Florida Guide > Florida History
The Seminole Indians of Florida
The Native Americans known as the Seminole Indians are an amalgamation of the Hitchitis, Oconees, Creeks and Micosukees. The coming together of these once separate tribes happend in the 18th century. It is good to note that some of the slaves escaped their masters and joined the Seminoles in time.
The name Seminole means wild and most of them speak English now though a few hold on to their original Creek or Micosukee languages.
Originally, these Native Americans lived in Northern Florida but they were forced to flee by the Americans and travelled south to the area known as the Everglades. Here they lived an tinerant life for many years and adapted their home building and way of life to accommodate this.
When they lived in the north they lived in Chickees. These homes had Palmetto roofs and plaster and wood walls. Each trible would be arranged round the community facilty.
After their evacuation, they built homes on stilts to protect them from flooding. Nowadays, they live in conventional housing.
The Seminole men and women had very distinct roles with the men hunting and fishing and the women working the land and tending the crops. They would commonly eat bread made from the corn they grew and eat stews of fish, game and vegetables.
Cypress trees were used to fashion traditional canoes and these would not be steered using paddles but with a pole. They would also use working dogs.
The tools they employed were spears for fishing, bow and arrows for hunting and tomahawks for fighting and later guns.
The men would sport almost completely shaven heads whilst the women grew their hair long and wore it up. It was not til later that the iconic hair round a cardboard shape evolved.
The female wore skirts made out of the ubiquitous palmetto leaves and the men wore leggings and breeches. In the winter months they would all wear ponchos on colder days.
Storytelling is a huge part of their culture and also making music and arts and crafts. Community life was crucial to their enjoyment and survival.
Coming right up to the present day, the Floridian Seminoles live on a reservation. The land belongs to them and they have their own justice system and police. They mostly wear up to date clothing and they contribute three point five million dollars in taxes annually.
They have now been accorded the rights that are richly deserved by their long history in Florida
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Page added on: 6 October 2009
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