Are there any indian reservations in Florida?

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QUESTION:

Are there any indian reservations in Florida? We heard there was a tribe in Ormond Beach, Florida but cannot get any info on them.
–Submitted by Marie F.

Answer:

There are indian reservations in Florida, but I don’t know of an Indian tribe with a reservation in Ormond Beach, Florida. There is a pow wow held there. It’s called the Native American Festival and is held at the Casement Cultural Center.

It was on January 5-8 this year and is usually held the same weekend every year. You could contact Jim Sawgrass at (386)676-3216 for more information. But yes, there are Indian reservations in other locations in Florida.

There are nine reservations in Florida. Florida has two federally recognized tribes, one state recognized tribe, seven tribes petitioning for recognition, and numerous organizations that try to give the impression that they are Indian tribes.

Reservations in Florida

The Miccosukee Nation claims to be the only truly sovereign Indian nation in North America. Membership in the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida is open only to Indians who have Miccosukee mothers and are not enrolled in any other tribe. The Miccosukee Tribe has three reservation areas in the State of Florida: Tamiami Trail, Alligator Alley and Krome Avenue.

The Tamiami Trail Reservation area consists of four parcels of land located forty miles west of Miami and is presently the site of most Tribal operations. The Tamiami Trail Reservation is also the center of the Miccosukee Indian population.

The Tribe also has a perpetual lease from the State of Florida for 189,000 acres which is part of the South Florida Water Management District’s Water Conservation Area 3A South. The tribe is allowed to use this land for the purpose of hunting, fishing, frogging, subsistence agriculture, as well as to carry on the traditional Miccosukee way of life.

Alligator Alley, which includes 74,812.37 acres, is the largest of the Miccosukee Tribe’s reservations. It is located west of Ft. Lauderdale lying north and south of State Highway 84. This land consists of 20,000 acres of lands with potential for development and 55,000 acres of wetlands.

There are two reservation parcels located at the intersection of Krome Avenue and Tamiami Trail. The first reservation area is comprised of 25 acres located on the northwest corner of the intersection and is the site of the 56,000 square foot, state-of-the-art Miccosukee Indian Gaming facility and the new Miccosukee Resort & Convention Center. The second reservation area is .92 acres located on the southwest corner of the intersection and is the site of the Miccosukee Tobacco shop.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida has six reservations, which total more than 90,000 acres. They are located in Hollywood, Big Cypress, Brighton, Immokalee, Ft. Pierce, and Tampa.

The opening of the Seminole Tribe’s first high-stake bingo hall in Hollywood was a national first. The success of Seminole gaming against legal challenges opened the door for dozens of other American Indian tribes to follow suit. Today, gaming is, by far, the number one economic enterprise in all of Indian Country.

Historical Florida Indian Tribes

Archaeological evidence in Florida suggests some of the earliest settlements in North America, some of them dating from about 10,000 to 12,000B.C. These first people were paleoindian big game hunters, but the Taino-speaking people from the Caribbean who settled Bimini (the Taino name for Florida) after 8000 B.C. were quite different, basing their society on a tropical marine economy.

Among the better known of these Taino people of Florida are the Tekesta, (also spelled Tequesta), associated with the Maimi Circle, the state recognized Calusa society based on a fishing economy in Southern Florida, and the Timucua tribe of Northern Florida.

Tekesta Indians lived in what is now Dade and Broward Counties in southeast Florida, and had a capitol town, probably also called Tekesta, where Miami now stands. Tampa was named by the Calusa tribe, who had a settlement there.

Archaeologists proceed through three later periods (Archaic, Woodland and Mississipian) to begin the Historic Period in AD 1500. The principal groups then were the Timucua in the northeast, the Apalachee in the northwest, the Calusa (variously spelled Caloosa, Coloosa, Caluse, Calos, Carlos, etc, by different writers) in the southwest and the Tekesta in the southeast. It is estimated that the total indigenous Florida Indians exceeded 100,000 at the time of Ponce de Leon’s arrival.

By the 17th century, their population was greatly reduced, and with the influx of Creek people from the North and the impact of European colonizers, not much of that original culture survives among the Timucuan people today.

The Hitchitee Indians were once a part of the Creek Confederacy. They inhabited the northern half of the Florida peninsula. This tribe was eventually absorbed into the Seminole tribes.

Before the people who would later be called Seminoles migrated south from Alabama and Georgia, Florida was inhabited by the Timucua, the Ais, Apalachee and the Pensacola. In 1597, the Spanish Governor of Florida described the Ais people as the most populous tribe he had seen. They were gone by the 1740s.

