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Seminole Indian Resistance and Removal: The Fight for Survival

The term Seminole derives from the Spanish word "cimarron," translated as "wild men." Native Americans who escaped slavery in the northern British colonies were given the Seminole's name because they were originally slaves. In Florida, they were known as Creeks, Muskogees for a while before they were called Seminoles.

Seminole Origins

The Seminoles first settled in Florida, controlled by the Spanish, who were uninterested in returning slaves to Britain. During the early 1700s, several other Indian tribes that had confronted De Soto and Ponce de Leon, including Yamasees, Yuchis, and Choctaws, joined Lower Creeks as they ventured northward from Georgia to Florida.

The upper Creeks migrated to the Tampa region around 1767, speaking the Muskogee language. Following that, in 1771, the word "Seminole" was used for the first time to refer to a real tribe. A few Apalachees and Lower Creeks were incorporated into the Seminoles in 1778.

A Tribe of Five Civilized Tribes

The Seminoles were one of the five civilized tribes, the Creeks, Chickasaws, Cherokees, and Choctaws. The moniker was given to these tribes because they assimilated many aspects of white civilization. They lived in huts or homes, dressed like white people, and converted to Christianity often.

Asseola Seminole leader of Florida

The Seminole Wars

During the American Revolution, former slaveholders became concerned about the Seminoles' prosperity. Seminoles learned in 1812 that Georgians known as the "Patriots" were planning an attack against Seminole towns. By battling these possible invaders on their estates, the Seminoles were able to have the upper hand.

The government was enraged by this conduct; therefore, American forces commanded by Andrew Jackson came into Florida and devastated settlements throughout northern Alachua County.

First Seminole War (1817-1818) began when U.S. authorities attempted to bring back runaway black slaves living among Seminole tribes. U.S. armed forces attacked the region led by General Andrew Jackson, dispersing the locals, destroying their villages, and conquering Spanish-held St. Marks and Pensacola. Consequently, Spain renounced its territory in Florida in 1819 as a result of the Transcontinental Treaty.

Second Seminole War (1835-1842)

It came due to the Seminoles' unwillingness to leave the reserve designated as theirs north of Lake Okeechobee and migrate to the west of the Mississippi River.  Whites desired this territory and used Indian Removal Act legislation to drive the Seminoles out. The Seminole fighters, commanded by their charismatic chief Osceola (q.v. ), concealed their families throughout the Everglades and used guerilla tactics to protect their territory.

2,000 U.S. soldiers may have died due to the extended combat, estimated to have cost the government $40 million and $60 million. Indian resistance began to wane when Osceola was captured while parleying beneath a truce flag. Many Seminoles decided to depart once the war was over.

Third Seminole War (1855–58)

It erupted as a result of intensified efforts to capture the surviving Seminole tribes in Florida. It resulted in minimal bloodshed and concluded with the U.S. bribing the most obstinate group of refugees to move to the west.

Future And Modern Organization

Members of the Seminole tribe tried to formalize their status by creating a chartered organization to resist a House vote that would cut off aid to Indigenous peoples. The Seminole Tribe of Florida was formally incorporated on Aug. 21, 1957, after a majority vote.

On Aug. 21, Seminoles of Florida voted for the creation of the tribe in 1957. Mikosuki speakers split off from the tribe in Florida, where they established the Miccosukee Tribe.

Fun Facts About the Seminole Indians: Thanksgiving, Culture, And History

First Thanksgiving Didn't Happen

Although millions of Americans are preparing to feast in celebration of the year's most important holiday on Thursday, many Native Americans regard the holiday as an ideal fiction used to conceal cultural imperialism.

However, the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes in South Florida, both now affluent from profitable gaming enterprises, appear to have little interest in resolving ancient disputes. The Seminoles are now advertising a "Flavorful Thanksgiving Weekend" at Hollywood's Seminole Hard Rock Casino, including a $22 turkey supper, acorn squash, pumpkin soup, and sweet potato pie.

Culture Facts

  • The majority of Seminoles speak English today. A few people are fluent in Creek and Miccosukee (the indigenous language of the tribe).

  • Beautiful woodcarvings, beading, and baskets are common among these American Indians.

  • Food was obtained from hunting, farming, and fishing for the Seminoles. Squash,  corn, and beans were among their harvests. Wild turkeys,  deer, rabbits, and other animals, were among the animals they hunted.

History Facts

  • Seminole warriors used bows, arrows, and tomahawks before coming into touch with European immigrants. They began to utilize weapons, which they got from European settlers when they settled in the United States.

  • The Seminole tribe initially lived in northern Florida, but as the United States population increased, they relocated southward into the Everglades.

  • Many runaway (or liberated) slaves resided near Seminole settlements. The tribe received payment from the so-called Black Seminoles in exchange for protection.

  • In the 1960s, the Seminoles became the first Indian group to build a casino on their territory. Several other tribes quickly followed in what is today a highly profitable industry.

In conclusion

The Seminole Tribe is currently striving to provide employment development for its members, maintain its great legacy and culture, and protect its territory, Florida's Everglades. The Seminoles have the spirit of the unconquerable, and this spirit will drive them far.

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