The Seminole Indians are a Native American tribe from the southeast United States.
What is now the Seminole Tribe of Florida can be traced back 10-12,000 years. With a rich history of overcoming adversity, the Seminoles of Florida are known as the “Unconquered People” because they were never defeated by Europeans. While it is important to incorporate Native history in our children’s social studies classes, it is also vital to note that American Indians are contributing to our society today as US citizens. They currently live around Florida and throughout the United States:
Today, most Tribal members are afforded modern housing and health care. The Seminole Tribe spends over $1 million each year on education, alone, including grants-in-aid to promising Tribal college students and the operation of the Ahfachkee Indian School. (semtribe.com)
History of the Seminole Indians
Originally the Creek Indians lived in what is now Georgia and Alabama. When European settlers moved into their territory, many Creeks migrated to the south where they could hunt and fish without competition. In the 1800s, the US government fought battles with the group, and pushed the rest of the Creeks south into Spanish territory.
Spain welcomed the barrier between their land and the British, and gave them land in what is now Florida. The Spaniards called them “los cimarrones,” which meant the “wild” runaways. In fact, runaway slaves joined the Creeks and assimilated into their tribe.
In 1817 the Seminole Indians and the US government fought three wars, as the US tried to take the Seminoles land and relocate them to Oklahoma. After the wars, the US government moved most of the Seminoles to Oklahoma- except for a group of around 250 that stayed hidden in the swamps. Because of those who eluded capture by the US army, the Seminoles of Florida call themselves the “Unconquered People.”
Seminole Indians: Shelter
Once the Seminoles moved into the Everglades, their villages were small and usually located on a raised rock within the swamp. Their houses, called “chickees” or “chickee huts” were raised platforms with thatched roofs, made to withstand floods and water surges, but also raised away from animals like snakes. They used cypress logs and palmetto palms, which grew in the Everglades and held up well in the hot and humid climate.
Each village had one larger house for eating, where everyone could eat together. There was also a storage house, and a couple of homes for villagers.
Food of the Seminole Indians
The Seminole Indians hunted and fished from their canoes and caught otters, raccoons, bobcats, turtles, alligators, and birds. Next to their villages, Seminoles planted crops such as pumpkins and corn. They enjoyed the wild fruit such as oranges, coconuts, mangos, guavas, and wild pineapples. Also, they enjoyed sweetening their foods with sugar cane juice.
After consuming their food, the invented several instruments from what was available: coconut shell or turtle shell rattles, sugar cane flutes, and drums made of cypress bark and buckskin.
Seminole Indians’ Clothing
The above dress is typical of the Seminole. Because the Florida Everglades are covered with tall saw dress that cuts skin easily, it was important to wear long sleeves and skirts or pants to cover arms and legs. Women wore strings of glass beads as necklaces beginning at birth.
Seminole men wore a simple shirt, long pants with a leather or beaded belt, and a turban on his head. Most of the clothing were made of cotton they gained through trading. As sewing machines became available in the 1880s, women would use appliqué work to decorate clothing. In the 1900s, Seminole seamstresses began to sew stripes of colors on men’s and women’s clothing.
Great Seminole Indian Leaders
Click on the following links to learn about some of the great Seminole Indian leaders. Their pictures above show the chiefs below, in order from left to right beginning with Chief Osceola.
Chief Osceola (Billy Powell): During the Second Seminole War, Osceola led a small group of Seminole warriors, when the United States tried to remove the tribe from their lands in Florida. Osceola led the Seminole war resistance until he was lied to during peace talks and captured in September 1837. He died in prison at Fort Moultrie in Charleston, South Carolina from an infection.
Micanopy: As the leading chief of the Seminoles who led the tribe during the Second Seminole War, Micanopy fought valiantly and eventually was captured and send to Oklahoma.
Holato Mico (Billy Bowlegs): Bowlegs refused to leave Florida and give up his land, and fought in the Second Seminole War. When the US soldiers destroyed his land, property, and banana crops he led the Third Seminole War for years until he was forced to surrender in 1858.
Resources to Learn about the Seminoles
The Seminole Tribe of Florida has their own web site with a wealth of authentic information.
Indians.org has great historical information about the Seminoles.
“The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum is home to more than 30,000 unique artifacts, archival items and experiences. Here, one can learn about the Seminole people and their rich cultural and historical ties to the Southeast and Florida, as they have made Big Cypress their home for thousands of years.” Wouldn’t it be cool to visit!?
Welcome to our third annual celebration of Native American Heritage Month! All month long we’ll be sharing posts about sharing these rich cultures with kids. Find our full schedule of posts below!
Open Wide the World on Multicultural Kid Blogs: Native American Heritage Month and Free Trilingual Printable
Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes
Kid World Citizen
Colours of Us
Crafty Moms Share
Crafty Moms Share
Gianna the Great
All Done Monkey
Creative World of Varya