The Seminole are a Native American people who developed in Florida in the 18th 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.
What food did the Seminole Indians eat?
Seminole history begins with bands of Creek Indians from Georgia and Alabama who migrated to Florida in the 1700s. Conflicts with Europeans and other tribes caused them to seek new lands to live in peace. Groups of Lower Creeks moved to Florida to get away from the dominance of Upper Creeks.
A chickee was a house built on stilts usually about three or four feet above the ground. The Seminole Indians lived in Chickees because of the swampy conditions that existed in the Everglades of Florida where many Seminole lived. The Seminole built their homes on higher ground in the swampland.
The ancestors of today’s Seminole people migrated to Florida in the 1700s and early 1800s. These Indians came primarily from Alabama and Georgia, and although they were simply known as “Creeks” to the British, they spoke different languages and lived in independent towns.
The Seminole Indians who lived in Florida just prior to removal had mixed origins, including a severed branch of Lower Creeks from the Chattahoochee River and runaway black slaves from the nearby plantations of white settlers.
Seminoles are all members of a clan, and there are eight today: Panther, Bear, Deer, Wind, Bigtown/Toad, Bird, Snake, and Otter. Other clans have gone extinct, including the Alligator clan. Children inherit their clan through their mothers and husbands traditionally go to live in the camp of his new wife’s clan.
The indigenous Indians immediately to the north of Florida were given names such as Creek, Mikasuki, Yamassee, Yuchi, Oconee, Guale, Eufala, etc.
If you’d like to know a few easy Seminole words, istonko (pronounced iss-tone-koh) means “hello” in Seminole Creek, and chehuntamo (pronounced chee-hun-tah-moh) means “hello” in Miccosukee.
The Seminoles generally welcomed those newcomers. Their economy emphasized hunting, fishing, and gathering wild foods such as nuts and berries; they also grew corn (maize), beans, squash, melons, and other produce on high ground within the wetlands.
The ancestors of the Seminoles living in Alabama and Georgia lived in Wattle and Daub Houses. These homes were built using a frame of poles and beams covered with wattle and daub mud. The walls were then covered by cane mats and a thatched grass roof. The early Seminole in Florida lived in stilt houses called chickees.
The Seminoles lived in virtual isolation in and around the Everglades for many years. They lived in open-sided structures called chickees, which were adapted to the swampy environment. They survived by hunting, gathering wild foods, and growing crops like corn, pumpkins, and potatoes.
The Oklahoma Seminole Nation have a white flag and features its tribal seal in the center. The seal represents the ties that they have to the land of their ancestors. The seal portrays Seminole life in Florida and is surrounded by the tribal name in black letters.
500 YEARS OF SEMINOLE HISTORY Only the years since 1510, about four percent of the Tribe’s history, have been touched by European culture. To say that touch has been profound would be a gross understatement. The indigenous population of the Florida peninsula, estimated at 200,000 in 1500, is less than 3,000 today.
Some Seminoles took refuge in the swamps and Everglades, challenging areas where whites couldn’t find them. By 1843, the remaining Seminoles were told they could settle on an informal reservation in Florida.
In the end, most of the Seminoles moved to the new territory. The few who remained had to defend themselves in the Third Seminole War (1855-58), when the U.S. military attempted to drive them out. Finally, the United States paid the remaining Seminoles to move west.
Marcellus W. Osceola, Jr., is chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida.