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What is the Seminole Tribe?

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  • Written By: Jason C. Chavis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 28 August 2016
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Originally from the state of Florida, the Native Americans from the Seminole tribe are found most readily in Oklahoma today. Much of the Seminoles today stem from a wide variety of tribes from the Southern United States. During the height of the tribe's power, the late 1700s and early 1800s, refugees from the various tribes of the region descended on Florida and allied with escaped African-American slaves to form a rebellion against European-American dominance.

The dawn of the Seminole Tribe began when the Native American tribes of the Muscogee people began to fight amongst each other in the late 1700s. Fleeing to Florida, the Lower Creeks further displaced the Calusa and Mayaimi tribes, who in turn fled to Cuba. The survivors of these two merged with the Creeks, as did the Yuchi and Yamasee. African-Americans escaping from slavery in the South also joined with the Seminole Tribe.

Siding with the British in the American Revolutionary War, the Seminole were essentially isolated in Florida. Following the war, Spain seized control of the territory and created a treaty with the Seminole Tribe. After the United States took the region from Spain, they forced the Seminole to relocate to Oklahoma. Many remained, however, launching a guerrilla war that lasted for years.

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Since the Seminole Tribe is composed of many different ethnic groups, no overarching culture is dominant. Most modern Seminole practice a combination of Christianity and traditional Native American religion. The two most traditional practices the tribe uses are the Stomp dance and the Green Corn Ceremony.

In the Stomp dance, participants eat a variety of Southern foods and traditional Native American cuisine such as cornbread and frybread. The dance grounds are set up in a large square, slightly elevated, and centered around a community fire. Songs are sung as members of the tribe dance around in a gyrating fashion, which helped prompt the name. The Green Corn Ceremony is very similar but focuses on fasting and giving each other warrior names. Food is served at the end of the day in the Green Corn Ceremony.

With tribes located in both Florida and Oklahoma today, the Seminole are one of the most recognized American Indian nations in the United States. This is due in part to the fact that the University of Florida uses the name as its mascot. The reservations are operated by sovereign governments and make money from gambling, tobacco and tourism.

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stl156
Post 4

I study history for a living and I have always noticed that the Seminole tribe seemed to be more accepted among whites than most other tribes in the United States in the 1800's.

I do not know exactly why I feel this way and I have read virtually nothing that backs this argument, but it seems like the overall attitude at this time was that the Seminoles and the whites in the South had decent relations with one another.

There were numerous Seminole slave holders in the South and there were some that were even allowed into high society. It seems like that maybe the Seminoles were willing to live with the whites and somehow found a way to co-exist with them. Although Jackson may have hurt the relations the co-existence seemed to continue well after his presidency.

matthewc23
Post 3

I have always thought that the reputation of the Seminoles came from their willingness to fight and defend themselves against people like Jackson who were looking to expand west. That is why i have always thought that the Seminole tribe was an appropriate mascot for Florida State University, not the University of Florida like it says in the article.

Florida State University is known for their fighting spirit and their willingness to keep fighting in the face of adversity. Florida State University is also one of the rare colleges that has a native American mascot that is actually approved by the tribe represented and they see it as a tribute to the spirit of their people.

Due to the good relations between the tribe and the University I feel that more people have become educated about the Seminole tribe unlike other tribes depicted as college mascots.

titans62
Post 2

@kentuckycat - That is not at all surprising considering that Andrew Jackson did more to hurt Native American and United States relations than any other president in the history of the country. The Seminoles were merely one of the many tribes that he oppressed during his lifetime and the only difference between the Seminoles and other tribes was that they were able to fight back against him and actually give him a bit of a fight.

Although the Seminoles were ultimately not successful in defeating Jackson, they did at least show that there could be resistance to the ongoing expansion seeping into Indian land and they served as a model for other tribes resistance.

kentuckycat
Post 1

I remember reading a lot about former President Andrew Jackson and his continued wars with the Seminole tribe.

I heard that Jackson was particularly brutal to the people of the Seminole tribe and did a lot of things that established his reputation as both a very tough military commander and as a stone cold racist.

I find it very interesting that one of the most successful presidents in American history was the way he was and treated people as unfairly as he did. I know that due to his exploits and treatment of the tribe Jackson is not a well liked figure, even to this day amongst the Seminole tribe and I have even heard some members speak of him as being a bit of a devil in regards to their tribe.

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