Seminole Indians

Seminole Indians Tribal Origin: Muscogee (or Creek) and Hitchiti

Native Name: Ikaniúksalgi, means ‘peninsula people’

Home Territories: Florida and eventually Oklahoma and Mexico

Languages: Muscogee and Hittite

Enemies: Fought hard against the United States

Originally part of the Creek tribe, the Seminole migrated to Florida in the early 1700s, when the Southeast region was under Spanish control.

They lived in houses called chickees, which had no walls and were built on stilts, with a wooden floor and thatched roof. The Seminoles grew corn, beans, and squash and supplemented their diet through hunting and fishing.

They were also known for their skill at woodcarving and basketry.

The presence of runaway slaves in Spanish Florida and escalating raids across the U.S.-Florida border by both white settlers and the Seminoles led to a series of major conflicts, known as the Seminole Wars, beginning in 1817.

During the First Seminole War, General Andrew Jackson and his forces invaded Florida, killing Seminoles, destroying their villages, and capturing Spanish forts.

The Spanish ceded Florida to the U.S. in 1819. The Seminoles’ resistance to the U.S. government’s attempts to relocate them to reservations, first by treaty and then with the enactment of the Indian Removal Act in 1830, led to the Second Seminole War (1835-1842).

Led by Osceola, the Seminoles used guerrilla tactics to fight the vastly larger U.S. forces. The tribe surrendered when they faced starvation after U.S. troops destroyed their crops and villages; many Seminoles were forced to move to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma).

The few Seminoles who remained, isolated in southern Florida, continued to face settler encroachment and fought back, but were defeated in the Third Seminole War (1855-1858).

The use of the Seminole name and symbols by Florida State University (FSU) was negotiated directly with the tribe. They are exempt from any lawsuits due to this agreement.

Modern Seminole Tribes Today:

Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida
Seminole Nation of Oklahoma
Seminole Tribe of Florida


Article Index:

History of the Seminole Wars

The First Seminole War

Following the War of 1812 between the United States and Britain, American slave owners came to Florida in search of runaway African slaves and Indians. These Indians, known as the Seminole, and the runaway slaves had been trading weapons with the British throughout the early 1800s and supported Britain during the War of 1812. From 1817-1818, the United States Army invaded Spanish Florida and fought against the Seminole and their African American allies. Collectively, these battles came to be known as the First Seminole War.

Seminole Homes are called chickees

Seminole Indians lived in a home called a Chickee.

Seminole Nation changes tribal enrollment

Tribal enrollment requirements for the Seminole Nation in Oklahoma are changing.

In a July 2000 referendum election, tribal members voted to require a one-eighth quantum of Seminole blood as a part of enrollment requirements. Former open enrollment requirements did not specify blood quantum as a part of the process.

Seminole Tribe of Florida Overview
Seminoles have a rags-to-riches story
The Seminole Wars