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The Seminole Indians
How They Came to Be


Introduction | How They Came to Be | Religious Beliefs | Native Clothing and Housing | Green Corn Ceremony | Death and Burial Ritual | Conclusion

How They Came to Be.

         The Seminoles came to be on November 18, 1765 in Picolata alongside the banks of the St. Johns River just west of St. Augustine, Florida. The Lower Creeks in Florida were moving further and further apart from the Creek influence and later became known as the "Seminoles" (Unconquered People14). The word "Seminole" is actually an English adaptation of the Muskogee word simanoli, meaning "wild one" (The Southeastern Indians 465).

         Fifty Lower Creeks chiefs were gathered together under a thatched roof hut made just for the occasion, in Florida (under British rule at the time) to hear Governor Grants petition for the conceding of lands east of the St. Johns River. Before anything began, Grant and John Stuart (Indian superintendent) watched form the hut as the Indians performed the Pipe of Peace Ceremony. Moving towards the two men in two columns, they advanced singing, shouting, and dancing. The chiefs then moved up and "cleansed" Grant and Stuart with feathers from an eagle. The pipe was then lighted and smoked by the chiefs and the two Englishmen. Grant noticed that Cowkeeper from the Alachua tribe was rather not interested in the conference and distanced himself from the meeting, making it clear that the Lower Creek did not have his interest in mind. Cowkeeper then met with Grant on his own terms, taking time off hunting in order to travel to St.Augustine with his entourage of sixty people. After this, sole Creek power over the peninsula was no more and Cowkeeper was revered as a "Great Medal Chief." Following this, the Indians of North and Central Florida became known as the Seminoles by foreign travelers and traders as well as government officials. Cowkeeper played an important role in the growth of the Seminole nation and the Alachua savanna, just south of Gainesville, became known as the heartland of the Seminole people (Unconquered People 14-15).


Seminoles in St. Johns River