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Interview with Buffalo Tiger, July 2, 1998

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Title:
Interview with Buffalo Tiger, July 2, 1998
Creator:
Tiger, Buffalo ( 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 212 ( SPOHP IDENTIFIER )

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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM
SEMINOLE COLLECTION
Interviewee: Buffalo Tiger
Interviewer: Harry Kersey
Date: July 2,1998


K: Today is July 2, 1998. This is Dr. Harry Kersey of Florida Atlantic University.
Today I am interviewing Mr. Buffalo Tiger. This is the first of our interviews in
his autobiography. Mr. Tiger, who were your parents and grandparents?
T: My grandfather and my grandmother were from different clans. Let's talk about
the ladies first. My grandmother, we called her Poshi, and that is all we ever
called her because we do not know and do not say the real name. It is a custom
of the Miccosukees to not call elder people by their names. She used to be the
boss of the village. My mother was the same clan, the Bird Clan. In English I
can call her Sally Tiger. My grandfather was in Big City Clan, sometimes people
call them the Frogs. His name was Charlie Willie. My grandmother and my
grandfather were pretty old. My daddy was in the Otter Clan. His name was
Tiger Tiger.
K: How about brothers and sisters?
T: We did have about eleven in our family. My older brother is Jimmy Tiger. The
girl after him passed away years ago when she was younger. Another sister was
born after her. Her name was Mickey Tiger. She got married, but she passed
away. Then I was born after her.
K: What was your birth date?
T: March 6, 1920. I was born in a little village called Grandfather's Village. We
lived there a long time. I have a brother who was born after me, about a year
and a half later. We always called him Josie [Tiger]. He passed away. The
other brother is younger than him and is named Tommy Tiger. We called him a
nickname, Cokie. A girl was born after him and her name is Annie. She got
married and her name is Annie Jim. She still lives pretty well with her husband.
Another girl, Lois, was born. She passed away. Her last name was
Then the younger boy was born, Bobby Tiger. He became an alligator wrestler.
He passed away. The youngest sister was Mary. She got married and became
Mary Osceola. She passed away.
K: I did not get a name for the oldest sister, the one who was born after Jimmy.
T: I do not know.
K: That is a very large family. I know you were born in a village on the east side of
the Everglades and lived there most of your childhood.
T: We were living in that particular village for a long time. We called it
Grandfather's Village, but really that was Grandmother's Village. Our custom is
1


that we have to believe the lady is always the boss over the camps. So the
grandmother was a big boss. My grandfather had a grocery store there. He
traded with our people. Anything he could sell. He buys or he trades with the
groceries. Then he heads out to main city in the Miami area. I do not know
where. He would sell whatever he bought to the people he knew. Then get a
little money and buy groceries and material things and take them back out there
and resell it our people. They did not have to come into town to buy anything.
They bought it from him. That was his business. I do not think he speak any
English, but he managed to handle money pretty well and trade and even out
numbers. He sells some guns and traps for animals. He sells just about
everything he could to the people. A lot of Miccosukee people know that, so
they come from all over to see him and trade with him. In the meantime, he let
them have a credit so people had someplace they could go and get some
different things they need and they would go back. In a way we were lucky with
our grandparents because we learned so much at that time, but we didn't realize
that's the business they were doing. We were living at the camp and we had
more time to ourselves. Sometimes we have about three or four parents in that
little village. All seem to be kin, and then other kids come from different places.
We always have a lot of youngsters to play with.
K: Traditionally we think of the people who lived in the village as all being of the
same clan because it was the mother's camp and clan. Were all of the people
who lived there related to your grandmother and your mother?
T: Just about. Other clans can move in and live with us for awhile because they
have their own village. They are just coming in to pick up different things and go
back. So they have a place to spend the night. Many times we go canoe riding
and take care of anybody who wanted to go. It's not just for anything except that
we do little things like that, enjoy ourself. We go out and see the ducks. We
see the otters and sometimes we get to see alligators. We didn't try to do
anything with them. We would just have fun looking at them and chase them
around. There was plenty. We would go home and I always remember that it's
a nice, nice camp.
K: Where was it? Was it near the Tamiami Trail?
T: Yes. Maybe at some particular time I would like to talk about that a little more.
I'm kind of selfish about that because I don't want some business people to get
to know that and start nosing around in that particular area. To me there is
history in that particular little island.
K: You want to keep it private. That is understandable. Let me move on then. We
can come back to that at some other time as you say. Prior to the Tamiami Trail
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coming through in 1928, did your family come into Miami much to spend time at
Musa Island or other villages, or did you wait for the trail to be completed?
T: My people did not move around that much when the highway is completed.
They do come in here and there, pick up groceries and go back. My dad wants
to come in and he couldn't decide if either we could canoe to come in, pick up
some groceries and go back, or we would walk. I'm with him and he says, we're
gonna walk. We're way out there, about thirty miles out of town. So I wanted to
come in anyhow, so we got all ready to come and we did. We walked and finally
someone in a broken down pickup stopped and picked us up and we went to one
of the stores in Miami on the trail. He bought some groceries and when you buy
groceries that much, people will be happy to take you back, so he's knows that.
So he did that and we went back the same day. So we do those things, but we
don't mind take a walk even though we were a little afraid, because we don't
trust people that much. We kind of selfish I guess, in a way, but that's why we
feel that kind. You think other people not all good friends. Some of them are.
But then other times, my dad wants to come in town in a canoe and I was
supposed to come with him. We did. It took us a couple days, maybe a day and
a half to get where we wanted to go. We went in on Miami Canal along the trail
all the way down here and we stopped on Flagler Street. There is an old bridge
across and underneath there is an old frame house that is sitting there. They
used to be friendly to our people and the building has a big porch. Anytime
there are Indians coming there, they can stay there a couple days and buy what
they need and put them in the canoe and take them back.
K: Do you remember who owned that place?
T: I don't. But they were friendly. My dad and I stayed on the porch in the morning
and then we got out, we take care of shopping and everything and he wants to
know if I want to go with him. I said, no. The horses were pulling the little
wagon around delivering the ice and this and that. So I was supposed to stay in
the porch. I did. The family who lived in the house wanted to know if I'm
grateful. I couldn't speak no English. You know what these people give to me?
Hamburger with mustard and onion and iced tea. The food just tastes horrible. I
couldn't eat it and I can't drink tea. It's the first time people have give me that
type of food and I thought, by God, people couldn't eat that stuff. I was thirsty.
Coca Cola I will drink, but tea I can't.
K: How old do you think you were then?
T: I can't remember that. I have no idea how old I was then. But it was some time
ago. I remember though, my dad gets back and so we spend the night there and
then we get back in the canoe and head back. It took us a couple of days to get
3


