IGOVERNMENT Each village and tribe had a government led by a chief. The chief made decisions on matters such as food storage, celebrations, building, and farm planning. The chief's position was sometimes inherited. Other times, though, he was chosen for his wisdom and experience. He had advisors and council elders to help him. A war chief took care of military matters. All people could give their opinions on major decisions. Florida Seminole reservations today are run by elected tribal councils. The Seminole Tribe of Florida also has a board of directors that is in charge of economic matters. The Seminole Nation of Oklahoma elects a chief and an assistant chief. All decisions about economic matters, social programs, and job opportunities are made by the General Council. This body has two representatives from each of the tribe's 14 groups. SPIRITAL The Seminole saw no separation between body, mind, and soul. They believed in spiritual beings that dealt fairly with humans. One Seminole god was the Preserver of Life, who gave life and took it away. Another was the Corn Mother, the goddess of farming. Yet another was Thunder, the god of rain and war. In addition to good spirits, the Seminole believed that water panthers and horned rattlesnakes lived in the water and drowned swimmers. They also believed in little people who lived in forests. Everyone in the tribe practiced everyday rituals to maintain nature's balance. People asked an animal's forgiveness before they killed it. Before they ate it, they tossed a piece of meat into the fire. This was a sacrifice to the slain animal. Medicine bundles were sacred. They were made up of 600 to 700 bits of stone, herbs, dried animal parts, feathers, and other objects. They were used to protect the tribe's well-being. The Seminole of Oklahoma call the "stomp dance" their traditional religion. The stomp dance comes from the Green Corn Dance, a ceremony the Seminole brought when they left Florida. The Florida Seminole were left alone for nearly 75 years after the Seminole Wars ended. The government tried to bribe them to move west, but the offers were ignored. Finally, in 1932, the Seminole agreed to move to land in central and southern Florida. Some became cattle herders. Others worked for wages. Today, the Seminole live on six reservations in Florida. The Seminole people of today live mainly in Florida and Oklahoma. The Seminole of Florida live on six reservations around that state, and the Oklahoma Seminole live mostly in Seminole County. Florida Seminole :518
Oklahoma Seminole: 450
Total: 15,564 people
The men of the southern Seminole tribes hunted and fished. They constructed buildings and cleared land to farm. The women raised children and cooked. They also made pottery, baskets, and clothing. Once they moved to the Everglades, the Seminole had to change their ways. The land was not good for farming, so women gathered plants while men fished and hunted. They were able to raise pigs and chickens in the hot climate. The Seminole used canoes carved from tree trunks to travel the shallow waters of the Everglades. During the 1800s, they hunted deer, otters, raccoons, rabbits, turtles, alligators, fish, and birds. These animals were used for food and pelts. The Seminole exchanged pelts, alligator hides, dried fish, beeswax, and honey for European supplies such as coffee, tobacco, cloth, metal pots, knives, and liquor. Between 1870 and 1914, Florida drained much of the Everglades. Some Seminole went to work for whites as hunters or fishermen. Although many still farm and raise cattle, they often need other jobs to support their families. Some sell arts and crafts, plant grass, work as loggers, or wrestle alligators. They also work in tribal bingo halls and casinos, their most profitable businesses. The Oklahoma Seminole have a bingo operation, a gaming center, and two trading posts. The amount of beads worn by Seminole women was a phenomenon to all who saw them 12...
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