The Seminole Indians are a tribe of Native American people originally from Florida. They are a relatively newly-formed tribe, developed from the intermingling of escaped African-American slaves, Creek Indians from the state of Georgia, and Muscogees. The tribe's name is derived from the Mvskoke’ language, and literally means runaway or wild men. Two languages were spoken by native Seminole Indians — Creek and Miskasuki.
In 1830, The Indian Removal Act of Andrew Jackson moved the majority of Seminole Indians out of Florida, and to the coast of the Mississippi River. The Treaty of Payne’s Landing promised Seminoles who moved out of Florida power over lands in Oklahoma. Around 500 Indians stayed in Florida and defended their people and lands against government attack.
The Seminole Wars were waged on the Floridian sect of Seminole Indians, but were unsuccessful at removing these tribes from the state. During the Second Seminole War, it is estimated that 1,500 American soldiers were killed. The Third Seminole War was fought between 1855 and 1858, and when a cease-fire was finally called, an estimated 100 to 200 Seminoles remained in Florida. The Second Seminole War is often referred to simply as The Seminole War because it lasted longer than the other two. After the wars, Seminole tribes took on the nickname, Unconquered People.
As of 2010, about 33,000 people are registered with the Seminole Tribe. Approximately 15,000 are registered with the Seminole Nation of Florida and 18,000 with the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma. After the Seminole Wars, Florida tribes took sovereignty over tribal lands. Tobacco, tourism, and gambling are main sources of employment and income for Florida Seminole Indians.
The Seminole Tribe of Oklahoma is broken into 14 bands. Two bands are called Freedman Bands or Black Seminoles. Some Black Seminoles have genealogical roots in slavery. Escaped slaves who took part in the foundation of the Seminole tribe were legally freed from slavery after the Civil War.
The Seminole Tribe of Florida broke into two sects after the Third Seminole War. The Miccosukee Tribe of Seminole Indians chose a traditional way of life and did not move onto established reservations. The Seminole Tribe of Florida chose reservation life in lieu of traditional living.
Today, the Seminole tribe is part of Florida culture. Florida State University (FSU) athletic teams use the Seminole name and logo as their mascot. Legal proceedings attempted to force FSU to change the mascot because its use was deemed offensive, but Seminole tribes of Florida and Oklahoma agreed FSU had permission to use the logo and name.