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Interview with Genus Crenshaw, August 3, 1973

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Title:
Interview with Genus Crenshaw, August 3, 1973
Creator:
Crenshaw, Genus ( Interviewee )
Publication Date:
Language:
English

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

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

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Source Institution:
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location:
This interview is part of the 'Seminoles' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
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Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.
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SEM 142 ( SPOHP IDENTIFIER )

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Full Text
SOUTHEASTERN INDIAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
In cooperation with The Seminole Tribe of Florida
INTERVIEWEE: Genus Crenshaw
INTERVIEWER: Tom King
DATE: August 3, 1973


INDEX
Alcoholism, 16-18
Baptist Bible Institute at Lakeland, 12
Big Cypress, 1, 5-10, 12
Big Lake Baptist Association, 6
Billie, Ingraham, 12
Billie, Josie, 7, 10, 12-14, 19
Billie, Junior, 19
Brighton Indian Reservation, 1, 4-6, 11.
-14, 19
Bureau of Indian Affairs, 6, 11
Carney, Raymond, 19
Cattle, 18
Cherokee, North Carolina, 1
Clans, 13
Cypress, Henry, 19
Economy, 18
First Seminole Church, 1, 6-7, 13
Florida Baptist Convention, 6
Food, 17
Forty Mile Bend, 19
Green Corn Dance, 15


Gulf Stream Baptist Convention, 6
Harrington, Virgil, 6, 9-10
Hollywood Reservation [Dania], 1, 5, 11
Home Mission Board, 1, 9-10
Housing, 17
King, Willie, 2-5, 8
Language
Creek [Muskogee], 3
Miccosukee, 3
Lykes Brothers Corporation, 10
Marmon, Kenneth, 10
Medicine men, 4, 8, 12-13, 16-17
Miami Springs Baptist Church, 19
Miccosukee Independent Church, 6-7, 13
Miccosukee Indians, 1, 19
Oklahoma Creek Indians, 2-3
Osceola, Bill, 12
Osceola, Billy, 9-12
Pueblo Indians in New Mexico, 1
Roberts, W. D., 8
Shore, Frank, 4, 14-15


Small, Dennis, 9-10
Smith, Stanley, 4-5
Southern Baptist Convention, 1, 6
Tamiami Trail, 5, 12, 18
Tiger, Howard, 19
Tommie, Reverend Sam, 1, 19


K: The following is an interview with Genus Crenshaw, who is
the regional missionary with the Florida Indians appointed
by the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The interview was conducted on Friday, August 3, 1973,
at four o'clock in the afternoon. It was conducted at
Mr. Crenshaw's house, which is adjacent to the Seminole
Indian Reservation in Hollywood, Florida. Mr. Crenshaw
is fifty-three years old. He does not speak any Indian
language.
Mr. Crenshaw, can you tell me how long you've been
working with the Seminole Indians, the Miccosukee Indians?
C: Well, my wife and I came here as regional missionaries with
the Indians in Florida, Seminole/Miccosukees, in September
of 1951. I had served three summers with other Indians--
two in Cherokee, North Carolina, 1948-1950, and the summer
of '51 among the Pueblos in New Mexico.
K: Mr. Crenshaw, just what was your assignment when you were
sent down here?
C: Well, to teach and preach among the Indians. The Indians
had made a request to our Home Mission Board at the Southern
Baptist Convention for a full-time missionary couple,
and the Reverend Sam Tommie, the late Sam Tommie, and others
have made this request. They were expecting us; we were
well-received, and of course our main work through the
years had been teaching and preaching the Gospel of the
Bible, and working with the pastors, people in the churches
seeking to strengthen and build up the churches, establish
new work, help carry on mission work in
In 1951, First Seminole was the only organized cooperative church.
Big Cypress was a strong mission station,
and Brighton was still a preaching station, once or twice a
month under the trees, no building. Big Cypress Church was
organized July 20, 1952, and Brighton got their building
and started full-time mission work June 22, 1952, and it con-
tinued as a mission at Brighton until 1959. The mission was
organized into a church--that was August 23, 1959. In
1952, as the building was dedicated, there were seven
Christians there in Brighton, and today there are 136 in the
church there. So there has been a good growth.


2
K: I'm not familiar with the difference between a mission and
a church. Perhaps you could explain that for me?
C: A mission is a new work. It may be just preaching, a place
where someone goes and preaches for a time, and then as it
grows, starts Sunday school and other organizations such
as church training, the organization for the ladies, WMU
[Women's Missionary Union], the brotherhood for the men.
Usually this work develops in a mission stage, and then
when the mission is strong enough to carry on more or less
on their own--with officers, teachers, workers--and also
financially, at least to an extent, then it organizes into
a church if there's a need for full-time work there.
Sometimes a mission may never develop into a church.
It may continue as a mission station. Other times the
mission may continue only a year, sometimes several years,
depending on how it develops--how the leadership and respon-
sibility is assumed and taken over. So a mission is a
beginning stage of the work, with a mother-sponsoring
church. Now, First Seminole, in this case, is the mother
church of Big Cypress and Brighton, sponsoring the work in
those areas, sending out workers. Some of the people from
those locations would come in for business meetings and for
other work, and they would hold special studies, clinics, and
all that through the years, getting ready for organization
and full-time work.
K: I think you were going to give me an account of how the
Baptist church got started [among the Florida Indians.]
C: Yes. To my knowledge, the early missionaries were Creek
Indians from Oklahoma. I believe there had been an attempt
by the Episcopal church in the late 1800s, and then about
1907 Creek Indians from Oklahoma came. It was very slow,
very difficult in those early days, because even the reser-
vations were not set up, and the Indians roamed the 'Glades.
The early missionaries would come as far as Stuart, or
Indiantown, Florida by Model-T Ford, or whatever, and then
they would go from there by dug-out canoe, horseback, wagon,
or whatever mode of travel they could find, seeking the
Indians, finding them. According to the late Willie King,
who was retired and living in Okeechobee when we came, and
I talked with him many times, it was very difficult to find
them. Then, even when the missionaries found them, they
would not listen many times. It took several years of


3
effort, missionaries coming and going, before a few of them
would begin to listen. Then it was a gradual growth process
through the years. Most of the early missionaries would
stay only six months or a year and go back. The first to
stay over a period of years was Willie King, who came,
I believe, about 1923, and stayed three years or so. In
fact, his wife was a missionary, and he came with her, and
after about three years they went back to Oklahoma and
his wife passed away. He remarried, and then came back
to Florida as a missionary himself.
K: You said that these were Creeks from Oklahoma?
C: Yes.
K: I take it, then, that there weren't any among them who spoke
Miccosukee?
C: Well, perhaps there were some. Of course, there were some
Seminoles in Oklahoma; there still are some. Today very
few of them speak the Miccosukee. John Brown has been down
on several occasions, and he says he used to speak it very
well, but he's been around the Creeks too long, and he
doesn't speak it too well, and not many of them do. Most
of them now speak the Creek, because Creek is widely spoken
in Oklahoma. There's a lot of it, and of course even the
Seminoles here, if they speak Miccosukee, do speak some
Creek, most of them. But I'm not sure how many of them
were Seminoles, how many were Creeks. My understanding is
most of them were Creeks. Then after Willie King came
back, and his wife, they stayed until their retirement in
the mid 1940s, and then he lived in Okeechobee. Used to
come out to Brighton even up till his last years. He would
attend services there, and occasionally he would visit
Big Cypress and even near Hollywood. I would say Willie
King probably served longer than any of the Indians coming
from Oklahoma, and I think did a lot of very fine work in
laying afoundation, gaining the friendship, confidence of
the Indians, getting them to where they would listen and
respond.
K: Did he actually convert any of them to Christianity?
C: There were several conversions under his ministry, and I feel
that he was responsible for perhaps many others that came
later. He was not a dynamic, evangelistic type of preacher.


4
He was more a personal witness to go to the camps and around
the camp up there and talk to the people
about the Bible and the Lord. The man who followed him,
Stanley Smith, was more dynamic, more evangelistic, more
forceful. He and others of us, I feel have reaped a harvest
from some of Willie King and others' work that.... In fact,
the Bible says that as one sows, the other reaps, and I
think we have seen this is true. The Indians don't respond
because you think they should, or tell them they should, but
when they're convinced, then you see a response. Sometimes
it takes years of witnessing, of living among the people,
of gaining their confidence and friendship, and then finally
they come to the point where they will listen to the Gospel
you preach.
K: You've indicated that when the early Creek missionaries
first began operating in this area, they encountered a lot
of opposition, and that nobody wanted to listen to them.
Was the opposition any more overt than that? Was there any
hostility?
C: Yes, Willie King told me that on a number of occasions the
Indians would run away when they'd see them coming. He
said at nighttime they'd come back and maybe throw rocks
at their camp, or try to scare them away, and I think on
some occasions, according to what he said, there must have
been some threat--no real open violence that I know of,
but more or less just trying to scare them, and maybe some
threats.
K: Well, from having talked to some of the old Seminoles, I
get the impression that there were a lot of threats against
anyone who would even consider converting to Christianity
among the Seminoles themselves.
C: Well, yes.
K: Can you tell me anything about that?
C: There's been persecution. Some who followed the old way,
the old Indian religion and all, even after we came twenty
years ago, there has been some. On the other hand, some of
those who follow the old religion do attend church. Even
the medicine man at Brighton, Mr. Frank Shore, he attends
church quite often, and is very friendly toward the Christians.


