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Seminole Indians, Seminole Nation (Creek: Sim-a-no’-le, or Isti simanóle, ‘separatist’, ‘runaway’ ). A Muskhogean tribe of Florida, originally made up of immigrants from the Lower Creek towns on Chattahoochee river, who moved down into Florida following the destruction of the Apalachee and other native tribes. They were at first classed with the Lower Creeks, but began to be known under their present name about 1775. Those still residing in Florida call themselves Ikaniúksalgi, peninsula people’ (Gatschet).
The Seminole, before the removal of the main body to Indian Territory, consisted chiefly of descendants of Muscogee (Creeks) and Hitchiti from the Lower Creek towns, with a considerable number of refugees from the Upper Creeks after the Creek War, together with remnants of Yamasee and other conquered tribes, Yuchi, and a large Negro element from runaway slaves. When Hawkins wrote, in 1799, they had 7 towns, which increased to 20 or more as they overran the peninsula.
While still under Spanish rule the Seminole became involved in hostility with the United States, particularly in the War of 1812, and again in 1817-18, the latter being known as the first Seminole War. This war was quelled by Gen. Andrew Jackson, who invaded Florida with a force exceeding 3,000 men, as the result of which Spain ceded the territory to the United States in 1819. By treaty of Ft Moultrie in 1823, the Seminole ceded most of their lands, excepting a central reservation; but on account of pressure from the border population for their complete removal, another treaty was negotiated at Paynes Landing in 1832, by which they were bound to remove beyond the Mississippi within 3 years. The treaty was repudiated by a large proportion of the tribe, who, under the leadership of the celebrated Osceola, at once prepared for resistance. Thus began the second Seminole War in 1835, with the killing of Emathla, the principal signer of the removal treaty, and of Gen. A. R. Thompson, who had been instrumental in applying pressure to those who opposed the arrangement. The war lasted nearly 8 years, ending in Aug. 1842, with the practical expatriation of the tribe from Florida for the west, but at the cost of the lives of nearly 1,500 American troops and the expenditure of $20,000,000. One incident was the massacre of Maj. F. L. Dade’s command of 100 men, only one man escaping alive. The Seminole Negroes took an active part throughout the war.
Those removed to Oklahoma were subsequently organized into the “Seminole Nation,” as one of the so-called Five Civilized Tribes. In general condition and advancement they are about on a level with their neighbors and kinsmen of the Creek Nation. In common with the other tribes they were party to the agreement for the opening of their lands to settlement, and their tribal government came to an end in Mar. 1906. In 1908 they were reported officially to number 2,138, largely mixed with Negro blood, in addition to 986 “Seminole freedmen.” A refugee band of Seminole, or, more properly, Seminole Negroes, is also on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande in the neighborhood of Eagle Pass, Texas.
The Seminole still residing in the south part of Florida, officially estimated at 358 in 1900, but reduced to about 275 in 1908, remain nearly in their original condition. Within the last few years (1914) the Government has taken steps to secure to them a small permanent reservation to include their principal settlements. In general characteristics they resemble the Creeks, from whom they have descended.
Their towns and bands were:
For Further Study
The following articles and manuscripts will shed additional light on the Seminole as both an ethnological study, and as a people. Consult also
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