in '57,
they wanted to make one tribe out of the Seminoles here
in Hollywood and also out of Miccosukees--they wanted to
make one tribe, but those people rebelled so much within
five years in 1962, which was ten years ago, they received
their charter from the federal government for them to get
their own leaders, officially. They've been working un-
officially--they've been holding their meetings way before
the Seminoles of Florida held a meeting, so they are def-
initely have their own separate group.
K: Correct me if I'm wrong, but I've been under the impression
that during the nineteenth century, particularly during the
Seminole War, that if the Miccosukees and Seminoles were
not one people they at least lived as if they were. They
lived together and the Miccosukees provided most of the
leadership but the Seminoles fought under the Miccosukees, Osceola was a Miccosukee.
I think that's correct.
O: You know, that could be true. I can say it was because I
have heard both ways. I don't know if Osceola was Micco-
sukee or not. Well, that has to be taken up with the eld-
erly people and they can always give you their versions
of it, too, like I'm doing, so will the other people that
you talk to. There again, we have never had anything docu-
mented, because the Seminole language wasn't written and
the older people didn't have anything in writing because
they couldn't write, so now what you are doing you are ex-
ploring and coming up with the best answer possible. But
Seminoles and Miccosukees, yes, they lived together and,
but, they have, let me say this, when you say Seminoles, it's
what has been placed on the Seminole tribe through the reservations, Big Cypress, Brighton,
and Hollywood. But people from
Brighton are a Cow Creek, most of them are Creek, they're made
up of about 30 percent I guess, or 40 percent, and the others,
they're, they speak the language of Miccosukee of 40 mile bend,
so in a way we are part of them but they wanted you to know,
have their own identity as a Miccosukee and I can see why
they wanted to.
K: How are they different in any way other than language from
the Cow Creek Seminoles?
O: Facial structure and the way they're built.
K: Are the ones from the trail perhaps slimmer than the ones
from Brighton?


23
0: Yes, I would say slimmer and of course, there are some big
men up there too.
K: You would say then there doesn't seem to be any difference
between the two except the Miccosukees speak a different
language and a slight physical difference. What I am
getting at, do you believe there is a difference in their
culture or their history or way of doing things, utensils
that they used in building houses and so on. They all seem
to be very similar.
0: Yes, I would say the Seminoles and Miccosukees are one of
the closest tribes together than anywhere in the United
States. Due to the reason of this is why they live together
so many years and anthropologists have made studies on this
for sometime, probably could get a better answer than the
Indian himself probably, but we've always recognized this
as a separate nation, a tribe. The Seminoles recognize the
Miccosukees as another tribe and vice versa.
K: Why do half of the Miccosukee choose to live among the
Seminoles become part of the Seminole tribe of Florida
while the other half wants to be recognized as a separate
tribe?
0: Well, since the reservation established in 1920 and 30's,
it did move on to the reservation, then they would be
recognized as Seminoles and they could live there. Finally,
in 1957, they had to have it in writing so everybody had
to live on the reservation not really have to, but if they
wanted to be recognized as Seminoles, they had to file the
papers through the council, then the rest of them, we didn't
go out and recruit anybody, but we could have really, if
we wanted to, but then they wanted to be Seminole because
they live on an Indian reservation there was more what do
you call it, more to live on the Indian reservation than
to roam all over the State of Florida that really, that
land isn't yours, because the Indians didn't have that much
money to buy property, but out on the trail they have the
Miccosukees and also another group which is independent
and they don't have a connection with Miccosukees or
Seminoles.
K: Who is that?
0: The Osceola group and the Clay group are way down in Palm -


24
and they do not recognize, they don't want to be recognized
with the Seminoles or Miccosukees either. They don't receive
any kind of help from the county, state federal government.
That is one group, and yet all of us can be relatives in a
way.
K: Do they own their own property?
O: Yeah. Several families have bought the land way back when
the land was fairly low, but they always cater to the tourists.
K: Okay, well thank you Joe, you've been very, very helpful.
0: I hope to have, Tom, and it's been a pleasure for you to come
down and work with us and give our regards to Dr. Mahon.


Full Text

PAGE 1

INDIAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA In cooperation with The Seminole Tribe of Florida INTERVIEWEE: INTERVIEWER: Joe Dan Osceola Tom King DATE: August 31, 1972 DORIS DUKE FOUNDATION

PAGE 2

SUMMARY Joe Dan Osceola, first public high school graduate among the Seminoles, was elected president of the Seminole Tribe, Inc. in 1967. During this interview he discusses the relationship between the Seminoles and the U.S. Government in terms of the Indian Health Service, Indian claims, law and order, and some past history. He also considers motivations for education, Indian health problems and the differences between the Seminole and Miccosukee Tribes.

PAGE 3

INDEX BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs), 2, 5-7 Billie, Josie, 21 Clay group (of Florida Indians), 23 Education, 1-2, 7-8, 15-16 Health (problems), 19-20 Indian claims, 6-7, 11-13 Indian Health Service, 2, 7, 18-20 Johnson, Dr. Emory, 19 Jumper, Bettie Mae, 12-13 Law and order, 9-12 Medicine men, 20-21 Osceola, Billy, 16-17 Chief, 5 Richard, 16-17 Osceola group (of Florida Indians), 23 Politics and leadership, 3-5, 8-9, 13 Reservation (formation), 14, 16 Stranahan, Frank, 16 Transcultural contacts, 11-12, 17-18 Tribes formal organization, 2, 15-17 Seminole-Miccosukee differences, 21-23 United Southeastern Tribes, Inc. (USET), 18 United States Government, 5-7, 11, 18

