By: Brent Richards Weisman
Who are Florida’s Seminole and Miccosukee Indians? Where did they come from? How and why are they different from one another, and what cultural and historical features do they share?
Brent Weisman explores Seminole and Miccosukee culture through information provided by archaeology, ethnography, historical documents, and the words of the Indians themselves. He explains when and how their culture was formed and how it has withstood historical challenges and survives in the face of pressures from the modern world.
Focusing on key elements of ceremony and history, Weisman examines the origins and persistence of the Green Corn Dance, the importance of the clan in determining political and social relationships, and the crucial role of the Second Seminole War (1835-42) and its aftermath in stimulating cultural adaptation as the entire Indian population was forced deep into the remote wetlands of south Florida. Throughout, he emphasizes the remarkable ability of the Seminoles to adapt successfully to changing circumstances while preserving their core identity, from the colonial period through the present day.
Noting the importance of geography for understanding a people’s identity, Weisman adds a travel guide to publicly accessible historic sites throughout the state that tell of the unique and deep connection between Seminole history and the geography of Florida. Illustrating the range of the Seminoles well beyond the familiar south Florida region, he explains the importance in Seminole history of the Suwannee River and the Paynes Prairie area of north-central Florida, the Withlacoochee River wetlands of central Florida, the Big Cypress region of southwest Florida, and the Pine Island Ridge of the eastern Everglades.
For both students and general readers, Weisman combines scholarship from several disciplines with the perspectives of the Seminoles themselves into an exciting history of Florida’s enduring Native Americans.