A/N This is about the Seminole Indians of Florida. Please read and review! Enjoy!

The Seminoles of Florida

My report is on the Seminole Indians. I am going to talk about their homes, customs, food, history, clothing, superstitions, leaders, arts and crafts, and even some trivia.

During the summer the Seminoles lived in chickees. The chickees were made from strong, straight trunks of the palmetto palms that were found in the Florida Everglades. Since it was so hot and humid the chickees were open on all four sides to allow cooling breezes. They covered the roofs with the thick leaves of the palmettos. They had a separate chickee for each part of their daily room. They had one for cooking and eating, one for sleeping in, and another for relaxing and telling stories. The Seminoles had no furniture. They sat on the ground and slept on woven mats. In the winter their homes were set up basically the same except they were closed on all sides and insulated with clay.

In the Seminoles culture the Indian society was organized into clans. The clans were based on descent from a common ancestor. Men and women married outside of their own clan, and their children always belonged to their mother's clan. Girls were taught farming, weaving, and food preparation by their mother. Boys were taught various crafts including hunting and fishing by one of their mother's bothers (their uncle). The fathers were expected to provide for their children and to show them affection, but because they were not members of the same clan the father couldn't play a dominant role in the child's upbringing.

In the beginning, the Seminoles were hunters and gatherers. They used muskets to hunt deer, turkey, bear, raccoons, squirrels, rabbits, and other game. They also fished. They gathered fruits, nuts, berries, wild plants, and herbs. Later when they settled down they became excellent farmers. They grew corn, sugarcane, guava, bananas, beans, and squash. The Spanish introduced melons, oranges, and other citrus fruits in the 1700s. The Spanish also showed the Seminoles how to keep horses, cows, pigs, and cattle, and the Seminoles were very successful in doing so.

The first Seminoles came to Florida because it was controlled by the Spanish, who didn't have any interest in returning slaves to the British. The original Seminoles were mostly Lower Creeks who spoke the Mikasuki language, but also included other Indian tribes, such as Yuchis, Yamasees and Choctaws. In 1767, Upper Creeks from Alabama, who spoke the Muskogee language, settled near what is now Tampa. Many black Africans who escaped from slavery in the Carolinas and Georgia and to Florida. They built settlements near the Seminoles. Soon, they formed a strong union with the Seminoles based upon both their fear of slavery. Intermarriages and friendships were common; in fact, they were so closely allied that the black Africans became known as Black Seminoles. In 1817 trouble erupted when Americans crossed the Florida border to arrest a Seminole chief, which led to the First Seminole War that began a year later. Unfortunately for the Seminoles, Spain sold Florida to the United States in 1819. Though they got the Seminoles to agree to move onto a reservation in the center of the state, the settlers still wanted more. On May 28, 1830, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act. It gave the government the authority to remove all the tribes east of the Mississippi to the Indian Territory in what is now Arkansas and Oklahoma. Most of the Seminole Tribe including about 500 Black Seminoles were relocated to Indian Territory. Around 500 Seminoles remained in Florida. They managed to hide in the Everglades moving farther south into areas where white men dared not travel. War broke out again in 1855 when Chief Billy Bowlegs attacked a military party near Collier County. This was the Third Seminole War and lasted until 1858. The few Seminoles who remained lived in the Everglades, and traded animal skins and hides at trading posts and raised cattle. In 1849 the U.S. attorney general decided that Black Seminoles were still slaves. They left the U.S. for Mexico in 1850.

Originally, the Seminoles wore mostly leather clothing. Men wore leather loincloths and women wore leather skirts and shawls woven from tree bark and other plants in the summer. In the winter they were robes of bearskin or fur of other animals. Later on, the men wore cotton tunics that came to their knees and tied at the waist with a belt or sash, they also wore turbans on their head and cotton leggings. Women wore long skirts and covered their shoulders with cotton shawls.

Late at night around the campfires, Seminole children would to listen to the elders retelling the old stories. These priceless legends of mischievous Rabbit, the Corn Lady, the Deer Girl, and all the creatures of the Florida Everglades teach valuable lessons about living in harmony with nature and about why the world is the way it is. Many of these stories tell about the way of life and beliefs of the Seminoles. Stories and legends have important meanings to the Seminoles. Sometimes, however, interpreting them may confuse us since Seminole, Miccosukees, Creeks, Cherokees, Choctaws, and many other tribes each tell similar tales just a little differently. These stories are passed from clan to clan.

One of the Seminole tribes' major leaders was Seminole war chief Osceola who led the tribe during the second Seminole War. Osceola was one of the chiefs who visited the West in 1832. He refused to sign a treaty that basically tricked the Seminoles were to give up their land. During the Second War Osceola and some of his fellow leaders were deceived by the United States Military and captured. While the others went to a jail that was nearby, Osceola was sent to a more secure prison at Fort Moultrie in South Carolina. He later died there from a fatal illness he contracted there. Even though he was an enemy the United Stated soldiers admired him and buried him outside the fort with full military honors.

The main arts and crafts that the Seminole Indians did were patchwork, basket weaving, and making dolls. The Seminoles incorporated a lot of colorful patchwork in their clothing. The women sewed brightly colored cloth strips into their clothing into their traditional clothing. As time went on the patterns became more intricate. The Seminoles weaved "Sweetgrass" baskets. The wild sweetgrass used in these basket was hand- picked from the high, dry areas of the Everglades basin, washed, laid in the sun to dry and sewn together with colored threads. The baskets were made into many different shapes. The dolls they made where cloth-wrapped palmetto fiber husk stuffed with cotton. The dolls the Seminoles made accurately portrayed the clothing and hairstyles worn by traditional Seminole men and women.

Did you know that the term "Seminole" is acquired from the word "cimarron" which in Spanish means "wild men". Here are some other things that you may not know; the Seminoles occupied the Southeastern United States for 12,000 years. The Seminoles weren't granted U.S. citizenship until 1934. They also enjoyed singing, dancing, and playing ball games.

Now you know more about the Seminole Indians and their way of life. They are a fierce and proud tribe of Florida. They didn't let three wars with the United States Army or even the harsh Everglade swamps defeat them.