PAGE 4

K: Mr. Osceola, to start the interview, could you give me a brief description of your life, education, jobs you've held, and so on. 0: First of all, in education, I was one of the first, well I'll say I was the first Seminole Indian to graduate from public high school in 1957. You know you might wonder why we are so far behind in education because I was the first one in 1957 and it's really an honor to me. It shows how far this is to show you how far we are behind in education, and so on. But there's a complete history and story behind the Seminole tribe of Florida and this is one of them. Even as late as 1940, that the Indians in the State of Florida couldn't go to public school, so this is why they went to boarding school in Cherokee, North Carolina. In late, early 50's, they finally went on to schools out in the State of Oklahoma, for the boarding schools. Prior to 1957, there's been several high school graduates but it was in boarding schools or Indian schools, government schools. This is why I have this the pleasure of being the first one to graduate from high school and I went on to a college for four years to Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky, and I didn't receive my degree even though I had four years I lacked about a year. I lacked the money. I stayed on the reservation and worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs on the Brighton Indian Reservation where I went there when I was ten years old after my father got killed in a car accident. The place where I graduated from a small town named Okechobeenear the Lake Okeechobee, and this was nearest to the Indian reservation to Brighton so this was where we went and many of the Indians that graduated from there from Brighton and Okeechobee that are now tribal leaders and also people are in the political structure in any way for the tribe. And also, for the Bureau and the Indian Health Service and the other people connected in any way to the office work and I would say due to the reason why so many people from the Brighton who were able to receive their high school in the way of training. Many of them went to the boarding school out in Oklahoma after receiving high school diplomas and this is why they are able to advance more than the three reservations here in the State of Florida this is why. K: Let me interrupt you for a second You said that prior to around 1957, or when you graduated in 1957 around '53, '54, then, the Indians were not allowed to attend public schools. 0: Public schools no, sir.

PAGE 5

2 K: Who changed that? Can you tell me? O: Well, I'll say that most of the people are from all over the United States, most of them from the Eastern part of the United States, and they're familiar with the integration. To us, they were treating us separately like what the Negroes went back through the 'SO's and '60's. They couldn't even go to the public schools until in late '60's.I would say because of the civil law, I believe it was, and they integrated but prior to that, here the people here in the State of Florida weretreating the Indians separately as people, but finally they could see the Indians, American Indians have a lot to offer in the way of sports and if you can look K: Sports? What possibilities? O: Quite a bit because many of the Indians who have ever played football or any kind of sport, they become to be a star on the team, so that has a lot to do with it. A lot of the schools have took the Indians in without them playing any kind of sport, so what I would say is that they finally realize that the Indians have to have an education this was back in the 1950 1 s, not the 1850's, so they finally realized that. I would say that they gave us a chance later on to start playing ball and they really became pretty good athletes. K: The reason I asked this question as you probably are well aware, in 1954, there was an historic thing called the Supreme Court Civil Right Decision, which made it necessary for all of the schools to give equal treatment. Actually, it didn't work out that way, but that's what it was supposed to do to blacks and Indians and other minority groups as well. I was wondering whether that was the primary reason why you were allowed to attend school or. O: No, we started going about 1950, in public school, but it was late as 1940 that we couldn't, but in 1950, '40, 1 50, was when we started the go to public school. So about the Seminoles from Brighton Reservation there have been outstanding citizens in my opinion because of the contributions made to the Bureau of Indian Affairs personnel and Indian Health and, of course, Indian Health is something new for us because we didn't take over our program until about two years ago, but the tribe has been existing as an organized group in 1957, and that's when they organized and finally the federal government drafted a charter so that way we were able to elect our own

PAGE 6

3 leaders and start getting government programs and tribal programs. K: Before we go on any further, I'd like to ask how old you are and where you were born. 0: All right. Back in December 20, 1936, there's a baby boy born out in the Everglades--was near Alligator Alley --Miles City used to be the name of it. There used to be a settlement there of timber--people cutting the timber there and everything, but now, there isn't one person living out in Miles City now. There used to be an Indian settlement there as well. That's where I was born--out in the Everglades. Then at the age of 30, right at the age of 30, that I entered politics. This was 1967 that I was elected as President of Seminole Tribe of Florida, Inc. and it was a most unusual thing because we had been voting for our elected leaders for ten years--started from '57 and when I entered into politics was '67, and what I meant by this unusual thing was that I won it by a land slide. I got more votes than all the other four guys put together, so the people had enough confidence in me through the election. There were several people, of course, who weren't gonna be satisfied with the person, who the guy is, and the election official in the position anyway. So, I did have political enemies--the people who used to be in it and so a lot of people are not Indians and Ind ians are from the other tribe as well, They tried to get me out of office. The first six months in the office, so we finally had to take it to the people, and have a vote on it again. I won the election again by 3-1. K: Why did they try to get you out of office? 0: Political opposition. K: How is this possible? How can they? What excuse did they use to try to take your decision away from you? You had already been elected, therefore, you were the president. O: They can through the acquisition of many different ways. As strange as it may seem to the non-Indians why thee~ lected officials out of a tribe can be impeached or to see if they can get him out of office. Actually, it was a white man in Washington that make the rules and regu lations for us anyway, so this is why there was a possible way that they could right now we could .•. if we have a leader anywhere in the United States that is an Indian working for

