These American Indian people are well known for their beautiful woodcarvings, beadwork, and baskets. The Seminoles obtained food by farming, hunting, and fishing. Their crops included corn, squash, and beans. They hunted deer, rabbits, wild turkeys, and other game.
Once a month, every man, woman and child in the tribe gets a check for $1,000 – up from $300 a year ago. The money is generated from the tribe’s gaming tables, with revenue divided equally among members after expenses.
Unlike their dealings with other Indian tribes, however, the U.S. government could not force a surrender from the Florida Seminoles. The U.S. declared the war ended – though no peace treaty was ever signed – and gave up.
The tribe nets about $2.5bn annually from its seven casinos around the state, some built on tribal lands near the Florida swamps where Seminole warriors led by legendary chiefs such as Osceola and Billy Bowlegs resisted the US army’s attempts to remove them to western reservations during the 19th century.
Today, they live in Oklahoma and Florida, and comprise three federally recognized tribes: the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida, as well as independent groups. Historically the Seminole spoke Mikasuki and Creek, both Muskogean languages.
Most tribes require a specific percentage of Native “blood,” called blood quantum, in addition to being able to document which tribal member you descend from. Some tribes require as much as 25% Native heritage, and most require at least 1/16th Native heritage, which is one great-great grandparent.
Today, the Shakopee Mdewakanton are believed to be the richest tribe in American history as measured by individual personal wealth: Each adult, according to court records and confirmed by one tribal member, receives a monthly payment of around $84,000, or $1.08 million a year.
All Indians are subject to federal income taxes. However, whenever a member of an Indian tribe conducts business off the reservation, that person, like everyone else, pays both state and local taxes. State income taxes are not paid on reservation or trust lands.
In a June 8, 2000, guest editorial in the Tallahassee Democrat, Bill Durham wrote that “many Seminoles painted themselves, were great warriors and did indeed use tomahawks, guns, knives, sharpened spears and any other weapons that were available to them. They rode horses for hunting and war.
Why did the Seminoles welcome runaway slaves? An example of guerrilla warfare because the Seminoles made a quick surprise attack. At the end, the U.S. allowed the remaining Seminoles in Florida to stay in their land.
After 20 years of British rule, however, Florida was returned to Spain as part of the second Treaty of Paris, which ended the American Revolution in 1783. Spain’s hold on Florida was tenuous in the years after American independence, and numerous boundary disputes developed with the United States.
Eventually these raids coupled with foreign diseases brought by European colonists resulted in a vastly diminished indigenous population in Florida as many either died or were pushed out of the territory due to these raids.
Oglala Lakota County, contained entirely within the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation, has the lowest per capita income ($8,768) in the country, and ranks as the “poorest” county in the nation. Oglala Lakota County ranked last in the state of South Dakota for quality of life and health behaviors.
Unfortunately, the Seminole Tribe’s gambling taxes are now causing major issues with Florida lawmakers. It all stems from a 2010 agreement in which the tribe pays annual taxes to the government in return for exclusive rights to offer casino-style games.
Today, the Seminole Tribe of Florida owns and operates all units except the Las Vegas, Sioux City, Tulsa, and Vancouver properties.