Citation
Interview with Buffalo Tiger

Material Information

Title:
Interview with Buffalo Tiger
Creator:
Tiger, Buffalo ( Interviewee )
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 141 ( SPOHP IDENTIFIER )

Downloads

This item has the following downloads:


Full Text
SOUTHEASTERN INDIAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
In cooperation with The Seminole Tribe of Florida
INTERVIEWEE: Buffalo Tiger
INTERVIEWER: Jane Dewey


D: I had a talk with Patty Reagan. She says you've turned
this into a regular thing, going over to the school now,
and that you are hoping to have a certain, same kind of
talk to the younger parents about keeping old ways.
T: If you like history things. You know--learning.
D: Yeah, or customs.
T: Right, the dead stuff.
D: Sarah told me one thing that you had asked them to do is
when the children take a nap, to sleep with their heads
east. Is that because the sun comes up in the east?
T: Right. This is the kind of things we wanted them to know.
D: Sleep toward the sun, and things like that. Well, another
thing that they keep calling about is...is there any ritual
in the way they keep the house or plant gardens, or do their
daily work, you know?
T: Let's see...it has to go within the tool. You know anything
about that?
D: No, not necessarily.
T: I don't know.
D: Well, you told me that so many of the younger parents had
not been taught, so the thing that you think is necessary
is to preserve your own culture, and that you're hoping to
be able to teach it.
T: You'd like for me to try and explain the colors of the flag?
D: Yes. Do they have certain meanings?
T: Well, it does mean something, but I can't get into a whole
thing, because I can only give you the colors, the meaning of
the colors, you know? Let's pick yellow. Yellow represents


2
east, and red represents north, black represents the west,
and white represents the south. Every time Indian making
medicine for another Indian, they realize that the whole
universe spins this way. Their colors is kind of wrapped
around this idea, you know, in a way. Those colors, it's
real deep meanings to the Indian people. Some colors,
like they say...someone says you take a fruit, one that you
often like to eat, and when it gets a little older it gets
to being kind of bruised up, reddish looking, you know what
I mean? And then later it gets to be black spot on it,
and before you know, it's gone. And then a refreshness...
is white, it's again.
D: Turned around again?
T: Right. So this is the reason the colors still mean so much
to Miccosukees. We're supposed to know the colors, regardless
how dumb we are, but you got to put it together in the right
places. You don't go around, let's say, start in the east
and south. We must start it in east and north, rather than
south. So this goes with the evening dance--we have to always
turn the same way around.
D: Left?
T: Right. But this is funny now. It's not funny, but it's some
.... I went to see a Oklahoma Indian dance one day when the
Oklahoma Indians were dancing, sending around the opposite,
but to them I guess it doesn't mean anything. To us, we
just can't do it. We've just got to swing the right way.
We think that's the way it looks best, because that's the
way the earth spins.
D: That's good; that's what I like.
T: Well, this is what it is.
D: This is what I was going to ask you, but I haven't been
explaining myself too well.
T: So what's next?
D: The things you were teaching the children in school, and that
will be taught to the younger parents who missed out on
them when they were coming along.
T: Well, we have had a good teaching system for older kids, but


3
since we have developed schools in the way of the white
education system, we find some of the young Miccosukee
people have kind of a changing idea in some, and all those
older people were real upset about it. Of course, we haven't
lost anything yet, but looked like we'd lose some of this
teaching, so they said we supposed to be teaching the
Miccosukee culture in their language. This is the way the
school at one time. We did say that to the government,
and the government agreed with us. So when we were talking
about not too long ago--this must be about three months
ago--the council and the other members got together, and
I did ask the question, "What you people like to have ?
Do you wnat to go ahead and really be educated in white society,
and forget we're Indians, or you want to go ahead
and continue teaching your ways, and then let part of it
be learning?" I mean, they'd be learning in their Indian,
Miccosukee ways, in other words--the culture and customs,
and all that; then wanting to learn in English also. They
says, "Well, all right." Says all societies--not all of
them, most of the societies--Miccosukee is going to be taught.
Miccosukee and English side by side. We shouldn't put ourselves
all the way to white society, trying to be like whites, but
keep ourself in the line in the understanding white men's
ways. Work with them, get along with them, but let's
teach our own and continue the Miccosukee here. I says,
"All right. That's what we must do, I guess that's what we
should do."
They're happy about it, and of course we haven't worked
out yet, but as far as an education program, we have got it.
Teachers must know about it, and be ready and teaching.
What kind of teaching should be done, who's going to know?
We thought maybe Indians, Miccosukees themselves would kind
of point out some of these different things--what they like.
So O.K., the first thing we have to do, we have to develop
the Miccosukee language. And while we doing that, we
trying to work with this Indian in the...write a little
history for Miccosukees from the beginning. So this is what
we doing now, but it's going to take a lot more work and a
lot of more time to get it in good shape, but at least we
got something going. I'm sure some of them are learning how
to read the Miccosukee language. It's written in English,
but...not in English. I mean, the letters itself is English,
but it's written like Moccosukee sounds. I imagine you
would have a hard time to pick it up and trying to read it,
but some of the young people are doing pretty well.


4
D: You're beginning to get it written down now. But it would
be a phonetic writing down, the way it sounds in English.
T: Right. It's not only that. While we're doing that, we're
going to develop some of the folks' history books. Right
now we're just going into a small way, you know what I mean?
Just like we're beginning.
D: What about old songs, or some of the chants?
T: Those are the kind of things that are going to come later.
This is only just the beginning--we start teaching the young
people.
D: Practical language?
T: Right. So other things is going to come later, and we do
develop some of this type of book. I would like to say this:
I'd like to see the Miccosukees to develop it and keep it,
unless somebody wanted to borrow it and use it any way they
can, that's fine, but it belongs to the Indian people, you
know.
D: This next one is just a couple of facts. Your income--do you
get money from the federal government? This is used for the
tribe as a whole, is that correct?
T: Well, yes.
D: Do you administer it?
T: Right. I wish this doesn't have to be the way, but we forced
to do this, because it's no way we can make the money--
should I say funds, or income. We can make it very little--
just enough to get by. Now, you know, everything costs so
much.
Let me try to explain to you for why we think we...
how it's going to be kind of rough with us. We don't have
a good land here. They say they own all the land here around,
reservation, and we own national parks--one third at the
north end of Everglades National Park. That is no way we
can make money. We do have a stake in the reservation.
It's pretty good size--it must be about 78,000 acres--but
there's nothing there. But we did lease some of it to
farmers. They produce crops, and later they're going to
try to give us more money. Right now they're giving us,


5
let's say, about like fifty cents an acre for farming.
Sometimes it gets underwater, and that's the reason it's
so cheap. And then we used to hunt. We used to hunt,
and we used to make pretty good money hunting frogs, may-
be skinning alligators and selling the alligator skin...
so many things we used to get good money out of. We just
can't do it any more, and so where are we going to get the
money? Some people do have a job in the city, but live
around here and then go in the city and travel and buy gas
and expensive automobiles. This costs too much.
We thought the only way we going to is
and maybe later date, but right now the government is sup-
porting the education program. You remember, we took
this school in the government program back in 1971.
The Indian government is to be down here. Use to have an
office in Homestead, and take care of this small reser-
vation here and the school. But in 1971 we had talked to
the government, and we think we can manage to run it our-
self. The government seems to kind of believe us.
D: So you're in the business council, administer what they
give you?
T: Yeah. Right now...
D: the tribe as a whole, anyone...it's up to you how it's
spent.
T: Right. See, what happened...when we contract with the
government, that money used to support the school, and
in the operation. We still get that money even though we don't
have an agency here. So a contract that for Indian people...
some of the tribes are ready, want to go ahead and contract
with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, then the government will
continue to support funds with the school and program. That's
what we doing now. Money....
D: Do you also have money from the state trust fund? Do
you divide it up?
T: Let me finish telling the operation with the government.
Situation is...the government funds would be granted to us.
So many dollars we have to make a budget--costs, school,
food to keep employees and all that. Then they usually
support us with funds, and then they have another contract
with the Indian Health Service, like the health needed for


6
the Indian people, and we do have another problem here
now. I called it white man's problem, but we got into it.
It's the alcoholic problem, people who are...seems like they
drink more, so this means we should have some kind of
money to take care of this problem. We have that program
in contract with the Indian Health Service. Of course,
I don't handle it, but every money the government giving
us...money for any programs would have to come through
the tribe. It has to be deposited in a bank; it has to
be accounted for. The government has to check us out as
often as we can. But in the state, the state so far
didn't give us hardly anything, nothing yet. But they've
given us a few dollars here and there.
D: I thought certain lands were held for you. Was the State
the trustee?
T: Yes, that's the state Indian reservation.
D: Do they pay you interest on that, or...?
T: No, the state Indian reservation, it just sits there. There's
nothing on it, really nothing there. What we did, we leased
that to farmers, and that income would come to us, directly
to tribe. The state had nothing to do with it. Only
thing the state really does...we make out a contract with
individuals, just like yourself. They come to me--you inter-
ested in that land,maybe for something, not to buy it, just
to say I would like to rent this land for several years,
maybe fifteen years. I would make a contract with you,
and then our council look at it and send it in to Tallahassee.
So they says this contract looks all right. Both parties
agree, and both parties are all right. So it looks all
right with them, and that's it. If you wanted to pay me,
then, you have to pay this price, and that money is de-
posited in the bank.
D: Do you have any money that are just given to the members
of the tribe to live on or to spend as they like?
T: No, no. they don't have any of that type of money. Only
thing, we do give so much dollars from the lease from
the state Indian reservation. We give each individual a
hundred dollars a year. We call it a dividend. That's all
they get.


7
D: I didn't know whether they got that, or were dependent
on jobs--working for the tribe or in town, or whether they
had a little coming in.
T: Yes. Right now I believe families are doing pretty well,
because we got at least sixty people employed with the
tribe now. You know--around school, and teacher's aides,
and some of them are working in the Head Start program.
We want to put Indians in the key places, the key jobs,
in the different departments,but it's not easy. We have
to look outside too sometimes for help. But in another
five years, I imagine we'll be taking them on ourself,
you know.
D: The people who work in town--are these the men who do
construction and building, things like that?
T: Yeah. Some of the Miccosukee men usually have a job in
the city--have a construction job, and then it's just
mostly labor, you know.
D: Real strenuous.
T: Yeah.
D: Do you think you have any militant teen-agers around here?
I know you don't have your shooting up kinds.
T: I think this is true, but it's not...does not mean what
happens. They're going to the places like
that. I think this is only.... First of all, people see
on television cowboys and Indians, where the Indians
and all that kind of thing wrong. Some of
the young people think this is pretty smart, this attitude.
But I think....
D: But they don't do it?
T: No. I don't think they....
D: You're Indians without cowboys.
T: I think this is the kind of thing always going to be around,
but as far as getting up and start shooting guns, that kind
of stuff, I don't think so.


8
D: Well, this editor up in New York has written so many of
the western Indian books. Have you gotten around to
reading any of these?
T: Very little.
D: Well, they do talk about this--not exactly worship, but the
Earth Mother concept. And the regard, and the beliefs about
birds and animals.
T: Right.
D: Do the Miccosukees have a feeling for the land or the water?
Can you tell me some of that?
T: Well, this is true. I make my speech many times in public.
Indians can't help feeling that way about it. I think when
I was younger--when the medicine man started asking me to
speak for them--the kind of thing they teached me first,
you know, what it really is for Indians. It's nothing nasty,
it's nothing I should be ashamed about it. I think it's
wonderful I did learn.
D: Why would you be ashamed of it?
T: Well, what I mean, every young....
D: You mean they teased you about it?
T: Every young man, every Miccosukee, should learn that. It's
beautiful the way you learn it, you know. I don't realize
it then, you know, how important it is. I think it's...
well, it's something that seems like it's dead, you know
what I mean? When you're younger...but after you learn it,
you just realize it, and you see what happens and you're
kind of glad you did learn that.
It's kind of deep subject, and I don't think I should
try to get into some of the things. But I'll try to say
as much as I can why our people feel that way about it.
In the first place, Indian people think--at least what the
Miccosukee thinks, now; I don't know about the other tribes
--is that God makes people different. Some of the people
are good for books and some of the people are good for the
hard labor. Indians are not good for either of these
two, except they good for the nature. In other words, the


9
gods say you weren't supposed to change; you're living
this kind of life--that's nature. The other people, as
you saw, you have books, you can read good, you handle with
the books, you take it, and the other race of people says
you really good strong and healthy, and hard labor won't
hurt you. You take this tool, and you work with it. So
from there...and Indian people feel like this is what hap-
pened, and we must grow some type of crop yearly, because
that's what God has teached us to do. You must always
produce crops yearly, and that's what the Green Corn Dance
about. We have to do much work, and we must have this dance
continued. Just to say everything that's happened now, the
Indian people are knowing all the time some of these things.
Seems like they know it all the time what's going to happen.
Like you destroy trees, you put the canals in the land, and
you do this and you do that, and Indian people think you're
destroying it. You're damaging it.
D: I should be left alone?
T: It should be left alone. Live with it, enjoy it. But the
white public doesn't see it that way. They wanted to build,
build, build, destroy land. Progress, they call it. But
Indian people themselves say, "Now you're going to do too
much. You're not going to live too long when you do too
much." So they say destroyed--that's what most Indian
people, particularly old folks around here, say. "You just
going to destroy? We hurt ourself, nobody else but ourself."
When the Indian does he's supposed to know
it good, and want to see how far we can go. Meantime, seems
like somebody say, "Come on. Come on over here, now. We're
doing good things here. We want to take part in it over here.
This is beautiful things--it's a good job, and everything's
so wonderful." But in God's eyes, and the Indian's idea, no
it's not. You destroying yourself. You're just going to
hurt yourself. This is the attitude for Indian eyes and
Indian minds.
D: It's not a worship of the Earth. It's preserve yourself and
preserve the Earth too?
T: Right.
D: Preserve the Earth so that you are perpetuating yourself?
T: Right.