PAGE 7

4 the Indian tribe, they can impeach him. It has been done before in other tribes, so this is what they base their theories on that I wasn't doing the job right, and everything. But our political structures are no different than other organizations say in the community or state or national wide. So there's why this happened, that I should leave the office and they were using some tactics like they use in the funds, the misappropriated funds, and you can think any kind of charges imaginable. In fact, I was, oh about the second or third year in office, I was accused of selling the tribal government properties and many other accusations that I was investigated on by the FBI three times and also Secretary of the Interior office. Of course, they found it negative. Of course, they advised me if any other charges were true, I would not hold this job where I had now. Actually, that was the best recommendation they could have done for me. My political oppositions in this way, I was able to get another job. In fact, I know many of the political people in national wide and also in the State of Florida, the senators and congressmen and the governor also. The last two governors that I had been appointed to the Indian Commission First by Governor Kirk and then by Askew. K: Can you tell me how the electoral vote process works? How do you go about campaigning for election, who is eligible to vote and that kind of information? O: All right. In the Seminole Tribe of Florida, what we have is you have to be a member of a tribe and have to be at least half blood of the Seminole and you have to be 21 years of age. Now we haven't lowered the voting age yet in the Seminoles, so you have to be 21 to vote and enable to run for any of the positions open. The election is every four years for the Seminole Tribal Chairman and the President of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Inc. Then the council and the board of representatives are every two years. How you go about it in our tribe, it is aver~ very small tribe it's only a little over 1200 enrollment, so the people who are members of a tribe can vote who they wanted to sometimes they work on a platform, three or four different guys work on a platform, but most of them work and run as an independent or individual person. So this is how they go about their campaign, meeting at a barbecue or fishfry, any way they can. Like I said a while ago, politics are no different than yours. This is what we do, but they know us, I'm sorry to say, from the day

PAGE 8

5 we was born until the day we run, for anything we run for public office in our tribe, and normally, if we run for the county or state or national wide, the people, I'll say, five percent or two percent, if you run national wide, they don't know you that well. But in the tribe they know you, like I said, all the bad things and good things you done back when you were a teenager. So this is a handicap in many ways and it's advantage in many ways. K: How is the polling conducted? O: We hold the elections, like I say a while ago, every four years on each reservation and the people who live off the reservations they can only vote for the tribal chairman or the president. They can't vote for the representatives or council men. So on each reservation they vote, and they count all the votes back on the reservation and they bring it in on the tribal headquarters, which is here in Hollywood and also we have a Bureau of Indian Affairs headquarters and Indian Health Service so this is one of the most progressive reservations in the state, and a matter of fact, in the whole United States in my opinion, because I visited many, many reservations since 1967, and because of the location and because of the news media people took so much interest in the Seminoles anyway more than I .would say, the Seminoles I haven't had anything to do with it or my family, we didn't since we've been organized. They didn't have anything to do with it, I would say the locality and also how the Seminoles have been treated back during the Indian War in fact, it says on the back of Mahon's book, [John K. Mahon's, History Of The Second Seminole War, University Of Florida Press, 1967]. Other Indians from the other tribes were recruited to try and fight against the Seminoles thinking that they could they're Indians so they can fight as well as Seminoles in the Everglades, but it doesn't work out that way. In fact, they even went as far as recruit some bloodhounds from Cuba to try and fight against the Seminoles, but due to the public response on this saying this isn't the way to fight for our country, so they had to drop it and then due to the disgrace of the United States Government and armies and, which, of course, has been so very honorable, one of our main leaders, in those days, was Chief Osceola, the original, was captured under the white flag of truce and he was put in prison in St. Augustine and eventually,

PAGE 9

6 Fort Moultrie, South Carolina, where he died. So things like that, is what most of the public remembers and this is why the Seminoles are one of the most popular tribes in the United States. K: Let me bring something up perhaps you can explain it, I know the Seminoles are very proud of being the "unconquer ed Seminoles"--they've never signed a treaty of peace with the United States Government. However, the Constitution of the Seminole Tribe of Florida states that anybody who holds office is self included to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America and will defend it against all of its enemies. There's something wrong there. O: Well, like I said a while ago, through the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington drafted the Constitution for us. K: Then you have no choice. 0: We have no choice because many of my friends, cousins, and friends have served their time in the Viet Nam or started way back in the '40's where they've been taking parts in the army, marines, fighting, and navy, so it's nothing new to us. We don't have to be drafted, but we join, we enlist for the armed services. As a matter of fact, there's not a member of my tribe who has burned their draft card or even burned the American flag. To me, this is more honor than the people you see on the street burning draft cards and United States flag. You can't name a Seminole who has burn ed any of the property that doesn't belong, or even belongs to us that we do not destroy anybody's property. This is what's wrong with us. I would say, you may wonder, what's wrong with us. People nowadays say news media, say they want to see who's burning the draft card, the flag, or demonstra ting and so on, destroying the property. This isn't the In dian way and sure isn't the Seminole's way, but we've been trying to do the right thing--say fighting against the United States Government trying to get our reimbursement for the State of Florida--something like 32-40 million acres the State of Florida promised to pay us back in 1832. We haven't received one red penny, so we have to file through the court back in 1949, and we've been fighting them courts ever since--that's about 23 years ago. So, what can you do? You can't just sit back--we haven't been sitting

PAGE 10

7 back we have attorneys fighting legally in court and they take advantage of us. People in Washington K: The attorneys are taking advantage of you? O: No, not our attorneys, but their attorneys. They got their own attorneys, and of course, political people in Washington and the more you keep quiet, this is how they want you. Many times, tribal leaders and the people on the reservation threaten them, well, if you go out against the United States Government, we'll cut your funds off. And, of course K: Can you give me a specific example? I'm really interested in that. O: It's very possible for them to say that. Because you can see how much money has been spent on the Indians through the tax money our tax money out of my own money it's come back to us in some way. But about ten years ago, maybe eight years ago, I say five years ago, that most of the money, ninety percent of the money that has been appropriated to the Bureau of Indian Affairs used to go to non-Indians. You say, yes, we've got a lot of Indian workers working for our agency the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Indian Health Service. The Indian Health Service is different now, 'cause they took ... they work directly with the tribal leaders and council, but the Bureau as you remember, has been established back in a hundred fifty .. two years ago and this was the way a lot of the tribes weren't organized yet and they ran their political structures in their life, and there's been more regulation and law has been written for the American Indians more than for any race of people here in the face of earth. This is what you can't have too many regulations and laws, especially for the American Indians because many of them never went to school and this is one of our biggest problems! Now we like to thihk that we're coming up as far as reading and trying to speak English. You know that the Indians can speak two, three different languages. As a matter of fact, here in Seminoles, here in Florida, we have two languages in our own tribe, which is not a dialect, it's a language itself, so this where non-Indians or people who don't work with the Indians doesn't realize that, but we have another language it's unwritten and you have to learn it orally. So, to be an Indian is really tough especially when you go into public school and especially when you have never had any

