The Seminole Tribe
The history, culture, and lifestyle of the Seminole tribe in the prior-European contact period
The Seminoles descended from the Creeks, who were descendants of the Lamar. The Seminoles trace Georgia, South and North Carolina, Alabama, and Florida. The Creek state was created through assimilation in the historic period, as it was an alliance of many towns, whose members used seven languages. In the sixteenth century, there were attempts by the Spanish to set up mission systems in Georgia and Florida, but their efforts did not succeed in the Creek country (Jumper 16). In the process, some creeks were drawn to Florida, where there were other people who were later integrated into the Seminole tribe. The Seminole nation became allies of the English General Oglethorpe when he was attacking St, Augustine in 1740. They later settled at Cuscowilla (current Florida) where they prospered as cattlemen. Seminole’s huge herds drew the white’s attention leading to conflicts that arose from the desire for cattle and land by the whites.
The population of Seminoles in Florida was quite small. The 1812 war increased hostile actions of the whites against their neighbors, which dissatisfied the native people. The war lasted fifty years, and it was merely against the Seminole tribe. The war left only 300 Seminoles alive, but there were continued removal efforts of Indians to the West. This led to another war that lasted three years. A small number of Seminoles was left in Florida and they practiced hunting as well as guiding tourists for the next 60 years (Peterson 44). In the 19th century, there was a move to reserve lands for settlement, but the Seminoles resisted the move. They were adverse to land ownership concept, but they later changed their minds and requested for reservation lands.
After reservation, native people in Florida were divided into two. One of the groups held traditional views and rejected the idea of reservation. The other group accepted reservation offer and started on a new way of sustaining the culture of the Seminole. The reservations were used as preservation areas where language, customs, and a self government for the tribe were maintained. Leaders made decisions concerning education, re-establishment of cattle industry, health care, adoption of Christianity, etc. a program was developed to train Seminoles skills in digging wells, constructing windmills, fencing, water control, and operating equipment. In the 1950’s, Florida’s Seminole tribe attained self-government. They mustered a constitution for the tribe and elected a governing body. The Seminole Tribe of Florida, Inc. was also created to administer matters of business for the tribe (Jumper 24).
The Seminole tribe in the post-European contact period
After the contact with the European, the Seminole nation became a tribal nation that is recognized by the federal government and one with a government that is anchored by a system of Band. The government that was formed consisted of a General Council that served as the governing body. The Seminole tribe signed a constitution in 1969, and the constitution was sanctioned the same year. The government constituted several departments that included executive, treasury, administrative, education, gaming, law enforcement, etc. apart from the formation of the government and departments, contact with European led to numerous changes in the lifestyle of the Seminole tribe (Mulroy 17).
A good example of a change that occurred within the tribe after the contact with the European can be seen in child socialization. In the past, all the individuals in the tribe assumed the responsibility of bringing up children. There were other specifications on child rearing, e.g. a child could only be punished or disciplined by his maternal uncle. Today, the family members raise Seminole youngsters. It is also common for children to live with their aunts, other family members or their grandparents, which was not the case prior to the contact with European.
Seminoles hold time of loss in high consideration. According to their customs when a loved one passes on, it calls for mourning for not less than four days. In periods of this ordeal, the family along with the help of other friends carries out customs and other traditions. In the past, bodies of deceased persons were buried the floor of their family’s dwellings but today the deceased are buried in cemeteries (Press 36).
The Seminole tribe is in modern times active in business and economic activities as opposed to the periods in the past. For instance, the nation operates several businesses that contribute to the economy of the tribe. Seminole nation also continues to make development plans that aim at improving the lives of the people. In this regard, the nation acquires businesses and land that are utilized in the growth of the nation’s economy. Other sectors that have seen development within the nation include tourism sector, media and communication, retail and service, nutrition, education, transportation, etc. (Peterson 8). All these sectors have seen great development since the contact with the Europeans and these developments have continued to improve the lifestyle of the Seminole tribe.
The present state of the Seminole tribe
Today, the tribe is recognized through the federal laws in the US’s state of Florida and it is one among the Seminole entities that are federally-recognized. It has about six reservations for the Indians in Florida. The tribe generates great revenues from tribal gaming, and the revenues are used for economic development, welfare and education. All members of the tribe are required to have not less than one-quarter Seminole blood quantum (Press 48). The nation ensures that most members are affords modern health care and education, and it spends more than one million dollars on education every year. The tribe has adopted some American cultures even though it still maintains some of its important cultures. Like any other tribe, Seminole tribe can trace its origin many years back and has developed through many phases to its present state.
Jumper, Betty M. Legends of the Seminoles. Sarasota, Fl: Pineapple Press, 2010. Print.
Mulroy, Kevin. The Seminole Freedmen: A History. Norman, OK: Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 2007. Print.
Peterson, Elizabeth. Tribal Libraries in the United States: A Directory of American Indian and Alaska Native Facilities. Jefferson, N.C: McFarland & Co, 2007. Print.
Press, Petra. The Seminole. Minneapolis: Compass Point Books, 2001. Print
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The Seminole Tribe