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Definition: Seminole from Collins English Dictionary


1 (pl -noles or -nole) a member of a North American Indian people consisting of Creeks who moved into Florida in the 18th century

2 the language of this people, belonging to the Muskhogean family

[from Creek simanó-li fugitive, from American Spanish cimarrón runaway]

Summary Article: Seminole
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Member of an American Indian people who inhabited Georgia until moving to Florida in the early 18th century. An offshoot of the Creek, they share Muskogean linguistic traditions. The Seminole were farmers and hunter-gatherers. They lived in chickees (palm-thatched, wooden-framed houses) and adopted brightly striped clothing, imitating Spanish styles. In Florida they were joined by runaway slaves and rebel Creek, leading to the First Seminole War (1817–18). The Second Seminole War (1835–42) enforced removal of the majority to Oklahoma where they were known as one of the Five Civilized Tribes. They now live in Florida and Oklahoma, and number about 12,400 (2000).

The Florida Seminole have six federal reservations, although many refuse to live on them. They are primarily Baptists with some adherence to their traditional religion, such as the stomp dance, a Seminole version of the green corn dance to celebrate ripening and renewal. Traditional dress, which is decorated with bands of coloured cloth, is still worn and some still live in the traditional palm-thatch chickees. Tourism, gaming, citrus growing, and cattle farming are important sources of revenue. The Seminole Nation in Oklahoma was disbanded in 1907 in preparation for Oklahoma's statehood, and their lands were allotted to individuals and white settlers. In 1970, the Seminole of Oklahoma and Florida were collectively awarded $12,347,500 for land taken from them by US forces.

Seminole history Creek groups first began to migrate into Florida, then a Spanish territory, to seek new land and to escape conflict with other Indian peoples and European settlers in the Georgia region. By the 1770s the term Seminole was being applied by the Spanish to all the Indians of Florida, not only the Creek immigrants but also other indigenous peoples. General Andrew Jackson invaded Seminole territory in 1817–18 (the First Seminole War) in an attempt to recapture runaway slaves and halt cross-border raids by Seminole bands. Florida was purchased from Spain by the US government in 1819 but intermittent fighting continued throughout the 1820s. Following the Indian Removal Act of 1830, moves were made towards an agreed resettlement in the early 1830s, but in 1835 the Second Seminole War erupted after the Seminole chief Osceola led an attack on US army forces. The war, fought in the Everglades, was the most expensive of the Indian wars, costing the US government almost $40 million. Most Seminole eventually surrendered and were forcibly moved to reservations in Indian Territory between 1836 and 1842. More were deported after the Third Seminole War in 1858. By this time over 4,000 Seminole had been removed, leaving no more than 300 in Florida.

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