Seminole Indians Research Paper

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Seminole Indians

The name Seminole is derived from the Spanish word "cimarron" meaning "wild men." Seminoles were originally given this name since they were Indians who had escaped from slavery in the British-controlled northern colonies. When they arrived in Florida, they were not known as Seminoles as they were in reality Creeks, Indians of Muskogee derivation. The Muskogean tribes made up the Mississippian cultures which were temple-mound builders. "Among the Muskogean tribes were the Creeks, Hitichis and Yamasees of Georgia, the Apalachees of Florida, the Alabamas and Mobiles of Alabama, and the Choctaws, Chickasaws and Houmas of Mississippi" (Murray, n.d.).

It is believed that the Seminole tribe settled in Florida as far back as 10,000 BC. For hundreds of years, the Seminole Indians essentially ruled almost all of Florida. Even when the Europeans arrived, at first they were not concerned in the area of Florida, but displayed more inquisitiveness toward the southern part of the nation, which left the Seminoles with control of their homeland. Unfortunately, things began to change around 1732, when settlers started moving southward into Florida. Once they got there, a lot of Seminole Indians were kidnapped, tormented, or killed. But the Seminoles held their own and remained within their territory, countless migrating near where Tampa is located today (Seminole Indians, 2012).

Muskogee was the language spoken by the Seminole Indians at the time. They normally hunted and fished the plentiful waters off the coast of Florida. Given that the temperature where they lived was temperate, their homes were very straightforward, consisting of poles and thatched roofs. When the Spanish had arrived to Florida, the Seminoles frequently imitated them by wearing intensely colored clothing. When the 20th century came about, Florida was a model area to develop, and a lot of the Seminole Indians were forced out of the region. Those who remained ended up being forced to work for money, either as an agricultural helper or a tourist attraction. In 1957, a law was passed announcing the tribes in Florida officially as the Seminole Tribe of Florida. In 1970, the Seminoles were given over twelve million by the government in compensation for land taken from them by the United States military. The Seminole tribe is still in existence today and is a proud part of Florida's rich heritage (Seminole Indians, 2012).

In the early years the Seminoles wore very little clothing except during ceremonies. The men would were full skirts or long wide-sleeved shirts that hung from their necks to their knees. They also wore soft high-topped moccasins and headdresses that were made of squares of wool folded cornerwise into bands about three inches wide. The bands wound around the head until it was as much as seven inches thick. This was done in order to protect their eyes from the hot sun. The women on the other hand would dress in short blouses and skirts that they made by sewing together strips of bright colored cloth. Woven slashes were worn around the waist. The women went barefooted (Seminole, n.d.).

The Seminole Indians were mainly farmers. They grew corn, squash, peanuts, sweet potatoes, and melons. Each family had its own garden plot and all members of the tribe helped plant, cultivate, and harvest the crops. They also gathered seeds, berries, and nuts. Blowguns were used to hunt small game and birds. The men hunted fowl, turtles, fish, shellfish, and deer. The Indians ate a lot of fruits including bananas, oranges, pineapples, and coconuts. All parts of the palmetto palm tree were used for food. The top was eaten by itself. Molasses was made from the berries and the leaves were ground into flour. Even salt was gathered from the burned trunk of the tree to be used in other cooking (Seminole, n.d.).

The Seminole are categorized among the Muskogean peoples, a group of leftover tribes having joined in shaping this division in Florida throughout the boundary wars between the Spanish and the English colonists on the Florida-Carolina border in the 18th century. "In 1817, with the accusation that the Seminole were harboring runaway slaves, Andrew Jackson ordered nearly three thousand troops to attack and burn the town of Mikasuki, starting the first Seminole War. Shortly afterwards, Spain ceded Florida to the U.S., bringing the Seminole under U.S. power. A treaty later offered the tribe a reserved tract east of Tampa Bay" (Seminole Nation, 2011).