After the Ais died out, Seminole Indians of Creek ancestry populated this area, fighting three wars with the United States before most of them were forced to relocate to Oklahoma. Originally the Seminole weren’t actually a tribe, but were a group of separate people from many tribes who occupied the same geographical area at the same time.

A portion of this branch of Creek Indians retreated into the Florida swamplands to evade capture by the US Army, and eventually became the dominant native american society. The 1770s is when most Florida Indians collectively became known as Seminole, a name meaning “wild people” or “runaway.”

The Seminoles of Florida call themselves the “Unconquered People,” because they are descendants of just 300 Indians who managed to elude capture by the U.S. army in the 19th century. Today, more than 2,000 Seminoles live on six reservations in the state of Florida.

The “Seminoles,” “Creeks,” and “Mikisúki” (the modern Tribe spells the word “Miccosukee”) are all descendants of the Maskókî-speaking people (possibly 400,000 of them) who lived in towns and villages across what are now the states of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and parts of South Carolina, Tennessee, and Mississippi, when the first Europeans arrived in 1510. The Choctaws and Chickasaws are descendants of these people, also.

There is no such thing as a “Seminole” language. Today, the members of the Seminole tribe speak one or both of two languages: Maskókî and Mikisúkî. These are the only two left from among the dozens of dialects that were spoken by their ancestors in the Southeast.

Maskókî, erroneously called “Creek” by English speakers, is the core language. Mikisúkî is a dialect of Hitchiti, which was itself a dialect of the core language, Maskókî. Although Maskokî is spoken in Oklahoma as well as in Florida, Mikisukî is spoken in only one place on earth: in South Florida, by the members of the Seminole and Miccosukee Tribes.

The difference between the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes is political, not cultural. In 1957, many of the Native Americans in Florida formed a political organization called the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Others, wishing to make political decisions separately, formed the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida in 1962.

Today, there are also about 100 individuals living in South Florida, especially near the western end of the Tamiami Trail and the lower Gulf Coast, who qualify for membership in either tribe but also choose to remain separate. They are referred to as “Independents” or “Traditionals.”

The main political agenda that split these tribes was over negotiations to accept payment (or not) for their land from the US Government. One faction wanted to accept the money to settle the dispute over their land with the US Government, and the other just wanted their land back.

Federally Recognized tribes in Florida

There are currently two Federally Recognized Indian tribes in Florida: The Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida.

State Recognized Florida Tribe

The Muscogee Nation of Florida (formerly Florida Tribe of Eastern Creek Indians) is recognized by the state of Florida, but not by the Federal Government.They are currently petitioning for federal recognition.

Un-Recognized Tribes in Florida

There are about 245 federally non-recognized tribes in the United States, most of whom are petitioning for federal recognition.The following Florida tribes are currently unrecognized, but have petitioned for recognition from the US Federal Government.

The recognition application process typically takes as much as fifteen or more years to complete, and must be accompanied by extensive historical documentation, as well as proof of continual, uninterupted existance of a tribal community. The following Florida tribes are currently seeking recognition from the US Federal Government:

Apalachicola Band of Creek Indians (Tallahassee, FL), Filed Letter of Intent to Petition 01/17/1996

Creeks East of the Mississippi (Molino, FL), Filed Letter of Intent to Petition 03/21/1973 (Petitioned as part of #008 Lower Muscogee Creek, Cairo GA), Declined to Acknowledge 12/21/1981

Indian Creek Band Chickamauga Creek & Cherokee Inc. (Deltona , FL), petitioned 2/4/05 (See further information below under Pseudo-Tribes section)

Muscogee Nation of Florida (Bruce, FL) is State Recognized, Formerly known as Florida Tribe of Eastern Creek Indians, Filed Letter of Intent to Petition 06/02/1978, Awaiting Active Consideration. All documents have been filed with BAR.

Oklewaha Band of Yamassee Seminole Indians (Orange Springs, FL) Filed Letter of Intent to Petition 02/12/1990

Seminole Nation of Florida (also known as Traditional Seminole–see above), Filed Letter of Intent to Petition 08/05/1983, Referred to SOL for determination 5/25/1990

Tuscola United Cherokee Tribe of Florida, Inc (Geneva, FL), Formerly known as Tuscola United Cherokees of Florida & Alabama, Inc, Filed Letter of Intent to Petition 01/19/1979; withdrawn at petitioner’s request 11/24/1997,
Reinstated 2005

In my internet search, I also found mention of the Topachula Tribe as an unrecognized Florida tribe, but could find no mention of a specific location, a petition for recognition date or a web site.