PAGE 11

8 training for the English language and when you have to write in numbers, when you first start out in the schools. But now, thanks to OEO and Head Start, it's under HEW, but we have a Head Start on the reservation. Most of the reservations throughout the United States now, that they are taking advantage of, where students can be trained to speak English and also count their numbers, in colors, and all that. They are not behind us as they once was. K: To get back to the electoral system, I would like to know who counts the votes. 0: Oh, we have a council, tribal council, selects each different people on the reservation, about 5 or 6 people, to work on the election on whatever reservation it may be in the commu nity. Then, they would have the people to take the list, and if you're eligible to vote, and as a matter of fact, I would say we have a stiffer rule on the regulation of voting than in the county or state than anywhere, because you have to live on the reservation something like four years before you can vote I could be wrong, we'll have to check this, but I know it's pretty stiff. And if you live just block, even half a block from the reservation, due to the housing shortage and they don't take that into consideration at all. So, whatever the reason it may be If you're away to college, boarding school, boarding school wouldn't count too much because you have to be 21 to go any way, so I say college or in the services, like army or any of the services, they can count that as living on the reservation, however. K: The voting is well regulated? 0: Oh, yes. We have a weekend protest if you want a candidate and he lost by one vote or any kind of vote and you don't think it was handled right, you can protest that and bring it back to the council and they can check into this. We have a pretty good government a private government working for us. K: Once you were elected president, chairman rather, what were your powers? What could you do to effect change within the reservation? 0: One of the best things about the democracy even in our own system is that we can change some of the laws or amend the

PAGE 12

9 constitution but when you do that, it has to go back to the people to vote on. First the council has to think it is the right thing and they have to agree on it and have a majority vote and then take it to the people and we have to discuss this over and over. It's not like here, you know, where you can get the paper at a moment's notice and read the amendments to the constitution or the law where he can go ahead and vote on it. The Indian community doesn't work that way, because you would have to explain this over and over, maybe two or three different times until they finally understand what you are trying to do then if they support you, that's good. If they're not, then even though a chairman has a lot of power in many respects, but the other tribal chairman as far as voting and voice, expressing their opinion. So we encourage this very much. K: Are referendums held on every piece of legislation or is it just on constitutional amendments? O; Let's see. The constitution we have to take it back to the tribal people out on the reservation, on the reservation, but there's a resolution this is tribal council can take an act on it the resolution itself. K: What is the authority behind that resolution? O: The resolution can be enforced by the tribal government, the tribal office. K: Can you give me an example of a typical resolution? O: Resolution could be, say we are going to have a pow wow or a field day a certain day. They would work on it and they support from the tribal office and they would have it. It did not go to the people like you would in the constitution. The constitution goes back to something stronger like law and order. We have to have our I wouldn't say that, law and order is a different works in a different manner. The city curfew you know, that has to go to the people. Curfew is something stronger than say, the pow wow, because even though both things is important and everything, the curfew, if you don't enforce the law or the regulation or constitu tion, that they don't take advantage of, and most of the reservations are that way because of the money shortage and staff shortage, where armies we don't have law and order. Back in 1962, the state said that they would take up law and order. Up to now, they haven't worked we have never been

PAGE 13

10 satisfied with their law and order protection. K: Let's talk about that for a minute. I have interviewed several people concerning law and order on the Brighton Reservation--I don't know about the others--but they told me--they told me, the two men, Richard Smith and Tom Dol lars on the reservation are paid by the county or rather by the council. However, they are listed as deputy sheriffs in the Glades County Sheriff's Department. This is a concept which I find it hard to come to grips with. If they are dep uty sheriffs, why aren't they paid by the county? If they are not deputy sheriffs, why are they called that? 0: Well, they could be a deputy from Lake County. The reason why the council are paying them is this--you are talking about Dade County, that's in Moore Haven--the Brighton Re servation--it's best for us to have a law and order out there paid by the council than not to have any law and or der enforcement out there, 'cause that's what's gonna happen. Our, like any other counties, are run on a very limited bud get even though the state said they'd take care of this back in 1962. I wouldn't say there's a conflict, but to me, the tribes are splitting its own bill where the state or county is supposed to have and the reason why they don't take care of it, is because they don't have the money. Problems within the town or city and this is the problems we have all over the State of Florida on the Indian community. K: I can understand the county not wanting to pay for sheriff's deputies out on the reservation, but what I can not under stand is that the tribal council would pay the salaries of these men but would not assume authority over these men. In effect, the tribal council is paying for Richard Smith and Tom Dollars, but they don't have any authority over them. Glades County Sheriff's Department does and does not pay their salaries. The sheriff can tell both of them what to do and the sheriff and the two policemenon the reservation told me this themself that the sheriff has authority over them. O: Right. They do have authority because not every man--well, let me say this. The Seminole Tribe of Florida has a lot of other problems and other organizations to work with. They can let somebody else do the counciling and give authority and power to have somebody and let them be trained.