5
K: I'm interested in some sort of statistical evaluation of the
success of the early missionaries. When was it you said that
Willie King quit? 1945?
C: He retired.
K: Retired in 1945?
C: Yes.
K: How many Christians were there among the Seminoles at that
time?
C: The First Seminole Church was organized here at the Hollywood
Reservation, which used to be Dania Reservation, June 6, 1936,
and there were seven Christians at that time. So from 1907
up to 1936, there were only a very few Christians among them,
and the work continued rather slow up till the mid-1940s.
Then it began to advance more rapidly, and of course others
came in. Willie King had written to Oklahoma for help, that
he needed more help in the work, and Stanley Smith and his
wife came, and others came on a temporary or short-time
basis, and worked with them. Brother King had moved over
to Okeechobee, and Brother Smith came, worked out from
Hollywood here. They would go to Big Cypress, to Brighton,
but it was the mid-1940s before the work really began to
grow in numbers. Today there are approximately 600 profes-
sing Christians.
K: That's very impressive. That's almost half the tribe.
C: This is on the three reservations and also the Tamiami Trail,
and this includes those of the independent churches. The
independent churches came out of the division over a per-
sonality in 1948. Up until that time they had been together.
K: Well, can you give me some details concerning that schism?
C: Of course, the man it was over was Stanley Smith, who had
served as a missionary. I do not know the details of the
difficulty, but there was some difficulty, and he finally
was discharged as missionary--not as pastor of the church,
but some circuit that he was as pastor. And also he had, I
think, used his belt on some of the young people. Maybe
they needed it, but he wasn't the one to give it to them.


6
They had parents to take care of disciplinary problems.
Through these several things he was discharged as mission-
ary; so he got some property across the road and started
an independent work.
K: Across the road here in Hollywood?
C: Yes, the Miccosukee Independent Church is there. These inde-
pendent churches have gone to the other reservations--Big
Cypress and Brighton.
K: How do they differ from that First Seminole Baptist Church?
C: Especially in operation. We're what we call cooperative
churches, in that we work with and through our local associa-
tions--with the Baptist churches of our community, like
Ft. Lauderdale, Hollywood, Pompano Beach, Hallandale.
First Seminole is part of the Gulf Stream Baptist Asso-
ciation; also a part of the Florida Baptist Convention and
the Southern Baptist Convention. We send messengers,
delegates, to each of these--not every year but quite often
--and Big Cypress and Brighton churches are part of the
Big Lake Baptist Association, the churches of South Bay,
Clewiston, Belle Glade, LaBelle, Okeechobee...churches in
that area. We feel it's good to cooperate and work with
the other churches to gain information and inspiration
through meetings together. It's a good Christian fellow-
ship, and I think this is one of the things that has really
helped the Seminoles in a great way through the years.
In fact, Mr. Virgil Harrington, a former superintendent of
Indian affairs, our agent with the BIA.... When the tribe
organized, they had a day of dedication later, and there
were men here from Washington, from Tallahassee, from
Muskogee [Muskogee, Oklahoma], and various places, and
that day Mr. Harrington said that because the church had
played an important role in the life of the people, that
the Seminole Tribe had organized and was ready to go forward
now.
The Baptist church is a democratic organization. Every
member has a right to speak, a right to vote. Of course,
we do this through our belief in the Bible. We gain our
authority from the Bible, and we do not just act on our
own, but according to the Scriptures. Also, we have some-
one that is in charge of business, the pastor, or moderator
of a business meeting. Business meetings are carried on in


7
a very orderly fashion. So through out church work, associ-
ations, going out in public, the people have learned how
to meet the public, and learned how to deal with one
another and to deal with others and to carry on business
in a very business-like manner. I recall Mr. Harrington
making this statement that day, and on other occasions.
Another government official, even a couple of years
ago, Mr. Nelson, who was the assistant superintendent
[of the BIA] here, he told me one day, he said, "The
longer I stay, the more I realize the effect of the Church
on the life of the people in helping them to develop and
to be ready to go forward. For many years the Seminole
Tribe--perhaps you know or realize--was known as the back-
wards tribe, but since they organized in 1957, they got into
business, they began to build houses, they began to develop
their cattle program and other things more, and they've
been used in recent years, some of the BIA people tell
me, tribal leaders, as an example of progress. I mean,
we're not looking for credit, but men like Virgil Harrington
and Mr. Nelson have just made these statements, and we're
glad for any way that the church can help the people in
their personal life, their business life. I feel it is a
great influence, and has been through the years.
K: I'd like to get back to my question, now, about the Independent
Church. How does their approach differ from that of the
organized First Baptist Church?
C: I brought up that the cooperative churches, Southern Baptist
Churches cooperate with these, and the independents do not.
They have what they call fellowships where they meet with
some other independent churches, but they do not carry on
organizations, be a part of organizations such as this. I
don't know what the major difference is, other than they just
more or less want to be on their own without any ties or
affiliation. Basically, doctrinally, I think they're still
very much the same.
K: You have indicated that it was not until the middle 1940s or
late 1940s that the Baptist church began to have any real
impact in terms of conversions to Christianity among the
Seminoles. I have heard from a number of Seminoles that in
the 1940s, I'm not sure about the date, Josie Billie on
the Big Cypress Reservation was converted to Christianity,
and at that time that he brought a number of relatives with
him. The number that I've been given seems to be twenty,
or twenty-two--something close to that. Can you give me


8
some details concerning this conversion? I think it would
be interesting, considering that Josie Billie was a medicine
man for the Indians.
C: Yes. Mr. W. D. Roberts, operated a grocery in Immokalee,
Brother Willie King used to go to Immokalee and visit with
some of the Indians as they would come into the grocery
store there. Finally Mr. Roberts persuaded a number of
the Indians to let Willie King preach to them in the
evening there--I believe it was after the store closed.
So they got to where they would hold services there. Later
they would visit in the First Baptist Church of Immokalee,
especially on fifth Sundays. The church there would
have a meal, and they developed a good fellowship there
between the Indians and the Caucasians at the church there.
Then a little later they began to invite Brother King
into the Big Cypress Reservation. I believe the first
services there were held at the schoolhouse. It was some-
time later before they built their church, and one of those
who was always there was Josie Billie. I believe he was
converted and made his profession of faith on New Year's,
1945, or New Year's Eve. According to what he had told
me and others, he told the preacher when he came making his
profession of faith in Christ, "I'd like to say something
to my people." He said, "I can still make medicine that will
help you sometimes when you're sick, but I cannot help your
soul." Many of them had looked to him as a spiritual
leader--they do look to the medicine man this way, some
of them. He said, "If you want help for your soul, you
must do as I've done tonight. Trust the Lord Jesus Christ
as your personal Savior." They sang another Indian hymn,
and it's my understanding that twenty-two adults responded
to the invitation. I do not know that they were necessarily
relatives; I think perhaps a sister of his was in the group,
and others, but most of those have continued as faithful
Christians through the years. There's still a number of
them living. Of course, the medicine man being converted,
this was encouraging to many others. Some had wanted to be-
fore, some have indicated to me, but they did not know
what his response might be. Of course, after he came,
and after he recommended that this would be good for them if
they so chose, they felt free to come. With the conversion
of others, the work began to grow and prosper in a great way.
K: When was the church on Big Cypress built?