10
D: It's not worshipping the Earth?
T: No, not exactly that. It's just the whole thing, the whole
thing. Everything to us, it's wrapped around with religion
and ourselves, and everything ties together. We think we
not part of, or we not welcome, so every time a death come
along to us, we supposed to be happy. We get back to
earth, because we think we a part of that, which is what
the Indians say. It's so many things people have believed
in it, and of course, I don't know a lot of it, but what
little bit I do know of it, I think it's beautiful. I
hope a lot of young Indian people would sit down and learn
that.
D: It's the simplicity of it that makes it worth so much?
T: Right. It's just like somebody I was talking with the other
day said, "Look at this star here." With me, now, I don't
know too much about these stars, but some of the Indian
people knew the stars pretty well. They can name them. So,
this kind of thing...how they learn it? There was a man
here one time that teach them everything they know. No
one man teach them--nobody teach them except that just one
person was here one time.
D: That one time was from God?
T: Yes.
D: Is that what that means?
T: Yes.
D: You told me when we were talking before that a part of your
teaching never changed. Never change your ways and things.
T: Yes, yes, exactly. That's what it's all about. If we have
changed--that's what they teach the Indian people--they
been teaching us. If we were to change, to us, we'd just...
we just don't have anything anymore. Plus, we have lost our
religions, and that kind of thing was supposed to either
destroy us, or it's just something that's going to happen.
This is the reason we don't want...we're not supposed to
want change. We can change some, but not really. Every-
body expect that the Indian live like you do, you know
what I mean?
---- ---- ---


11
D: I'd rather live the other way, myself. I'm not so great on
progress. We haven't any dreams left, haven't found any-
thing.
T: Right. True.
D: One thing they asked me about--the clans. Traditionally, are
your leaders Birds and Panthers?
T: Well, I think there's not too much of that now, but during
the war, some Panthers would be war leaders. They were
pretty strong leaders, but in both clans it's not that.
Bird can speak both peace and war, you know what I mean?
But Panthers I understand...now this could be wrong, but
as I understand, the Panthers are only really war leaders.
So if one is to say Bird is someone could make a peace,
but the Panthers couldn't.
D: Panthers make war?
T: Right.
D: Well, those were about all the particular questions that
I had out of all of this. If you want to talk, I'll be
glad to listen.
T: Talking about the lost Miccosukee culture. I don't know
how much of it's lost, but some of the elders do remember
this culture pretty well. I'm sure some of the brothers
might still live with this culture. I was pointing out that
even though we're in the one family, and I've been brought
up the same, but after we kind of grow up we kind of
have different opinions and get different ideas. As I
say to someone, we have four brothers doing entirely dif-
ferent things, but we are closely together.
D: You mean you and your brothers?
T: Yes. We're going to get together sometime this week with
our families. I don't think I can say it's lost, but it
surely needs to be taught to young people much more than
it has been, because I feel like they are going to school
...they're learning in the white society. Naturally, in
three years, five years, what they have been taught would
lose out...taught different cultures pointed out. So this


12
is what we're doing now. We're trying to bring it up,
teaching culture--the Miccosukee culture--knowing they are
learning English daily. We're hoping not to lose this.
We'll be teaching...and interesting to me, particularly
with me--I have been around with non-Indian people so much
I know how they're thinking, some of it--I realize some of
the things your people believe in, the white people. Some-
times tears come out of my eyes, and it's so sad....
D: You mean we are?
T: It's so sad, is that Indians really mean, and people wouldn't
believe that. When I say "people" I'm talking about white
society. Most people couldn't understand why it was that
way. Seems like Indian life, you don't have bad language.
You don't have anything means that. You taking like you
and I are talking, we can only say "yes" and "no"--no "maybe,"
no.... So that's the way Indian minds have developed. When
they were taught, they called to Indians who don't teach,
but live it day by day in doing things. First, maybe, when
you're young, you have to be taught--you have to be given
whippings and...but that has to be there, so you have to
respect your parents or elders and so on. As you get to
be a grown man--grown young man or young woman--parents
are going to start punishing you during the time when you
grow older. The uncle takes over. They are the ones who
are supposed to control the nephews.
D: This is the mother's brother?
T: Right, the mother's side, and you respect that. With me,
now, anyhow, most of the young people used to do, but lately
I guess you'd say we've lost...the schools in white society
don't teach that. To me, that's pretty sad. And then our
children are now going to school, they have lost respect
for their uncle, and teachings being taught in the book
kind of thing. So as I said, we're going to start teaching
this type of thing. If we have to whip them, we will.
Of course, I might not do it, but somebody else might.
I don't mean beating them; I don't mean that, but punishing
them--correction--just like taking a stick and whipping
like you would do your own little child. But we just don't
grab any child and do that. In my situation I have to take
care of my young people; my young people have to be Birds.
I happen to belong to Bird clan, and these young people


13
have to be belonging in that area. You know, I can't go
across maybe Otter or maybe a Panther or somebody else.
You step out of line if you do that. So I take care
of my own kind of people, because we don't want....
D: You take care of your nephews?
T: Right. We take care of our own kind of people. I am a
Bird, and they have to be a Bird, you know, and not of
the other, like Panther clan. They the ones have to
handle that. So that makes it easy. But sometimes, though,
you'll be called on, even though you can be Panther, or
you can be the Bird. The group of people like General
Council...someone could ask you, "You be the one speaking
for us today," and then you have to do it. You're talking
to all of them, you know what I mean?
D: You represent the others.
T: Right, but you've got to be told to do it. You just don't....
D: Bust in?
T: That's right. It's so many things that have to be respected
here. There's so much law in Indian life you couldn't do...
like this going on today.
D: Is it common today?
T: Well, particularly the older people. I don't mean older ones;
even some young people have been taught living that kind of
life. Still, I understand that most young people that you
find going to school and walking around here, most of them
don't, because the school kind of.... I use the school;
I shouldn't, but it's true. When they start going to school,
learning English and that type of situation, it seems they
get away from parent control. It's really happened. The
Indian people, Miccosukee specifically, have always close
families, but when they start going to school, and then the
mothers began to go out and get herself a job and making
a little money and help pay grocery bills, and this and
that. Maybe they have a TV in the house, and when the
children come home from school, go back to watch TV, and
their mother talking and daddy talking. Now, you can look


14
and listen to TV, and so this is the kind of thing that's
awful dangerous for Miccosukees--not only for the Miccosukee
tribe, but for other tribes as well.
D: Are you speaking more of the Miccosukees who live in Hialeah,
where you live, or Miccosukees in general?
T: Well, I'm talking about the Miccosukees as a whole--all
of them. I'm not talking about anybody particular. Even
a little child, now, going to school, they know all about
the culture taught in the school. They know that, but
I think that it's kind of mixed; it depends...up to the
parents. Mother can go to work and come home and still can
show a child right, and the father can help out, you know,
but some parents not. Some parents go to work and let the
child go to school, and if he comes home, or she comes home,
and food to eat, and watch TV, and meantime mother and daddy
don't take time to teach them these things--the Indian
teachings. Kind of let it go, and thinking, "Well, my
child's in school. Teacher's taking care of it for me.
I'm working; I'm making the money."
White people don't have to do much, in fact, bringing
in this type of idea in our minds. That's one cause of
the beginning to tear down. Once we recognize this type
of thing, then we can tell it to Indian people, let them
see it, let them really understand what they're doing to
their child. Then they have to think to themselves, "How
much are we going to do?" In other words, how much of it
shall we keep in the family, our youngsters, or how much of
it do we have to let go? They're going to have to make up
their own minds. It's an awful sad thing. Indians--
Miccosukees, particularly--have always lived in the kind
of religious feeling. They don't know any other kind of
life. Indian minds, really...people say to us, "You should
go to this church, you should go to that church. You should
be a Christian man, or you should be a Christian woman,"
this and that. Well, Indian people said, "All right, I'll
be Baptist, or I'll be something else," but Indians have a
real Christian life, not knowing he lives that kind of life.
It's taught every day, and you respect this type of thing
these days.
D: So much the same thing that Christians are taught you're
Christian?
T: Right. They're living it; Indian people are living it. But


15
now Indian people start going to church sometimes--maybe during
the weekend, or something--and practice their own culture
a little. This kind of thing, I feel pretty sad about it.
I'm sure they can continue living what they have, the
Indian people have. I think, to me, it would be better for
them than any change. Indian people recognize this, and
now the Indian people, they waited, and it don't come so
easy today. Every year you have to change--you have to
change your clothes, you have to change your hairstyle, you
have to change your shoes, you have to change ways so much,
and God taught us, he used to tell us, "Never change. You
should remain what you are, until end of the days." We
have to recognize that what is mean we change, we throw
off into the world, into the earth. This is what our people
say, simply.
D: But you're teaching the basics as the same thing. Is that
what you mean? Not the clothes, not the car, or whatever.
T: This is what we taught here. This is real Indian. I'm
saying this is the way Indians have been taught; this is
the way Indian people live with it. With me, now, I think
that it's a beautiful life if people can do it. But you
see us now--I'm wearing a white man's clothes and shoes,
and I'm sitting here in this chair and doing so many white
people's ways. But here, now, we look like we don't have
any choice to live the way we supposed to live. I know myself,
and my heart tells me I'm doing wrong. It's so wrong, but
yet we trying to live with it.
D: Get along.
T: Yeah, trying to live with another society--white and our
ways, Indian ways, together. It's a conflict there. It's
a strong and heartache conflict there, and so the culture is
something...it's not like this. If you understand what they've
come to mean. If I was trying to make you into what you're
trying to adopt into...you see how...? We have little papers
with us saying we understand. Otherwise, public just don't
realize what happened to Indian society and culture.
D: It's been smothered?
T: Yeah, it's the pressure, and just all kinds of things that
happen to people. But we really kept some of this culture,
and it's going to be practiced.


16
D: Well, this is what you call the Culture Program.
T: Right.
D: Is that going to be affected by the things in the OEO
[Office of Economic Opportunity]?
T: We're not just concerned about our support money, you know.
If Indian people really want it, they have gone through a war
with the United States. The United States put them in other
places before, and the Indians didn't want it, and so they
live here. They're going to continue. So just a little
old few dollars is not going to make their minds change from
a whole culture. I don't believe that, anyhow.
D: Do you think that the young people are interested enough in
the culture program to keep it going?
T: I think once they understand, really understand, they'll
work at it. I talked to this little one this morning, in
the classrooms today. I think about back a couple of years
ago I'd been so busy, so I thought I'd better just talk
to 'em a little. But they got to know.
OK, the language problem...there's no problem as far
as the language now, but it's going to be in five or six
years from now.
D: What do you mean?
T: Well, it means if I have to go in school to learn English,
every day that's where they're going to, a lot of kids, and
there's going to be less and less Miccosukee speaking, so
that would kill that. In five or ten years we won't have
too many Miccosukees speaking Miccosukee, like today. Most
of them speak in the Miccosukee language today. So I say in
the next fifteen years--ten, fifteen years, it's going to
be not all of them will be speaking Miccosukee. To get them
to really better use both languages, they got to know both
languages. So we hope this will help out. Right now it's
no problem, but there can be five or ten years from now. You
understand?
D: Yes. Won't Miccosukee still be spoken at home then?
T: I don't know. I'm not experienced in that type of thing,
but I do speak English a lot of times. It's easier. But


17
when you're talking to your own people you have to talk your
own language, and both are handy. Miccosukee's handy some-
times in some places, and some places English is handy.
So I think be nice if people could use both.
D: That's right. I think everybody should know at least two
languages.
T: So old timers know when they learn how to speak English.
I believe some of the elders never learned English. Some
of the elders, they're never going to learn it.
Education problems--I was trying to point out some
things. Education, to you it's simple, because your society
believes in schoolwork, the culture. That's the way you've
been brought up. Everybody goes to school; kids have an
education. Well, Indian people have the all-time education,
but it's a different kind. You talking about white people's
education or Indian education?
D: I know about white people's. You tell me about the Indian's.
T: What I mean is the problems. I pointed out the white man's
education a problem with us Indians, particularly Miccosukee,
as I said. Now, the reason that way, they have been taught
never learn white language, because they say...in the first
place I told you what God said to us, never change. That
would make us change. Learn the white language, and we
finally be like white people, and that would make us change.
And the way we learned wasn't in language, and they didn't
like white language. Then you have lost out on the culture
which you know by the Indians. So the whole thing is tied
together with the culture in the words God said to us. It's
not just something that we don't want; it's just something
we're being taught. It's in our hearts. It's against what
we've been taught.
Young people, particularly our people, are going to
school with a question in their minds. Our daddies and
our mothers have never gone to school, and there's a reason
for it. How come? Why they have to go to school today?
That's what they say, so we're going to have to try to really
give them that right kind of support, and encourage them
to learn English, education. But it's so much of it. As
I say, now, when a boy or girl gets to be fifteen, sixteen,
seventeen, going to high school, it's a dropout. Here
again, now, it's the kind of pressure, the kind of thing I
talked to you about--confused minds, changing culture. The


18
whole thing works together.
The boy over here couldn't really see where he's
going. In the first place he was taught not to go to
school. He's trying to, but he finds different kind of
culture, different kind of language, and all that together--
he's scared. So it is a problem. But we're all going to
school, Miccosukee style. Go on to school, get a good
education. You've got to have a good, strong mind...
understand, really understand the Indian way first. Other-
wise, of course, the only thing...he's going to get them
going. During Indian education, during Indian learning,
could get him strong enough confidence in himself to con-
tinue regardless of what happens. If he happens to be not
knowing too much about Indian culture, or whatever it is
he's supposed to be learning, soon he's going to be weak,
so confused. We're just going to quit, because it's
why or where are you going? He doesn't know.
D: After they finish school here, how many go on to school in
town?
T: Well, let me put it this way to you: we probably have at
least four or five going to the...some of mine going to
junior college now. We hope those will continue going into
college soon. See, what happened, this is the first time
in all these years that Indians could--particularly Miccosukees
--accept education. Before, they could probably get.... You
know, they started in 1962, and getting prepared is what
we're doing here. We started a Head Start to prepare, and
then they'll be ready to go on to first class. First class
is going to prepare them to go to high school and continue.
I think now we know what we doing, but we don't know how much
will stick with them, this education. We hope we going to
get more of it, to interest them in learning Indian education.
D: Are the ones who grow up in town more interested in going on?
T: You can't say where they belong, you know what I mean? To
me, going to school, still going to school. But just like I
say, they have to have a good, strong background first,
and that what makes them go to school and continue. They
think that this is how the people think, you know what I
mean? It's important, so I'm glad I'm talking to you.
While I'm talking to you, I'm learning something, too.
So that's the way it is on the education.
There's something here about drinking and drugs with
the children....


19
D: Yes, in one of those newspaper articles on you.
T: Yes.
D: You recall them?
T: Right.
D: Have you had much trouble?
T: Well, it's not so bad now. Here again, I believe I shouldn't
really blame anybody, but as I said earlier, Indian people--
we do not have some of the worst kinds. When I say the
worst kinds...earlier, I told you we don't have bad language,
and now you're going back to that on this here.
Indians see a person like yourself--you dress nice, you
come from downtown, you white person, you're wearing your
shoes nice, you look nice, you must be all right. You must
be all right, because you look nice, you got a good car.
That's all they see--you must be good, you know, so then
you can ask them to get in the car, "Let's go down to the
store. I'll buy you a ice cream, or maybe buy you something."
OK, you can influence these people, young people, so easy.
Of course we never had that kind of thing before for
Indians, all the things involved now. But anything new come
to town, like anything--like talk about drugs, or talk about
alcoholics...I mean drinking. Let's talk about the drinking
first. Right now young people are interested, because they
watch it on TV. A lot of young people doing a lot of dif-
ferent things. They think this is fun. Say, "Well, we'd
like to do it, too." So it's one thing. Another thing,
they try to go to school and learn something, and parents
think they are doing wrong, but they let them go and now
they feel funny about that. They kind of in a confused
state. Somebody brought some bottles down here on the
reservation, and when parents not around, they're going to
take it. They're going to take it, and they're going to
drink it. In other words, it's not something you have to
push to do that. It's easy if you have it come to you.
"Let me take a drink," you know, that's what happens.
Now, in drugs it's a little different. Drugs, someone
has to really get them to try it. I don't know what kind of
drugs they use, what kind of stuff they use, but it's been
used, I know that. And here again, now, I say some fellows--
maybe some of the Indians or maybe non-Indians, I don't know
who's doing it, but they have to bring it in from somewhere--


20
and takes it, and listen to whoever it is getting it for
them, believing it. Little by little it becomes a threat.
It's happened here once in a while, but it's getting not
too bad lately. We know this type of thing, but we don't
know how we can handle it. We were told this is going to
come up someday, and it's here now. We know about it,
but we don't know what to do with it. All right, it's
the problem, and we hope these youngsters can be wised up
and realize that drinking's wrong and taking drugs is
wrong. It will be up to the parents, and it will be up
to themselves to get them to, but we're working on it.
D: The same with everybody?
T: Right. Talking about the Eastern Airlines crash....
D: When I have tried to ever bring up the flight and religion,
you've been very...you've already given me some things on
that. Then something will turn up in the papers against
your religion. But if I would stay out here, "Do you
believe in taking dead people in your house?" and nobody
would answer. That's why I put that on the list.
T: I think this is another thing. The crash...this is what I
say to you before--we live with what we were taught, what
we're supposed to be doing, and we shouldn't do other things
unless a special person was appointed. The medicine has
to be made for us, you know, before they can do anything.
We just don't select anybody. We just don't say, "Hey,
you do this, and you do that." Indian people have never
did that. It's not to be a special kind of person for that
area, you know what I mean? And then on top of that, medi-
cine must be fixed to give to him so he can do this kind
of thing. It seems like some thing is almost in law. When
you step over on the other side, you'll be wrong. Then
our courts was pointed out this kind of thing when Corn
Dance. We going to talk about Corn Dance a little...we
not going to be talking about it too much of it, but I
can tell you just the outline, so you understand what I
meant?
D: You say in your court....
T: Well, let's finish this Eastern Airlines. Here, now, people
come to us here after the crash, and people have called me.


21
I was on vacation; I was home in Hialeah. They called...
oh, I believe it was twelve thirty or one o'clock in the
morning. It was Friday, I believe, and I says.... The people
out here, now, in the plane crash where so many people got
killed, and I don't want to use our schools and gymnasiums
to bringing in the people in here. I says, "Well, I don't
know what to say about that. I feel real bad about it, and
I don't know what to say about that." So I said, "Why don't
you get the people together here on the reservation and ask
them how much of us could we help them?" Some of the
councilmen talked to others, you know, and says, "No, we
can't have bodies here." So they called me back, and they
let me know what to say, and I says, "All right." About
that time some officers had called and says, "We want to use
the school for the headquarters now." I says, "Well, you
can use the school, telephones, office space, everything,
but don't bring the bodies in down at the school, because
if you do that then these young people that are going to
school, they're not coming back. So that means that that
school is not going to be any good for us after you bring the
bodies in."
Says, "We're not going to do that. We just want to
use the office space and telephones.
I says, "Go ahead and use it. It's there." So that's
all it takes, you know? But I know there's all kinds of
stuff come out later, but we don't say that they can't use
it.
D: I wasn't here, I was in North Carolina, and the paper up
there...and by the time it had gone through two or three
papers, you had said, no, you wouldn't let anybody do anything.
T: Right. I know it. So anyhow, the reason that that way we
don't fool around anywhere where man was killed or a woman
was killed. It's so many things involved in that. I don't
have to go into that, but only time people can go in there,
man or woman have to take medicine. This person, before they
will go in there and take care of that kind of situation,
they have to have medicine with them. We just don't have
no body, unless they have medicine with them. But we don't
bring bodies to a place like that--we keep them aside. We
just keep them aside. We think of death as a sad thing.
I mean, it's nothing worse than that. We know that, and that's
the reason the Indian people...a man, a good man who has passed
away, and the wife has to sit there not doing a thing for her-
self, sometimes four months, sometimes three months, because


22
be respecting this way.
This is the reason a lot of Indian people today...
if my wife passed away maybe two or three months ago, no
young people come to me and say thing to me. Has to be
some older person comes to see me, talk to me about it,
because they say, "That man have a darkness. He's in the
darkness now." If you go up to him and say something--
kind of, you know, play with him, and that kind of thing--
reflect on your folks, your parents. So they leave him
alone and let the time soften him up. This kind of thing
is their respect. So if people can just say, "Well, this
is the way you've got to study, you've got to learn." So
that's the reason that we say we can't have a body in
the school, OK?
During Corn Dance--I might not ought to say this, but
what I'm talking about....
D: Is it the harvest?
T: You mean Green Corn Dance?
D: Yeah.
T: Well, here again, now, let me try to tell you. I think I
pointed out something important in things for Indians. I
pointed out what God says, what he tells us to do. The
whole thing I'm telling you is this thing now--the whole
thing, our lives is wrapped around it. The whole universe
is run with it--stars, everything. We don't think we make
it ourselves, but only thing we know, we supposed to know
how we must live; otherwise we going to help destroy the
country or the earth. That's what they said. We going to
have to destroy earth. If we behave ourself, then maybe
next fifty years, maybe a hundred years can add on. We
were taught that. So in Green Corn Dance it's worth it.
Corn, we know it's going to be put in the ground and it's
going to grow and it's going to have a corn root, so this
is what we always have to.... As long as we have this
medicine, Indians are supposed to continue believing this
--believe in our medicine. Our medicine is...it's not real
medicine, it's more religious situation, you know. Religions
believe in it.
D: You mean a spiritual medicine?
T: Right, that's what it is. And the corn has to be new crop--


23
it has to be green corn crop, fresh. We have started corn
at last corn dance, and that crop be gone. It should be
cut-off time, that time, to start eating green ones from
that, year after year. So there is to bring us together,
and it should be court set up. Meantime, lot of things,
lot of activities are going on, organizing what supposed
to be a Corn Dance, you know.
This day we talking about...we talking about different
days meaning something. First day everybody gets together,
and we have a count. I was talking to you a while ago--
different clans, right? Every clan has its village. They
don't live together. Every clan has one village over here,
another clan has another village over here, at different
places. So if I did something--not in my clan's village,
but in some of the other villages--I get punished. I go
over destroy something, or beat up somebody, I get punished
by them. I don't know...I'll pay for it with something,
or I don't know what they do to me, but it has to be
this court in the Corn Dance. This is the reason we're
trying to behave when we go in Corn Dance. At the same time,
when people get together they go ahead and find all the wood
they can find--that's for the food--men folks did. Then the
next day, a woman, all the wives, all the girls cooks it...
cooking, and they eat all day. That's what we call eat day.
First day is woods day, next day is eats day. They eat all
day.
D: Woods day?
T: Wood...looking for firewood for the food next day. So next
day they cook and they eat all day, and that's all they are
doing. Then next day they don't have anything to eat, starv-
ing day, and it's kind of rough. I believe this day they
have courts, and everything is supposed to be brought to the
...you know, what happened, all they did, if they can work.
But if something happens to happen during that time, or if
I was to kill a man before for no reason, they can take me
and kill me.
D: Kill?
T: Well, I'm not talking about now, but I'm talking about that's
the way that we were taught. That's the way they did. I
might not have to do that if you did something--maybe you
just be lightly punished. You could be punished or beating


24
you to death, or something--this kind of thing--but you have
to get something. I don't know too much of it, and I'm
glad, too.
D: Don't want to find out?
T: No. Real things is involved here. That day God here again
now. God was supposed to be looking down to see all activity
that day, the only day Indian people are be talking about a
God.
D: Judgement day?
T: Yes. So it seems like somebody says Corn Dance, seems like
there's people getting out to dance.
D: Well I had read accounts of the Seminole Corn Dance, and there
has been written up, you know, and....
T: Well they can't use some things that we talking about. I'm
not even talking about details inside. It's so many things
inside, and really....
D: Well now, this medicine man--I had read in two or three
accounts about a medicine bundle.
T: Yeah.
D: That's already been printed up, and is that still done in the
last day?
T: Yeah, everything's still there. I don't know how.
D: That is his business only?
T: Right. See, with me, I was not supposed to be getting into
that type of situation. But I can say what you know, some-
thing about that. I'm not supposed to be talking about it,
because I had never practiced in that situation. I really
don't know too much about it, but I know how it was done.
I can't really begin to know medicine man, because I have
never studied. A man has to study...well, some people study
maybe a year, and some people study eight years. The good
ones, they study for eight years to be a real good medicine
man. But here again, now, I'm not so sure why Indians are
feeling that way about it. They are taught how to read stars,


