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About Seminole, OK
Native American refugees from northern wars, such as the Yuchi and Yamasee after the Yamasee War in South Carolina, migrated into Spanish Florida in the early 18th century. More arrived in the second half of the 18th century, as the Lower Creeks, part of the Muscogee people, began to migrate from several of their towns into Florida to evade the dominance of the Upper Creeks and pressure from encroaching colonists from the Province of Carolina. They spoke primarily Hitchiti, of which Mikasuki is a dialect, which is the primary traditional language spoken today by the Miccosukee in Florida. citation needed] Also fleeing to Florida were African Americans who had escaped from slavery in the Southern colonies.[
The new arrivals moved into virtually uninhabited lands that had once been peopled by several cultures indigenous to Florida, such as the Apalachee, Timucua, Calusa, and others. The native population had been devastated by infectious diseases brought by Spanish explorers in the 1500s and later colonization by European settlers. Later, raids by Carolina and Native American slavers destroyed the string of Spanish missions across northern Florida, and most of the survivors left for Cuba when the Spanish withdrew after ceding Florida to the British in 1763, following the French and Indian War.
As they established themselves in northern and peninsular Florida throughout the 1700s, the various new arrivals intermingled with each other and with the few remaining indigenous people. In a process of ethnogenesis, they constructed a new culture which they called "Seminole", a derivative of the Mvskoke' (a Creek language) word simano-li, an adaptation of the Spanish cimarrón which means "wild" (in their case, "wild men"), or "runaway" . The Seminole were a heterogeneous tribe made up of mostly Lower Creeks from Georgia, who by the time of the Creek Wars (1812–1813) numbered about 4,000 in Florida. At that time, numerous refugees of the Red Sticks migrated south, adding about 2,000 people to the population. They were Creek-speaking Muscogee, and were the ancestors of most of the later Creek-speaking Seminole. In addition, a few hundred escaped African-American slaves (known as the Black Seminole) had settled near the Seminole towns and, to a lesser extent, Native Americans from other tribes, and some white Americans. The unified Seminole spoke two languages: Creek and Mikasuki (mutually intelligible with its dialect Hitchiti), two among the Muskogean languages family. Creek became the dominant language for political and social discourse, so Mikasuki speakers learned it if participating in high-level negotiations. (The Muskogean language group includes Choctaw and Chickasaw, associated with two other major Southeastern tribes.)
During the colonial years, the Seminole were on relatively good terms with both the Spanish and the British. In 1784, after the American Revolutionary War, Britain came to a settlement with Spain and transferred East and West Florida to it. The Spanish Empire's decline enabled the Seminole to settle more deeply into Florida. They were led by a dynasty of chiefs of the Alachua chiefdom, founded in eastern Florida in the 18th century by Cowkeeper. Beginning in 1825, Micanopy was the principal chief of the unified Seminole, until his death in 1849, after Removal to Indian Territory. This chiefly dynasty lasted past Removal, when the US forced the majority of Seminole to move from Florida to the Indian Territory (modern Oklahoma) after the Second Seminole War. Micanopy's sister's son, John Jumper, succeeded him in 1849 and, after his death in 1853, his brother Jim Jumper became principal chief. He was in power through the American Civil War, after which the US government began to interfere with tribal government, supporting its own candidate for chief.
After raids by Anglo-American colonists on Seminole settlements in the mid-18th century, the Seminole retaliated by raiding the Southern Colonies (primarily Georgia), purportedly at the behest of the Spanish. The Seminole also maintained a tradition of accepting escaped slaves from Southern plantations, infuriating planters in the American South by providing a route for their slaves to escape bondage.
After the United States achieved independence, the U.S. Army and local militia groups made increasingly frequent incursions into Spanish Florida to recapture escaped slaves living among the Seminole. American general Andrew Jackson's 1817–1818 campaign against the Seminole became known as the First Seminole War. Though Spain decried the incursions into its territory, the United States effectively controlled the Florida panhandle after the war.
In 1819 the United States and Spain signed the Adams-Onís Treaty, which took effect in 1821. According to its terms, the United States acquired Florida and, in exchange, renounced all claims to Texas. The president appointed Andrew Jackson as military governor of Florida. As European-American colonization increased after the treaty, colonists pressured the Federal government to remove Natives from Florida. Slaveholders resented that tribes harbored runaway Black slaves, and more colonists wanted access to desirable lands held by Native Americans. Georgian slaveholders wanted the "maroons" and fugitive slaves living among the Seminoles, known today as Black Seminoles, returned to slavery.
After acquisition by the U.S. of Florida in 1821, many American slaves and Black Seminoles frequently escaped from Cape Florida to the British colony of the Bahamas, settling mostly on Andros Island. Contemporary accounts noted a group of 120 migrating in 1821, and a much larger group of 300 enslaved African-Americans escaping in 1823. The latter were picked up by Bahamians in 27 sloops and also by travelers in canoes. They developed a village known as Red Bays on Andros.