9
C: Well, it was built, I believe in 1946. It was build back
away from-where it is now--back in the woods a good distance,
perhaps a mile and a half or two miles. At the time they
built it, the superintendent told them they could not build
on the reservation. A rancher, Mr. Dennis Small from
LaBelle, had some land adjoining or within the reservation,
and he offered to trade, I believe, twenty acres for ten.
They went ahead and built the church on his property.
K: Who did he trade the twenty acres with?
C: Well, I got ahead of myself there. They went ahead and
built the church on his property, and later the people came
to him, to Judge Harris in LaBelle, and told them that it was
too far and too hard for them to.... Also, in cold weather
they were having to wade through water, and some of them
were becoming sick, so Billy Osceola and others, a group
of them, came to these men and told them they wanted a
church up near where they lived.
K: Now this was on the Big Cypress, right?
C: Right. So these men began to work on it, and Mr. Small
offered to trade forty acres for ten at that time. They
began negotiations, and went ahead and moved the building.
However, it was not complete even in 1951 when we came as
missionaries, and that started, I believe in 1947. So, in
fact, for several years later. It seemed that the BIA super-
intendent just somehow refused to sign it. He would say that
someone in Washington needed to sign it, but actually they
had already signed it, and...the papers I saw from him and
Mr. Small, he just needed to sign it himself to complete it.
Anyway, it was later, when Mr. Harrington came, that this
transaction was finally completed. In the meantime, Mr.
Small had grown tired to bringing the abstract up to date
every so often, and still paying taxes on the forty acres.
He said that he didn't mind that so much, but it's just the
being drug over a period of years. Finally he withdrew his
offer, and then we tried to work out something else--a trade
with the Home Mission Board on the property here in Hollywood
for that ten acres. We had that almost worked out when the
tribal chairman, Billy Osceola, and Mr. Harrington came to
me one day and said we still want to trade with Mr. Small.
K: Excuse me a minute. We've leaped forward a considerable
period of time. Billy Osceola was tribal chairman. What


10
time are we up to now?
C: Well, 1957 the tribe organized, so it was in the late....
K: In other words, it's already taken almost eleven years.
C: Yes. It was maybe a year or two later than that. He'd
been chairman for some time. So I went back to Mr. Small.
I told him, I said, "I know he'll do it if we'll go ahead
and get it over with." So they had the dedication for
the recreation building at Big Cypress, and Mr. Small was
there, and Mr. Harrington were there. I got them together,
and they talked it over. Mr. Harrington agreed to get
his land operation man on this, and to get it complete.
In the meantime Mr. Small said, "I will not trade forty
acres for ten--land values have changed. I will trade
twenty for ten." So they said, "This is fair enough,"
and agreed to it. Within six months the papers were
worked out, the deed was signed, and on Christmas night,
1962, Mr. Small and his wife presented the deed for that
church property to the Big Cypress Church.
K: Why was it still necessary, after the Seminole Tribe of
Florida had formed--Billy Osceola was the chairman of
the tribe--to build the church on property off of the
established reservation?
C: Well, Mr. Kenneth Marmon, the agent before Mr. Harrington,
felt that it was best. I don't know why they could not
grant permission, because it was for Indian people and
in their area.
K: Was there any opposition from the Indians on the Big Cypress
Reservation?
C: I believe not, but each of our Southern Baptist Churches
are off of reservation land. In Hollywood, our Mission
Board owns the property, owns the deed to it, but the
church is for the Indians, dedicated for that purpose. At
Big Cypress, the trade was worked out there. At Brighton
the Lykes Brothers [Corporation] gave the land adjoining
the reservation. Now, two of the independent churches
are on reservation land today, and I do not know the details
of this.
K: At the time that the church was founded on the Big Cypress


11
Reservation, can you give me an indication of who the
Seminole leader on the reservation could have been?
Would it have been Josie Billie?
C: Josie Billie became a lay pastor...
K: Excuse me. I'm not talking about within the church.
C: Yes.
K: I mean, within the Indian community, who was looked up to
as a leader? The oldest?
C: They were very unorganized. This is amazing in a way. The
Seminole tribe was never organized until 1957, and yet they
would come together for meetings. I think through these
meetings they would appoint committees to work on these
things, such as organizing as a tribe and other projects.
Whoever was appointed or chosen for that responsibility
would get them together--when a date was set, would
notify them, and they would come together. Of course,
many times their meetings as a tribe were at the Hollywood
Reservation under a big oak tree, but as a reservation they
had no real leader.
Some of the things they went through before he was a
Christian, and on one occasion he got some for me
for asthma. He told me, he said, "I pray that the Lord
will use this to help me." He told me how to prepare it
and take it, and requested that I pray to the Lord each
time before I took it, which I did, and it was a great help
to me. The Indians have many good things in the way of
herbs that have been a help to many people through the
years, but they've never been fanatic about it. If the
medicine man could not help you, he would tell you so, and
even advise you to go to the doctor in a hospital; they would
go themselves when they needed to. They realized that there
were some things they couldn't do. They did not try to hinder
Indian people from going for medical help.
K: After having talked with Billy Osceola, I understand that
there was considerable Seminole opposition on the Brighton
Reservation to the formation of the church there. In
fact, from what he told me, he apparently does not believe
that any opposition was [fostered] by the BIA. What he gave
me was that it was entirely the Seminoles on the Brighton
Reservation who were opposed to the church being there, and


12
as a result of that they had to move off the reservation.
C: Yes. Well, I didn't mean there was opposition by the BIA,
but this superintendent just would not grant permission to
go ahead and build a church on...he would attend meetings
on occasion, but I guess he...it was his understanding
that it would not be done. I don't know why, but I think
there was perhaps less opposition at Big Cypress than at
Brighton.
K: Do you have any idea why?
C: Well, again, going back to...the conversion of the medicine
man perhaps had some influence there. Of course, others
opposed him because of his conversion. I think some of
the other medicine men from the Tamiami Trail area, they
were not happy over his change for a time. But others
have been converted. His own brother Ingraham, years
later, was converted, and he had taken over some of the
responsibility of medicine man after Josie's conversion.
K: I'd like to get into some of the background of the forma-
tion of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. I understand that
the church [Baptist church] played a part in it, but I
am very vague concerning just exactly what role it did
play in formation of the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
Billy Osceola just told me that he got some encouragement
from the church, and so on. Can you give me some details
concerning that?
C: Well, I think the only part the church played was what I
mentioned before--giving training in democratic procedures,
having contact with the outside world through associations,
conventions, and this way Billy Osceola made some comment.
They did have a little education from the Baptist Bible
Institute at Lakeland, Florida. I think the only reason
that Billy Osceola and Bill were chosen as tribal leaders
was because of their experience in the church. The church
did not elect them; some of the Christian people encouraged
them,perhaps, to run...this was as individuals, not as a
church congregation.
K: Who was their opposition? Who ran against them?
C: I really don't know. Billy Osceola was elected as a councilman


13
from the Brighton Reservation, and I believe at the first
meeting of the council he was chosen as chairman. They
did not run at large at that time, if I am correct, but
I believe he had better votes, maybe, than any of the
others, and because of this he was chosen as the chairman
of the council. Of course, Bill Osceola being a pastor
in the Miccosukee Independent Church--and of course, that
come out of the First Seminole Church--he also had some
influence along these lines. Both these men have good
personalities. You have to meet public, deal with the
public, and they were elected to these places, and they
were re-elected.
K: What about the original council members? Were they also
[church members]?
C: Well, most of them were, because...I don't recall all of them,
but I know several of them. They were...I believe they
were. There may have been some non-Christians on it, I'm
not sure. I'd have to get the list and look it up.
K: Do you remember whether or not the different clans were
represented? I'm wondering what the make-up was of the
original tribal council of representatives according to
clan.
C: People may have voted for someone from their clan, but they
do not run according to clans, and I heard nothing concerning
clans during the election. I do not know how many clans
were represented.
K: Mr. Crenshaw, can you give me the official position of the
Baptist church concerning Seminole medicine men--the practice
of their crafts, spiritual values, and so on?
C: Well, we feel, and I believe when I say "we".... I'm a
member of one of the Indian churches, and I've worked with
all of them, and I believe that the churches very definitely
approved of the medicine man doing any good that he can to
help suffering humanity. They realize the position of the
man that.... I think Josie Billie put it well when he was
converted. At that time he gave up the medicine bundle, I'm
told, and he told them that he would not go back to it, but
he would continue to make medicine to help them when they were
sick. They have respected this. They've come to it through


