The Seminole Part 2
Seminoles: A People Who Never Surrendered
The Seminole are classified among the Muskogean peoples, a group of remnant tribes having joined in forming this division in Florida during the border wars between the Spanish and the English colonists on the Florida-Carolina frontier in the 18th century. The name Seminole, first applied to the tribe about 1778, is from the Creek word ‘semino le’, meaning ‘runaway,’ meaning emigrants who left the main body and settled elsewhere.
In 1817, with the accusation that the Seminole were harboring runaway slaves, Andrew Jackson commanded nearly 3,000 troops to attack and burn the town of Mikasuki, 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. They stayed in the Florida swamps but never surrendered. Their descendants are the Seminole in Florida today.
No people have fought with more determination to retain their native soil, nor sacrificed so much to uphold the justice of their claims. Removal of the tribe from Florida to the Canadian Valley was the bitterest and most costly of all Indian removals.