Pseudo-tribes in Florida

There are few areas of the country populated by more pseudo Indian “tribes” than the State of Florida. Some people call them “fake indian tribes.” Our search of the Internet turned up the following organizations in Florida that have names that sound like official tribes, but don’t meet part or all of the standard enrollment requirements of most recognized tribes.

No Federal or State recognized American Indian tribe that I am aware of will ask for a fee or a donation for enrollment in the tribe. As far as I know, all require detailed, documented proof of family lineage tracing back to a blood relative on specific US Government census records or relocation rolls taken at the time when Indians were forceably moved to reservations. All require definite proof, backed up by historical legal documents, of some percentage of Indian blood for tribal enrollment, which varies from tribe to tribe.

None of the following “tribes” are recognized as official tribes by either the Federal Government or the state of Florida.

These pseudo-tribes are often referred to as Indian hobbyist associations in Florida and other parts of the country. We’ll let you be your own judge of the validity of the following “tribes.” We’ve included links to their web sites.

Binay Tribe



The Black Indians & Intertribal Native American Association (abbreviated with the initials BIINAA, they pronounce it Bin-A and call themselves the Binay Tribe) will sell you a membership in their “tribe” for an application fee of $20.00 and annual dues of an additional $45.00. There is no requirement to prove Indian ancestry of any kind.

They will even issue you a Tribal Enrollment Card that they say allows you to participate in events around the country that are limited to “enrolled tribal members.” While this tribe is headquartered in Missouri, some of their members have offered applications to vendors at pow wows in Florida that I have attended.

Nearly every weekend, somewhere in the state of Florida, events advertised as powwows or American Indian festivals are scheduled; and most are sponsored by groups of individuals who are not officially recognized as American Indian tribes by the U.S. Government.

Some event promoters, especially in the Southern and Eastern states, may not know the difference between a CDIB (Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood) card issued by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and one issued by one of these organizations. And some of the events are put on by this type of associations themselves.

However, I don’t know of anywhere that sort of card would be accepted as proof of Indian ancestry by any federally recognized tribe. On the Northern reservations, you’d probably be run (or at least laughed) out of town if you presented something like that as proof you are an Indian. This card also would NOT meet the legal requirements under the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act to allow you to market your art as “Indian made,” since only members of federally recognized tribes are allowed to make this claim.

Perdido Bay Tribe of Lower Muscogee Creeks



According to the Perdido Bay Tribe of Lower Muscogee Creeks (Southeastern Lower Muscogee Creeks) website, “Perdido Bay Tribe of Southeastern Lower Muscogee Creek Indians, Inc. is a member supported, non-profit 501(c)(3) & 509(a)(2) public charity organization dedicated to the preservation of Muscogee Creek history and culture in the Southeast through Art, Education and Public Service.

Membership is open to people of Native American descent and friends who hold a desire to learn, share and work together to support the programs and goals of the organization. We rely solely on donations and sales of handcrafted gift items to support our outreach programs.” They are headquartered in Pensacola, Florida.

Ouachita Indians of Florida and America



Ouachita Indians of America is also known as Ouachita Indians of Florida and America (Dade, FL), Ouachita Indians of California and America, and Revived Ouachita Indians of Arkansas and America. According to this Google cached page of their website, “One must be 1/16th or more blood to be a blood member of the Ouachita, however it is not necessary to be blood to be a full member. A lot of non-American Indians have an Indian heart. We welcome all who come with a good heart.” Their web site appears to now be defunct.

Ocali Nation



(Read caution below before you click this link.) This group was formerely known as the Ocali Nation.The Ocali Nations Intertribial, Inc website says “TONI, INC is a non-profit Florida and Arkansas based corporation. We have been in existence for 20 plus years and anticipate perpetual continuance. Being an Intertribal Organization…we are comprised of individuals of many different tribal (nation) genetic backgrounds.

We even have individuals with zero Native American genetic lineage BUT who are “RED AT HEART” (spiritually). Being true believers of “MITAKUYE OYASIN” (“WE ARE ALL RELATED”), genetic lineage is not of primary importance to us….HEART DIRECTION, SPIRITUAL GROWTH AND INTENT ARE….for therein lies the true “SPIRIT OF THE REDMAN”….not the color or lack of in his/her skin.”

They are based in Ocala, Florida.

WARNING: If you visit this website, navigate by clicking the dancing Indian picture at the BOTTOM of the page for five or six pages of information about their organization. All the misleading links at the top of each page lead to a page of advertising with multiple pop-ups. Even without clicking any links on the resulting page, each page will spawn a pop-up advertisement that presumably pays them money.