14
the years, and my experience with the people is that the
churches respect the medicine man, his ability to help
people, and certainly are not opposing in this. Now, to
my knowledge, this man and others that became Christian
did not continue with ritual or anything that would be
awkward toward Christianity, but as I said a while ago,
Josie Billie told me, "I have prayed to the Lord that he
will bless and use this." He realized that the herbs have
come from God, in that the Lord puts them here--he sends
the sunshine and the rain to make them grow and produce.
Feeling that it comes from the Lord, he also feels that the
Lord can bless the use of it, and recognizes Jesus Christ
as a great physician. So I feel there's a good relationship
here, and I have seen no friction or trouble about this.
K: I know that there is trouble within the different churches,
at least as far as individuals are concerned.
C: Yeah.
K: I've run into that. There are individual Christian Seminoles
who feel that it's not right for other Christian Seminoles
to go to a medicine man for treatment, and so on.
C: Yes.
K: There's no correlation to official church doctrine?
C: Well, no, but.... I mean, do they feel it's wrong for them
to go to a Christian medicine man?
K: Or just a non-Christian. Well, to use names, Frank Shore,
[medicine man] of the Brighton Reservation. Some of the
other Seminoles that I talked to there who are Christian
don't feel that it's proper for a Christian Seminole to
go to Frank Shore for treatment, because the treatment that
they get is in some respects spiritual as well as medicinal.
He's not a Christian medicine man.
C: He does attend church quite often. He has for a number of
years. He is not a professing Christian.
K: He has told me that neither he nor his wife are Christian.
His children are; they are, but not them.
C: But he is very friendly towards Christians, and does come for


15
services or special occasions, and I visit him. I visited
him just this week in the hospital, and he had no objection
to me reading Scriptures or pray as I do with other patients.
I just say, "I'd like to read some Scripture and have
prayer with you." He said, "Go ahead, all right."
K: What about the Green Corn Dance? How does the church feel
about this--Christian Seminoles attending the Green Corn
Dance, participating in it?
C: Well, the church has taken no offical position that I know
of on that. I mentioned that the Baptist church is very
democratic, and each person chooses what they will do. It's
the same as each member has a voice and a vote in the church,
and also in discussion. Each one also chooses what they'll
do outside the church or in their everyday life. The church
certainly does not encourage them to go, but the church does
not, on the other hand, forbid them to go.
K: Does the church make any statement at all concerning whether
or not...?
C: No official statement that I know of.
K: Do you, yourself, see any conflict between being a Christian
and also participating in the Green Corn Dance?
C: Well, not in just attending if they....
K: I mean taking part.
C: Yes. Some of them, I think, attend on a friendly basis.
I really have never delved into this to question about it.
Some of them tell me, and I know there are some professing
Christians and do attend. Most of these are inactive--not
really faithful. Most of the really faithful Christians do
not attend. They may go there just on a day, just to see
someone or visit someone, but not to participate in all of
the Corn Dance.
K: I've talked to some who do attend the Corn Dance and partici-
pate in it.
C: Yes.
K: They use the rationale that God gave the Seminoles the Green
Corn Dance.


16
C: Yes.
K: Therefore, there's no conflict.
C: Yes.
K: Would you subscribe to this?
C: Well, every person must work out their own salvation. The
Bible says and my business is to teach
and preach the Gospel. People accept it or reject it, and
when they accept it, when they follow it, I do not question
their other activities. I mean, I feel that's between them
and the Lord. I cannot judge or rule over people with their
sins. I can preach what I feel is right, and then the people
make their choice.
K: Well, in this same vein, I have been told by some people on
the reservation that there is a program under way using medi-
cine men to give spiritual counsel to people who are having
problems with alcohol, and mental health, and so on. They
have told me that the Christian approach--some of them told
me this--that the Christian approach to it has not been
successful. The medicine men, however, have been successful
up to a point. At least in alcoholism they can keep a man
away from the bottle for a period of four months. The num-
ber four seems to be significant. How do you feel about
this?
C: Well, I would differ with that, in that I feel that the
Christian approach has worked for those who have responded
to it. I know a number of people that, from the time they
responded to Christianity to this day, they have never
turned back to alcohol, and some of them were very heavy
users before. From the medicine man approach, I know that
they sometimes use herbs. Some of the people go to them
for this, and I have seen this work for a time. I do not
know that it is a complete.cure.
K: Probably it isn't.
C: Yes, but it seems to be on a temporary basis, where, on the
other hand, I believe that the Christian approach has been
a complete cure for many people.
K: There is a program that has been funded by the federal government,


17
now, partially funded, for training for medicine men of
the Seminole people. And that, as I understand, will not
be relegated strictly to medicine--they will be also [keepers
of the spiritual medicine bundle] and they will be, in a
sense, non-Christian in that respect. Does the church have
a position on that?
C: No, not to my knowledge. I don't know how far advanced
this program is, but to my knowledge it has not been discussed
in the church.
K: I'm wondering if there's any correlation between conversion
to Christianity and the type of life that the Seminoles
becoming Christians. Is there any correlation between that
and their success in the material world?
C: Well, some of these that have been converted have been cured,
if you want to put it that way, from alcoholism--they now
use their income for better things, where in the past they
consumed a lot of it on alcoholic beverages. And also,
Christianity gives anyone a better view of life. They
choose the things that are more essential, the things which
are needful; there's less waste in their life. They won't
waste their money or their income on things which they won't
use.
K: Can you give me just a subjective opinion of how well off
the Christian Seminoles are as opposed to those who are not
Christian? Are they doing better, or not?
C: Well, I really haven't studied their economy that much. Many
of them are. Of course, the Indians today are not what you
would call prosperous people. They're making a good living,
a fair living, put it that way. They're working, they're
living in houses, where they used to live in chickees; they
are eating better, they don't have to stick as much to starches,
and few meats, and things like this. They have a greater
variety of diet, they are driving better cars. Many of them
are still in debt. Many of them are, I think, more or less
average Americans, where they're living off of borrowed
income as well as what they make. I think as they become
Christians, they're better managers, there's more honesty,
and they do not want to go beyond their means. They borrow;
they realize there's a payday some day, and they.... Of course,
a number of non-Christians are doing very well financially.
I mean, they're living as well as some others. Of course,


18
there are professing Christians that have gone back to alco-
holism ; they did not continue as faithful Christians. In
the Bible it tells of this. It tells us that some seed will
fall in good ground, some will fall in stony ground, some
among the thorns and be choked out. Care in this world will
choke out their love for Christ, for the Bible, and it's
where there's depth and root. First Psalms says, "Blessed
is the man who is like a tree planted by the river of water."
He has a deep root, an abiding faith; he stays with it.
On the economy, I don't feel that I have enough know-
ledge there, or facts to back it up. I'm happy to see the
Indians with better incomes, better living conditions,
and going forward. Getting more into business, getting
out on better jobs. Many of the young fellows now are
working in construction, things like this. Of course,
through travel, employment, and employment bureau, the
cities around about.... I know Mr. Finn from the employment
in Hollywood used to be on the personnel committee for
both of them, and I mean, whether a man was a Christian or
not did not determine whether he got a job. If he qualified
for the job, he got it, and so he decided to be a Christian
and have a good job. Of course, in their cattle program,
they did not ask if a man was Christian before they let
him buy cattle. Any man or family that wants cattle, they
qualify, they get their cattle, and they work at it.
K: I know that the Baptist church has not been entirely success-
ful on the Trail Reservation. Do you have any idea why?
C: Well, through the years more of the people there followed
their own religion. It's like they did not go along with
the tribal organization when the Seminole Tribe organized.
According to newspaper articles, statements that were made
at meetings they wanted to be left alone. They more or less
had become content, I think, with their old way of life--
living in the chickees, living in the 'Glades, their children
at home, not going to school, many of them, and they thought
they wanted to be left alone. This was in about everything.
Of course, there has been some mission work through the
years. For twenty years or so we have taken Bible films to
various locations and shown them, such as this store at
Copeland, in the McKinley Osceola camp, Corey Osceola
camp, the store at Ochopee, and finally at Ingraham Billie's
camp at Turner's River before he moved to Big Cypress. The
people seemed to welcome this, and of course, as time went
on they and they would begin to visit


19
churches on the reservations, but it has taken time for
them to respond to tribal organization, to education, to
Christianity, to all of these. Now, there is a good nucleus
of Christians on the Trail. We have a church now at the
Forty Mile Bend. Miami Springs Baptist Church has worked
with us in building that, or really we have worked with them,
and they actually built it, and it's going forward slowly.
I feel in the next few years there will be a good strong-
hold there.
K: How many Christians are there on the Trail Reservation?
C: Well, actually it's not a reservation. The people there,
they live along the Trail all the way from Miami to Naples.
I do not know; I would only be estimating that there are
perhaps forty, fifty Christians in the Trail area.
K: That's a significant number; I believe there are only 300
Miccosukees living in that area.
C: Yeah. But there are quite a few others who are attending,
and of course this...they choose, and I feel that the progress
is gradually picking up.
Of course, there are Seminole ministers. I mentioned
Billy Osceola, the late Sam Tommie, the late Henry Cypress--
these men served for a number of years, and now two of them
are gone. Billy Osceola is in ill health, but still we have
Indian pastors in each of the churches. The First Seminole
Church in Hollywood is Johns, a young man that
grew up at the Brighton Reservation, and went away to
Oklahoma to school, and has spent time in the service, and
worked in California, Dallas, Texas, and came back from
Ft. Worth, Texas--came back a year and a half or so ago, and
is now pastor of the church here. He had done some lay
preaching in Texas--Ft. Worth--while he was there, and he
is growing:in this respect. He started as interim pastor,
and he's now a regular pastor of the church. Then Junior
Billie of Big Cypress, and Howard Tiger at Brighton. Each
of these men is considered as a lay pastor, in that they
work in other types of work. Johns is Director
of Community Action for the tribe. Howard Tiger works for
the road department, driving a truck. Junior Billie is
employed in the Community Action program, and yet these
men spend a great deal of time in their ministry as pastors.
On the Tamiami Trail a Choctaw Indian from Oklahoma, Raymond
Carney, been in Florida since the first of the year. There
are Indian pastors in each of the churches. Each church calls


20
their own pastor and works with him. We work with all of
them as they call on us, as we are needed, whenever we can.
K: Well, I thank you for the interview. I really appreciate
it.