Federal construction and staffing of the Cape Florida Lighthouse in 1825 reduced the number of slave escapes from this site. the United States has worked with the Bahamas to designated both Cape Florida and Red Bays as sites on the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Trail.
After the independent United States acquired Florida from Spain in 1821, white settlers increased political and governmental pressure on the Seminole to move and give up their lands. "The Seminoles were victims of a system that often blatantly favored whites".
Under colonists' pressure, the US government made the 1823 Treaty of Camp Moultrie with the Seminole, seizing 24 million acres in northern Florida. They offered the Seminole a much smaller reservation in the Everglades, of about 100,000-acre (400 km2). They and the Black Seminoles moved into central and southern Florida.
In 1832, the United States government signed the Treaty of Payne's Landing with a few of the Seminole chiefs. They promised lands west of the Mississippi River if the chiefs agreed to leave Florida voluntarily with their people. The Seminoles who remained prepared for war. White colonists continued to press for their removal.
In 1835, the U.S. Army arrived to enforce the treaty. The Seminole leader Osceola led the vastly outnumbered resistance during the Second Seminole War. Drawing on a population of about 4,000 Seminole and 800 allied Black Seminoles, he mustered at most 1,400 warriors (President Andrew Jackson estimated they had only 900). They countered combined U.S. Army and militia forces that ranged from 6,000 troops at the outset to 9,000 at the peak of deployment in 1837. To survive, the Seminole allies employed guerrilla tactics with devastating effect against U.S. forces, as they knew how to move within the Everglades and use this area for their protection. Osceola was arrested (in a breach of honor) when he came under a flag of truce to negotiations with the US in 1837. He died in jail less than a year later. He was decapitated, his body buried without his head.
Other war chiefs, such as Halleck Tustenuggee and John Jumper, and the Black Seminoles Abraham and John Horse, continued the Seminole resistance against the army. After a full decade of fighting, the war ended in 1842. Scholars estimate the U.S. government spent about $40,000,000 on the war, at the time a huge sum. An estimated 3,000 Seminole and 800 Black Seminole were forcibly exiled to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi, where they were settled on the Creek reservation. After later skirmishes in the Third Seminole War (1855 -1858), perhaps 200 survivors retreated deep into the Everglades to land that was not desired by settlers. They were finally left alone and they never surrendered.
Several treaties seem to bear the mark of representatives of the Seminole tribe, including the Treaty of Moultrie Creek and the Treaty of Payne's Landing. The Florida Seminole say they are the only tribe in America never to have signed a peace treaty with the U.S. government.
The remaining Seminole in Florida adapted to their wetlands environment, while keeping many traditional customs and building a culture of staunch independence. During the American Civil War, the Confederate government of Florida offered aid to keep the Seminole from fighting on the side of the Union. The Florida House of Representatives established a Committee on Indian Affairs in 1862 but, aside from appointing a representative to negotiate with the Seminole tribe, failed to follow its promises of aid. The lack of aid, along with the growing number of Federal troops and pro-unionists in the state, led the Seminole to remain officially neutral throughout the war. In July 1864, Secretary of War James A. Seddon received word that a man named A. McBride had raised a company of sixty-five Seminole who had volunteered to fight for the Confederacy. McBride claimed to have an understanding of Florida because of the time he had spent there fighting during the Seminole wars. While McBride never put such a company in the field, this letter shows how the Confederacy attempted to use Seminole warriors against the Union.
The 1868 Florida Constitution, developed by the Reconstruction legislature, gave the Seminole one seat in the house and one seat in the senate of the state legislature. The Seminole never filled the positions. After white Democrats regained control over the legislature, they removed this provision from the post-Reconstruction constitution they ratified in 1885. In the early 20th century, the Florida Seminole re-established limited relations with the U.S. government. The Seminole maintained a thriving trade business with white merchants during this period, selling alligator hides, bird plumes, and other items sourced from the Everglades. Then, in 1906, Governor N.B. Broward began an effort to drain the Everglades in attempt to convert the wetlands into farmland. The plan to drain the Everglades, new federal and state laws ending the plume trade, and the start of World War I (which put a halt to international fashion trade), all contributed to a major decline in the demand for Seminole goods.
In 1930 they received 5,000 acres (20 km) of reservation lands. Few Seminole moved to these reservations until the 1940s. They reorganized their government and received federal recognition in 1957 as the Seminole Tribe of Florida. During this process, the more traditional people near the Tamiami Trail defined themselves as independent. They received federal recognition as the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians in Florida in 1962.
In the 1950s, the Oklahoma and Florida Seminole tribes filed land claim suits, claiming they had not received adequate compensation for their lands. Their suits were combined in the government's settlement of 1976. The Seminole tribes and Traditionals took until 1990 to negotiate an agreement as to division of the settlement, a judgment trust against which members can draw for education and other benefits. The Florida Seminole founded a high-stakes bingo game on their reservation in the late 1970s, winning court challenges to initiate Indian Gaming, which many tribes have adopted to generate revenues for welfare, education and development.