PAGE 14

11 K: But they haven't been trained. They told me this and the sheriff told me this. O: Yea, right. They haven't been trained, but look at what happened. You know, what is the solution. You know, right now that's a problem I've been facing when I was in the tribal council and the board. What are you gonna do? The council isn't gonna pay them so you gonna let those two guys so because Glades County isn't gonna pay them this I know for a fact. We wrote a letter to the governor, called him and everything else and you just don't know those big cats up there. Believe me, like I said I've been on the Indian Connnission under two governors but still we talk about this and say, yeah, we'll get this next legislation meeting, we'll do it, but there again, it's government white tape. K: Do the Seminole tribes of Florida have any laws that are different from the laws of the State of Florida? O: No, back in 1962, again, that the tribal council decided and made resolutions and to let the State of Florida handle the law and order in the State of Florida for the Seminoles. K: That means that the Seminoles have to obey the law of the State of Florida on the reservation? O; Even on the reservation, even though it's federal government. There again generally anywhere else that the federal government land, federal land and also state does not have any kind of jurisdiction anywhere else but on the reservation. There again, like I said a while ago, the American Indians have more government white tape and the rules and regulations and law have been written for them. There again, you can take back in history, it was a popular thing to fight the American Indian and to beat them. As a matter of fact many of them have made to be a president because they defeated Indian tribes. One man that was to be the President of the United States was General Custer and he didn't make it. One incident where he didn't make it, but many of them made it and up to this day, I don't know what it is about the American Indians and the government when it comes down to the nitty gritty, they have never really been given a fair shake. I can prove this what has been documented in Washington and also a lot of different land and many different timber land has been taken away from the water rights and a matter of fact, exactly what I said a while ago

PAGE 15

12 about the State of Florida, heck, if I owe you some money the American Indians owe the United States some money, how long do you think it would take me to pay up? I assure you, not a 132 years, so that's what I was talking about. You have to be an Indian to see our side. Again, unfortunately most of the people in power in the United States have seen this and said this, not say it, but they only believe this through the American history book even up to this day they said that there is one thing, when they win, one side when they win, it's victory, but on the other side wins, it's a massacre. You know what I'm talking about it's the American Indians against the United States Army. So it's up to the state it's like that, because you ought to read up on some of the bills that have been written for the Amer ican Indians have been able to defend themselves through the help of the non-Indians but this is within ten years. Prior to that, we lost many lands and also lost a lot of money. K: Why did the Seminoles decide to let the state take over law and enforcement in 1962? O: Tom, you're asking me why did the Seminole tribe of Florida let the state take over law and order? Well, I would say I haven't checked that record on how much we had at the time, but if you are gonna have law and order, you're gonna have to spend a little money or even recreation and this is still the most important position in the way they had never really had it for most of the time it's been organized due to the lack of money. Funny thing that happened when I was president, we had to lease some land in order to get the revenues. Either that or borrow our money from the federal government. Hell, they didn't mind lending us some money because they know they'll eventually get it back through the State of Florida when we paid up, because we had to borrow two or three million dollars when we organized back in 1957, and when they were running the tribal office and everything, in 1967, the money was depleted As a matter of fact, they were right on the verge of borrowing some from the federal government and it was approved by the council and the government approved that something like half a million dollars but I took it to the people. Fortunately, there was another person with me he was chairman at the time her hame was Betty Mae Jumper. Her and I worked, I'll say, pretty hard for the Seminole tribe and with the Indian organization as well. So we took it to the people and they turned it down. More people were against

PAGE 16

13 borrowing more money, so this is why it was turned down, and so, we just didn't want to borrow any more money from the government. Keep borrowing it, and borrowing it and borrowing it and eventually you would borrow more money than you have in equity, so this is why I'll say a third of the reservation to the non-developer. Now it's working out well, where the money revenue is coming into the tribe and now we are able to function more and pay your tribal officials. As a matter of fact, Betty Mae Jumper has worked three years without salary because it was cut off. Like I said the money was depleted for the tribe and this was why the chairman's salary was cut off. Now, about fifty more years, all of the Hollywood reservation will be ours again. K: In fifteen years? O: Fifty. It's quite a while, but other leases have been made for sixty years and ninty-nine years so, this is one of the better leases. K: I want to ask you how much you got for that If you'd rather not tell me, I won't ask. O: Well, I'd rather not say on record, but it's not hidden record. It's the tribal clerk that has that information. Connnission and Lynn Realty is the officers and Bob Davis. They all have that information, so it's no secret. For how much an acre the tribe has received, you'd be interested to see how much money people prior to me in the office leased the land, about 10 or 20 acres and they're only receiving about a dollar an acre, so I assure you it's worth a bit more than that. K: Well, everytime you borrow money from the government, is it necessary that you first have a referendum for the people before you vote on it? 0: No, not everytime. Unfortunately, no. They did have power to do it, but my philosophy was different. It's not that I'm any smarter, but as a matter of fact, when I was running for when I was on my campaign, I wanted to give power back to the people because to me I'm sorry to say this, the Bureau and the Indian leaders they were running their things like they wanted to and this is why I ran I thought I could do something to help the people.

PAGE 17

K: Did you run for re-election? 0: No, I didn't. K: Why not? 14 0: Because I the Public Health Service is a government job. I could run and nothing would stop me from running, but when you work for a tribe as a tribal president or chairman, at the end of two or three years or four years, you became a very tired man, traveling and meeting out in the reserva tions. You go to Brighton and have a meeting and you don't leave until about 12 or 1 o'clock in the morning. Then you have to get up in the morning and go to work. Not too many people can last under that situation. K: Can you make a comparison between the system of government now and the tribal council and so on, and the old Seminole system of what you really can't call government the old way of leadership that held things together? 0: Depends on how far you want to go back. K: As far as you care to go. As far as your memory goes Tell me how things used to be run as opposed to how they are now. 0: Well, I can't tell you how things were 40 or 50 years, because I'm only 35 now, but let me tell you something what really happened. Some people can tell you in different ways in better ways but prior to 1957 in the Seminole tribe of Florida, there wasn't any kind of activities or jobs for the Indians on the reservation none whatsoever. It was a typical Indian reservation. That is the most depressed and oppressed area that you can imagine, so now what you see today, is the difference between day and night. I wouldn't say that the Seminole tribes was organized was the one that really saved the Seminole tribe. Back in the 30's and 40's, anything prior to that, Indians were roaming all over the State of Florida like gypsies, because we didn't have any land to call our own. The whole State of Florida was ours, but yet wasn't ours, if you know what I mean. So that was the case. So finally in 1922, this reservation was established. But then the Indians at the time didn't have any goals or initiative they had a lot of initiative to do what they wanted, but it wasn't towards the government they could become one of the top heavy equipment operators or a ditch