Full Text

PAGE 1

SOUTHEASTERN INDIAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA In cooperation with The Seminole Tribe of Florida INTERVIEWEE: Genus Crenshaw INTERVIEWER: Tom King DATE: August 3, 1973

PAGE 2

INDEX Alcoholism, 16-18 Baptist Bible Institute at Lakeland, 12 Big Cypress, 1, 5-10, 12 Big Lake Baptist Association, 6 Billie, Ingraham, 12 Billie, Josie, 7, 10, 12-14, 19 Billie, Junior, 19 Brighton Indian Reservation, 1, 4-6, 11-14, 19 Bureau of Indian Affairs, 6, 11 Carney, Raymond, 19 Cattle, 18 Cherokee, North Carolina, 1 Clans, 13 Cypress, Henry, 19 Economy, 18 First Seminole Church, 1, 6-7, 13 Florida Baptist Convention, 6 Food, 17 Forty Mile Bend, 19 Green Corn Dance, 15

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Gulf Stream Baptist Convention, 6 Harrington, Virgil, 6, 9-10 Hollywood Reservation [Dania], 1, 5, 11 Home Mission Board, 1, 9-10 Housing, 17 King, Willie, 2-5, 8 Language Creek [Muskogee], 3 Miccosukee, 3 Lykes Brothers Corporation, 10 Marmon, Kenneth, 10 Medicine men, 4, 8, 12-13, 16-17 Miami Springs Baptist Church, 19 Miccosukee Independent Church, 6-7, 13 Miccosukee Indians, 1, 19 Oklahoma Creek Indians, 2-3 Osceola, Bill, 12 Osceola, Billy, 9-12 Pueblo Indians in New Mexico, 1 Roberts, w. D., 8 Shore, Frank, 4, 14-15

PAGE 4

Small, Dennis, 9-10 Smith, Stanley, 4-5 Southern Baptist Convention, 1, 6 Tamiami Trail, 5, 12, 18 Tiger, Howard, 19 Tommie, Reverend Sam, 1, 19

PAGE 5

K: The following is an interview with Genus Crenshaw, who is the regional missionary with the Florida Indians appointed by the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. The interview was conducted on Friday, August 3, 1973, at four o'clock in the afternoon. It was conducted at Mr. Crenshaw's house, which is adjacent to the Seminole Indian Reservation in Hollywood, Florida. Mr. Crenshaw is fifty-three years old. He does not speak any Indian language. Mr. Crenshaw, can you tell me how long you've been working with the Seminole Indians, the Miccosukee Indians? C: Well, my wife and I came here as regional missionaries with the Indians in Florida, Seminole/Miccosukees, in September of 1951. I had served three summers with other Indianstwo in Cherokee, North Carolina, 1948-1950, and the summer of '51 among the Pueblos in New Mexico. K: Mr. Crenshaw, just what was your assignment when you were sent down here? C: Well, to teach and preach among the Indians. The Indians had made.a request to our Home Mission Board at the Southern Baptist Convention for a full-time missionary couple, and the Reverend Sam Tommie, the late Sam Tommie, and others have made this request. They were expecting us; we were well-received, and of course our main work through the years had been teaching and preaching the Gospel of the Bible, and working with the pastors, people in the churches seeking to strengthen and build up the churches, establish new work, help carry on mission work in -----In 1951, First Seminole was the only organized cooperative church. Big Cypress was a strong mission station, and Brighton was still a preaching station, once or twice a month under the trees, no building. Big Cypress Church was organized July 20, 1952, and Brighton got their building and started full-time mission work June 22, 1952, and it con tinued as a mission at Brighton until 1959. The mission was organized into a church--that was August 23, 1959. In 1952, as the building was dedicated, there were seven Christians there in Brighton, and today there are 136 in the church there. So there has been a good growth.

PAGE 6

2 K: I'm not familiar with the difference between a mission and a church. Perhaps you could explain that for me? C: A mission is a new work. It may be just preaching, a place where someone goes and preaches for a time, and then as it grows, starts Sunday school and other organizations such as church training, the organization for the ladies, WMU [Women's Missionary Union], the brotherhood for the men. Usually this work develops in a mission stage, and then when the mission is strong enough to carry on more or less on their own--with officers, teachers, workers--and also financially, at least to an extent, then it organizes into a church if there's a need for full-time work there. Sometimes a mission may never develop into a church. It may continue as a mission station. Other times the mission may continue only a year, sometimes several years, depending on how it develops--how the leadership and respon sibility is assumed and taken over. So a mission is a beginning stage of the work, with a mother-sponsoring church. Now, First Seminole, in this case, is the mother church of Big Cypress and Brighton, sponsoring the work in those areas, sending out workers. Some of the people from those locations would come in for business meetings and for other work, and they would hold special studies, clinics, and all that through the years, getting ready for organization and full-time work. K: I think you were going to give me an account of how the Baptist church got started [among the Florida Indians.] C: Yes. To my knowledge, the early missionaries were Creek Indians from Oklahoma. I believe there had been an attempt by the Episcopal church in the late 1800s, and then about 1907 Creek Indians from Oklahoma came. It was very slow, very difficult in those early days, because even the reser vations were not set up, and the Indians roamed the 'Glades. The early missionaries would come as far as Stuart, or Indiantown, Florida by Model-T Ford, or whatever, and then they would go from there by dug-out canoe, horseback, wagon, or whatever mode of travel they could find, seeking the Indians, finding them. According to the late Willie King, who was retired and living in Okeechobee when we came, and I talked with him many times, it was very difficult to find them. Then, even when the missionaries found them, they would not listen many times. It took several years of

PAGE 7

3 effort, missionaries coming and going, before a few of them would begin to listen. Then it was a gradual growth process through the years. Most of the early missionaries would stay only six months or a year and go back. The first to stay over a period of years was Willie. King, who came, I believe, about 1923, and stayed three years or so. In fact, his wife was a missionary, and he came with her, and after about three years they went back to Oklahoma and his wife passed away. He remarried, and then came back to Florida as a missionary himself. K: You said that these were Creeks from Oklahoma? C: Yes. K: I take it, then, that there weren't any among them who spoke Miccosukee? C: Well, perhaps there were some. Of course, there were some Seminoles in Oklahoma; there still are some. Today very few of them speak the Miccosukee. John Brown has been down on several occasions, and he says he used to speak it very well, but he's been around the Creeks too long, and he doesn't speak it too well, and not many of them do. Most of them now speak the Creek, because Creek is widely spoken in Oklahoma. There's a lot of it, and of course even the Seminoles here, if they speak Miccosukee, do speak some Creek, most of them. But I'm not sure how many of them were Seminoles, how many were Creeks. My understanding is most of them were Creeks. Then after Willie King came back, and his wife, they stayed until their retirement in the mid 194Os, and then he lived in Okeechobee. Used to come out to Brighton even up till his last years. He would attend services there, and occasionally he would visit Big Cypress and even near Hollywood. I would say Willie King probably served longer than any of the Indians coming from Oklahoma, and I think did a lot of very fine work in laying a foundation, gaining the friendship, confidence of the Indians, getting them to where they would listen and respond. K: Did he actually convert any of them to Christianity? C: There were several conversions under his ministry, and I feel that he was responsible for perhaps many others that came later. He was not a dynamic, evangelistic type of preacher.

