The Seminole lived in swampy areas, so they
used canoes, usually made of birch-bark.
The Seminole nation were created when the Creeks, Miccosukees, Hitchitis, and Oconees decided to unify their tribes. This helped to protect them against other tribes in their area (Georgia and Florida). However, though they formed one nation, each tribe had a very unique culture. Still, some traditions were shared among the Seminole. For example, the native Seminole languages were Miccosukee and Creek, and they all performed rituals and ceremonies to honor nature, usually the sun and the earth. However, when settlers arrived, most of the Seminole converted to Christianity.
While the Seminole planted their own crops, they
did allow wild plants to grow around the land.
Seminole men hunted many animals, including deer, birds, alligators, otters, and raccoons. The women grew crops, but they did not work with their crops very much. Once they planted a set of crops (usually corn, pumpkin, or pawpaws) they would allow wild plants to mingle with their crops in the fertile soil. For this reason, the land was full of wild fruit and vegetables that the Seminole ate with their grown crops. Sometimes, Seminole women would add sugar cane to the food during cooking to make it taste sweeter. Seminole houses, where they would eat their meals, were called chickees and were basically a raised platform covered by a thatched grass roof.
Seminole men also wore
hats with a thin band of
color around them.
However, when the settlers
came, the Seminole Indians
adopted many habits of
the East, including
clothes and weapons.
Because of the warm weather, the Seminole did not need to wear hides, like many other tribes. All Seminole children wore patchwork dresses and a bead necklace, but the girls switched to a blouse and skirt combination at age three. At the age of three, boys, though they continued to wear a dress-like piece of clothing that came down to their knees, replaced the bead necklaces with scarves. Girls never removed their first bead necklaces, and throughout their lives, they added more and more necklaces. Sometimes, a girl's necklaces, which were sometimes made of silver instead of just beads, would actually cover her entire neck!
The Black Seminoles were descendents of
free African Americans and runaway slaves
and were allies of the Seminole Indians.
At one point during America's period of slavery, the Seminole area was considered a safe haven for African-American slaves. Blacks who had run away from their masters would flee to Florida to live near the friendly Native Americans living there. Because the Seminoles disliked slavery just as much as the African-American escapees, the two groups formed a union that managed to prevent the government from returning the slaves. Since the Seminoles and the former slaves lived almost as one tribe, the African-Americans living there came to be called the Black Seminoles. Several Black Seminole villages were later burned down during the Seminole Wars, and the survivors were forced back into slavery.
Some of the Seminoles were forced to move
off their lands onto reservations, but many
tribes escaped into the swamps.
When the first settlers came from to conquer Seminole territory, and, later, the French arrived, the Seminole were forced onto more rough ground, where they adapted to the different conditions. The Seminole also adopted many habits of the white men such as the clothing and religion. Much afterward, the Americans took over the area and, greedy for land, decided to declare the Indian Removal Act. Considered one of the "Five Civilized Tribes" (along with the Creek, Cherokee, Chickasaw, and the Choctaw), the Seminole put up the most successful resistance of all the tribes with that title when the settlers tried to move them onto reservations.
The Seminole Indians refused to be relocated,
which led to the Seminole Wars.
This led to a conflict known at the Second Seminole War, in which the Seminole, led by the brave chief Osceola, valiantly defended their territory. Though the war ended without a clear winner, Seminole land was soon divided up by the Americans anyway. When the Seminole people erupted in violent protest (the Third Seminole War), the American government soon began to promise cash rewards for any Seminole turned in. Consequently, many Seminole fled to the mountains of North Carolina or the Florida Everglades to escape the reservations. Several Seminole tribes live in the swamps of Florida today, never having surrendered.