PAGE 18

15 digger, but that wasn't any goals or look forward to until you received an education and this is why we started going to school. You know, we had to go to school and we had a lot of encouragement from our parents because they never had any schooling so they worked out in the field they know what it's like not to have an education and they didn't want us to be like that, and so they encouraged us to go to school and so I'm happy that they did encourage us because I would say one thing, us coming from the reservation had a better record attending the school than we have to travel 25 miles one way, better than a person living 5 blocks from the school, because education means something to us and still, it means something to us. K: The question I ask you was about government on the reserva tion prior to 1957. Any form of government or leadership at all? O: Well, what I was getting to that's my way of explaining things. I'm sorry because when I'm talking to Indians I would have to explain things to him and give a brief history and get back to that. But I know in a white man's way is to get down to the point right away, but you know you might not get full information if I don't explain this, so In 1920's and 30's, anything prior to that, like I said, Indians used to roam all over the State of Florida, not having any goals, then a man from Oklahoma, he was a missionary and he started converting the Indians to the church. K: Was this man's name Billy Stuart? O: Uh, no, it wasn't. He took part in it, but it was another man. He started converting the Indians and I would say this really moved the Indians Seminoles who didn't have too much goals and when a person doesn't have that, they're gonna depend right on the drinking. This is what happened to the Seminoles. They used to drink quite a bit. Green corn dance and now, I'm sorry to say, that we're practically losing now because there isn't much significance as there was before it was one party the drinking. Then finally, the Indians started realizing that there was such things as churches and God and God we always believed in was the master and breadmaker but still we didn't have that much goal. Then, in 1957, that's when we started getting organized into the tribe and up to this day, the tribe is doing well.

PAGE 19

16 O: Back during the wars back in 1812, through 1842, they had one of the most well-organized governments within the tribe, and this is why we had a lot of leaders back then. Chief Micanopy, Osceola, and Alligator and that. What happened was this each different group had their own leader. Matter of fact, the Seminoles are made of from 15-20 small tribes from here within the state of Florida. Then the very first time you ever heard of a Seminole was back in 1775, or the 1770 1 s because by then the white people were coming to Florida to pioneer andall'.that, and they organized that so they could fight against them as a unity. This is where they got some of their Seminoles leaders. So it was a little organized, but then after the war was over, say 1842, from 1842, the last time they exchanged war, I mean fighting was back in 1856, 1857, after that there was just a complete blank about Seminoles. You just didn't hear about them. Down in the Everglades, around Lake Okeechobee, they mistrusted the white people and everybody in general and the government In early 1900's, they were trying to help the Indians and they said no, we want to be left alone just leave us alone. So they finally give up, off and on, until the 1920 1 s, when the friend of Seminoles through the leadership of Mr. Frank Stranahan of Ft. Lauderdale, he is one of the most beloved friends in the history of the Seminoles and of the state. What he has done for us and the land was preserved for us here in Hollywood on the reservation and at the time he was called Dania in the reservation. Then the Seminoles went through many stages of that. There again, mistrust we almost lost the land in the middle of 1920 here in Hollywood. Then moved the Indians to the Indian town and finally moved back because through the friends of the Seminoles again. My father his name was Richard Osceola the reservation was established in Brighton in 1935 or 1936, when they started a school. My father was the one who requested a school because he used to be down here in Hollywood where they were trying to get the Indians to go to school. He saw all of them and had Stranahan send a letter. Learned English through Sunday School and everything, so he saw that and he wondered who was down there he could speak two different languages and he was a great unofficial leader at the time because we didn't have any organization prior to 1957, so he was a spokesman for the tribe and helped the individual Indians. His brother was Billy Osceola and he was chairman for fifteen years. From 1957 to 1967, so those two men I am very very proud of.

PAGE 20

17 Then the tribe was organized and he carried on the tra ditions. From 1967 to about 1970, I was the tribal pres ident. I never would have done what they did, because I'm not capable of doing it, but those two men, Richard Osceola and Billy Osceola have been good leaders and I'm happy to say they're my relatives. So the tribal govern ment has been run that way. If we could have it in writ ing it would be nice, and I'm glad that's what you come to do and I'm glad the tribal council will receive the tape and also in writing, 'cause too many times we give out the information and after it's completed, we never see it again, we never see them again, so. K: I haven't seen any of it yet either. That's what they told me that you would receive transcripts of each of these tapes. 0: I hope so, because, well, are they gonna listen to it, too. Well, that's good. Don't let us down, Dr. Mahon, because you've done a great justice for I would say for the Seminoles through your book. The Second Seminole's War is the title of that, and I haven't really finished the book yet, but that's some book because many, many people recommend this. I recommend this to any kind of people for a reference book, any kind of book. They should even teach this in the high schools, this kind of book and I would like to some day hope they will because it's time we re-written the history book because back then they didn't even consult the Indians or leaders about but now what they're trying to do is forthey document it for private people maybe, but, I mean pri vate company or whatever the case may be, but what I'm say ing is about the history books and the United States, it ought to be re-written not like it was. I know many people said that the General of the Army gave false information-it was documented in Washington to make their country look good, but there's also on the other side, the American Indi ans, I don't care what tribe it is. They had something to offer back in those days and still do, matter of fact, and because of that, let me go again, this second world war was one example thanks to the Navajo Indians in the west because as you remember, the Japanese nation could break any kind of code in numbers, language--they was breaking it right and left until they got the idea of two of their men, Navajo In dians to talk in their language and used that as a code. I mean they used their own language, their tongue to give them