PAGE 8

4 He was more a personal witness to go to the camps and around the camp ___________ up there and talk to the people about the Bible and the Lord. The man who followed him, Stanley Smith, was more dynamic, more evangelistic, more forceful. He and others of us, I feel have reaped a harvest from some of Willie King and others' work that In fact, the Bible says that as one sows, the other reaps, and I think we have seen this is true. The Indians don't respond because you think they should, or tell them they should, but when they're convinced, then you see a response. Sometimes it takes years of witnessing, of living among the people, of gaining their confidence and friendship, and then finally they come to the point where they will listen to the Gospel you preach. K: You've indicated that when the early Creek missionaries first began operating in this area, they encountered a lot of opposition, and that nobody wanted to listen to them. Was the opposition any more overt than that? Was there any hostility? C: Yes, Willie King told me that on a number of occasions the Indians would run away when they'd see them coming. He said at nighttime they'd come back and maybe throw rocks at their camp, or try to scare them away, and I think on some occasions, according to what he said, there must have been some threat--no real open violence that I know of, but more or less just trying to scare them, and maybe some threats. K: Well, from having talked to some of the old Seminoles, I get the impression that there were a lot of threats against anyone who would even consider converting to Christianity among the Seminoles themselves. C: Well, yes. K: Can you tell me anything about that? C: There's been persecution. Some who followed the old way, the old Indian religion and all, even after we came twenty years ago, there has been some. On the other hand, some of those who follow the old religion do attend church. Even the medicine man at Brighton, Mr. Frank Shore, he attends church quite often, and is very friendly toward the Christians.

PAGE 9

5 K: I'm interested in some sort of statistical evaluation of the success of the early missionaries. When was it you said that Willie King quit? 1945? C: He retired. K: Retired in 1945? C: Yes. K: How many Christians were there among the Seminoles at that time? C: The First Seminole Church was organized here at the Hollywood Reservation, which used to be Dania Reservation, June 6, 1936, and there were seven Christians at that time. So from 1907 up to 1936, there were only a very few Christians among them, and the work continued rather slow up till the mid-1940s. Then it began to advance more rapidly, and of course others came in. Willie King had written to Oklahoma for help, that he needed more help in the work, and Stanley Smith and his wife came, and others came on a temporary or short-time basis, and worked with them. Brother King had moved over to Okeechobee, and Brother Smith came, worked out from Hollywood here. They would go to Big Cypress, to Brighton, but it was the mid-1940s before the work really began to grow in numbers. Today there are approximately 600 profes sing Christians. K: That's very impressive. That's almost half the tribe. C: This is on the three reservations and also the Tamiami Trail, and this includes those of the independent churches. The independent churches came out of the division over a per sonality in 1948. Up until that time they had been together. K: Well, can you give me some details concerning that schism? C: Of course, the man it was over was Stanley Smith, who had served as a missionary. I do not know the details of the difficulty, but there was some difficulty, and he finally was discharged as missionary--not as pastor of the church, but some circuit that he was as pastor. And also he had, I think, used his belt on some of the young people. Maybe they needed it, but he wasn't the one to give it to them.

PAGE 10

6 They had parents to take care of disciplinary problems. Through these several things he was discharged as mission ary; so he got some property across the road and started an independent work. K: Across the road here in Hollywood? C: Yes, the Miccosukee Independent Church is there. These inde pendent churches have gone to the other reservations--Big Cypress and Brighton. K: How do they differ from that First Seminole Baptist Church? C: Especially in operation. We're what we call cooperative churches, in that we work with and through our local associa tions--with the Baptist churches of our community, like Ft. Lauderdale, Hollywood, Pompano Beach, Hallandale. First Seminole is part of the Gulf Stream Baptist Asso ciation; also a part of the Florida Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention. We send messengers, delegates, to each of these--not every year but quite often --and Big Cypress and Brighton churches are part of the Big Lake Baptist Association, the churches of South Bay, Clewiston, Belle Glade, LaBelle, Okeechobee churches in that area. We feel it's good to cooperate and work with the other churches to gain information and inspiration through meetings together. It's a good Christian fellow ship, and I think this is one of the things that has really helped the Seminoles in a great way through the years. In fact, Mr. Virgil Harrington, a former superintendent of Indian affairs, our agent with the BIA When the tribe organized, they had a day of dedication later, and there were men here from Washington, from Tallahassee, from Muskogee [Muskogee, Oklahoma], and various places, and that day Mr. Harrington said that because the church had played an important role in the life of the people, that the Seminole Tribe had organized and was ready to go forward now. The Baptist church is a democratic organization. Every member has a right to speak, a right to vote. Of course, we do this through our belief in the Bible. We gain our authority from the Bible, and we do not just act on our own, but according to the Scriptures. Also, we have some one that is in charge of business, the pastor, or moderator of a business meeting. Business meetings are carried on in

PAGE 11

7 a very orderly fashion. So through out church work, associ ations, going out in public, the people have learned how to meet the public, and learned how to deal with one another and to deal with others and to carry on business in a very business-like manner. I recall Mr. Harrington making this statement that day, and on other occasions. Another government official, even a couple of years ago, Mr. Nelson, who was the assistant superintendent [of the BIA] here, he told me one day, he said, "The longer I stay, the more I realize the effect of the Church on the life of the people in helping them to develop and to be ready to go forward. For many years the Seminole Tribe--perhaps you know or realize--was known as the back wards tribe, but since they organized in 1957, they got into business, they began to build houses, they began to develop their cattle program and other things more, and they've been used in recent years, some of the BIA people tell me, tribal leaders, as an example of progress. I mean, we're not looking for credit, but men like Virgil Harrington and Mr. Nelson have just made these statements, and we're glad for any way that the church can help the people in their personal life, their business life. I feel it is a great influence, and has been through the years. K: I'd like to get back to my question, now, about the Independent Church. How does their approach differ from that of the organized First Baptist Church? C: I brought up that the cooperative churches, Southern Baptist Churches cooperate with these, and the independents do not. They have what they call fellowships where they meet with some other independent churches, but they do not carry on organizations, be a part of organizations such as this. I don't know what the major difference is, other than they just more or less want to be on their own without any ties or affiliation. Basically, doctrinally, I think they're still very much the same. K: You have indicated that it was not until the middle 1940s or late 1940s that the Baptist church began to have any real impact in terms of conversions to Christianity among the Seminoles. I have heard from a number of Seminoles that in the 1940s, I'm not sure about the date, Josie Billie on the Big Cypress Reservation was converted to Christianity, and at that time that he brought a number of relatives with him. The number that I've been given seems to be twenty, or twenty-two--something close to that. Can you give me

PAGE 12

8 some details concerning this conversion? I think it would be interesting, considering that Josie Billie was a medicine man for the Indians. C: Yes. Mr. W. D. Roberts, operated a grocery in Immokalee, Brother Willie King used to go to Immokalee and visit with some of the Indians as they would come into the grocery store there. Finally Mr. Roberts persuaded a number of the Indians to let Willie King preach to them in the evening there--! believe it was after the store closed. So they got to where they would hold services there. Later they would visit in the First Baptist Church of Inrrnokalee, especially on fifth Sundays. The church there would have a meal, and they developed a good fellowship there between the Indians and the Caucasians at the church there. Then a little later they began to invite Brother King into the Big Cypress Reservation. I believe the first services there were held at the schoolhouse. It was some time later before they built their church, and one of those who was always there was Josie Billie. I believe he was converted and made his profession of faith on New Year's, 1945, or New Year's Eve. According to what he had told me and others, he told the preacher when he came making his profession of faith in Christ, "I'd like to say something to my people." He said, "I can still make medicine that will help you sometimes when you're sick, but I cannot help your soul." Many of them had looked to him as a spiritual leader--they do look to the medicine man this way, some of them. He said, "If you want help for your soul, you must do as I've done tonight. Trust the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior." They sang another Indian hymn, and it's my understanding that twenty-two adults responded to the invitation. I do not know that they were necessarily relatives; I think perhaps a sister of his was in the group, and others, but most of those have continued as faithful Christians through the years. There's still a number of them living. Of course, the medicine man being converted, this was encouraging to many others. Some had wanted to be fore, some have indicated to me, but they did not know what his response might be. Of course, after he came, and after he recommended that this would be good for them if they so chose, they felt free to come. With the conversion of others, the work began to grow and prosper in a great way. K: When was the church on Big Cypress built?