back. We would leave from where we start from. On that canal is all kind of
bushy places. There is buildings now, but you don't see hardly any buildings
then. There is mostly trees and ponds. It looks nice, but it looks kinda wild. I
enjoyed that. The water is moving, pretty much you have to really paddle hard to
make the canoe go to where you want it to go.
K: Were you in a regular canoe or in a dugout canoe?
T: Dugout canoe.
K: So you were poling.
T: We poled in a dugout, but some places you don't have anywhere to pole so you
have to paddle. I remember those times. But you were talking about this village
[Musa Isle]. I didn't see any. That particular time, I had no idea there was a
village there and my dad didn't tell me anything. We're not looking for that. We
just went for our shops, what we went to do. My dad went would not go to places
like that, so we stayed at this particular friends' house. Those are times I always
thought maybe that even mustard and onions, they tasted good to me.
K: I am curious. How did you get your dugout canoe into the Miami Canal?
T: It was open all the way.
K: No banks on the side? You could come right out of the Glades into the canal?
T: Right. Water all the way. At that time it was easy. I'm sure there were other
families that did it, too.
K: When do you recall first going in, for example, to spend some time at Musa Isle?
Were you a teenager?
T: No, I guess I was pretty young when my mama and my dad were going there.
My uncle, Willie Willie started. First, I don't know if he had Bert Lasher with him
or not. My brother told me he borrowed money from my grandfather. Willie
Willie was in town most of the time. He always had lots of friends. He had some
ideas, some good, but I think that my grandfather don't trust him with that kind of
money. It was a good way to make some money. He knows a place. So they
begin to give him some money, enough money to develop some type of little
village. There were orange groves and the people sell orange juice at that time.
Boat coming in from the bay somewhere, and it stopped there.
K: Coming up the Miami River from the bay?
4


T: Right. A lot of people come and drink a lot of orange juice and eat some food.
They thought, if we have some little village there, people can go in there and sell
different things and then charge admission and make some money. So my
grandfather started that way. I can't remember that, but I was told that. Then
later Bert Lasher took over. He did that because he drink too much and he ain't
too good for running the village anyhow. Some of the families were there and
we were there. Then Willie Willie happened to be around there, too. Later he
was going to work in Hialeah and he did have friends. I guess they must have
loaned him money, I don't know, but anyhow he started developing the village in
Hialeah. Many Indian people have gone there to work on the grounds and help
build the chickees and everything that needs to be done. We went there to
Hialeah and stayed there. I can't remember too well, but there's people who are
friends with Willie Willie. I always thought the reason was that he's friends with
Al Capone. Al Capone is coming in big, black cars, about two or three cars into
a village to see Willie Willie. I think they were on the way to a racetrack right
next door. That's what he was doing.
K: What happened to that village?
T: About 1926, a hurricane come through. We weren't there. We didn't stay there
all the time. We were just coming in maybe three months, four months and we
would go back. We went back and a hurricane come along. We happened to
be in the Everglades at this particular time. About three or four families get
together, and they want to go boat riding out in the glades, looking for alligator
skin or anything they can kill for the skin. My family went and three other families
went together. We moved around in a canoe. [We were] coming in this way from
out there, way out there and this time of day [late afternoon] it started raining
and getting windy. Our people said, well, the weather's bad. So this particular
time, I just thought it would just rain and the rain is going to be finished. But our
people were so particular about it, they want to go in somewhere and pick a
hammock. Pick a hammock in a high rock. They wanted to find a higher ground.
We got out, cleaned it out and then we were fixing dinner and it started raining
hard. The wind started blowing hard, so they put canvasses on top the poles so
we can sleep inside. I did the mosquito nets, but the wind keeps blowing harder
and harder and harder. Pretty soon it starts picking up the candles we have,
blowing them away. This time they have to let us know it's a hurricane coming,
so the old men have to get up and move away from here. We have to find a
place for you. So my parents did and by this time, it must be about 3:00 in the
morning. The wind was blowing too hard, we could hardly walk and it blowed
everything around. There was an old big tree standing there, but the limbs all
beat up, blown away. Then what they do, they put their canvass around it and
they tie it up somehow. They tie it down real good. Then they put is in there, a
bunch of kids, maybe four or five, my family. By this time it was so bad you can't
5