Chicamauga Cherokee Indian Creek Band



While this tribe has filed a petition for federal recognition, according to Article III of the corporation papers shown on the Chicamauga Cherokee Indian Creek Band website, the purpose of this corporation is, “…to form an inter-tribal social group of American Indians and those interested in native american culture within the Central Florida area, and to provide a medium of celebration of the Native American heritage…” and Article IV says, “Membership of the Corporation shall be open to any persons who are Native American Indians and those interested in Native American culture and who desire to promote the goals of the Corporation…”

Rainbow Tribes



The Rainbow Tribe located in Tampa Bay, FL is also known as the Wolf’s Heart Lodge and Daughters/Sons of the Earth. Their website states, “Rainbow Tribes consist of everyone, those of both native and non-native blood who believe that in our coming together as a tribe of people, of all colors, that we will make the one true tribe of two-legged ones that we are.”

While they say they are mostly of Cherokee heritage, they make a point of making the statement, “The Rainbow Tribe is actually many small groups around the world that are coming together in understanding and celebration of the diversity of people and who understand their importance and their obligation of love to the Mother Earth and All-That-Is. The pure spirited circles are not in any way trying to steal the Native American ways nor to encroach upon their ceremonies or spirituality… rather they seek to more fully understand why those ancient earth-based religions have taught since the beginning of time,” so it doesn’t seem they are trying to claim they are a traditional native american tribe, but they apparently are borrowing from the Indian culture and ceremonies. Thus, I have included them in this section.

Church of The Me’tis Tribe



The Church of The Me’tis Tribe, Inc, also known as the American Me’tis Aboriginal Association, is incorporated as a not-for-profit, non-denominational church. They claim they are the official church of the Metis Tribe. They are located in Florida and easy to join, just send them $25.00 with the application. Their application states, “Proof of Aboriginal ancestry? (THIS MEANS TO THE BEST OF YOUR KNOWLEDGE.) FAMILY KNOWLEDGE IS QUITE ENOUGH – AS WE DO NOT FEEL THAT MOM OR DAD, GRANDMA OR GRANDPA – WOULD LIE TO YOU OR YOU TO US.” They also want a picture with your application, so perhaps they will send you some sort of membership card.

United Cherokee Nation



The United Cherokee Nation (UCN) website states, “Our goal is specific as well; to gather all those who claim the right to be Cherokee in all 50 states under one tribal organization, The United Cherokee Nation…The United Cherokee Nation has 30 states that have official clans in them!!!!” This is very interesting, since the original Cherokee did not have ancestral lands in all fifty states, and this organization treats clans as state clubs, while real Cherokee clans are family based.

They further state, “We are not trying to be a tribe among ourselves. We are simply a tribal membership organization.” If you have any Cherokee blood you can join.

The site isn’t clear what they accept as proof, but I suspect it is the donation of at least a dollar that should accompany your application. Of course, you are free to send more, as it is a “donation.”

They state their goal is to sign up a million members all donating at least a dollar a month so they can raise $12,000,000/year. They promise all sorts of goodies they will offer members with this money.

Spouses and children with no Cherokee ancestry can also join as “associate members” but they have to pay a fee of $35.00. They issue membership cards when they get around to it.

Florida Mockingbird Clan



I couldn’t find the website for the Florida Mockingbird Clan, a rainbow clan, made up of a diverse group of non-traditional earth minded folk, who come together to share, pray, learn, attune and evolve together in the understanding that all things are related. But here is a website for their minister, Zan Butterfly Deerwoman who offers a variety of workshops and councilling for a fee.

There are other pseudo-tribes in Florida that I couldn’t find a web site for, but this article is getting too long, and I think by now you’ve probably gotten the point that just because an organization sounds like an Indian tribe, it may not be an actual tribe of culturally related people decended from native american ancestry.

Related links on this site:

Creek Tribes – An outline of the Indian tribes who once made up the great Creek Nation.

A southeastern alliance known as the Creek Confederacy

Once the most numerous peoples in Florida, the Ais are now extinct

Seminole Tribe of Florida Overview

External links:

Official site of the Seminole Tribe of Florida

Access Genealogy’s Florida Tribes page lists about four dozen tribes who historically lived in Florida at some time, with links to more detailed histories for some of them.

History of the Seminoles – Actually a timeline of Florida Indian tribes from 10,000BC up to the time Florida became a US posession.

Florida Prehistoric History – Archaeological finds and theories provide this history of the first settlers in the Florida Keys.

American Indian Association of Florida (AIA of Florida) is based in Orlando. They sponsor many “native american” events in Florida. They are not the same organization as the Florida Indian Hobbyist Association, which also sponsors similar events in Florida.