25
how to read all the universe. This is what it is, when you
study that many years.
D: The medicine man?
T: Not always medicine men. Anybody, even myself, I should
study, but you can be with people like ourselves who have
to get away from everybody for quite some time to do that,
and I can't. If I was going to be one, I can't be what
I am today, you see. I have to really believe in that
type of life, and live with it.
D: Like a monk or something.
T: I guess so, I don't know what you call it, but it's the real
Indian way, you know, the real Indian way. That's the kind
of thing always the people in the United States will...
I don't think they wanted to know about it, or they were
against it at the time. This is the reason we never go
into talking about it too much, because it's really to me
Indian business, you know what I mean? That Indians find out
themselves.
At the Corn Dance, as I pointed out, the Indian people,
particularly Miccosukees, I believe are the only tribe that
kind of dance and belief away from the public. It has to
be away from the public, and I'm sure this way of belief
by Miccosukees will continue. I think for me this is
strength for the Indian people, and if that is lost, we lost
the culture, everything. We got to have some type of belief,
and that's what we've got. We believe in...we call him
Jesus, but we don't call him Jesus, we call him [Indian word],
Breathmaker.
D: Well, I noticed in one of the articles it said Breathtaker,
referring to death, and I'm glad to hear about Breathmaker,
because it's more cheerful. Would you tell me about "one
God"? Your brother said something about, "God gives us
the rules to live by."
T: Right. Yeah, but here again, now, they told me...most of
them knows he was supposed to be mistreated, and he went
back to see his father, so he's like a son and father,
the way I was taught.
D: I hear you wrote an introduction to the book, Indians of the
Southeast [Indians of the Southeast: Then and Now, Jesse Burt


26
and R. B. Ferguson].
T: Yeah.
D: I think you told me that last night.
T: Oh yeah.
D: Can't get it here?
T: No.
D: Not yet. At least, I called the bookstore and they didn't
have it. So you're a writer, too?
T: Well....
D: She asked me to ask you--a couple of years ago the govern-
ment offered twelve million dollars for all the land
possessed. Were the Miccosukees included in that, or was
that strictly dealing with the Seminoles?
T: Twelve million. You talking about Seminole claims in...?
D: Yeah. They asked $40 million, I believe, and were offered
$12 million.
T: Yes, I think first they asked $50 million, $40 million....
D: Well, were you all in that?
T: We are not, but Seminole claims involve all the Indians
like ourselves and Seminoles. We have tried asking an
attorney...we're working with them and saying that we're
not part of that, but the Claims Comission say, "Well,
you're already in it, and nothing we can do about it." So
this is what stands now. You know--we say we not, and they
says we are.
D: Stalemate.
T: Right. The reason we feel like we shouldn't have to be
accepting money from the government is we are right.
Indian people are right. We think you and I are at a
stage...when they start paying us on that, a claim, we


27
didn't think we were going to get the money, but there are
some ways. Somehow they're going to say, "Well, we pay
you off with cash," and then we have nothing, and it's
what's going to happen. Come time for the Seminoles, time
to be getting paid, by God I bet you they won't get too
much. It's going to be small amount. It's the problem
we're facing--a big problem.
The Alaskan natives have government, United States
settlement in the national, in the Alaskan, and they owe
them so much money instead of Congress acting and pass
some law so a taxpayer in the United States would be
paying for that bill to the claim to the Alaskan natives.
You what they're doing now? You really want to know?
You don't know?
D: No, I don't know it.
T: They take the money from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and
pay them. That's what they're doing now.
D: I think the BIA is about as crooked as you can get.
T: Well, it's not BIA.
D: Well, they're letting it go on.
T: Somebody's doing it. The Congress supposed to be taking
the money, taxpayers' money, and pay for that claim. At
least that's what I always thought was going to happen. But
the Indians say, "No, this is going to be a lot of confusion."
So this is true. So Congress say we get so many million
dollars for the year for the Indian tribes in the United
States. OK, so we give them maybe so many million dollars,
so let's take $50 million this year. They take $50
million out of that and give to Alaska Indians. The
congressmen say this is the Indians' money, so after the
Indians' money set up, they take this and give it to Alaska.
That's what they doing.
D: Rob Peter to pay Paul?
T: So they are right. So this kind of thing is what we recall.
Things are not going to be what you think it's going to be.
It's going to be a lot of things that's going to be. It's
going to happen. You have the land, you can live on the
land; what you're doing now, you can continue. But if you


28
have cash...you thought you had cash. If you don't get it,
and then you might not hang on to the land so long either,
because they paid for it. You might not have...you can
claim something like...so many things the government's
doing for us now we're afraid they would cut off.
D: Well, maybe not.
T: Well....
D: You are elected for four-years, right?
T: Three years.
D: How long have you bee chairman?
T: First, 1953, the medicine men appointed me as spokesman for
them. 1958-59...around 1960, we began to start organize
ourself, and I got to be the chairman. I've been elected
...let's see now, the first time around...one time...it's
confusing me...one time a year, first time I think it's a
year. 1962...wait a minute--1962, or in 1961 and 1962, and
then I been elected, I believe, three times. Either two
times or three times.
D: Be four four-year terms...
T: Three years.
D: Three-year terms.
T: Yeah. Which is one year, you know, we were organizing a new
constitution.
D: That was when the tribe became independent, wasn't it?
You took over your own affairs?
T: No, that's when we started working with the government.
D: As a tribe yourself?
T: Yeah.
D: Not anything to do with the Seminoles?
T: Right, right. We're independent.


29
D: And now you administer all of your own affairs, don't you,
not the BIA?
T: Right, right.
D: And it's been two years now?
T: Yes, two years.
D: Are you the only tribe to have this?
T: We're the only ones taking a whole program. Some of the other
people have making contracts, small peoples like maybe just
education, or maybe just land management, or something like
that.
D: You have the whole thing?
T: We got whole thing--right.
D: And you're the only ones?
T: Right.
D: Well then, who all votes in your elections--everybody, or
is there an age group, or anything?
T: Eighteen-year-olds can vote.
D: Do you vote in state and national elections?
T: Well, it'd be up to us. If a man or a girl wants to and are
old enough.
D: Girls?
T: Women are eligible.
D: I had read some states don't allow Indians to vote.
T: I know it.
D: Course, you do here. In nationals, too.
T: Yeah.
D: Do the young kids want to vote?


30
T: I kind of think they're a little afraid of it. I tell you
what--I feel if you registered, they can draft you for it.
D: Oh.
T: Or they can be...you know what I mean?
D: Oh, I see.
T: So young people who...before they have too many, they kind
of think, "Well, if we register and vote, we consider we are
full citizens, and then we could be drafted." You know--
this kind of thing.
D: And that's against what you're taught?
T: Right.
D: Of course, it's against what everyone's taught.
T: Indians supposed to be defending his country if it's war
here, you know what I mean? But not to go out somewhere,
right.
D: I wish everybody Billy Cypress, he
interpreted for Henry Clay for me.
T: You mean this young fellow was with me this afternoon?
D: Billy Cypress?
T: Yes.
D: Well, he helped, because he [Clay] didn't speak any English.
Did he work here in the office?
T: He works with the alcoholic and mental health program.
D: He's a nice boy. Very charming.
T: He's going to continue to get his education, I hope he will.
D: I hope so too, because he's worth it.
T: Oh yes. It's up to him.


31
D: Education's wasted on a lot of people.
T: Right. It's entirely up to him if he wants to go.
D: About the name--one of the editors in New York...you got
your Indian name. There was an article in the paper you
had an Indian name that a medicine man gave you. That's at
the Corn Dance.
T: Right, that's a real name.
D: Everybody got one?
T: Everybody has to go through a rule, you know. It's kind of
strict. When you go through it, you can get it. Like either
you eat, you can't get it, or sleep, you can't get it.
You've got to stay up and keep going all night, you know,
daytime and night, and somebody have to have a name for you.
Of course, we don't...we have the names, you know, of some
people have died before. We pick up the names, those what
passed on, and we name somebody else. The name continues.
D: That's your Indian name, but you don't use them in day-to-day
work, or...?
T: No, no.
D: Do girls get names, too?
T: Girls get like...we got baby names. See, I got baby name
too. When I was about four days old, they give us names,
and then the girls get that. That's all.
D: They don't get it when they're considered grown?
T: No. Well, they get it when they get married, anyhow.
D: Well, do many of the kids like Billy have jobs right around
here?
T: Uh huh. We have some here.
D: Do some of them work in town?
T: Yes.


32
D: The ones that live in town?
T: No, they're not living in town. They live around here
somewhere, but they work in town.
D: Do mostly Miccosukees live out here?
T: Yes.
D: You don't see very many. I drove down by the housing
area, and_
T: No, it's not many, it's not many, but a few have gone this
way. We doing pretty well, I think, of late.
D: What is the population now?
T: Miccosukee?
D: Uh huh.
T: Really, I don't know, but I know that babies are being here.
D: You're ahead of the birth rate?
T: Well, we need it. I mean, we got plenty of room in there,
you know. Look how many years we've been here, and look
how small we are now.
D: Right.
T: Your people got here 350 years--351, isn't it? Three hundred
and fifty one years ago. Look what kind of population you've
got.
D: Well, we work at it. We're the newcomers. You were telling
me the other day about when you ran into that bird. Did
that go on through all tribes? I mean, could you go out
to a western tribe and find...?
T: They have them. They have them, but they probably have a
different way, a different kind of thing. But some tribes
have almost like we have, and those are the kind of people
I'm interested in. I think for some reason we're a close
family, you know.
D: Tell me about your work. You're always off somewhere. Are


33
you pulling people together, and working with other tribes
and other people?
T: Yes, we trying to do it.
D: I'm always reading that you're off on a trip, or Alice
tells me you're out of town.
T: I don't know. I'm not such a good leader here, but people
...at least, I think they have a trust in me, you know.
Of course, I try to work with them, and I try to accomplish
what they need, but most of the time the sad things that
sometimes develop, people live out here, they're not always
respond. I'll be thinking, "All right, this is what's
going to happen next five years, next ten years, next
twenty years, so let's accomplish this so that time we get
there we'll be ready for it." They can't see that. It's
hard for our people to really see that. Only ones see it
and recognize it is some of the...maybe one of my brothers
sees that, and really understands that. A few of them are
like that, but others, they don't see that problem. They
want to really see today. Most of them say, "Let's do
it now. Just don't plan."
D: Or don't do it at all?
T: Right. Just don't plan it. Sometimes we have a contact
from outside in other states, and when you walk into
Washington, and you begin to see other tribes have a problem,
things like all the same. When you get to be known in
Washington, you be kind of pulled another way. In other
words, right now I work with just about all the Indians in
the United States. I represent the eastern part of the
United States, and my concern would be like a congressman.
I will be concerned about the eastern Indians, and if I think
we're not getting enough cash, like funds, or medicine, well
then I would be talking about that. Of course, each area
has a representative. There's twelve of us, all Indians.
We call it American National Chairman's Association. Charlie
Sherman have to be elected this area, and we get together
and finally work it out, the problems that the Indians face.
We work with the people like Secretary Morton [Rogers Morton,
Secretary of the Interior] and these type of people. Another
appointment I got from president is NCIO [National Council
on Indian Opportunity]. This little group is about four
Indian staff and one non-Indian person director, and we would
be sitting in with the President's Council. As it developed,


34
this is about maybe second year or third year. I happen to
be one appointed from here, you know. Some other tribes
come from somewhere, another area. That position is...
it's a problem. It's a good thing if we do our job well--
you know, how much you can get along with people, how much
influence we've got with them, or is it legal or it's not.
This is the kind of thing that turns up.
D: How does it pan out when you come home and you tell your
own tribe up there they're doing so-and-so, and maybe we
could too? Are they receptive to it?
T: The people, in particular, non-Indian people, we're not
going to talk about what they're going to do, you know what
I mean? Only thing I imagine that we're going to be talking
about small tribes getting hurt. They never got enough
share for the smaller tribes, because big tribes always
get better treatment, more money, better help.
D: They make more noise.
T: Yeah, that's it. Those little guys could just sit there all
this time, never accomplish nothing. I'm going to have to
look at them. Let's try and get them on their feet and get
them out of the way, and then you can play with the big
tribes as long as you want--we don't care. So this is the
kind of attitude you're talking about.
You'll be talking about some land problems. Indian
people have treaties; sometimes the things have been broken.
They've been stole; land taken away by the United States,
that kind of thing. So we're going to have to work it out,
and we did need some influential Indian people. The kind
of person that we can work with other tribes, because we be
talking to reservation Indians, and be kind of a cause of
prejudice, and we hope we'll make it straight. They have
to like to do work of this type. Not because I'm in it--
I think the top leaders they chose this time, they're good
ones. I work with them a couple of years, so I know them
pretty well. This is the kind of thing we never had before,
and it's working for us that way. Indian people are really
going to have to really realize more government in Washington
doing for us. Some day Indians are going to be terminated
just like anybody else. That's what they....
D: Swallowed up?
T: Right...that's the idea. So they are trying to get us ready


35
for it--that's what I tell people around here. What we going
to do? We could live just at long as we want. We not going
to go anywhere, but there's going to be city around us,
so let's be ready.
D: Well, we all have this problem, too. I mean, not just the
Indians.
T: Right. So as far as to come back and talk to my people,
I think I try to tell them what's going on. For me, it's
easy, because I know the Indian history a little bit.
Some of the people know that, so I say "All right, we
facing this now." Then I says, "All right, we know we be
coming to that," so they understand me, I understand them.
So these little young fellows, they don't know what's going
on. They don't really know what's going on. They think
this is easy--I'm just flying back and forth to Washington,
or maybe west to have a good time. This is what they think.
They don't really realize how big a responsibility this....
D: They think it's very glamorous, just going around all over
the world.
T: Right, right. Some of the Indian people have worked with me.
They used to think, "Well, chairman is an easy job. It's
sit here and make good salary and have easy life. But they
began to see what it's like when you contact with other
tribes, what kind of question, what kind of things they going
to be doing to you, and they make them second thoughts.
D: It's a hard job.
T: It is. Oh, you can make it easy. You don't have to go any-
where. You can just sit here, not knowing what's going on,
and they come down and tell you what they're going to do.
But you don't want that happening. You want to explore
what's going on up there, you got your nose in it, and be
prepared, be ready, you know.
D: You don't know what's likely to hit if you can't....
T: Right.
D: The Tribe owns the restaurant, doesn't it? [Miccosukee Tribe
of Florida owns a restaurant at Frog City on the Tamiami Trail.]