walk. All the trees are blowing away. Many times you see the snakes crawling
all over, trying to get away from water. Meantime the canoes out there rolling
around in the water and our guys trying to keep that boat from blowing away. By
this time water is all around us already. Good thing they found a high spot,
higher ground. Otherwise we would be in the water. It was so cold and so
windy. We were all wet, babies and everybody. We survived because us kids
moved together and we used all kinds of blankets to keep ourselves warm.
Even though our face is cold, our bodies are warm. I always remember this.
This is real, real bad hurricane. Start blowing this way, then start moving around
this way, move around this way and start blowing this way. Our folks are happy,
it's going to be finished. [When] the wind start blowing this way now, it's going to
be finished. Sure enough, it did.
K: So the eye of the hurricane had passed?
T: It's gone now. Then we were so cold, I remember that. I was so hungry. This
time of day could be between 5:00 and 6:00. Then we ate what's left. I can't
remember what we have, but whatever it is we ate. Might not be good, but it's
good for our stomachs. Get something in our stomach, and we feel like going to
sleep. You know where we sleep? Wet blanket, we don't care. We slept on wet
blanket and we slept good because we were tired. Then next day was beautiful
sunshine and we got up to look and we don't see nothing. It's like oceans. Our
canoe is still there and all the trees are blown away, if not they're just laying in
the water. My folks say, we're gonna have to go home. I guess this particular
time, they realize it's nothing there at our home, either. But guessed we are
gonna go home like we left, chickee and everything. But when we got home, it's
not like that. Everything's under water. Everything's blown down. But we don't
mind because as long as we have each other, we feel good. The experience we
have in that hurricane I will never forget, even though I was a little guy. What
did we try to do? We got so cold. We have little brother I was talking about,
Bobby Tiger. He's a little guy. The guys want to hold him because he's warm.
So we just pass around the babies and keep ourselves warm. We got through it
and we went home and half the place was broken down. Chickees and all of it is
under water. It's not easy to find the food. There was just too much water.
Let's say you see turtles. You can get them, but when turtles see you at a
distance, they went under the water. You just can't see no more.
K: This is ?
T: Yes. Same goes with the alligator. Everything it's so hard to get because there
is too much water. The deer we didn't go hunt because we didn't go that way
looking for deer. We just lived around our area and tried to find whatever we
could find. We managed. We survived anyhow so everything went O.K. after
6


that.
K: You were just a little fellow in 1926. That must have been very scary.
T: You know, we're not so afraid in that way. We have our parents. We did not
really get scared in things like that. The only thing that's wrong with that is we
were so cold and hungry and tired. But as far as afraid, no, as long as we've got
daddy and mama around you, you're not afraid. Everything's O.K.
K: Did your uncle lose his camp in Hialeah to the hurricane?
T: Everybody lost their camps. Chickees, particularly blown down and blown away.
K: What did he do then? Is that when he moved into Hollywood?
T: At this particular time my grandfather, I believe he had passed away. Maybe not
even a year. My grandmother is with us and Willie Willie was in that village in
Hialeah. Some of the people stayed with him and the whole village blown down.
He now would have to fix it. He chose to move into a Hollywood reservation
years ago. Everybody calls that Hollywood reservation Big City. It's where my
uncle, Willie Willie, went. He have a little gift shop and a little store. He got sick
and died there.
K: Did your family, then, ever go into Musa Isle to spend some time?
T: We were there when I was still little. When Bert Lasher had it, we were there for
awhile. Then we went to Hialeah. Then we come back. We did not go back to
Musa Isle. But I remember in the 1930s we were there, but we're not there year
around. We were there during winter when tourists are out. Then we come
back summertime to a little village out here. I showed you were we used to live.
K: How did you learn English? I know you told me that one time they would not let
you go to school, so how did you pick up your English?
T: You know, I'm one of the bad boys. I'm pretty good in other ways, but when I
want to do something, I am going to do it. You're right, our parents won't let us
go to school. Like if you had a pen in your hand, if I do that, then I get whipping.
They didn't want us to use a pen because it's begins reading and writing. If we
go to school, learn English, we would start losing our ideas to liking the other
people's life, not our culture. So they want us to be culture person in
Miccosukee life, so they don't want us to get into learning anything in English. I
got whipping on that a few times. We used to play with some of the non-Indian
boys. We loved to play baseball. We loved to play football. Any game they
7


