Geographical region : Florida

Lived normally in small shacks, houses, lodges

Language group : muskhogee


Seminole (Creek: Sim-a-no'-le, or Isti simanˇle, '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A Muskhogean tribe of Florida, originally made up of immigrants from the Lower Creek towns on Chattahoochee river, who moved down into Florida following the destruction of the Apalachee and other native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 Ikani˙ksalgi, 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 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 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.



In the early 1700's a group of Creek Indians left their homes in Georgia and moved to north and central Florida.

They were joined by other groups of Indians from Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina.

In the mid and late 1700's, still other Indians arrived who spoke a different language, Muskogee.

These groups were to become known as Seminoles.

The word "Seminole" is derived from the Muskogee word "simano-li," taken originally from the Spanish "cimmarron." meaning wild or runaway.

Starting in 1810, the U.S. Government fought three wars against determined groups of Seminole men, women and children who were fighting for their homes and their freedom.

The objective of the U.S. Government was to open new lands to white settlers.



The Seminole tribe formed in the 1700s when groups of Southeast Indians fled white encroachment and enslavement and settled in the plains of Spanish-held Florida.

In 1817, with the accusation that the Seminole were harboring runaway slaves, Andrew Jackson commanded nearly 3,000 American troops to attack and burn their lands, starting the first Seminole War.

Shortly thereafter, Spain ceded Florida to the U.S., bringing the Seminole under U.S. jurisdiction.

A treaty later provided the tribe with a reserved tract east of Tampa Bay.

In 1832, the Payne's Landing Treaty took away all Florida land claims from the tribe, and provided for removal to Indian Territory.

Ratification of that treaty in 1834 allowed the Seminole three years before the removal was to take place.

But under the U.S. government's interpretation, 1835 (not 1837) ended the three-year period prior to removal.

The Seminole disagreed, and their bitter opposition resulted in the second, or Great, Seminole War.

Among the worst chapters in the history of Indian removal, the war lasted almost seven years and cost thousands of lives.

It finally ended in 1842 with the agreement that several hundred members of the tribe could remain in Florida.

In 1856, the Seminole were assigned land in Indian Territory: a part of the Creek country that became known as the Seminole Nation.

By 1868, the tribal bands from refugee locations elsewhere in Indian Territory had settled on those lands.

Today, the Seminole are recognized as one of the Five Civilized Tribes in Oklahoma.



Until the first railroad opened in their area in 1895, the Seminole were more isolated than any of the other Five Civilized Tribes.

Education played a prominent role in their early life, and by 1868, the Seminole had established four schools in I.T.