36
T: Yes.
D: I mean, you run it.
T: Another thing I might help you on here. If nothing happens,
we can go on the way we're going, and five--let's say five
years--I think our lives and our situation is going to be
a whole lot better here than what it is last year. I think
life here is kind of rough, because we've been starting on
these programs....
D: It's your first year, isn't it?
T: Yeah. Some of the things, we're not too sure about it, now
we're sure about it, and we know how to control drinking
problems, drug problems, that kind of thing. We just go
ahead and...especially with education and our education
in the school, and we just think not give up the old. Some
of the people in Washington tells me that this is the
best operation they find so far. Only three operations
are good, and this is one of them.


Full Text

PAGE 1

SOUTHEASTERN INDIAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA In cooperation with The Seminole Tribe of Florida INTERVIEWEE: Buffalo Tiger INTERVIEWER: Jane Dewey

PAGE 2

D: I had a talk with Patty Reagan. She says you've turned this into a regular thing, going over to the school now, and that you are hoping to have a certain, same kind of talk to the younger parents about keeping old ways. T: If you like history things. You know--leaming. D: Yeah, or customs. T: Right, the dead stuff. D: Sarah told me one thing that you had asked them to do is when the children take a nap, to sleep with their heads east. Is that because the sun comes up in the east? T: Right. This is the kind of things we wanted them to know. D: Sleep toward the sun, and things like that. Well, another thing that they keep calling about is is there any ritual in the way they keep the house or plant gardens, or do their daily work, you know? T: Let's see it has to go within the tool. You know anything about that? D: No, not necessarily. T: I don't know. D: Well, you told me that so many of the younger parents had not been taught, so the thing that you think is necessary is to preserve your own culture, and that you're hoping to be able to teach it. T: You'd like for me to try and explain the colors of the flag? D: Yes. Do they have certain meanings? T: Well, it does mean something, but I can't get into a whole thing, because I can only give you the colors, the meaning of the colors, you know? Let's pick yellow. Yellow represents

PAGE 3

2 east, and red represents north, black represents the west, and white represents the south. Every time Indian making medicine for another Indian, they realize that the whole universe spins this way. Their colors is kind of wrapped arotmd this idea, you know, in a way. Those colors, it's real deep meanings to the Indian people. Some colors, like they say someone says you take a fruit, one that you often like to eat, and when it gets a little older it gets to being kind of bruised up, reddish looking, you know what I mean? And then later it gets to be black spot on it, and before you know, it's gone. And then a refreshness is white, it's again. D: Turned around again? T: Right. So this is the reason the colors still mean so much to Miccosukees. We're supposed to know the colors, regardless how dumb we are, but you got to put it together in the right places. You don't go arotmd, let's say, start in the east and south. We must start it in east and north, rather than south. So this goes with the evening dance--we have to always turn the same way arotmd. D: Left? T: Right. But this is ftmny now. It's not funny, but it's some I went to see a Oklahoma Indian dance one day when the Oklahoma Indians were dancing, sending around the opposite, but to them I guess it doesn't mean anything. To us, we just can't do it. We've just got to swing the right way. We think that's the way it looks best, because that's the way the earth spins. D: That's good; that's what I like. T: Well, this is what it is. D: This is what I was going to ask you, but I haven't been explaining myself too well. T: So what's next? D: The things you were teaching the children in school, and that will be taught to the younger parents who missed out on them when they were coming along. T: Well, we have had a good teaching system for older kids, but

PAGE 4

3 since we have developed schools in the way of the white education system, we find some of the young Miccosukee people have kind of a changing idea in some, and all those older people were real upset about it. Of course, we haven't lost anything yet, but looked like we'd lose some of this teaching, so they said we supposed to be teaching the Miccosukee culture in their language. This is the way the school at one time. We did say that to the government, and the government agreed with us. So when we were talking about not too long ago--this must be about three months ago--the council and the other members got together, and I did ask the question, "What you people like to have ___ ? Do you wnat to go ahead and really be educated in white soci ety, and forget we're Indians, or you want to go ahead and continue teaching your ways, and then let part of it be learning?" I mean, they'd be learning in their Indian, Miccosukee ways, in other words--the culture and customs, and all that; then wanting to learn in English also. They says, "Well, all right." Says all societies--not all of them, most of the societies--Miccosukee is going to be taught. Miccosukee and English side by side. We shouldn't put ourselves all the way to white society, trying to be like whites, but keep ourself in the line in the understanding white men's ways. Work with them, get along with them, but let's teach our own and continue the Miccosukee here. I says, "All right. That's what we must do, I guess that's what we should do." They're happy about it, and of course we haven't worked out yet, but as far as an education program, we have got it. Teachers must know about it, and be ready and teaching. What kind of teaching should be done, who's going to know? We thought maybe Indians, Miccosukees themselves would kind of point out some of these different things--what they like. So O.K., the first thing we have to do, we have to develop the Miccosukee language. And while we doing that, we trying to work with this Indian in the write a little history for Miccosukees from the beginning. So this is what we doing now, but it's going to take a lot more work and a lot of more time to get it in good shape, but at least we got something going. I'm sure some of them are learning how to read the Miccosukee language. It's written in English, but not in English. I mean, the letters itself is English, but it's written like Moccosukee sounds. I imagine you would have a hard time to pick it up and trying to read it, but some of the young people are doing pretty well.

PAGE 5

4 D: You're beginning to get it written down now. But it would be a phonetic writing down, the way it sounds in English. T: Right. It's not only that. While we're doing that, we're going to develop some of the folks' history books. Right now we're just going into a small way, you know what I mean? Just like we're beginning. D: What about old songs, or some of the chants? T: Those are the kind of things that are going to come later. This is only just the beginning--we start teaching the young people. D: Practical language? T: Right. So other things is going to come later, and we do develop some of this type of book. I would like to say this: I'd like to see the Miccosukees to develop it and keep it, unless somebody wanted to borrow it and use it any way they can, that's fine, but it belongs to the Indian people, you know. D: This next one is just a couple of facts. Your income--do you get money from the federal government? This is used .for the tribe as a whole, is that correct? T: Well, yes. D: Do you administer it? T: Right. I wish this doesn't have to be the way, but we forced to do this, because it's no way we can make the moneyshould I say funds, or income. We can make it very littlejust enough to get by. Now, you know, everything costs so much. Let me try to explain to you for why we think we how it's going to be kind of rough with us. We don't have a good land here. They say they own all the land here around, reservation, and we own national parks--one third at the north end of Everglades National Park. That is no way we can make money. We do have a stake in the reservation. It's pretty good size--it must be about 78,000 acres--but there's nothing there. But we did lease some of it to farmers. They produce crops, and later they're going to try to give us more money. Right now they're giving us,

PAGE 6

5 let's say, about like fifty cents an acre for farming. Sometimes it gets underwater, and that's the reason it's so cheap. And then we used to hunt. We used to hunt, and we used to make pretty good money hunting frogs, may be skinning alligators and selling the alligator skin so many things we used to get good money out of. We just can't do it any more, and so where are we going to get the money? Some people do have a job in the city, but live around here and then go in the city and travel and buy gas and expensive automobiles. This costs too much. We thought the only way we going to is and maybe later date, but right now the government is sup porting the education program. You remember, we took this school in the government program back in 1971. The Indian government is to be down here. Use to have an office in Homestead, and take care of this small reser vation here and the school. But in 1971 we had talked to the government, and we think we can manage to run it our self. The government seems to kind of believe us. D: So you're in the business council, administer what they give you? T: Yeah. Right now D: the tribe as a whole, anyone it's up to you how it's spent. T: Right. See, what happened when we contract with the government, that money used to support the school, and in the operation. We still get that money even though we don't have an agency here. So a contract that for Indian people some of the tribes are ready, want to go ahead and contract with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, then the government will continue to support funds with the school and program. That's what we doing now. Money D: Do you also have money from the state trust fund? Do you divide it up? T: Let me finish telling the operation with the government. Situation is the government funds would be granted to us. So many dollars we have to make a budget--costs, school, food to keep employees and all that. Then they usually support us with funds, and then they have another contract with the Indian Health Service, like the health needed for

PAGE 7

6 the Indian people, and we do have another problem here now. I called it white man's problem, but we got into it. It's the alcoholic problem, people who are seems like they drink more, so this means we should have some kind of money to take care of this problem. We have that program in contract with the Indian Health Service. Of course, I don't handle it, but every money the government giving us money for any programs would have to come through the tribe. It has to be deposited in a bank; it has to be accounted for. The government has to check us out as often as we can. But in the state, the state so far didn't give us hardly anything, nothing yet. But they've given us a few dollars here and there. D: I thought certain lands were held for you. Was the State the trustee? T: Yes, that's the state Indian reservation. D: Do they pay you interest on that, or ? T: No, the state Indian reservation, it just sits there. There's nothing on it, really nothing there. What we did, we leased that to farmers, and that income would come to us, directly to tribe. The state had nothing to do with it. Only thing the st~te really does we make out a contract with individuals, just like yourself. They come to me--you inter ested in that land,maybe for something, not to buy it, just to say I would like to rent this land for several years, maybe fifteen years. I would make a contract with you, and then our council look at it and send it in to Tallahassee. So they says this contract looks all right. Both parties agree, and both parties are all right. So it looks all right with them, and that's it. If you wanted to pay me, then, you have to pay this price, and that money is de posited in the bank. D: Do you have any money that are just given to the members of the tribe to live on or to spend as they like? T: No, no. they don't have any of that type of money. Only thing, we do give so much dollars from the lease from the state Indian reservation. We give each individual a hundred dollars a year. We call it a dividend. That's all they get.

PAGE 8

7 D: I didn't know whether they got that, or were dependent on jobs--working for the tribe or in town, or whether they had a little coming in. T: Yes. Right now I believe families are doing pretty well, because we got at least sixty people employed with the tribe now. You know--around school, and teacher's aides, and some of them are working in the Head Start program. We want to put Indians in the key places, the key jobs, in the different departments,but it's not easy. We have to look outside too sometimes for help. But in another five years, I imagine we'll be taking them on ourself, you know. D: The people who work in town--are these the men who do construction and building, things like that? T: Yeah. Some of the Miccosukee men usually have a job in the city--have a construction job, and then it's just mostly labor, you know. D: Real strenuous. T: Yeah. D: Do you think you have any militant teen-agers around here? I know you don't have your shooting up kinds. T: I think this is true, but it's not does not mean what happens. They're going to the _______ , places like that. I think this is only First of all, people see on television cowboys and Indians, where the Indians and all that kind of thing wrong. Some of -------the young people think this is pretty smart, this attitude. But I think D: But they don't do it? T: No. I don't think they D: You're Indians without cowboys. T: I think this is the kind of thing always going to be around, but as far as getting up and start shooting guns, that kind of stuff, I don't think so.

PAGE 9

8 D: Well, this editor up in New York has written so many of the western Indian books. Have you gotten around to reading any of these? T: Very little. D: Well, they do talk about this--not exactly worship, but the Earth Mother concept. And the regard, and the beliefs about birds and animals. T: Right. D: Do the Miccosukees have a feeling for the land or the water? Can you tell me some of that? T: Well, this is true. I make my speech many times in public. Indians can't help feeling that way about it. I think when I was younger--when the medicine man started asking me to speak for them--the kind of thing they teached me first, you know, what it really is for Indians. It's nothing nasty, it's nothing I should be ashamed about it. I think it's wonderful I did learn. D: Why would you be ashamed of it? T: Well, what I mean, every young D: You mean they teased you about it? T: Every young man, every Miccosukee, should learn that. It's beautiful the way you learn it, you know. I don't realize it then, you know, how important it is. I think it's well, it's something that seems like it's dead, you know what I mean? When you're younger •.. but after you learn it, you just realize it, and you see what happens and you're kind of glad you did learn that. . It's kind of deep subject, and I don't think I should try to get into some of the things. But I'll try to say as much as I can why our people feel that way about it. In the first place, Indian people think--at least what the Miccosukee thinks, now; I don't know about the other tribes --is that God makes people different. Some of the people are good for books and some of the people are good for the hard labor. Indians are not good for either of these two, except they good for the nature. In other words, the

PAGE 10

9 gods say you weren't supposed to change; you're living this kind of life--that's nature. The other people, as you saw, you have books, you can read good, you handle with the books, you take it, and the other race of people says you really good strong and healthy, and hard labor won't hurt you. You take this tool, and you work with it. So from there and Indian people feel like this is what hap pened, and we must grow some type of crop yearly, because that's what God has teached us to do. You must always produce crops yearly, and that's what the Green Corn Dance about. We have to do much work, and we must have this dance continued. Just to say everything that's happened now, the Indian people are knowing all the time some of these things. Seems like they know it all the time what's going to happen. Like you destroy trees, you put the canals in the land, and you do this and you do that, and Indian people think you're destroying it. You're damaging it. D: I should be left alone? T: It should be left alone. Live with it, enjoy it. But the white public doesn't see it that way. They wanted to build, build, build, destroy land. Progress, they call it. But Indian people themselves say, "Now you're going to do too much. You're not going to live too long when you do too much." So they say destroyed--that's what most Indian people, particularly old.folks around here, say. "You just going to destroy? We hurt ourself, nobody else but ourself." When the Indian does __________ , he's supposed to know it good, and want to see how far we can go. Meantime, seems like somebody say, "Come on. Come on over here, now. We' re doing good things here. We want to take part in it over here. This is beautiful things--it's a good job, and everything's so wonderful." But in God's eyes, and the Indian's idea, no it's not. You destroying yourself. You're just going to hurt yourself. This is the attitude for Indian eyes and Indian minds. D: It's not a worship of the Earth. It's preserve yourself and preserve the Earth too? T: Right. D: Preserve the Earth so that you are perpetuating yourself? T: Right.