played, we liked to play.
K: This is when you were in Musa Isle?
T: Yes. But we didn't do that so open. We do that when we can, when our folks
don't catch us. If they see us doing that, we get whipping. But we do that. I
think my cousins and other friends like to play, so they were doing that, too.
Knowing if we get caught, we gonna get whipping. As far as learning English,
that's how we pick up English. Some of the people, the boys and girls, want us
to speak English, so they help us learn it. It's funny, we never teach them to
speak our language, but they wanted to always give us English speaking lesson.
They love it. As far as school, around 1934 or 1935, somebody have bright idea
they gonna put Indian school off 22nd Avenue by the bridge. There used to big
hammock in there and they put it up kind of like the frame houses, small houses
and it looked like an Indian camp. It's supposed to be school for us. We live in
Musa Isle, we can go to school there. But our parents and people tell us that
their school is going to be open and if anybody come [from the school], don't go
to school, don't go with anybody. Just don't go to school. We were afraid to do
that anyhow. So we never go on to school there. The little building sit there for
a long time. I don't know what happened, maybe hurricane destroy, I don't
know. It used to be there. I was trying to find out one time what happened, who
was responsible, but I never could. I heard Indian Affairs was doing that, but
somebody told me they didn't think that, so maybe just local people have big
idea they could do that. But it didn't happen, didn't work.
K: Were any of your relatives supportive of you going to school or want you to go to
school? Once, I think you told me a long time ago that Willie Willie was.
T: Yes, not just for me. He's a guy who was not white living in the white city like I
am. He always come see his sisters like my mother and other ladies, our
cousins, aunts. [He would] always come back and say, one day, you're gonna
need someone speaking English for you because things gonna get tough.
You're not gonna be able to hunt or sell skins or be fish like you are doing now.
You need to learn how to speak English so you can defend yourself. And our
folks hate him, hate him so bad. When he got sick and die, my aunts and my
mom didn't go see him. Only one of my aunts went to see him and stand by
when he died. They just hate so much they couldn't forget what he was saying.
They didn't do it, he was just advising then that you should. That's the way it
used to be. It was so hard for us to talk about going to school, you can't do that.
You think they would scalp you!
K: Let me ask you one last little set of questions about names. I know in the
Miccosukee culture, names are very private, personal, adult names. Now every
8


child gets a baby name. Are they as secretive about baby names?
T: No, but most of the time when you grow older, you forget the baby name. But I
remember mine and I think some of the people remember the baby names, but
other people don't know. Then second names or grown up name, come from a
man's name. You have to be around maybe, fifteen or sixteen year old. Just
when you can do without food for twenty-four hours or at least a couple days and
one night. You have to do without food, without sleep. Then about 3:00 in the
morning you get a name. But everybody have to know you do that at Green
Corn Dance. The names come from someone, men that had passed away for
maybe three years later. You can take that name and give it to your son if you
want it. But, I think it goes with the clan, too. A lot of times if a man's a bad boy,
a bad man, people do not want to use the name. They won't have a name until
they find a name. If they think their son's a good boy, they want a good name.
Then they fix it with the clan, they bring him in, they don't call, mom and daddy
don't call you. The medicine people, the council, the traditional council's the one
that give you a name.
K: They select it for you.
T: No, your mom and your dad suggest a name to them and they took it from them
and they study it a little bit to make sure that name is O.K. for this young man.
Then they call him. It's kind a big deal. Particular with us. I got a name, maybe
about three, four boys away from me and we line up and they call you. You
come in and your daddy's with you. You come in, big fire burning. You're
standing there and the council is just sitting. I'm not talking about the elected
council, I don't mean that. Traditional council. They talk to you, who you are,
whose your daddy, whose your uncle and what clan you are in and all that kind
of questions. You should tell them that you are wanting of this name, we're
gonna give it to you, and what you've got to do after we give it to you. You're not
gonna eat, you're not gonna sleep until daylight, when the sun's come out, then
you can eat and you can go to sleep. And you would do it. You have to agree to
that. Then the medicine people, at least one man got up and say, this young
man is gonna get the name and who that name come from and when the
someone passed away. He's qualified to pick that name and we're gonna name
you and you do that. My name is Henihachi. He is someone who died and my
dad and my mama want that name to name me. So we have to go to Green
Corn Dance to give me the name so when you finish and when you coming
home, you got a man's name. Lot of times a young man want a name, but they
can't have it if you would happen to ate something or you fall asleep. You have
to wait another year. That's how it did go.
K: So that was the name they selected for you? Did they know this person?
9
------------ ----- -


T: Yes. My mom and my dad knows the elder people. I don't know how it is now,
but years ago, a lot of older folks know each other pretty well.
K: How did you get the anglicized name, the William Buffalo Tiger?
T: When I got older and when I start hanging around at commercial villages. As I
say, I loved to play ball and I liked to play with other kids even though my dad
and my mom and our folks didn't want us to do, we still played. We started
learning how to play games like baseball, football. School kids, white boys, they
liked to play at that particular town. I guess it still is, I don't know. They said
they were going to have to find a name for him. They were going to give me a
nickname-not Indians, but the white people, particularly the older guys. So they
were watching us play games. This young man runs like buffalo. Let's give him
a name, Buffalo. They did not say Tiger. They said give him the name Buffalo.
Then it would be Buffalo Tiger. My father's name was Tiger. It's the beginning
of like a nickname. So people start calling me Buffalo and next thing I know I am
Buffalo. Then the other times when I grow up, during the war I used to work
building airplanes. The foreman was a nice fellow. He would walk by and he go
I don't really like your name-Buffalo Tiger. We're gonna have to give you a
better name. I said I don't care. He said well, we're gonna call you William.
O.K., that's all right. That's where William comes from the foreman at the
factory. Then, you put it together, William Buffalo Tiger. I didn't ask for it, I got
it.
K: I know the adult name is very personal, but where did the baby names come
from?
T: They usually come from many ways. Baby names, you have to have it. Even
the girls gets it and boys gets it. The girls usually die with the baby names. A
boy, when he gets old enough, he gets a man name. A lot of times people have
used a different type of medicine when baby born. Sometimes he use one little
piece of it, could be medicine, could be anything that happened at that particular
moment and use that to name baby. But most of time it comes from being in
some parts of medicine. So that's how we get our names.
K: And every child gets a different baby name because it is something unique to
them.
T: Yes. I have never heard the names alike in Miccosukee. Always different. You
people have names maybe, like mine, an English name. I might heard it
somewhere maybe, Buffalo Tiger, but not baby names. It's not like that.
K: Those refer to something unique about your birth, your coming into the world.
10