PAGE 21

18 direction in what they were gonna do. That's one thing the Indians did to help win the war, but how many times do you see that in the history books? Well, so much for the history, and I'm so glad that we Seminoles and other Indian tribes in the nation are proud to be an American and this is why we took part in the war and this is our country before any other people that ever •.. I saw the sign the other day, or bumper sticker, that said Indians discovered Columbus. I thought that was a pretty neat saying because again in history books they say that Col umbus discovered America, you know. Well. K: Thank you Joe Dan, and I want to stop the interview now. We will resume the interview with some information about the Indian Health Services. K: How did you become a part of Indian Health Services, Joe? O: Well, the Indian Health Service has been with the Indian reservation throughout the United States, since 1955, but here in the State of Florida, the State of Florida was handling all of our medical problems and this means the doctors, the pharmacies, and the hospitals, but the state was contracting through the Indian Health Service out of Oklahoma City. Then last year was when we took over our own program because we should, the tribal council should run it through the help of the United Southeastern Tribes. I was the president of the United Southeastern Tribes, Inc. at the time so we started working on this so we could take over. Sure enough, people in the Rockville, Md., that is the head quarters for the Indian Health Service, agreed to let us take over our own program because it is ours and we should know our problems better than anybody else. So this is why they granted us power to take over our program and while it may sound like in the earlier interviews I was relating this to United States Government and all the congressional acts, I am not so. I can only feel hurt and be bitter of what has happened to my people, their initiative out on the reserva tion because they're actually, they are not well to do, they are barely getting by and when you go out to the re servation, you can only get depressed. Then when we come back to the office and try to help and get a lot of static and get a lot of government white tape, you can't blame a person--! don't care what color skin or who the person is. Then a person gets depressed and gets stuck and gets stuck out in the Everglades where the tires will spin down in the mud and you can't go anywhere.

PAGE 22

19 It's just that sometimes, but it's the system that we have to follow and to get the thing started and not saying too much about the United States Government, back in 1830, there was a president named Andrew Jackson who signed the Indian Removal Act--that was one of the bad things in government United States Government, ours too. Congressional Act is not so bad because in 1955, through the Congressional Act, the Public Health Service was formed--! mean, the Indian Health Service was formed through the Public Health Service, so since then, they have helped us tremendously. The Indians out in the West what used to be overwhelmed by disease such as TB and colds and other disease, but they wasn't immune to it. But here in the States, we have a lot of problems, with many disease, but now thanks to the United States Government, the Public Health Service has really helped us through the Division of Indian Health. This is what I am a part of--the Service Unit Directors throughout the country. Most of them are Indians and they try--what we are--we're liason men from tribe and the Public--Indian Health Service in Washington and we try and work through the channels like that. Dr. Emory Johnson has been one of the greatest men in our eyes. They had faith in us and they have really helped us to do what we have to do for our Indian people. But I understand just re cently he had got the promotion so he is out at Indian Health Service Director in Rockville. K: You say the money provided for Indian Health Services was pro vided by HEW? 0: I would say, Public Health Service--we are under Public Health Service, so here again, it would be under HEW--I think HEW took over that recently, didn't they? K: I'm not sure, I think they did. 0: Yes, so, that's who we are under. K: Can you give me a summary of some of the major health problems the Seminoles have or have had in the past? O: I would say the major problems we have on the reservation would not be the illness directly, but indirectly it came from malnutrition or not the right diet to begin with and we eventually come down with something else more stronger

PAGE 23

20 like colds, pneumonias, and due to inadequate housingthis had been one of the biggest problems--because then the Indians like to travel all over the United States where they weren't immune to the disease anyway. Like in alcohol, the Indians are again overwhelming, we are the sickness of alcoholism. And now, mental health has been coming into the picture and we needed this for quite some time, but lately even more so, because we're--we have in herited what the white culture went through. The people work in office and live in the urban areas. It's no differ ent than the Caucasian having their problems with alcohol ism and mental health. We are not immune to it, and as a matter of fact, the Indians throughout the country probably consume more alcohol than any other people because maybe they're depressed, you know, of a locality area. Alcoholism and mental health, I would say, is one of the biggest prob lems for here in the Seminoles. K: What is being done to prevent such problems as dietary and bad housing? Are you trying to educate ... 0: Yes, sir, we are. As a matter of fact, since we took over our program that the Public Health Service--the Indian Health Service on the Seminoles and Miccosukees--we are able to get more doctors and nurses and better treatment at the hospital and our private physicians and pharmacies and through that, we are able to come up with a different program, like sani tations and we have asked for a health educator. We hope to receive this position before too long to start working on it. We have already had people, that is mental health and alcohol ism program to be funded by the government agency in Washing ton so we do have personnel within our own tribes. K: Can you tell me if there is any conflict between white medicine and Indian medicine on the reservation. Are people a little re luctant to go to the white doctor and would rather go to the Indian medicine man? O: Well, about 20-30 years ago, they was really reluctant to go and see a white doctor, but now, not too much anymore, because when they are educated in the schools, they can see that medicine doctors have very limited power like they once did before. About 50, 75 years ago, medicine men were the greatest men who ever could have existed in any body's country because this one man we had relied on to do counseling, 'medicine and almost perform the miracle, but Seminoles, like any other tribes, have to have something they can talk to and feel and see and talk to in person.

