Floridian Nature

Learn about Florida's beautiful and unique nature.

Florida Tribes: Seminole Indians
The Seminole are a Native American people originally of Florida, who now reside primarily in that state and Oklahoma. The Seminole nation was formed in the 18th century in a process of ethnogenesis. It was composed of Native Americans from Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama, most significantly the Creek people, as well as African Americans who escaped to Florida from slavery in South Carolina and Georgia. Roughly 3,000 Seminoles were forced west of the Mississippi River during Indian Removal. These included ancestors of the present-day Seminole Nation of Oklahoma. New members joined the group as they traveled to the west. Approximately 300 to 500 Seminoles stayed in Florida, where they lived and defended themselves in and around the Everglades. In an effort to dislodge them, the US government waged the Seminole Wars, in which a total of about 1,500 U.S. soldiers died. The Seminoles never surrendered to the United States. The Seminoles of Florida call themselves the "Unconquered People". Today they have sovereignty over their tribal lands and an economy based on tobacco sales, tourism, gambling and entertainment. They were the first people to catch and consume stone crabs as we know them today.

In the late 18th century, Lower Creeks began to migrate into Florida to evade the dominance of the Upper Creeks. They intermingled with the few remaining indigenous people there, some recently arrived as refugees after the Yamasee War, such as the Yuchi, Yamasee, and others. In a process of ethnogenesis, they formed a new culture which they called "Seminole", a derivative of the Mvskoke' (a Creek language) word simano-li, an adaptation of the Spanish "cimarrón" which means "wild" (in their case, "wild men"), or "runaway" [men].  The unified Seminole spoke two languages: Creek and Mikasuki (a modern dialect similar to Hitchiti), two different members of the Muskogean Native American languages family, a language group that includes Choctaw and Chickasaw. It is chiefly on linguistic grounds that the modern Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida maintain their separate identity today.

During the colonial years, the Seminole were on good terms with both the Spanish and the British. In 1784, the treaty ending the American Revolutionary War transferred British rule of Florida to Spanish control. The Spanish Empire's decline enabled the Seminole to settle more deeply into Florida. They were led by a dynasty of chiefs founded in the 18th century by Cowkeeper. This dynasty lasted until 1842, when the US forced the majority of Seminoles to move from Florida to the Indian Territory (modern Oklahoma) after the Second Seminole War. During the Seminole Wars, the Seminole people began to break apart due to numerous aspects of the conflict and differences in ideology. The Seminole population had also be growing significantly, though it was diminished as an effect of the wars with the United States government. With the division of the Seminole tribe, some traditions such as powwow trails and ceremonies were maintained among them. However, the Oklahoma Seminoles and the Florida Seminoles are independent nations that operate in their own spheres

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