PAGE 11

10 D: It's not worshipping the Earth? T: No, not exactly that. It's just the whole thing, the whole thing. Everything to us, it's wrapped around with religion and ourselves, and everything ties together. We think we not part of, or we not welcome, so every time a death come along to us, we supposed to be happy. We get back to earth, because we think we a part of that, which is what the Indians say. It's so many things people have believed in it, and of course, I don't know a lot of it, but what little bit I do know of it, I think it's beautiful. I hope a lot of young Indian people would sit down and learn that. D: It's the simplicity of it that makes it worth so much? T: Right. It's just like somebody I was talking with the other day said, "Look at this star here." With me, now, I don't know too much about these stars, but some of the Indian people knew the stars pretty well. They can name them. So, this kind of thing how they learn it? There was a man here one time that teach them everything they know. No one man teach them--nobody teach them except that just one person was here one time. D: That one time was from God? T: Yes. D: Is that what that means? T: Yes. D: You told me when we were talking before that a part of your teaching never changed. Never change your ways and things. T: Yes, yes, exactly. That's what it's all about. If we have changed--that's what they teach the Indian people--they been teaching us. If we were to change, to us, we'd just we just don't have anything anymore. Plus, we have lost our religions, and that kind of thing was supposed to either destroy us, or it's just something that's going to happen. This is the reason we don't want we're not supposed to want change. We can change some, but not really. Every body expect that the Indian live like you do, you know what I mean?

PAGE 12

11 D: I'd rather live the other way, myself. I'm not so great on progress. We haven't any dreams left, haven't found any thing. T : Right. True. D: One thing they asked me about--the clans. Traditionally, are your leaders Birds and Panthers? T: Well, I think there's not too much of that now, but during the war, some Panthers would be war leaders. They were pretty strong leaders, but in both clans it's not that. Bird can speak both peace and war, you know what I mean? But Panthers I understand now this could be wrong, but as I understand, the Panthers are only really war leaders. So if one is to say Bird is someone could make a peace, but the Panthers couldn't. D: Panthers make war? T: Right. D: Well, those were about all the particular questions that I had out of all of this. If you want to talk, I'll be glad to listen. T: Talking about the lost Miccosukee culture. I don't know how much of it's lost, but some of the elders do remember this culture pretty well. I'm sure some of the brothers might still live with this culture. I was pointing out that even though we're in the one family, and I've been brought up the same, but after we kind of grow up we kind of have different opinions and get different ideas. As I say to someone, we have four brothers doing entirely dif ferent things, but we are closely together. D: You mean you and your brothers? T: Yes. We're going to get together sometime this week with our families. I don't think I can say it's lost, but it surely needs to be taught to young people much more than it has been, because I feel like they are going to school they're learning in the white society. Naturally, in three years, five years, what they have been taught would lose out taught different cultures pointed out. So this

PAGE 13

12 is what we're doing now. We're trying to bring it up, teaching culture--the Miccosukee culture--knowing they are learning English daily. We're hoping not to lose this. We'll be teaching and interesting to me, particularly with me--I have been around with non-Indian people so much I know how they're thinking, some of it--I realize some of the things your people believe in, the white people. Some times tears come out of my eyes, and it's so sad D: You mean we are? T: It's so sad, is that Indians really mean, and people wouldn't believe that. When I say "people" I'm talking about white society. Most people couldn't understand why it was that way. Seems like Indian life, you don't have bad language. You don't have anything means that. You taking like you and I are talking, we can only say "yes" and "no"--no "maybe," no So that's the way Indian minds have developed. When they were taught, they called to Indians who don't teach, but live it day by day in doing things. First, maybe, when you're young, you have to be taught--you have to be given whippings and but that has to be there, so you have to respect your parents or elders and so on. As you get to be a grown man--grown young man or young woman--parents are going to start punishing you during the time when you grow older. The uncle takes over. They are the ones who are supposed to control the nephews. D: This is the mother's brother? T: Right, the mother's side, and you respect that. With me, now, anyhow, most of the young people used to do, but lately I guess you'd say we've lost the schools in white society don't teach that. To me, that's pretty sad. And then our children are now going to school, they have lost respect for their uncle, and teachings being taught in the book kind of thing. So as I said, we're going to start teaching this type of thing. If we have to whip them, we will. Of course, I might not do it, but somebody else might. I don't mean beating them; I don't mean that, but punishing them--correction--just like taking a stick and whipping like you would do your own little child. But we just don't grab any child and do that. In my situation I have to take care of my young people; my young people have to be Birds. I happen to belong to Bird clan, and these young people

PAGE 14

13 have to be belonging in that area. You know, I can't go across maybe Otter or maybe a Panther or somebody else. You step out of line if you do that. So I take care of my own kind of people, because we don't want D: You take care of your nephews? T: Right. We take care of our own kind of people. I am a Bird, and they have to be a Bird, you know, and not of the other, like Panther clan. They the ones have to handle that. So that makes it easy. But sometimes, though, you'll be called on, even though you can be Panther, or you can be the Bird. The group of people like General Council. someone could ask you, "You be the one speaking for us today," and then you have to do it. You' re talking to all of them, you know what I mean? D: You represent the others. T: Right, but you've got to be told to do it. You just don't D: Bust in? T: That's right. It's so many things that have to be respected here. There's so much law in Indian life you couldn't do like this going on today. D: Is it common today? T: Well, particularly the older people. I don't mean older ones; even some young people have been taught living that kind of life. Still, I understand that most young people that you find going to school and walking around here, most of them don't, because the school kind of I use the school; I shouldn't, .but it's true. When they start going to school, learning English and that type of situation, it seems they get away from parent control. It's really happened. The Indian people, Miccosukee specifically, have always close families, but when they start going to school, and then the mothers began to go out and get herself a job and making a little money and help pay grocery bills, and this and that. Maybe they have a TV in the house, and when the children come home from school, go back to watch TV, and their mother talking and daddy talking. Now, you can look

PAGE 15

14 and listen to TV, and so this is the kind of thing that's awful dangerous for Miccosukees--not only for the Miccosukee tribe, but for other tribes as well. D: Are you speaking more of the Miccosukees who live in Hialeah, where you live, or Miccosukees in general? T: Well, I'm talking about the Miccosukees as a whole--all of them. I'm not talking about anybody particular. Even a little child, now, going to school, they know all about the culture taught in the school. They know that, but I think that it's kind of mixed; it depends up to the parents. Mother can go to work and come home and still can show a child right, and the father can help out, you know, but some parents not. Some parents go to work and let the child go to school, and if he comes home, or she comes home, and food to eat, and watch TV, and meantime mother and daddy don't take time to teach them these things--the Indian teachings. Kind of let it go, and thinking, "Well, my child's in school. Teacher's taking care of it for me. I'm working; I'm making the money." White people don't have to do much, in fact, bringing in this type of idea in our minds. That's one cause of the beginning to tear down. Once we recognize this type of thing, then we can tell it to Indian people, let them see it, let them really understand what they're doing to their child. Then they have to think to themselves, "How much are we going to do?" In other words, how much of it shall we keep in the family, our youngsters, or how much of it do we have to let go? They're going to have to make up their own minds. It's an awful sad thing. IndiansMiccosukees, particularly--have always lived in the kind of religious feeling. They don't know any other kind of life. Indian minds, really people say to us, "You should go to this church, you should go to that church. You should be a Christian man, or you should be a Christian woman," this and that. Well, Indian people said, "All right, I'll be Baptist, or I'll be something else," but Indians have a real Christian life, not knowing he lives that kind of life. It's taught every day, and you respect this type of thing these days. D: So much the same thing that Christians are taught you're Christian? T: Right. They're living it; Indian people are living it. But

PAGE 16

15 now Indian people start going to church sometimes--maybe during the weekend, or something--and practice their own culture a little. This kind of thing, I feel pretty sad about it. I'm sure they can continue living what they have, the Indian people have. I think, to me, it would be better for them than any change. Indian people recognize this, and now the Indian people, they waited, and it don't come so easy today. Every year you have to change--you have to change your clothes, you have to change your hairstyle, you have to change your shoes, you have to change ways so much, and God taught us, he used to tell us, "Never change. You should remain what you are, until end of the days." We have to recognize that what is mean we change, we throw off into the world, into the earth. This is what our people say, simply. D: But you're teaching the basics as the same thing. Is that what you mean? Not the clothes, not the car, or whatever. T: This is what we taught here. This is real Indian. I'm saying this is the way Indians have been taught; this is the way Indian people live with it. With me, now, I think that it's a beautiful life if people can do it. But you see us now--I'm wearing a white man's clothes and shoes, and I'm sitting here in this chair and doing so many white people's ways. But here, now, we look like we don't have any choice to live the way we supposed to live. I know myself, and my heart tells me I'm doing wrong. It' s so wrong, but yet we trying to live with it. D: Get along. T: Yeah, trying to live with another society--white and our ways, Indian ways, together. It's a conflict there. It's a strong and heartache conflict there, and so the culture is something it's not like this. If you understand what they've come to mean. If I was trying to make you into what you're trying to adopt into you see how ? We have little papers with us saying we understand. Otherwise, public just don't realize what happened to Indian society and culture. D: It's been smothered? T: Yeah, it's the pressure, and just all kinds of things that happen to people. But we really kept some of this culture, and it's going to be practiced.

PAGE 17

D: Well, this is what you call the Culture Program. T: Right. D: Is that going to be affected by the things in the OEO [Office of Economic Opportunity]? 16 T: We're not just concerned about our support money, you know. If Indian people really want it, they have gone through a war with the United States. The United States put them in other places before, and the Indians didn't want it, and so they live here. They're going to continue. So just a little old few dollars is not going to make their minds change from a whole culture. I don't believe that, anyhow. D: Do you think that the young people are interested enough in the culture program to keep it going? T: I think once they understand, really understand, they'll work at it. I talked to this little one this morning, in the classrooms today. I think about back a couple of years ago I'd been so busy, so I thought I'd better just talk to 'em a little. But they got to know. OK, the language problem there's no problem as far as the language now, but it's going to be in five or six years from now. D: What do you mean? T: Well, it means if I have to go in school to learn English, every day that's where they're going to, a lot of kids, and there's going to be less and less Miccosukee speaking, so that would kill that. In five or ten years we won't have too many Miccosukees speaking Miccosukee, like today. Most of them speak in the Miccosukee language today. So I say in the next fifteen years--ten, fifteen years, it's going to be not all of them will be speaking Miccosukee. To get them to really better use both languages, they got to know both languages. So we hope this will help out. Right now it's no problem, but there can be five or ten years from now. You understand? D: Yes. Won't Miccosukee still be spoken at home then? T: I don't know. I'm not experienced in that type of thing, but I do speak English a lot of times. It's easier. But

PAGE 18

17 when you're talking to your own people you have to talk your own language, and both are handy. Miccosukee's handy some times in some places, and some places English is handy. So I think be nice if people could use both. D: That's right. I think everybody should know at least two languages. T: So old timers know when they learn how to speak English. I believe some of the elders never learned English. Some of the elders, they're never going to learn it. Education problems--! was trying to point out some things. Education, to you it's simple, because your society believes in schoolwork, the culture. That's the way you've been brought up. Everybody goes to school; kids have an education. Well, Indian people have the all-time education, but it's a different kind. You talking about white people's education or Indian education? D: I know about white people's. You tell me about the Indian's. T: What I mean is the problems. I pointed out the white man's education a problem with us Indians, particularly Miccosukee, as I said. Now, the reason that way, they have been taught never learn white language, because they say in the first place I told you what God said to us, never change. That would make us change. Learn the white language, and we finally be like white people, and that would make us change. And the way we learned wasn't in language, and they didn't like white language. Then you have lost out on the culture which you know by the Indians. So the whole thing is tied together with the culture in the words God said to us. It's not just something that we don't want; it's just something we're being taught. It's in our hearts. It's against what we've been taught. Young people, particularly our people, are going to school with a question in their minds. Our daddies and our mothers have never gone to school, and there's a reason for it. How come? Why they have to go to school today? That's what they say, so we're going to have to try to really give them that right kind of support, and encourage them to learn English, education. But it's so much. of it. As I say, now, when a boy or girl gets to be fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, going to high school, it's a dropout. Here again, now, it's the kind of pressure, the kind of thing I talked to you about--confused minds, changing culture. The