PAGE 24

21 You can believe in God so much, but you can't touch it. So, this is why medicine men was a vital part of our lives. But now, more people has educated in public school, whatever schooling that may be, are aware of what kind of disease it is, but believe it or not, there's a doctor in Miami named Dr. Rip and also we have a doctor here in Ft, Lauderdale, Dr. Rogers, he was a great admirer of Joseph Billy, he was the last great Indian medicine that the Seminoles ever had, a great one, I mean, there's other doctors, medicine doctors, for the Indians. But this medicine was so great This medicine man was from Big Cypress reservation. I was gonna say that the other non-Indians doctors, medical doctors in these two great cities have heard about them so much, they wanted to meet the medicine man but haven't had the opportunity yet. As a matter of fact, he's getting on in age he's 90 years or older. Because the reason they wanted to meet him, a lot of times the Indian patients needed surgery or some kind of a surgery and then they would go back to their reservation and see this medicine man and would use some kind of herbs and chant and he would make it happen. It, well it would happen in about two or three weeks and then the doctors, the medical doctors, would swear up and down that the same patient needed a treatment, surgery, just three or four weeks ago and now it didn't have to be performed, so this is how they kind of wanted to meet this man not only those two doctors but they have been other Indian tribes out of Oklahoma who come and see him for medical consultations and get medication as well. Not just the Indians but non-Indians, so this man has something to offer and he is a very great man. K: Joe, I know that you were President of the Southeastern tribe at one time, and of course, the Miccosukees are a member of that southeastern tribe along with the Seminoles. I would like to ask you why it is that the Miccosukees say they are not Seminoles and do not wish to be treated as Seminoles they are a separate tribe. This is what has puzzled me and several other people at times. 0: Okay, you know both of us are citizens of the United States and I wouldn't appreciate it very much if they said we were citizens of Cuba, would you? Okay, so that's you answer right there, because Miccosukees are not Seminoles. Same way that we do not want to be identified with Cuba or Russia or any other thing like that, because they have their own language, their own leaders, and they are separate. But due

PAGE 25

22 to the ignorance of the federal government back in '57, they wanted to make one tribe out of the Seminoles here in Hollywood and also out of Miccosukees--they wanted to make one tribe, but those people rebelled so much within five years in 1962, which was ten years ago, they received their charter from the federal government for them to get their own leaders, officially. They've been working un officially--they've been holding their meetings way before the Seminoles of Florida held a meeting, so they are def initely have their own separate group. K: Correct me if I'm wrong, but I've been under the impression that during the nineteenth century, particularly during the Seminole War, that if the Miccosukees and Seminoles were not one people they at least lived as if they were. They lived together and the Miccosukees provided most of the leadership but the Seminoles fought under the Miccosukees, Osceola was a Miccosukee. I think that's correct. O: You know, that could be true. I can say it was because I have heard both ways. I don't know if Osceola was Micco sukee or not. Well, that has to be taken up with the eld erly people and they can always give you their versions of it, too, like I'm doing, so will the other people that you talk to. There again, we have never had anything docu mented, because the Seminole language wasn't written and the older people didn't have anything in writing because they couldn't write, so now what you are doing you are ex ploring and coming up with the best answer possible. But Seminoles and Miccosukees, yes, they lived together and, but, they have, let me say this, when you say Seminoles, it's what has been placed on the Seminole tribe through the reser vations, Big Cypress, Brighton, and Hollywood, But people from Brighton are a Cow Creek, most of them are Creek, they're made up of about 30 percent I guess, or 40 percent, and the others, they're, they speak the language of Miccosukee of 40 mile bend, so in a way we are part of them but they wanted you to know, have their own identity as a Miccosukee and I can see why they wanted to. K: How are they different in any way other than language from the Cow Creek Seminoles? O: Facial structure and the way they're built. K: Are the ones from the trail perhaps slimmer than the ones from Brighton?

PAGE 26

23 0: Yes, I would say slimmer and of course, there are some big men up there too. K: You would say then there doesn't seem to be any difference between the two except the Miccosukees speak a different language and a slight physical difference. What I am getting at, do you believe there is a difference in their culture or their history or way of doing things, utensils that they used in building houses and so on. They all seem to be very similar. 0: Yes, I would say the Seminoles and Miccosukees are one of the closest tribes together than anywhere in the United States. Due to the reason of this is why they live together so many years and anthropologists have made studies on this for sometime, probably could get a better answer than the Indian himself probably, but we've always recognized this as a separate nation, a tribe. The Seminoles recognize the Miccosukees as another tribe and vice versa. K: Why do half of the Miccosukee choose to live among the Seminoles become part of the Seminole tribe of Florida while the other half wants to be recognized as a separate tribe? 0: Well, since the reservation established in 1920 and 30's, it did move on to the reservation, then they would be recognized as Seminoles and they could live there. Finally, in 1957, they had to have it in writing so everybody had to live on the reservation not really have to, but if they wanted to be recognized as Seminoles, they had to file the papers through the council, then the rest of them, we didn't go out and recruit anybody, but we could have really, if we wanted to, but then they wanted to be Seminole because they live on an Indian reservation there was more what do you call it, more to live on the Indian reservation than to roam all over the State of Florida that really, that land isn't yours, because the Indians didn't have that much money to buy property, but out on the trail they have the Miccosukees and also another group which is independent and they don't have a connection with Miccosukees or Seminoles. K: Who is that? 0: The Osceola group and the Clay group are way down in Palm

PAGE 27

24 and they do not recognize, they don't want to be recognized with the Seminoles or Miccosukees either. They don't receive any kind of help from the county, state federal government. That is one group, and yet all of us can be relatives in a way. K: Do they own their own property? 0: Yeah. Several families have bought the land way back when the land was fairly low, but they always cater to the tourists. K: Okay, well thank you Joe, you've been very, very helpful. 0: I hope to have, Tom, and it's been a pleasure for you to come down and work with us and give our regards to Dr. Mahon.