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9 C: Well, it was built, I believe in 1946. It was build back away from where it is now--back in the woods a good distance, perhaps a mile and a half or two miles. At the time they built it, the superintendent told them they could not build on the reservation. A rancher, Mr. Dennis Small from LaBelle, had some land adjoining or within the reservation, and he offered to trade, I believe, twenty acres for ten. They went ahead and built the church on his property. K: Who did he trade the twenty acres with? C: Well, I got ahead of myself there. They went ahead and built the church on his property, and later the people came to him, to Judge Harris in LaBelle, and told them that it was too far and too hard for them to Also, in cold weather they were having to wade through water, and some of them were becoming sick, so Billy Osceola and others, a group of them, came to these men and told them they wanted a church up near where they lived. K: Now this was on the Big Cypress, right? C: Right. So these men began to work on it, and Mr. Small offered to trade forty acres for ten at that time. They began negotiations, and went ahead and moved the building. However, it was not complete even in 1951 when we came as missionaries, and that started, I believe in 1947. So, in fact, for several years later. It seemed that the BIA super intendent just somehow refused to sign it. He would say that someone in Washington needed to sign it, but actually they had already signed it, and the papers I saw from him and Mr. Small, he just needed to sign it himself to complete it. Anyway, it was later, when Mr. Harrington came, that this transaction was finally completed. In the meantime, Mr. Small had grown tired to bringing the abstract up to date every so often, and still paying taxes on the forty acres. He said that he didn't mind that so much, but it's just the being drug over a period of years. Finally he withdrew his offer, and then we tried to work out something else--a trade with the Home Mission Board on the property here in Hollywood for that ten acres. We had that almost worked out when the tribal chairman, Billy Osceola, and Mr. Harrington came to me one day and said we still want to trade with Mr. Small. K: Excuse me a minute. We've leaped forward a considerable period of time. Billy Osceola was tribal chairman. What

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10 time are we up to now? C: Well, 1957 the tribe organized, so it was in the late K: In other words, it's already taken almost eleven years. C: Yes. It was maybe a year or two later than that. He'd been chairman for some time. So I went back to Mr. Small. I told him, I said, "I know he'll do it if we'll go ahead and get it over with." So they had the dedication for the recreation building at Big Cypress, and Mr. Small was there, and Mr. Harrington were there. I got them together, and they talked it over. Mr. Harrington agreed to get his land operation man on this, and to get it complete. In the meantime Mr. Small said, "I will not trade forty acres for ten--land values have changed. I will trade twenty for ten." So they said, "This is fair enough," and agreed to it. Within six months the papers were worked out, the deed was signed, and on Christmas night, 1962, Mr. Small and his wife presented the deed for that church property to the Big Cypress Church. K: Why was it still necessary, after the Seminole Tribe of Florida had formed--Billy Osceola was the chairman of the tribe--to build the church on property off of the established reservation? C: Well, Mr. Kenneth Marmon, the agent before Mr. Harrington, felt that it was best. I don't know why they could not grant permission, because it was for Indian people and in their area. K: Was there any opposition from the Indians on the Big Cypress Reservation? C: I believe not, but each of our Southern Baptist Churches are off of reservation land. In Hollywood, our Mission Board owns the property, owns the deed to it, but the church is for the Indians, dedicated for that purpose. At Big Cypress, the trade was worked out there. At Brighton the Lykes Brothers [Corporation] gave the land adjoining the reservation. Now, two of the independent churches are on reservation land today, and I do not know the details of this. K: At the time that the church was founded on the Big Cypress

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Reservation, can you give me an indication of who the Seminole leader on the reservation could have been? Would it have been Josie Billie? C: Josie Billie became a lay pastor K: Excuse me. I'm not talking about within the church. C: Yes. 11 K: I mean, within the Indian comm.unity, who was looked up to as a leader? The oldest? C: They were very unorganized. This is amazing in a way. The Seminole tribe was never organized until 1957, and yet they would come together for meetings. I think through these meetings they would appoint connnittees to work on these things, such as organizing as a tribe and other projects. Whoever was appointed or chosen for that responsibility would get them together--when a date was set, would notify them, and they would come together. Of course, many times their meetings as a tribe were at the Hollywood Reservation under a big oak tree, but as a reservation they had no real leader. Some of the things they went through before he was a Christian, and on one occasion he got some _____ for me for asthma. He told me, he said, "I pray that the Lord will use this to help me." He told me how to prepare it and take it, and requested that I pray to the Lord each time before I took it, which I did, and it was a great help to me. The Indians have many good things in the way of herbs that have been a help to many people through the years, but they've never been fanatic about it. If the medicine man could not help you, he would tell you so, and even advise you to go to the doctor in a hospital; they would go themselves when they needed to. They realized that there were some things they couldn't do. They did not try to hinder Indian people from going for medical help. K: After having talked with Billy Osceola, I understand that there was considerable Seminole opposition on the Brighton Reservation to the formation of the church there. In fact, from what he told me, he apparently does not believe that any opposition was [fostered] by the BIA. What he gave me was that it was entirely the Seminoles on the Brighton Reservation who were opposed to the church being there, and

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12 as a result of that they had to move off the reservation. C: Yes. Well, I didn't mean there was opposition by the BIA, but this superintendent just would not grant permission to go ahead and build a church on he would attend meetings on occasion, but I guess he it was his understanding that it would not be done. I don't know why, but I think there was perhaps less opposition at Big Cypress than at Brighton. K: Do you have any idea why? C: Well, again, going back to the conversion of the medicine man perhaps had some influence there. Of course, others opposed him because of his conversion. I think some of the other medicine men from the Tamiami Trail area, they were not happy over his change for a time. But others have been converted, His own brother Ingraham, years later, was converted, and he had taken over some of the responsibility of medicine man after Josie's conversion. K: I'd like to get into some of the background of the forma tion of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. I understand that the church [Baptist church] played a part in it, but I am very vague concerning just exactly what role it did play in formation of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Billy Osceola just told me that he got some encouragement from the church, and so on. Can you give me some details concerning that? C: Well, I think the only part the church played was what I mentioned before--giving training in democratic procedures, having contact with the outside world through associations, conventions, and this way Billy Osceola made some comment. They did have a little education from the Baptist Bible Institute at Lakeland, Florida. I think the only reason that Billy Osceola and Bill were chosen as tribal leaders was because of their experience in the church. The church did not elect them; some of the Christian people encouraged them,perhaps, to run this was as individuals, not as a church congregation. K: Who was their opposition? Who ran against them? C: I really don't know. Billy Osceola was elected as a councilman

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13 from the Brighton Reservation, and I believe at the first meeting of the council he was chosen as chairman. They did not run at large at that time, if I am correct, but I believe he had better votes, maybe, than any of the others, and because of this he was chosen as the chairman of the council. Of course, Bill Osceola being a pastor in the Miccosukee Independent Church--and of course, that come out of the First Seminole Church--he also had some influence along these lines. Both these men have good personalities. You have to meet public, deal with the public, and they were elected to these places, and they were re-elected. K: What about the original council members? Were they also [church members]? C: Well, most of them were, because I don't recall all of them, but I know several of them. They were I believe they were. There may have been some non-Christians on it, I'm not sure. I'd have to get the list and look it up. K: Do you remember whether or not the different clans were represented? I'm wondering what the make-up was of the original tribal council of representatives according to clan. C: People may have voted for someone from their clan, but they do not run according to clans, and I heard nothing concerning clans during the election. I do not know how many clans were represented. K: Mr. Crenshaw, can you give me the official position of the Baptist church concerning Seminole medicine men--the practice of their crafts, spiritual values, and so on? C: Well, we feel, and I believe when I say "we".... I'm a member of one of the Indian churches, and I've worked with all of them, and I believe that the churches very definitely approved of the medicine man doing any good that he can to help suffering humanity. They realize the position of the man that I think Josie Billie put it well when he was converted. At that time he gave up the medicine bundle, I'm told, and he told them that he would not go back to it, but he would continue to make medicine to help them when they were sick. They have respected this. They've come to it through

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14 the years, and my experience with the people is that the churches respect the medicine man, his ability to help people, and certainly are not opposing in this. Now, to my knowledge, this man and others that became Christian did not continue with ritual or anything that would be awkward toward Christianity, but as I said a while ago, Josie Billie told me, "I have prayed to the Lord that he will bless and use this." He realized that the herbs have come from God, in that the Lord puts them here--he sends the sunshine and the rain to make them grow and produce. Feeling that it comes from the Lord, he also feels that the Lord can bless the use of it, and recognizes Jesus Christ as a great physician. So I feel there's a good relationship here, and I have seen no friction or trouble about this. K: I know that there is trouble within the different churches, at least as far as individuals are concerned. C: Yeah. K: I've run into that. There are individual Christian Seminoles who feel that it's not right for other Christian Seminoles to go to a medicine man for treatment, and so on. C: Yes. K: There's no correlation to official church doctrine? C: Well, no, but I mean, do they feel it's wrong for them to go to a Christian medicine man? K: Or just a non-Christian. Well, to use names, Frank Shore, [medicine man] of the Brighton Reservation. Some of the other Seminoles that I talked to there who are Christian don't feel that it's proper for a Christian Seminole to go to Frank Shore for treatment, because the treatment that they get is in some respects spiritual as well as medicinal. He's not a Christian medicine man. C: He does attend church quite often. He has for a number of years. He is not a professing Christian. K: He has told me that neither he nor his wife are Christian. His children are; they are, but not them. C: But he is very friendly towards Christians, and does come for

