Like Beads on a String: A Culture History of the Seminole Indians in Northern Peninsular Florida

Like Beads on a String: A Culture History of the Seminole Indians in Northern Peninsular Florida

Like Beads on a String: A Culture History of the Seminole Indians in Northern Peninsular Florida

Like Beads on a String: A Culture History of the Seminole Indians in Northern Peninsular Florida

Synopsis

Florida's Seminole Indians are exerting an ever increasing influence on crucial issues in state politics, economy, and law. From a position of near obscurity less than a century ago, these Native Americans have staged a remarkable comeback to take an active hand in shaping Florida society, present and future. Anthropologists have long been fascinated with the Seminoles and have often remarked upon their ability to adapt to new circumstances while preserving the core features of their traditional culture. Early observers of the Seminoles also commented on the dynamic tension that existed for the individual, clan, and tribe, that drew them together, "like beads on a string," into a resilient and viable society. This study traces the emergence of these qualities in the late prehistoric and early historic period in the Southeast and demonstrates their influence on the course of Seminole culture history.

Excerpt

Florida's Seminole Indians are an increasingly visible minority of the state's population. The issues that continue to place them in the public eye include high-stakes bingo, state and federal litigation concerning native land and water rights, and land claims suits brought by the Indians against both the state and the federal governments. Anthropologists have been and continue to be intrigued by the apparent survival in contemporary Seminole culture of traditional southeastern aboriginal religious customs (Capron 1953; Sturtevant 1954; Buswell 1972), social practices (Stirling 1935; Spoehr 1941, 1944; Garbarino 1972), and political patterns (King 1978), while popular treatments of the last of Florida's native Americans (Mathiessen 1984) deftly portray their struggles in a world not entirely of their making.

Two themes recur in the ethnographic literature on the Seminoles. First, there is the observation that, while the core of Seminole culture has remained conservative, Seminole Indians exhibit a remarkable ability to change and innovate. Thus the . . .

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