T: Right.
K: Do they still do that?
T: Yes, still do it. Lot of things still remain, like we used to do. Some changes take
place, too. Like when baby born, the mama never goes to the hospital. They
had them in the backyard. They build a little place to have babies there. And
people will go back in there to take care of the mom. But these days, most
babies born in the hospital. You didn't go and do that. I don't know if they call
the baby in the hospital or after baby come home, I don't know. I'm away from
that now. I don't really know what they do today.
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Full Text

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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM SEMINOLE COLLECTION Interviewee: Buffalo Tiger Interviewer: Harry Kersey Date: July 2, 1998

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K: Today is July 2, 1998. This is Dr. Harry Kersey of Florida Atlantic University. Today I am interviewing Mr. Buffalo Tiger. This is the first of our interviews in his autobiography. Mr. Tiger, who were your parents and grandparents? T: My grandfather and my grandmother were from different clans. Let's talk about the ladies first. My grandmother, we called her Poshi, and that is all we ever called her because we do not know and do not say the real name. It is a custom of the Miccosukees to not call elder people by their names. She used to be the boss of the village. My mother was the same clan, the Bird Clan. In English I can call her Sally Tiger. My grandfather was in Big City Clan, sometimes people call them the Frogs. His name was Charlie Willie. My grandmother and my grandfather were pretty old. My daddy was in the Otter Clan. His name was Tiger Tiger. K: How about brothers and sisters? T: We did have about eleven in our family. My older brother is Jimmy Tiger. The girl after him passed away years ago when she was younger. Another sister was born after her. Her name was Mickey Tiger. She got married, but she passed away. Then I was born after her. K: What was your birth date? T: March 6, 1920. I was born in a little village called Grandfather's Village. We lived there a long time. I have a brother who was born after me, about a year and a half later. We always called him Josie [Tiger]. He passed away. The other brother is younger than him and is named Tommy Tiger. We called him a nickname, Cokie. A girl was born after him and her name is Annie. She got married and her name is Annie Jim. She still lives pretty well with her husband. Another girl, Lois, was born. She passed away. Her last name was ___ _ Then the younger boy was born, Bobby Tiger. He became an alligator wrestler. He passed away. The youngest sister was Mary. She got married and became Mary Osceola. She passed away. K: I did not get a name for the oldest sister, the one who was born after Jimmy. T: I do not know. K: That is a very large family. I know you were born in a village on the east side of the Everglades and lived there most of your childhood. T: We were living in that particular village for a long time. We called it Grandfather's Village, but really that was Grandmother's Village. Our custom is 1

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that we have to believe the lady is always the boss over the camps. So the grandmother was a big boss. My grandfather had a grocery store there. He traded with our people. Anything he could sell. He buys or he trades with the groceries. Then he heads out to main city in the Miami area. I do not know where. He would sell whatever he bought to the people he knew. Then get a little money and buy groceries and material things and take them back out there and resell it our people. They did not have to come into town to buy anything. They bought it from him. That was his business. I do not think he speak any English, but he managed to handle money pretty well and trade and even out numbers. He sells some guns and traps for animals. He sells just about everything he could to the people. A lot of Miccosukee people know that, so they come from all over to see him and trade with him. In the meantime, he let them have a credit so people had someplace they could go and get some different things they need and they would go back. In a way we were lucky with our grandparents because we learned so much at that time, but we didn't realize that's the business they were doing. We were living at the camp and we had more time to ourselves. Sometimes we have about three or four parents in that little village. All seem to be kin, and then other kids come from different places. We always have a lot of youngsters to play with. K: Traditionally we think of the people who lived in the village as all being of the same clan because it was the mother's camp and clan. Were all of the people who lived there related to your grandmother and your mother? T: Just about. Other clans can move in and live with us for awhile because they have their own village. They are just coming in to pick up different things and go back. So they have a place to spend the night. Many times we go canoe riding and take care of anybody who wanted to go. It's not just for anything except that we do little things like that, enjoy ourself. We go out and see the ducks. We see the otters and sometimes we get to see alligators. We didn't try to do anything with them. We would just have fun looking at them and chase them around. There was plenty. We would go home and I always remember that it's a nice, nice camp. K: Where was it? Was it near the Tamiami Trail? T: Yes. Maybe at some particular time I would like to talk about that a little more. I'm kind of selfish about that because I don't want some business people to get to know that and start nosing around in that particular area. To me there is history in that particular little island. K: You want to keep it private. That is understandable. Let me move on then. We can come back to that at some other time as you say. Prior to the Tamiami Trail 2

