Above – Chief Osceola, birth name, Billy Powell, became an influential leader of the Seminole in Florida. Of mixed parentage, Creek, Scots-Irish, Black, and English, he was raised as a Creek by his mother, as the tribe had a matrilineal kinship system.
The Seminole – Part 3
As tribal leaders surrendered during the war, their followers immigrated to the Indian Territory under military escort. The first were led by Chief Holahti Emathla in the summer of 1836. His party, who had lost many of their number by death during the two month journey, located north of the Canadian River, in present Hughes County. Their settlement was known by the name of their influential leader, Black Dirt (Fukeluste Harjo).
In June, soon after the arrival of Chief Mikanopy at Fort Gibson, council was held with the Creek of the Lower Towns. When the matter of location of the Seminole was discussed, Chief Mikanopy and the Seminole leaders refused to settle in any part of the Creek Nation other than the tract assigned them under the treaty of 1833. A treaty signed by the U.S., and delegations of the Seminole and Creek Nations in 1845 paved the way for adjustment of the trouble that had arisen between the two tribes. The Seminole could settle anywhere in the Creek country, they could have their own town government, but under the general laws of the Creek Nation.
By 1849 the Seminole settlements were located in the valley of the Deep Fork south to the Canadian in what is now the western part of Okfuskee and Hughes counties, and neighboring parts of Seminole County. The revered Chief Mikanopy, who represented the ancient Oconee, died in 1849. He was succeeded by his nephew, Jim Jumper, who was soon succeeded by John Jumper, who came to Indian Territory as a prisoner of war. He became one of the great men in Seminole history and ruled as chief until 1877, when he then resigned to devote all his time to his church. Wild Cat, the principal advisor to Chief Mikanopy during his last years, never accepted being under the rule of the Creek Nation. Although his views won out in the end under the Treaty of 1856, he made no profit from it, because six years earlier he left the Indian Territory to start a Seminole colony in Mexico.
By 1868, the refugee tribal bands were finally able to settle in the area that is known as the Seminole Nation. For the first time in 75 years they had a chance of establishing tribal solidarity. Their council house was built at Wewoka, designated capital of the Seminole Nation.
When the Seminole people made their last settlement in Indian Territory, eight tribal square grounds were established in different parts of the nation where the old ceremonials, dances and ball games were held. Two of these square grounds were known as Tallahasutci or (Tallahasse) and Thliwathli or (Therwarthle). There is still a loose organization of the twelve Seminole “towns” or “bands” that were organized for political and geographical reasons in re-establishing the tribal government that had formerly existed in Florida.
The Century Turns
The Oklahoma Constitutional Convention divided all of Indian Territory into 40 counties, no county being exactly as the
pre-statehood Indian Nation, county or district with the exception of the Seminole Nation. It remains as Seminole County today.
The Seminole Nation is indeed alive and vibrant with its tribal culture, language, churches, and its art.