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Seminole [archive]

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The Seminole are part of the Creek Confederation of tribes.

Location: Florida, Arkansas and Oklahoma

Language: Muskogee

History: In the 1700's they moved into Florida, which was then inhabited by the Spanish. They shared land with a group of Indians that spoke the Mikasuki language. The two groups banded and became known as the Seminoles, meaning "runaways". In 1763, Florida was taken by the British. The British often caused problems between the Seminoles and American settlers. When black slaves escaped from their masters, they often found protection with the Seminoles. Because of this, Americans fought against the Seminoles in the First, Second, and Third Seminole Wars.

The outcome of the First Seminole War involved Spain giving Florida to the United States. The Second Seminole War was one of the most costly of the United States-Indian wars. The majority of the tribe surrendered and moved to Oklahoma. They settled on the western area of the Creek reservation. The Third Seminole War started from renewed efforts to find the Seminole remnant remaining in Florida. This war caused little bloodshed. However, it ended with the United States paying a troublesome band of refugees to go West. After the wars ended, over 3,000 Natives had been forced into the western territories of Arkansas and Oklahoma. As few as 300 remained in Florida.

From the 1920's onward, development burst in Southern Florida. The Seminoles lost hunting land to tourists and settlers. They were gradually forced into the wage labor economy. They become agricultural workers and attracted tourists with their exciting and colorful patchwork clothing.

Much of the traditional Seminole culture is dependent on a healthy ecosystem. Tribal members believe that if the land dies, so will the tribe. Seminole environmental projects are now designed to protect and preserve the land and water systems.

Additional Reading

 Seminole Language
 Seminole Indians
 Florida Reservations

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