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coming through in 1928, did your family come into Miami much to spend time at Musa Island or other villages, or did you wait for the trail to be completed? T: My people did not move around that much when the highway is completed. They do come in here and there, pick up groceries and go back. My dad wants to come in and he couldn't decide if either we could canoe to come in, pick up some groceries and go back, or we would walk. I'm with him and he says, we're gonna walk. We're way out there, about thirty miles out of town. So I wanted to come in anyhow, so we got all ready to come and we did. We walked and finally someone in a broken down pickup stopped and picked us up and we went to one of the stores in Miami on the trail. He bought some groceries and when you buy groceries that much, people will be happy to take you back, so he's knows that. So he did that and we went back the same day. So we do those things, but we don't mind take a walk even though we were a little afraid, because we don't trust people that much. We kind of selfish I guess, in a way, but that's why we feel that kind. You think other people not all good friends. Some of them are. But then other times, my dad wants to come in town in a canoe and I was supposed to come with him. We did. It took us a couple days, maybe a day and a half to get where we wanted to go. We went in on Miami Canal along the trail all the way down here and we stopped on Flagler Street. There is an old bridge across and underneath there is an old frame house that is sitting there. They used to be friendly to our people and the building has a big porch. Anytime there are Indians coming there, they can stay there a couple days and buy what they need and put them in the canoe and take them back. K: Do you remember who owned that place? T: I don't. But they were friendly. My dad and I stayed on the porch in the morning and then we got out, we take care of shopping and everything and he wants to know if I want to go with him. I said, no. The horses were pulling the little wagon around delivering the ice and this and that. So I was supposed to stay in the porch. I did. The family who lived in the house wanted to know if I'm grateful. I couldn't speak no English. You know what these people give to me? Hamburger with mustard and onion and iced tea. The food just tastes horrible. I couldn't eat it and I can't drink tea. It's the first time people have give me that type of food and I thought, by God, people couldn't eat that stuff. I was thirsty. Coca Cola I will drink, but tea I can't. K: How old do you think you were then? T: I can't remember that. I have no idea how old I was then. But it was some time ago. I remember though, my dad gets back and so we spend the night there and then we get back in the canoe and head back. It took us a couple of days to get 3

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back. We would leave from where we start from. On that canal is all kind of bushy places. There is buildings now, but you don't see hardly any buildings then. There is mostly trees and ponds. It looks nice, but it looks kinda wild. I enjoyed that. The water is moving, pretty much you have to really paddle hard to make the canoe go to where you want it to go. K: Were you in a regular canoe or in a dugout canoe? T: Dugout canoe. K: So you were poling. T: We poled in a dugout, but some places you don't have anywhere to pole so you have to paddle. I remember those times. But you were talking about this village [Musa Isle]. I didn't see any. That particular time, I had no idea there was a village there and my dad didn't tell me anything. We're not looking for that. We just went for our shops, what we went to do. My dad went would not go to places like that, so we stayed at this particular friends' house. Those are times I always thought maybe that even mustard and onions, they tasted good to me. K: I am curious. How did you get your dugout canoe into the Miami Canal? T: It was open all the way. K: No banks on the side? You could come right out of the Glades into the canal? T: Right. Water all the way. At that time it was easy. I'm sure there were other families that did it, too. K: When do you recall first going in, for example, to spend some time at Musa Isle? Were you a teenager? T: No, I guess I was pretty young when my mama and my dad were going there. My uncle, Willie Willie started. First, I don't know if he had Bert Lasher with him or not. My brother told me he borrowed money from my grandfather. Willie Willie was in town most of the time. He always had lots of friends. He had some ideas, some good, but I think that my grandfather don't trust him with that kind of money. It was a good way to make some money. He knows a place. So they begin to give him some money, enough money to develop some type of little village. There were orange groves and the people sell orange juice at that time. Boat coming in from the bay somewhere, and it stopped there. K: Coming up the Miami River from the bay? 4

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T: Right. A lot of people come and drink a lot of orange juice and eat some food. They thought, if we have some little village there, people can go in there and sell different things and then charge admission and make some money. So my grandfather started that way. I can't remember that, but I was told that. Then later Bert Lasher took over. He did that because he drink too much and he ain't too good for running the village anyhow. Some of the families were there and we were there. Then Willie Willie happened to be around there, too. Later he was going to work in Hialeah and he did have friends. I guess they must have loaned him money, I don't know, but anyhow he started developing the village in Hialeah. Many Indian people have gone there to work on the grounds and help build the chickees and everything that needs to be done. We went there to Hialeah and stayed there. I can't remember too well, but there's people who are friends with Willie Willie. I always thought the reason was that he's friends with Al Capone. Al Capone is coming in big, black cars, about two or three cars into a village to see Willie Willie. I think they were on the way to a racetrack right next door. That's what he was doing. K: What happened to that village? T: About 1926, a hurricane come through. We weren't there. We didn't stay there all the time. We were just coming in maybe three months, four months and we would go back. We went back and a hurricane come along. We happened to be in the Everglades at this particular time. About three or four families get together, and they want to go boat riding out in the glades, looking for alligator skin or anything they can kill for the skin. My family went and three other families went together. We moved around in a canoe. [We were] coming in this way from out there, way out there and this time of day [late afternoon] it started raining and getting windy. Our people said, well, the weather's bad. So this particular time, I just thought it would just rain and the rain is going to be finished. But our people were so particular about it, they want to go in somewhere and pick a hammock. Pick a hammock in a high rock. They wanted to find a higher ground. We got out, cleaned it out and then we were fixing dinner and it started raining hard. The wind started blowing hard, so they put canvasses on top the poles so we can sleep inside. I did the mosquito nets, but the wind keeps blowing harder and harder and harder. Pretty soon it starts picking up the candles we have, blowing them away. This time they have to let us know it's a hurricane coming, so the old men have to get up and move away from here. We have to find a place for you. So my parents did and by this time, it must be about 3:00 in the morning. The wind was blowing too hard, we could hardly walk and it blowed everything around. There was an old big tree standing there, but the limbs all beat up, blown away. Then what they do, they put their canvass around it and they tie it up somehow. They tie it down real good. Then they put is in there, a bunch of kids, maybe four or five, my family. By this time it was so bad you can't 5