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15 services or special occasions, and I visit him. I visited him just this week in the hospital, and he had no objection to me reading Scriptures or pray as I do with other patients. I just say, "I'd like to read some Scripture and have prayer with you." He said, "Go ahead, all right." K: What about the Green Corn Dance? How does the church feel about this--Christian Seminoles attending the Green Corn Dance, participating in it? C: Well, the church has taken no offical position that I know of on that. I mentioned that the Baptist church is very democratic, and each person chooses what they will do. It's the same as each member has a voice and a vote in the church, and also in discussion. Each one also chooses what they'll do outside the church or in their everyday life. The church certainly does not encourage them to go, but the church does not, on the other hand, forbid them to go. K: Does the church make any statement at all concerning whether or not ? C: No official statement that I know of. K: Do you, yourself, see any conflict between being a Christian and also participating in the Green Corn.Dance? C: Well, not in just attending if they K: I mean taking part. C: Yes. Some of them, I think, attend on a friendly basis. I really have never delved into this to question about it. Some of them tell me, and I know there are some professing Christians and do attend. Most of these are inactive--not really faithful. Most of the really faithful Christians do not attend. They may go there just on a day, just to see someone or visit someone, but not to participate in all of the Corn Dance. K: I've talked to some who do attend the Corn Dance and partici pate in it. C: Yes. K: They use the rationale that God gave the Seminoles the Green Corn Dance.

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16 C: Yes. K: Therefore, there's no conflict. C: Yes. K: Would you subscribe to this? C: Well, every person must work out their own salvation. The Bible says ___________ , and my business is to teach and preach the Gospel. People accept it or reject it, and when they accept it, when they follow it, I do not question their other activities. I mean, I feel that's between them and the Lord. I cannot judge or rule over people with their sins. I can preach what I feel is right, and then the people make their choice. K: Well, in this same vein, I have been told by some people on the reservation that there is a program under way using medi cine men to give spiritual counsel to people who are having problems with alcohol, and mental health, and so on. They have told me that the Christian approach--some of them told me this--that the Christian approach to it has not been successful. The medicine men, however, have been successful up to a point. At least in alcoholism they can keep a man away from the bottle for a period of four months. The num ber four seems to be significant. How do you feel about this? C: Well, I would differ with that, in that I feel that the Christian approach has worked for those who have responded to it. I know a number of people that, from the time they responded to Christianity to this day, they have never turned back to alcohol, and some of them were very heavy users before. From the medicine man approach, I know that they sometimes use herbs. Some of the people go to them for this, and I have seen this work for a time. I do not know that it is a complete.,cure. K: Probably it isn't. C: Yes, but it seems to be on a temporary basis, where, on the other hand, I believe that the Christian approach has been a complete cure for many people. K: There is a program that has been funded by the federal government,

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17 now, partially funded, for training for medicine men of the Seminole people. And that, as I understand, will not be relegated strictly to medicine--they will be also [keepers of the spiritual medicine bundle] and they will be, in a sense, non-Christian in that respect. Does the church have a position on that? C: No, not to my knowledge. I don't know how far advanced this program is, but to my knowledge it has not been discussed in the church. K: I'm wondering if there's any correlation between conversion to Christianity and the type of life that the Seminoles becoming Christians. Is there any correlation between that and their success in the material world? C: Well, some of these that have been converted have been cured, if you want to put it that way, from alcoholism--they now use their income for better things, where in the past they consumed a lot of it on alcoholic beverages. And also, Christianity gives anyone a better view of life. They choose the things that are more essential, the things which are needful; there's less waste in their life. They won't waste their money or their income on things which they won't use. K: Can you give me just a subjective opinion of how well off the Christian Seminoles are as opposed to those who are not Christian? Are they doing better, or not? C: Well, I really haven't studied their economy that much. Many of them are. Of course, the Indians today are not what you would call prosperous people. They're making a good living, a fair living, put it that way. They're working, they're living in houses, where they used to live in chickees; they are eating better, they don't have to stick as much to starches, and few meats, and things like this. They have a greater variety of diet, they are driving better cars. Many of them are still in debt. Many of them are, I think, more or less average Americans, where they're living off of borrowed income as well as what they make. I think as they become Christians, they're better managers, there's more honesty, and they do not want to go beyond their means. They borrow; they realize there's a payday some day, and they Of course, a number of non-Christians are doing very well financially. I mean, they're living as well as some others. Of course,

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18 there are professing Christians that have gone back to alco holism; they did not continue as faithful Christians. In the Bible it tells of this. It tells us that some seed will fall in good ground, some will fall in stony ground, some among the thorns and be choked out. Care in this world will choke out their love for Christ, for the Bible, and it's where there's depth and root. First Psalms says, "Blessed is the man who is like a tree planted by the river of water." He has a deep root, an abiding faith; he stays with it. On the economy, I don't feel that I have enough know ledge there, or facts to back it up. I'm happy to see the Indians with better incomes, better living conditions, and going forward. Getting more into business, getting out on better jobs. Many of the young fellows now are working in construction, things like this. Of course, through travel, employment, and employment bureau, the cities around about I know Mr. Finn from the employment in Hollywood used to be on the personnel connnittee for both of them, and I mean, whether a man was a Christian or not did not determine whether he got a job. If he qualified for the job, he got it, and so he decided to be a Christian and have a good job. Of course, in their cattle program, they did not ask if a man was Christian before they let him buy cattle. Any man or family that wants cattle, they qualify, they get their cattle, and they work at it. K: I know that the Baptist church has not been entirely success ful on the Trail Reservation. Do you have any idea why? C: Well, through the years more of the people there followed their own religion. It's like they did not go along with the tribal organization when the Seminole Tribe organized. According to newspaper articles, statements that were made at meetings they wanted to be left alone. They more or less had become content, I think, with their old way of lifeliving in the chickees, living in the 'Glades, their children at home, not going to school, many of them, and they thought they wanted to be left alone. This was in about everything. Of course, there has been some mission work through the years. For twenty years or so we have taken Bible films to various locations and shown them, such as this store at Copeland, in the McKinley Osceola camp, Corey Osceola camp, the store at Ochopee, and finally at Ingraham Billie's camp at Turner's River before he moved to Big Cypress. The people seemed to welcome this, and of course, as time went on they _________ , and they would begin to visit

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19 churches on the reservations, but it has taken time for them to respond to tribal organization, to education, to Christianity, to all of these. Now, there is a good nucleus of Christians on the Trail. We have a church now at the Forty Mile Bend. Miami Springs Baptist Church has worked with us in building that, or really we have worked with them, and they actually built it, and it's going forward slowly. I feel in the next few years there will be a good strong hold there. K: How many Christians are there on the Trail Reservation? C: Well, actually it's not a reservation. The people there, they live along the Trail all the way from Miami to Naples. I do not know; I would only be estimating that there are perhaps forty, fifty Christians in the Trail area. K: That's a significant number; I believe there are only 300 Miccosukees living in that area. C: Yeah. But there are quite a few others who are attending, and of course this they choose, and I feel that the progress is gradually picking up. Of course, there are Seminole ministers. I mentioned Billy Osceola, the late Sam Tommie, the late Henry Cypressthese men served for a number of years, and now two of them are gone. Billy Osceola is in ill health, but still we have Indian pastors in each of the churches. The First Seminole Church in Hollywood is _______ Johns, a young man that grew up at the Brighton Reservation, and went away to Oklahoma to school, and has spent time in the service, and worked in California, Dallas, Texas, and came back from Ft. Worth, Texas--came back a year and a half or so ago, and is now pastor of the church here. He had done some lay preaching in Texas--Ft. Worth--while he was there, and he is growing inthis respect. He started as interim pastor, and he's now a regular pastor of the church. Then Junior Billie of Big Cypress, and Howard Tiger at Brighton. Each of these men is considered as a lay pastor, in that they work in other types of work. ______ Johns is Director of Community Action for the tribe. Howard Tiger works for the road department, driving a truck. Junior Billie is employed in the Community Action program, and yet these men spend a great deal of time in their ministry as pastors. On the Tamiami Trail a Choctaw Indian from Oklahoma, Raymond Carney, been in Florida since the first of the year. There are Indian pastors in each of the churches. Each church calls

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20 their own pastor and works with him. We work with all of them as they call on us, as we are needed, whenever we can. K: Well, I thank you for the interview. I really appreciate it.