PAGE 19

18 whole thing works together. The boy over here couldn't really see where he's going. In the first place he was taught not to go to school. He's trying to, but he finds different kind of culture, different kind of language, and all that togetherhe's scared. So it is a problem. But we're all going to school, Miccosukee style. Go on to school, get a good education. You've got to have a good, strong mind understand, really understand the Indian way first. Other wise, of course, the only thing he's going to get them going. During Indian education, during Indian learning, could get him strong enough confidence in himself to con tinue regardless of what happens. If he happens to be not knowing too much about Indian culture, or whatever it is he's supposed to be learning, soon he's going to be weak, so confused. We're just going to quit, because it's why or where are you going? He doesn't know. D: After they finish school here, how many go on to school in town? T: Well, let me put it this way to you: we probably have at least four or five going to the some of mine going to junior college now. We hope those will continue going into college soon. See, what happened, this is the first time in all these years that Indians could--particularly Miccosukees --accept education. Before, they could probably get You know, they started in 1962, and getting prepared is what we're doing here. We started a Head Start to prepare, and then they'll be ready to go on to first class. First class is going to prepare them to go to high school and continue. I think now we know what we doing, but we don't know how much will stick with them, this education. We hope we going to get more of it, to interest them in learning Indian education. D: Are the ones who grow up in town more interested in going on? T: You can't say where they belong, you know what I mean? To me, going to school, still going to school. But just like I say, they have to have a good, strong background first, and that what makes them go to school and continue. They think that this is how the people think, you know what I mean? It's important, so I'm glad I'm talking to you. While I'm talking to you, I'm learning something, too. So that's the way it is on the education. There's something here about drinking and drugs with the children

PAGE 20

19 D: Yes, in one of those newspaper articles on you. T: Yes. D: You recall them? T: Right. D: Hav.e you had much trouble? T: Well, it's not so bad now. Here again, I believe I shouldn't really blame anybody, but as I said earlier, Indian peoplewe do not have some of the worst kinds. When I say the worst kinds earlier, I told you we don't have bad language, and now you're going back to that on this here. Indians see a person like yourself--you dress nice, you come from downtown, you white person, you're wearing your shoes nice, you look nice, you must be all right. You must be all right, because you look nice, you got a good car. That's all they see--you must be good, you know, so then you can ask them to get in the car, "Let's go down to the store. I' 11 buy you a ice cream, or maybe buy you something." OK, you can influence these people, young people, so easy. Of course we never had that kind of thing before for Indians, all the things involved now. But anything new come to town, like anything--like talk about drugs, or talk about alcoholics I mean drinking. Let's talk about the drinking first. Right now young people are interested, because they watch it on TV. A lot of young people doing a lot of dif ferent things. They think this is fun. Say, "Well, we'd like to do it, too." So it's one thing. An.other thing, they try to go to school and learn something, and parents think they are doing wrong, but they let them go and now they feel funny about that. They kind of in a confused state. Somebody brought some bottles down here on the reservation, and when parents not around, they're going to take it. They're going to take it, and they're going to drink it. In other words, it's not something you have to push to do that. It's easy if you have it come to you. "Let me take a drink," you know, that's what happens. Now, in drugs it's a little different. Drugs, someone has to really get them to try it. I don't know what kind of drugs they use, what kind of stuff they use, but it's been used, I know that. And here again, now, I say some fellowsmaybe some of the Indians or maybe non-Indians, I don't know who's doing it, but they have to bring it in from somewhere-

PAGE 21

20 and takes it, and listen to whoever it is getting it for them, believing it. Little by little it becomes a threat. It's happened here once in a while, but it's getting not too bad lately. We know this type of thing, but we don't know how we can handle it. We were told this is going to come up someday, and it's here now. We know about it, but we don't know what to do with it. All right, it's the problem, and we hope these youngsters can be wised up and realize that drinking's wrong and taking drugs is wrong. It will be up to the parents, and it will be up to themselves to get them to, but we're working on it. D: The same with everybody? T: Right. Talking about the Eastern Airlines crash D: When I have tried to ever bring up the flight and religion, you've been very you've already given me some things on that. Then something will turn up in the papers against your religion. But if I would stay out here, "Do you believe in taking dead people in your house?" and nobody would answer. That's why I put that on the list. T: I think this is another thing. The crash this is what I say to you before--we live with what we were taught, what we're supposed to be doing, and we shouldn't do other things unless a special person was appointed. The medicine has to be made for us, you know, before they can do anything. We just don't select anybody. We just don't say, "Hey, you do this, and you do that." Indian people have never did that. It's not to be a special kind of person for that area, you know what I mean? And then on top of that, medi cine must be fixed to give to him so he can do this kind of thing. It seems like some thing is almost in law. When you step over on the other side, you'll be wrong. Then our courts was pointed out this kind of thing when Corn Dance. We going to talk about Corn Dance a little we not going to be talking about it too much of it, but I can tell you just the outline, so you understand what I meant? D: You say in your court T: Well, let's finish this Eastern Airlines. Here, now, people come to us here after the crash, and people have called me. _J

PAGE 22

21 I was on vacation; I was home in Hialeah. They called oh, I believe it was twelve thirty or one o'clock in the morning. It was Friday, I believe, and I says The people out here, now, in the plane crash where so many people got killed, and I don't want to use our schools and gymnasiums to bringing in the people in here. I says, "Well, I don't know what to say about that. I feel real bad about it, and I don't know what to say about that." So I said, "Why don't you get the people together here on the reservation and ask them how much of us could we help them?" Some of the councilmen talked to others, you know, and says, "No, we can't have bodies here." So they called me back, and they let me know what to say, and I says, "All right." About that time some officers had called and says, "We want to use the school for the headquarters now." I says, "Well, you can use the school, telephones, office space, everything, but don't bring the bodies in down at the school, because if you do that then these young people that are going to school, they're not coming back. So that means that that school is not going to be any good for us after you bring the bodies in." Says, "We're not going to do that. We just want to use the office space and telephones. I says, "Go ahead and use it. It's there." So that's all it takes, you know? But I know there's all kinds of stuff come out later, but we don't say that they can't use it. D: I wasn't here, I was in North Carolina, and the paper up there and by the time it had gone through two or three papers, you had said, no, you wouldn't let anybody do anything. T: Right. I know it. So anyhow, the reason that that way we don't fool around anywhere where man was killed or a woman was killed. It's so many things involved in that. I don't have to go into that, but only time people can go in there, man or woman have to take medicine. This person, before they will go in there and take care of that kind of situation, they have to have medicine with them. We just don't have no body, unless they have medicine with them. But we don't bring bodies to a place like that--we keep them aside. We just keep them aside. We think of death as a sad thing. I mean, it's nothing worse than that. We know that, and that's the reason the Indian people a man, a good man who has passed away, and the wife has to sit there not doing a thing for her self, sometimes four months, sometimes three months, because

PAGE 23

22 be respecting this way. This is the reason a lot of Indian people today if my wife passed away maybe two or three months ago, no young people come to me and say thing to me. Has to be some older person comes to see me, talk to me about it, because they say, "That man have a darkness. He's in the darkness now." If you go up to him and say somethingkind of, you know, play with him, and that kind of thingreflect on your folks, your parents. So they leave him alone and let the time soften him up. This kind of thing is their respect. So if people can just say, "Well, this is the way you've got to study, you've got to learn." So that's the reason that we say we can't have a body in the school, OK? During Corn Dance--I might not ought to say this, but what I'm talking about D: Is it the harvest? T: You mean Green Corn Dance? D: Yeah. T: Well, here again, now, let me try to tell you. I think I pointed out something important in things for Indians. I pointed out what God says, what he tells us to do. The whole thing I'm telling you is this thing now--the whole thing, our lives is wrapped around it. The whole universe is run with it--stars, everything. We don't think we make it ourselves, but only thing we know, we supposed to know how we must live; otherwise we going to help destroy the country or the earth. That's what they said. We going to have to destroy earth. If we behave ourself, then maybe next fifty years, maybe a hundred years can add on. We were taught that. So in Green Corn Dance it's worth it. Corn, we know it's going to be put in the ground and it's going to grow and it's going to have a corn root, so this is what we always have to As long as we have this medicine, Indians are supposed to continue believing this --believe in our medicine. Our medicine is it's not real medicine, it's more religious situation, you know. Religions believe in it. D: You mean a spiritual medicine? T: Right, that's what it is. And the corn has to be new crop-

PAGE 24

23 it has to be green corn crop, fresh. We have started corn at last corn dance, and that crop be gone. It should be cut-off time, that time, to start eating green ones from that, year after year. So there is to bring us together, and it should be court set up. Meantime, lot of things, lot of activities are going on, organizing what supposed to be a Corn Dance, you know. This day we talking about we talking about different days meaning something. First day everybody gets together, and we have a count. I was talking to you a while agodifferent clans, right? Every clan has its village. They don't live together. Every clan has one village over here, another clan has another village over here, at different places. So if I did something--not in my clan's village, but in some of the other villages--I get punished. I go over destroy something, or beat up somebody, I get punished by them. I don't know I'll pay for it with something, or I don't know what they do to me, but it has to be this court in the Corn Dance. This is the reason we're trying to behave when we go in Corn Dance. At the same time, when people get together they go ahead and find all the wood they can find--that's for the food--men folks did. Then the next day, a woman, all the wives, all the girls cooks it cooking, and they eat all day. That's what we call eat day. First day is woods day, next day is eats day. They eat all day. D: Woods day? T: Wood looking for firewood for the food next day. So next day they cook and they eat all day, and that's all they are doing. Then next day they don't have anything to eat, starv ing day, and it's kind of rough. I believe this day they have courts, and everything is supposed to be brought to the you know, what happened, all they did, if they can work. But if something happens to happen during that time, or if I was to kill a man before for no reason, they can take me and kill me. D: Kill? T: Well, I'm not talking about now, but the way that we were taught. That's might not have to do that if you did just be lightly punished. You could I'm talking about that's the way they did. I something--maybe you be punished or beating

PAGE 25

24 you to death, or something--this kind of thing--but you have to get something. I don't know too much of it, and I'm glad, too. D: Don't want to find out? T: No. Real things is involved here. That day God here again now. God was supposed to be looking down to see all activity that day, the only day Indian people are be talking about a God. D: Judgement day? T: Yes. So it seems like somebody says Corn Dance, seems like there's people getting out to dance, D: Well I had read accounts of the Seminole Corn Dance, and there has been written up, you know, and T: Well they can't use some things that we talking about. I'm not even talking about details inside. It's so many things inside, and really D: Well now, this medicine man--I had read in two or three accounts about a medicine bundle. T: Yeah. D: That's already been printed up, and is that still done in the last day? T: Yeah, everything's still there. I don't know how. D: That is his business only? T: Right. See, with me, I was not supposed to be getting into that type of situation. But I can say what you know, some thing about that. I'm not supposed to be talking about it, because I had never practiced in that situation. I really don't know too much about it, but I know how it was done. I can't really begin to know medicine man, because I have never studied. A man has to study well, some people study maybe a year, and some people study eight years. The good ones, they study for eight years to be a real good medicine man. But here again, now, I'm not so sure why Indians are feeling that way about it. They are taught how to read stars,

PAGE 26

25 how to read all the universe. This is what it is, when you study that many years. D: The medicine man? T: Not always medicine men. Anybody, even myself, I should study, but you can be with people like ourselves who have to get away from everybody for quite some time to do that, and I can't. If I was going to be one, I can't be what I am today, you see. I have to really believe in that type of life, and live with it. D: Like a monk or something. T: I guess so, I don't know what you call it, but it's the real Indian way, you know, the real Indian way. That's the kind of thing always the people in the United States will I don't think they wanted to know about it, or they were against it at the time. This is the reason we never go into talking about it too much, because it's really to me Indian business, you know what I mean? That Indians find out themselves. At the Corn Dance, as I pointed out, the Indian people, particularly Miccosukees, I believe are the only tribe that kind of dance and belief away from the public. It has to be away from the public, and I'm sure this way of belief by Miccosukees will continue. I think for me this is strength for the Indian people, and if that is lost, we lost the culture, everything. We got to have some type of belief, and that's what we've got. We believe in we call him Jesus, but we don't call him Jesus, we call him [Indian word], Breathmaker. D: Well, I noticed in one of the articles it said Breathtaker, referring to death, and I'm glad to hear about Breathmaker, because it's more cheerful. Would you tell me about "one God"? Your brother said something about, "God gives us the rules to live by." T: Right. Yeah, but here again, now, they told me most of them knows he was supposed to be mistreated, and he went back to see his father, so he's like a son and father, the way I was taught. D: I hear you wrote an introduction to the book, Indians of the Southeast [Indians of the Southeast: Then and Now, Jesse Burt