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walk. All the trees are blowing away. Many times you see the snakes crawling all over, trying to get away from water. Meantime the canoes out there rolling around in the water and our guys trying to keep that boat from blowing away. By this time water is all around us already. Good thing they found a high spot, higher ground. Otherwise we would be in the water. It was so cold and so windy. We were all wet, babies and everybody. We survived because us kids moved together and we used all kinds of blankets to keep ourselves warm. Even though our face is cold, our bodies are warm. I always remember this. This is real, real bad hurricane. Start blowing this way, then start moving around this way, move around this way and start blowing this way. Our folks are happy, it's going to be finished. [When] the wind start blowing this way now, it's going to be finished. Sure enough, it did. K: So the eye of the hurricane had passed? T: It's gone now. Then we were so cold, I remember that. I was so hungry. This time of day could be between 5:00 and 6:00. Then we ate what's left. I can't remember what we have, but whatever it is we ate. Might not be good, but it's good for our stomachs. Get something in our stomach, and we feel like going to sleep. You know where we sleep? Wet blanket, we don't care. We slept on wet blanket and we slept good because we were tired. Then next day was beautiful sunshine and we got up to look and we don't see nothing. It's like oceans. Our canoe is still there and all the trees are blown away, if not they're just laying in the water. My folks say, we're gonna have to go home. I guess this particular time, they realize it's nothing there at our home, either. But guessed we are gonna go home like we left, chickee and everything. But when we got home, it's not like that. Everything's under water. Everything's blown down. But we don't mind because as long as we have each other, we feel good. The experience we have in that hurricane I will never forget, even though I was a little guy. What did we try to do? We got so cold. We have little brother I was talking about, Bobby Tiger. He's a little guy. The guys want to hold him because he's warm. So. we just pass around the babies and keep ourselves warm. We got through it and we went home and half the place was broken down. Chickees and all of it is under water. It's not easy to find the food. There was just too much water. K: Let's say you see turtles. You can get them, but when turtles see you at a distance, they went under the water. You just can't see no more. This is ____ ? T: Yes. Same goes with the alligator. Everything it's so hard to get because there is too much water. The deer we didn't go hunt because we didn't go that way looking for deer. We just lived around our area and tried to find whatever we could find. We managed. We survived anyhow so everything went O.K. after 6

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that. K: You were just a little fellow in 1926. That must have been very scary. T: You know, we're not so afraid in that way. We have our parents. We did not really get scared in things like that. The only thing that's wrong with that is we were so cold and hungry and tired. But as far as afraid, no, as long as we've got daddy and mama around you, you're not afraid. Everything's O.K. K: Did your uncle lose his camp in Hialeah to the hurricane? T: Everybody lost their camps. Chickees, particularly blown down and blown away. K: What did he do then? Is that when he moved into Hollywood? T: At this particular time my grandfather, I believe he had passed away. Maybe not even a year. My grandmother is with us and Willie Willie was in that village in Hialeah. Some of the people stayed with him and the whole village blown down. He now would have to fix it. He ehose to move into a Hollywood reservation years ago. Everybody calls that Hollywood reservation Big City. It's where my uncle, Willie Willie, went. He have a little gift shop and a little store. He got sick and died there. K: Did your family, then, ever go into Musa Isle to spend some time? T: We were there when I was still little. When Bert Lasher had it, we were there for awhile. Then we went to Hialeah. Then we come back. We did not go back to Musa Isle. But I remember in the 1930s we were there, but we're not there year around. We were there during winter when tourists are out. Then we come back summertime to a little village out here. I showed you were we used to live. K: How did you learn English? I know you told me that one time they would not let you go to school, so how did you pick up your English? T: You know, I'm one of the bad boys. I'm pretty good in other ways, but when I want to do something, I am going to do it. You're right, our parents won't let us go to school. Like if you had a pen in your hand, if I do that, then I get whipping. They didn't want us to use a pen because it's begins reading and writing. If we go to school, learn English, we would start losing our ideas to liking the other people's life, not our culture. So they want us to be culture person in Miccosukee life, so they don't want us to get into learning anything in English. I got whipping on that a few times. We used to play with some of the non~lndian boys. We loved to play baseball. We loved to play football. Any game they 7

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played, we liked to play. K: This is when you were in Musa Isle? T: Yes. But we didn't do that so open. We do that when we can, when our folks don't catch us. If they see us doing that, we get whipping. But we do that. I think my cousins and other friends like to play, so they were doing that, too. Knowing if we get caught, we gonna get whipping. As far as learning English, that's how we pick up English. Some of the people, the boys and gfrls, want us to speak English, so they help us learn it. It's funny, we never teach them to speak our language, but they wanted to always give us English speaking lesson. They love it. As far as school, around 1934 or 1935, somebody have bright idea they gonna put Indian school off 22nd Avenue by the bridge. There used to big hammock in there and they put it up kind of like the frame houses, small houses and it looked like an Indian camp. It's supposed to be school for us. We live in Musa Isle, we can go to school there. But our parents and people tell us that their school is going to be open and if anybody come [from the school], don't go to school, don't go with anybody. Just don't go to school. We were afraid to do that anyhow. So we never go on to school there. The little building sit there for a long time. I don't know what happened, maybe hurricane destroy, I don't know. It used to be there. I was trying to find out one time what happened, who was responsible, but I never could. I heard Indian Affairs was doing that, but somebody told me they didn't think that, so maybe just local people have big idea they could do that. But it didn't happen, didn't work. K: Were any of your relatives supportive of you going to school or want you to go to school? Once, I think you told me a long time ago that Willie Willie was. T: Yes, not just for me. He's a guy who was not white living in the white city like I am. He always come see his sisters like my mother and other ladies, our cousins, aunts. [He would] always come back and say, one day, you're gonna need someone speaking English for you because things gonna get tough. You're not gonna be able to hunt or sell skins or be fish like you are doing now. You need to learn how to speak English so you can defend yourself. And our folks hate him, hate him so bad. When he got sick and die, my aunts and my mom didn't go see him. Only one of my aunts went to see him and stand by when he died. They just hate so much they couldn't forget what he was saying. They didn't do it, he was just advising then that you should. That's the way it used to be. It was so hard for us to talk about going to school, you can't do that. You think they would scalp you! K: Let me ask you one last little set of questions about names. I know in the Miccosukee culture, names are very private, personal, adult names. Now every 8

