Information about the Seminole

The Seminole are a Native American Indian people of Florida.

The Seminole nation came into existence in the 1700s, and was composed of both Indians from Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida including the Creek Nation. While roughly 3000 Seminoles were forced west of the Mississippi River, including the (Seminole Nation of Oklahoma) who picked up new members including run-away slaves along their way, approximately 300-500 Seminoles stayed and fought in and around the Everglades of Florida. In a series of wars against the Seminoles in Florida, about 1,500 American soldiers died, but no formal peace treaty was ever forced on them and they never surrendered to the U.S. government, hence, the Seminoles of Florida call themselves the "Unconquered People."

Today, they have sovereignty over their tribal lands, and an economy based on tobacco, tourism and gambling. "Seminoles" is also the nickname of the athletic teams of Florida State University. The 3,100-member Seminole Tribe of Florida and the 6,000-member Seminole Nation of Oklahoma have officially approved the relationship and the details of the images used.

Early history

After the Spanish conquest in the 16th century, the indigenous people of Florida were decimated by disease, and it is believed that the few survivors were evacuated by the Spanish to Cuba when Florida fell under British rule in 1763.

In the early 18th century, members of the Lower Creek Nation began migrating into Florida to remove themselves from the dominace of the Upper Creeks, and intermingled with the few remaining indigenous people there, including the Yuchis, Yamasses and a few aboriginal remnants. They went on to be called "Seminole", a derivative of "cimarron" which means "wild men" in Spanish. The Seminole were a heterogenous group containing various groups and speaking Mikasuki (a modern dialect of Hitchiti) and Creek, two different languages of the Muskogean Native American languages family, a language group that also includes Choctaw and Chickasaw.

The Seminole were apparently on good terms with both the Spanish and the British. In 1784, the treaty ending the American Revolutionary War returned all of Florida to Spanish control. However, the Spanish Empire's decline allowed the Seminole to settle deeper into Florida.

The Seminole wars

After attacks by Spanish settlers on Indian towns, Indians based in Florida began raiding Georgia settlements, purportedly at the behest of the Spanish. The U.S. Army led increasingly frequent incursions into Spanish territory to recapture escaped slaves, including the 1817–1818 campaign against the Seminole Indians by Andrew Jackson that became known as the First Seminole War. Following the war, the United States effectively controlled East Florida.

The Adams-Onís Treaty [1] was signed between the United States and Spain in 1819 and took effect in 1821. According to the terms of the treaty, the United States acquired Florida and, in exchange, renounced all claims to Texas. Andrew Jackson was named military governor of Florida.

As American settlement increased after the treaty, pressure grew on the Federal government to remove the Indians from their lands in Florida. Many Indian tribes harbored runaway black slaves, and the settlers wanted access to Indian lands. Georgian slaveowners also wanted the black Seminole returned to slavery.

In 1832, the United States government signed the Treaty of Payne's Landing with a few of the Seminole chiefs, promising them lands west of the Mississippi River if they agreed to leave Florida voluntarily. The remaining Seminole prepared for war. White settlers pressured the government to remove all of the Indians, by force if necessary. In 1835, the U.S. Army arrived to enforce the treaty.

Seminole leader Osceola (pictured) led the vastly outnumbered resistance during the Second Seminole War. Approximately 4,000 Seminole warriors effectively employed hit-and-run guerrilla tactics with devastating effect against over 200,000 United States Army troops for many years. Osceola was arrested when he came under a flag of truce to negotiations in 1837. He died in jail less than a year later.

Other warchiefs such as Halleck Tustenuggee continued the Seminole resistance against the army. The war only ended after a full decade of fighting, in 1842. The U.S. government is estimated to have spent about $20,000,000 on the war, at the time an astronomical sum. Many Indians were forcibly exiled to Creek lands west of the Mississippi; others retreated into the Everglades. In the end, the government gave up trying to subjugate the Seminole in their Everglades redoubts and left the remaining Seminole in peace. About 1,500 American soldiers had died, but no formal peace treaty had been forced on the independent Seminole who never surrendered to the U.S. government.

The Seminole nation today

In the United States 2000 Census, 12,431 people reported themselves racially solely as Native Americans with only a Seminole tribal affiliation. An additional 15,000 people identified themselves as Seminoles in combination with some other tribal affiliation or race. [2]

The Seminole Nation of Oklahoma has about 6,000 enrolled members, who are divided into fourteen bands. Two are called "Freedmen Bands" (also black seminole) because they count their descent from escaped slaves. Band membership is matrilineal: children are members of their mother's band. The group is ruled by an elected council, with two members from each band. The capital is at Wewoka, Oklahoma.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida entered into agreements with the US government in 1957 and 1962, respectively, confirming their sovereignty over tribal lands and agreeing to compensation for seized territory. Since then, the tribes have developed an economy based largely on sales of duty-free tobacco, tourism and gambling. The Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida was formed in the 1960s by members of the Florida Seminole community who were unsatisfied with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. [3] The Miccosukee Tribe set up a 33-acre reservation on the northern border of Everglades National Park, about 45 miles west of Miami.

"When South Florida tourism boomed in the 1920's, Seminoles capitalized by wrestling alligators for money. In 1979, the Seminoles opened the first casino on Indian land, ushering in what has become a multibillion-dollar industry operated by numerous tribes nationwide." [4]

Florida State University connection

The use of "Seminole" as a namesake is common in Florida, with one county named after them, Seminole County, Florida, and another named after Seminole leader Osceola, Osceola County, Florida. The Seminole chief, Osceola, serves as a mascot for Florida State University and several high school athletic programs in the state, use the nickname, "Seminoles" as well.

According to the New York Times article Florida State Can Keep Its Seminoles, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) prohibition of native American logos, signs in stadiums, cheerleader and band uniforms, and mascots as presumed "hostile and abusive" did not apply to FSU and the Seminoles, and would be considered on a case by case basis elsewhere. The 3,100-member Seminole Tribe of Florida and the 6,000-member Seminole Nation of Oklahoma have officially approved the relationship and the details of the images used. The article states: The Seminoles are the only American Indian tribe never to sign a formal peace treaty with the United States. To celebrate this status, Florida State erected Unconquered, a statue of the Chief Osceola mascot, outside its football stadium.

The above includes excerpts from Wikipedia.org, the free encyclopedia:

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