PAGE 27

26 and R. B. Ferguson]. T: Yeah. D: I think you told me that last night. T: Oh yeah. D: Can't get it here? T: No. D: Not yet. have it. At least, I called the bookstore and they didn't So you're a writer, too? T: Well. D: She asked me to ask you--a couple of years ago the govern ment offered twelve million dollars for all the land possessed. Were the Miccosukees included in that, or was that strictly dealing with the Seminoles? T: Twelve million. You talking about Seminole claims in ? D: Yeah. They asked $40 million, I believe, and were offered $12 million. T: Yes, I think first they asked $50 million, $40 million D: Well, were you all in that? T: We are not, but Seminole claims involve all the Indians like ourselves and Seminoles. We have tried asking an attorney we're working with them and saying that we're not part of that, but the Claims Comission say, "Well, you're already in it, and nothing we can do about it." So this is what stands now. You know--we say we not, and they says we are. D: Stalemate. T: Right. The reason we feel like we shouldn't have to be accepting money from the government is we are right. Indian people are right. We think you and I are at a stage ..• when they start paying us on that, a claim, we

PAGE 28

27 didn't think we were going to get the money, but there are some ways. Somehow they're going to say, "Well, we pay you off with cash," and then we have nothing, and it's what's going to happen. Come time for the Seminoles, time to be getting paid, by God I bet you they won't get too much. It's going to be small amount. It's the problem we're facing--a big problem. The Alaskan natives have government, United States settlement in the national, in the Alaskan, and they owe them so much money instead of Congress acting and pass some law so a taxpayer in the United States would be paying for that bill to the claim to the Alaskan natives. You what they're doing now? You really want to know? You don't know? D: No, I don't know it. T: They take the money from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and pay them. That's what they're doing now. D: I think the BIA is about as crooked as you can get. T: Well, it's not BIA. D: Well, they're letting it go on. T: Somebody's doing it. The Congress supposed to be taking the money, taxpayers' money, and pay for that claim. At least that's what I always thought was going to happen. But the Indians say, "No, this is going to be a lot of confusion." So this is true. So Congress say we get so many million dollars for the year for the Indian tribes in the United States. OK, so we give them maybe so many million dollars, so let's take $50 million this year. They take $50 million out of that and give to Alaska Indians. The congressmen say this is the Indians' money, so after the Indians' money set up, they take this and give it to Alaska. That's what they doing. D: Rob Peter to pay Paul? T: So they are right. So this kind of thing is what we recall. Things are not going to be what you think it's going to be. It's going to be a lot of things that's going to be. It's going to happen. You have the land, you can live on the land; what you're doing now, you can continue. But if you

PAGE 29

28 have cash you thought you had cash. If you don't get it, and then you might not hang on to the land so long either, because they paid for it. You might not have you can claim something like so many things the government's doing for us now we're afraid they would cut off. D: Well, maybe not. T: Well. D: You are elected for fouryears, right? T: Three years. D: How long have you bee chairman? T: First, 1953, the medicine men appointed me as spokesman for them. 1958-59 around 1960, we began to start organize ourself, and I got to be the chairman. I've been elected let's see now, the first time around one time it's confusing me one time a year, first time I think it's a year. 1962 wait a minute--1962, or in 1961 and 1962, and then I been elected, I believe, three times. Either two times or three times. D: Be four four-year terms T: Three years. D: Three-year terms. T: Yeah. Which is one year, you know, we were organizing a new constitution. D: That was when the tribe became independent, wasn't it? You took over your own affairs? T: No, that's when we started working with the government. D: As a tribe yourself? T: Yeah. D: Not anything to do with the Seminoles? T: Right, right. We're independent.

PAGE 30

29 D: And now you administer all of your own affairs, don't you, not the BIA? T: Right, right. D: And it's been two years now? T: Yes, two years. D: Are you the only tribe to have this? T: We're the only ones taking a whole program. Some of the other people have making contracts, small peoples like maybe just education, or maybe just land management, or something like that. D: You have the whole thing? T: We got whole thing--right. D: And you're the only ones? T: Right. D: Well then, who all votes in your elections--everybody, or is there an age group, or anything? T: Eighteen-year-olds can vote. D: Do you vote in state and national elections? T: Well, it'd be up to us. If a man or a girl wants to and are old enough. D: Girls? T: Women are eligible. D: I had read some states don't allow Indians to vote. T: I know it. D: Course, you do here. In nationals, too. T: Yeah. D: Do the young kids want to vote? \

PAGE 31

30 T: I kind of think they're a little afraid of it. I tell you what--I feel if you registered, they can draft you for it. D: Oh. T: Or they can be you know what I mean? D: Oh, I see. T: So young people who before they have too many, they kind of think, "Well, if we register and vote, we consider we are full citizens, and then we could be drafted." You knowthis kind of thing. D: And that's against what you're taught? T: Right. D: Of course, it's against what everyone's taught. T: Indians supposed to be defending his country if it's war here, you know what I mean? But not to go out somewhere, right. D: I wish everybody ---------Billy Cypress, he interpreted for Henry Clay for me. T: You mean this young fellow was with me this afternoon? D: Billy Cypress? T: Yes. D: Well, he helped, because he [Clay] didn't speak any English. Did he work here in the office? T: He works with the alcoholic and mental health program. D: He's a nice boy. Very charming. T: He's going to continue to get his education, I hope he will. D: I hope so too, because he's worth it. T: Oh yes. It's up to him.

PAGE 32

31 D: Education's wasted on a lot of people. T: Right. It's entirely up to him if he wants to go. D: About the name--one of the editors in New York .•. you got your Indian name. There was an article in the paper you had an Indian name that a medicine man gave you. That's at the Corn Dance. T: Right, that's a real name. D: Everybody got one? T: Everybody has to go through a rule, you know. It's kind of strict. When you go through it, you can get it. Like either you eat, you can't get it, or sleep, you can't get it. You've got to stay up and keep going all night, you know, daytime and night, and somebody have tb have a name for you. Of course, we don't we have the names, you know, of some people have died before. We pick up the names, those what passed on, and we name somebody else. The name continues. D: That's your Indian name, but you don't use them in day-to-day work, or ? T: No, no. D: Do girls get names, too? T: Girls get like we got baby names. See, I got baby name too. When I was about four days old, they give us names, and then the girls get that. That's all. D: They don't get it when they're considered grown? T: No. Well, they get it when they get married, anyhow. D: Well, do many of the kids like Billy have jobs right around here? T: Uh huh. We have some here. D: Do some of them work in town? T: Yes.

PAGE 33

32 D: The ones that live in town? T: No, they're not living in town. They live around here somewhere, but they work in town. D: Do mostly Miccosukees live out here? T: Yes. D: You don't see very many. I drove down by the housing area, and ________ _ T: No, it's not many, it's not many, but a few have gone this way. We doing pretty well, I think, of late. D: What is the population now? T: Miccosukee? D: Uh huh. T: Really, I don't know, but I know that babies are being here. D: You're ahead of the birth rate? T: Well, we need it. I mean, we got plenty of room in there, you know. Look how many years we've been here, and look how small we are now. D: Right. T: Your people got here 350 years--351, isn't it? Three hundred and fifty one years ago. Look what kind of population you've got. D: Well, we work at it. We' re the newcomers. You were telling me the other day about when you ran into that bird. Did that go on through all tribes? I mean, could you go out to a western tribe and find ? T: They have them. They have them, but they probably have a different way, a different kind of thing. But some tribes have almost like we have, and those are the kind of people I'm interested in. I think for some reason we're a close family, you know. D: Tell me about your work. You're always off somewhere. Are

PAGE 34

33 you pulling people together, and working with other tribes and other people? T: Yes, we trying to do it. D: I'm always reading that you're off on a trip, or Alice tells me you're out of town. T: I don't know. I'm not such a good leader here, but people at least, I think they have a trust in me, you know. Of course, I try to work with them, and I try to accomplish what they need, but most of the time the sad things that sometimes develop, people live out here, they're not always respond. I'll be thinking, "All right, this is what's going to happen next five years, next ten years, next twenty years, so let's accomplish this so that time we get there we'll be ready for it." They can't see that. It's hard for our people to really see that. Only ones see it and recognize it is some of the •.. maybe one of my brothers sees that, and really understands that. A few of them are like that, but others, they don't see that problem. They want to really see today. Most of them say, "Let's do it now. Just don't plan." D: Or don't do it at all? T: Right. Just don't plan it. Sometimes we have a contact from outside in other states, and when you walk into Washington, and you begin to see other tribes have a problem, things like all the same. When you get to be known in Washington, you be kind of pulled another way. In other words, right now I work with just about all the Indians in the United States. I represent the eastern part of the United States, and my concern would be like a congressman. I will be concerned about the eastern Indians, and if I think we're not getting enough cash, like funds, or medicine, well then I would be talking about that. Of course, each area has a representative. There's twelve of us, all Indians. We call it American National Chairman's Association. Charlie Sherman have to be elected this area, and we get together and finally work it out, the problems that the Indians face. We work with the people like Secretary Morton [Rogers Morton, Secretary of the Interior] and these type of people. Another appointment I got from president is NCIO [National Council on Indian Opportunity]. This little group is about four Indian staff and one non-Indian person director, and we would be sitting in with the President's Council. As it developed,

PAGE 35

34 this is about maybe second year or third year. I happen to be one appointed from here, you know. Some other tribes come from somewhere, another area. That position is it's a problem. It's a good thing if we do our job wellyou know, how much you can get along with people, how much influence we've got with them, or is it legal or it's not. This is the kind of thing that turns up. D: How does it pan out when you come home and you tell your own tribe up there they're doing so-and-so, and maybe we could too? Are they receptive to it? T: The people, in particular, non-Indian people, we're not going to talk about what they're going to do, you know what I mean? Only thing I imagine that we're going to be talking about small tribes getting hurt. They never got enough share for the smaller tribes, because big tribes always get better treatment, more money, better help. D: They make more noise. T: Yeah, that's it. Those little guys could just sit there all this time, never accomplish nothing. I'm going to have to look at them. Let's try and get them on their feet and get them out of the way, and then you can play with the big tribes as long as you want--we don't care. So this is the kind of attitude you're talking about. You'll be talking about some land problems. Indian people have treaties; sometimes the things have been broken. They've been stole; land taken away by the United States, that kind of thing. So we're going to have to work it out, and we did need some influential Indian people. The kind of person that we can work with other tribes, because we be talking to reservation Indians, and be kind of a cause of prejudice, and we hope we'll make it straight. They have to like to do work of this type. Not because I'm in it-I think the top leaders they chose this time, they're good ones. I work with them a couple of years, so I know them pretty well. This is the kind of thing we never had before, and it's working for us that way. Indian people are really going to have to really realize more government in Washington doing for us. Some day Indians are going to be terminated just like anybody else. That's what they D: Swallowed up? T: Right that's the idea. So they are trying to get us ready

PAGE 36

35 for it--that's what I tell people around here. What we going to do? We could live just at long as we want. We not going to go anywhere, but there's going to be city around us, so let's be ready. D: Well, we all have this problem, too. I mean, not just the Indians. T: Right. So as far as to come back and talk to my people, I think I try to tell them what's going on. For me, it's easy, because I know the Indian history a little bit. Some of the people know that, so I say "All right, we facing this now." Then I says, "All right, we know we be coming to that," so they understand me, I understand them. So these little young fellows, they don't know what's going on. They don't really know what's going on. They think this is easy--I'm just flying back and forth to Washington, or maybe west to have a good time. This is what they think. They don't really realize how big a responsibility this D: They think it's very glamorous, just going around all over the world. T: Right, right. Some of the Indian people have worked with me. They used to think, "Well, chairman is an easy job. It's sit here and make good salary and have easy life. But they began to see what it's like when you contact with other tribes, what kind of question, what kind of things they going to be doing to you, and they make them second thoughts. D: It's a hard job. T: It is. Oh, you can make it easy. You don't have to go any where. You can just sit here, not knowing what's going on, and they come down and tell you what they're going to do. But you don't want that happening. You want to explore what's going on up there, you got your nose in it, and be prepared, be ready, you know. D: You don't know what's likely to hit if you can't T: Right. D: The Tribe owns the restaurant, doesn't it? [Miccosukee Tribe of Florida owns a restaurant at Frog City on the Tamiami Trail.]

PAGE 37

36 T: Yes. D: I mean, you run it. T: Another thing I might help you on here. If nothing happens, we can go on the way we're going, and five--let's say five years--I think our lives and our situation is going to be a whole lot better here than what it is last year. I think life here is kind of rough, because we've been starting on these programs D: It's your first year, isn't it? T: Yeah. Some of the things, we're not too sure about it, now we're sure about it, and we know how to control drinking problems, drug problems, that kind of thing. We just go ahead and especially with education and our education in the school, and we just think not give up the old. Some of the people in Washington tells me that this is the best operation they find so far. Only three operations are good, and this is one of them.