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child gets a baby name. Are they as secretive about baby names? T: No, but most of the time when you grow older, you forget the baby name. But I remember mine and I think some of the people remember the baby names, but other people don't know. Then second names or grown up name, come from a man's name. You have to be around maybe, fifteen or sixteen year old. Just when you can do without food for twenty-four hours or at least a couple days and one night. You have to do without food, without sleep. Then about 3:00 in the morning you get a name. But everybody have to know you do that at Green Corn Dance. The names come from someone, men that had passed away for maybe three years later. You can take that name and give it to your son if you want it. But, I think it goes with the clan, too. A lot of times if a man's a bad boy, a bad man, people do not want to use the name. They won't have a name until they find a name. If they think their son's a good boy, they want a good name. Then they fix it with the clan, they bring him in, they don't call, mom and daddy don't call you. The medicine people, the council, the traditional council's the one that give you a name. K: They select it for you. T: No, your mom and your dad suggest a name to them and they took it from them and they study it a little bit to make sure that name is O.K for this young man. Then they call him. It's kind a big deal. Particular with us. I got a name, maybe about three, four boys away from me and we line up and they call you. You come in and your daddy's with you. You come in, big fire burning. You're standing there and the council is just sitting. I'm not talking about the elected council, I don't mean that. Traditional council. They talk to you, who you are, whose your daddy, whose your uncle and what clan you are in and all that kind of questions. You should tell them that you are wanting of this name, we're gonna give it to you, and what you've got to do after we give it to you. You're not gonna eat, you're not gonna sleep until daylight, when the sun's come out, then you can eat and you can go to sleep. And you would do it. You have to agree to that. Then the medicine people, at least one man got up and say, this young man is gonna get the name and who that name come from and when the someone passed away. He's qualified to pick that name and we're gonna name you and you do that. My name is Henihachi. He is someone who died and my dad and my mama want that name to name me. So we have to go to Green Corn Dance to give me the name so when you finish and when you coming home, you got a man's name. Lot of times a young man want a name, but they can't have it if you would happen to ate something or you fall asleep. You have to wait another year. That's how it did go. K: So that was the name they selected for you? Did they know this person? 9

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T: Yes. My mom and my dad knows the elder people. I don't know how it is now, but years ago, a lot of older folks know each other pretty well. K: How did you get the anglicized name, the William Buffalo Tiger? T: When I got older and when I start hanging around at commercial villages. As I say, I loved to play ball and I liked to play with other kids even though my dad and my mom and our folks didn't want us to do, we still played. We started learning how to play games like baseball, football. School kids, white boys, they liked to play at that particular town. I guess it still is, I don't know. They said they were going to have to find a name for him. They were going to give me a nickname-not Indians, but the white people, particularly the older guys. So they were watching us play games. This young man runs like buffalo. Let's give him a name, Buffalo. They did not say Tiger. They said give him the name Buffalo. Then it would be Buffalo Tiger. My father's name was Tiger. It's the beginning of like a nickname. So people start calling me Buffalo and next thing I know I am Buffalo. Then the other times when I grow up, during the war I used to work building airplanes. The foreman was a nice fellow. He would walk by and he go I don't really like your name-Buffalo Tiger. We're gonna have to give you a better name. I said I don't care. He said well, we're gonna call you William. O.K., that's all right. That's where William comes from the foreman at the factory. Then, you put it together, William Buffalo Tiger. I didn't ask for it, I got it. K: I know the adult name is very personal, but where did the baby names come from? T: They usually come from many ways. Baby names, you have to have it. Even the girls gets it and boys gets it. The girls usually die with the baby names. A boy, when he gets old enough, he gets a man name. A lot of times people have used a different type of medicine when baby born. Sometimes he use one little piece of it, could be medicine, could be anything that happened at that particular moment and use that to name baby. But most of time it comes from being in some parts of medicine. So that's how we get our names. K: And every child gets a different baby name because it is something unique to them. T: Yes. I have never heard the names alike in Miccosukee. Always different. You people have names maybe, like mine, an English name. I might heard it somewhere maybe, Buffalo Tiger, but not baby names. It's not like that. K: Those refer to something unique about your birth, your coming into the world. 10

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T: Right. K: Do they still do that? T: Yes, still do it. Lot of things still remain, like we used to do. Some changes take place, too. Like when baby born, the mama never goes to the hospital. They had them in the backyard. They build a little place to have babies there. And people will go back in there to take care of the mom. But these days, most babies born in the hospital. You didn't go and do that. I don't know if they call the baby in the hospital or after baby come home, I don't know. I'm away from that now. I don't really know what they do today. 11