The Florida Seminoles


Mid 1700s-1821

About 1730-1750s: Lower Creeks migrate into the former territories of the Apalachee and Timucua in northern Florida.

1740s: Creek Indians participate in English-led raids against Spanish St. Augustine.

1760s: The term Seminole comes into usage.

1770s-1780s: Many indigenous southerners, including Creeks and Seminoles, side with the British in the American Revolution.

1813-1814: The Red Stick War, a civil war among the Creeks, results in the migration of thousands of refugees into Florida. The Creeks cede millions of acres of land to the United States in the Fort Jackson Treaty.

1817-1818: American soldiers invade Spanish Florida, burning Seminole towns and capturing escaped slaves, in what comes to be known as the First Seminole War.

1821: Spain sells Florida to the United States for $5 million.


1823: The U.S. government and the Seminoles sign the Treaty of Camp Moultrie, which requires that the Seminoles relocate to a reservation in Central Florida. Many Seminoles oppose the terms of this agreement and subsequent treaties.

1830: Congress passes the Indian Removal Act, requiring Native Americans in the east to relocate to lands assigned to them west of the Mississippi River (Indian Territory; modern-day Oklahoma).

1832: Some Seminole leaders agree to survey lands in the West assigned to them by the Treaty of Payne’s Landing.

1833: A delegation of Seminoles travel to the lands assigned to them in the West and sign a document known as the Treaty of Fort Gibson. Upon returning to Florida, many Seminoles dispute the agreement.

1835: The Second Seminole War begins when Seminoles ambush U.S. troops along the Fort King Road in late December in an event known as Dade’s Battle or the Dade Massacre.

1836: Seminoles and their African allies attack several plantations along Florida’s east coast in early 1836, causing settlers to seek refuge in fortifications.

October 1836: Thomas Sidney Jesup arrives in Florida. He is later appointed commander of U.S. troops in Florida and initiates a search and destroy campaign against the Seminoles.

1837-1838: The battles of Okeechobee and Loxahatchee result in the removal of thousands and force the Seminoles to retreat into the Everglades.

1839-1840: Seminoles attack U.S. troops near the Caloosahatchee River and raid an American settlement on Indian Key.

1842: The U.S. Army declares an end to the Second Seminole War. After seven years of fighting, fewer than 500 Seminoles remain in Florida.

1855-1858: U.S. Army surveying parties clash with Seminoles in the western Big Cypress, igniting the conflict now known as the Third Seminole War. At the conclusion of the Third Seminole War in 1858, fewer than 200 Seminoles are believed to remain in Florida.


1868: The Florida Constitution of 1868 grants representation to the Seminoles in both houses of the legislature. The seats are never occupied and the provision disappears in the 1885 Constitution.

1880s-1930s: Seminoles engage in the trade of pelts, plumes, and hides along the Florida frontier. Visiting trading posts in places like Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, Stuart, Miami and Tampa, Seminoles trade animal hides for things they cannot produce themselves such as ammunition and metal goods.

1890s-1960s: The Episcopal Church sends missionaries among the Seminoles, but makes few conversions. The most successful work is done by Deaconess Harriet Bedell, 1930s-1960s.

Circa 1900-1920s: The hide trade begins to decline because of conservation laws protecting plume birds. Other factors, such as the outbreak of World War I in 1914 and increased competition from non-Seminole hunters, reduces the Seminoles to a minority factor in the animal hide trade by the 1930s.

1907: The first Baptist Seminole missionaries arrive from Oklahoma. They are most successful after the mid-1930s.

Circa 1910: Seminoles begin to develop patchwork clothing, sewing together strips of brightly colored cloth and assembling intricate designs.

Circa 1916: Seminoles begin participating in tourism activities and festivals in southeast Florida.

1920s-1970s: Seminoles find work in seasonal tourism villages throughout the state, primarily in southeast Florida and Silver Springs near Ocala. Seminoles practice aspects of their daily lives for tourists and sell crafts.

Late 1920s: Some Seminoles build new camps along the Tamiami Trail to take advantage of the market for hunting guides and tourist-related crafts.

1926: The federal government establishes a reservation, including a day school, on land near Dania (now Hollywood).

1936: The federal government establishes two large rural reservations, Big Cypress south of Lake Okeechobee, and Brighton on the northwest corner of the lake. Federal health, education, housing, and economic programs follow soon after, including cattle programs. Over time, the Seminole Tribe builds one of the largest and most successful cattle herds in Florida.

1940s-the Present

1940s-1970s: Seminoles, especially women, find work in commercial farming.

1957: The Seminole Tribe of Florida receives recognition from the U.S. government. The Seminole Tribe drafts a constitution and forms a tribal government centered on reservation lands.

1962: The Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida receives recognition from the U.S. government. The Miccosukee Tribe drafts a constitution and forms a tribal government. Eventually, the Miccosukee Tribe gains reservation lands along the Tamiami Trail.

1974: The U.S. Congress passes the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, providing for greater tribal control over economic and political affairs.

Late 1970s: The Seminole Tribe of Florida begins operating high-stakes bingo games and selling tax-free cigarettes on reservation lands.

1981: Broward County law enforcement challenges the Seminoles’ right to hold bingo games, resulting in a court case that paves the way for Native American gaming rights across the United States.

1988: The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act establishes that the federal government, and not states or municipalities, have the right to regulate Indian gaming. The Seminole and Miccosukee Tribes play a major role in advocating for Native American sovereignty.

2010: The State of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida agree on the Seminole Gaming Compact. The agreement gives the Seminole Tribe a monopoly over certain types of gaming in Florida in exchange for a portion of casino profits.

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