In 1832, Payne's Landing Treaty removed all claims on Florida land from the tribe, and presented removal to Indian Territory. Approval of that treaty in 1834 permitted the Seminole three years before the exclusion was to happen. But under the U.S. government's interpretation, 1835 ended the three-year period previous to removal. The Seminole did not agree with this and their bitter resistance led to the second, or Great Seminole War. "Among the worst chapters in the history of Indian Removal, the war lasted almost seven years and cost thousands of lives. It finally ended in 1842 with the agreement that several hundred members of the tribe could remain in Florida. They stayed in the Florida swamps but never surrendered. Their descendants are the Seminole that live in Florida today" (Seminole Nation, 2011).

As tribal leaders gave up throughout the war, their factions were moved to the Indian Territory under military usher. "The first were led by Chief Holahti Emathla in the summer of 1836. His party, who had lost many of their number by death during the two-month journey, located north of the Canadian River, in present Hughes County. Their settlement was known by the name of their influential leader, Black Dirt" (Seminole Nation, 2011).

In June, right after Chief Mikanopy arrived at Fort Gibson, there was a meeting held with the Creek of the Lower Towns. When the topic of position of the Seminole was talked about, Chief Mikanopy and the Seminole leaders declined to live in any division of the Creek Nation other than the area given to them by the treaty of 1833. A treaty signed by the U.S., and representatives of the Seminole and Creek Nations in 1845 led the way for modification of the difficulty that had come about between the two tribes. The Seminole could live wherever in the Creek area they wanted and they could have their own town government, as long as it followed the universal laws of the Creek Nation (Seminole Nation, 2011).

By 1849 the Seminole were situated in the valley of the Deep Fork. This was located south in what is now the western part of Okfuskee and Hughes counties, and adjacent to parts of Seminole County. "The respected Chief Mikanopy, who represented the ancient Oconee, died in 1849. He was succeeded by his nephew, Jim Jumper, who was soon succeeded by John Jumper, who came to Indian Territory as a prisoner of war. He became one of the great men in Seminole history and ruled as chief until 1877, when he then resigned to dedicate all his time to his church. Wild Cat, the principal advisor to Chief Mikanopy throughout his last years, never accepted being under the rule of the Creek Nation" (Seminole Nation, 2011).

By 1868, the bands of refugee tribes were finally able to inhabit in the region that is known as the Seminole Nation. This was the first time in seventy five years they had an opportunity of setting up tribal cohesion. Their council house was built at Wewoka, selected capital of the Seminole Nation. When the Seminole people made their last arrangement in Indian Territory, eight tribal square grounds were founded in diverse parts of the nation where old rituals, dances and ball games were often held. "Two of these square grounds were known as Tallahasutci or (Tallahasse) and Thliwathli or (Therwarthle). There is still a loose organization of the twelve Seminole towns or bands that were organized for political and geographical reasons in re-establishing the tribal government that had formerly existed in Florida" (Seminole Nation, 2011).

Arguments with white settlers were becoming more usual by the turn of the century. Settlers wanted Indian land and their former slaves back. In 1817, these disagreements spiraled into the first of three wars against the United States. Future U.S. President Andrew Jackson raided then-Spanish Florida and conquered the Seminoles. After passage of the Indian Removal Act in 1830, the U.S. government effort to reposition Seminoles to Oklahoma, leading yet another war, the Second Seminole War. After overcoming the U.S. In early fights of the Second Seminole War, Seminole leader Osceola was imprisoned by the United States in Oct. 20, 1837, when U.S. troops said they wanted a ceasefire to talk about peace. By May 8, 1858, when the United States confirmed an end to disagreements in the third war with the Seminoles, more than three thousand of them had been moved west of the Mississippi River. That left only about two to three hundred Seminoles in Florida (Seminole History, 2012). Those removed to Oklahoma were afterward organized into the "Seminole Nation," as one of the so-called Five…[continue]

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