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Seminole Indians

Seminole Tribe. Meaning “one who has camped out from the regular towns,” and hence sometimes given as “runaway,” but there is too much onus in this rendering. Prof. H. E. Bolton believes it was adopted from Spanish cimarron meaning “wild.”

Seminole Connections. As implied above, the Seminole removed from the Creek towns and constituted just before the last Seminole War a fair representation of the population of those towns: perhaps two-thirds Creek proper or Muskogee, and the remaining third Indians of the Hitchiti-speaking towns, Alabama, Yamasee, and besides a band of Yuchi, latterly a few of the original Indian inhabitants of southern Florida.

Seminole Location. The Seminole towns were first planted about Apalachicola River, in and near the old Apalachee country and in the Alachua country in the central part of the State, although a few were scattered about Tampa Bay and even well down the east coast as far south as Miami. They did not enter the Everglade section of the State until toward the end of the last Seminole War. As a result of that war, the greater part were removed to the territory now constituting Seminole County, Oklahoma. A few remained in their old territory and their descendants are there today.

Seminole Villages

Seminole History.  The nucleus of the nation was constituted by a part of the Oconee, who moved into Florida about 1750 and were gradually followed by other tribes, principally of the Hitchiti connection. The first true Muskogee to enter the peninsula were some of the Indians of Lower Eufaula, who came in 1767 but these were mixed with Hitchiti and others. There was a second Muskogee immigration in 1778, but after the Creek-American War of 1813-14 a much greater immigration occurred from the Creek Nation, mainly from the Upper Towns, and as the great majority of the newcomers were Muskogee, the Seminole became prevailingly a Muskogee people, what is now called the Seminole language being almost pure Muskogee. Later there were two wars with the Whites; the first from 1817-18, in which Andrew Jackson lead the American forces; and the second, from 1835 to 1842, a long and bitter contest in which the Indians demonstrated to its fullest capacity the possibilities of guerrilla warfare in a semitropical, swampy country. Toward the end of the struggle the Indians were forced from northern and central Florida into the Everglade section of the State. This contest is particularly noteworthy on account of the personality of Osceola, the brains of Seminole resistance, whose capture by treachery is an ineffaceable blot upon all who were connected with it and incidentally upon the record of the American Army. Diplomacy finally accomplished what force had failed to effect-the policy put in practice by Worth at the suggestion of General E. A. Hitchcock. The greater part of the hostile Indians surrendered and were sent to Oklahoma, where they were later granted a reservation of their own in .the western part of the Creek Nation.

Both the emigrants, who have now been allotted, and the small number who stayed behind in Florida have since had an uneventful history, except for their gradual absorption into the mass of the population, an absorption long delayed in the case of the Florida Seminole but nonetheless certain.

Seminole Population. Before the Creek-American war the number of Seminole was probably about 2,000; after that date the best estimates give about 5,000. Exclusive of one census which seems clearly too high, figures taken after the Seminole war indicate a gradual reduction of Seminole in Oklahoma from considerably under 4,000 to 2,500 in 1851. A new census, in 1857, gave 1,907, and after that time little change is indicated though actually the amount of Indian blood was probably declining steadily. In Florida the figures were: 370 in 1847, 348 in 1850, 450 in 1893, 565 in 1895, 358 in 1901, 446 in 1911, 600 in 1913, 562 in 1914, 573 in 1919, 586 in 1937. In 1930 there were 1,789 in Oklahoma, 227 in Florida, and 32 scattered in other States.

Connection in which they have become noted. The chief claim of this tribal confederation to distinction will always be the remarkable war which they sustained against the American Nation, the losses in men and money which they occasioned having been out of all proportion to the number of Indians concerned. The county in Oklahoma where most of the Seminole were sent at the end of the great war bears their name, as does a county in Florida, and it will always be associated with the Everglade country, where they made their last stand. Towns or post villages of the name are in Baldwin County, Alabama; Seminole County, Oklahoma; Armstrong County, Pennsylvania; and Gaines County, Texas