Seminole Voices: Reflections on Their Changing Society, 1970-2000

Seminole Voices: Reflections on Their Changing Society, 1970-2000

Seminole Voices: Reflections on Their Changing Society, 1970-2000

Seminole Voices: Reflections on Their Changing Society, 1970-2000

Synopsis

In a series of interviews conducted from 1969 to 1971 and again from 1998 to 1999, more than two hundred members of the Florida Seminole community described their lives for the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida. Some of those interviews, now showcased in this volume, shed light on how the Seminoles' society, culture, religion, government, health care, and economy had changed during a tumultuous period in Florida's history. In 1970 the Seminoles lived in relative poverty, dependent on the Bureau of Indian Affairs, tourist trade, cattle breeding, handicrafts, and truck farming. By 2006 they were operating six casinos, and in 2007 they purchased Hard Rock International for $965 million. Within one generation, the tribe moved from poverty and relative obscurity to entrepreneurial success and wealth. S eminole Voices relates how economic changes have affected everyday life and values. The Seminoles' frank opinions and fascinating stories offer a window into the world of a modern Native community as well as a useful barometer of changes affecting its members at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Excerpt

The Seminoles were among the pioneers of Indian gaming, and today they own one of the most successful gaming enterprises in the country. The Seminoles are also the most culturally conservative of the South’s Native peoples. They continue to live in the Everglades, where their ancestors took refuge during the Seminole wars. Although Seminoles no longer live in opensided chikees located on hammocks or depend on hunting and subsistence farming for their livelihood, the memory of such an existence is fresh. Many Seminoles speak their own language, and, for many, the traditional Green Corn Ceremony is central to their lives. At the same time, gaming revenues have sparked economic development, a renewed emphasis on education, an increase in family incomes, and an expansion of tribal services. How can Seminoles seize the opportunities at hand and still hold onto the beliefs and practices that defined them as Seminole? In Seminole Voices, distinguished historians Julian Pleasants and Harry Kersey give the Seminoles an opportunity to describe how the changes brought by gaming have affected their lives. The authors have constructed the narrative by focusing on specific topics—economic change, education, religion and medicine, family structure and living conditions, language, and culture— but they draw heavily on interviews, conducted under the auspices of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida, to allow Seminoles to explain how they are coping with change in each of these areas. We are pleased to have this work join the Indians of the Southeast series.

Theda Perdue

Michael D. Green

University of North Carolina . . .

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