Seminole Tribe

This article contains interesting facts, pictures and information about the life of the Seminole Native Indian Tribe of the Southeast cultural group.

The Seminole Tribe
Summary and Definition: The Seminole people descended from the ancient mound builders located in the Mississippi River valley and the Creek Native Indians.  They settled in Alabama and Georgia but made their way further south into Florida. These bands of former Creeks  were joined by runaway slaves and became known as the Seminole tribe. Famous chiefs and leaders of the Seminole people included Osceola and Billy Bowlegs.

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Facts about the Seminole Native Indian Tribe
This article contains fast, fun facts and interesting information about the Seminole Native American Indian tribe. Find answers to questions like where did the Seminole tribe live, what clothes did they wear and what food did they eat? Discover what happened to the Seminole tribe with facts about their wars and history.

What was the lifestyle and culture of the Seminole tribe?
The ancestors of the Seminole people were either among the indigenous tribes who lived in Florida or members of the Creek confederacy living in Georgia and Alabama. The people in Florida adapted to the climate and geography of the area and lived in houses built on stilts called Chickees. Those who had settled in Georgia and Alabama lived a similar lifestyle to the Creeks as hunters and farmers, living in villages of wattle and daub houses and wearing breechcloths made from deer skin or bark fabric.  Their numbers diminished due to the diseases brought by the Europeans including the Spanish, French and the British.

The Creek Confederacy were allied to the British colonies during the French and Indian Wars (1688-1763). Close contact and trade with the colonists led to the establishment of strong cultural ties between the Creek and the newcomers. The Native American Indians began to adopted the European style dress and log-cabin houses. The white encroachment of their lands in Alabama and Georgia led to the conflict known as the Creek War (1813–1814). Many Creeks fled to the former territory of the Apalachee in Spanish Florida. It was at this time that the people began to be referred to as the Seminoles. The name 'Seminole'  means ""wild people" or "runaway." The Seminoles were joined by black runaway slaves, to whom they gave refuge. The Seminole and the escaped slaves were seen as a threat to Georgia, which led to the 1818 raid on Florida by General Andrew Jackson, sparking the start of the First Seminole War (1817-1818) and the Seminoles began to live in Chickee Houses that could be erected quickly and easily erected when pursued by U.S. troops. The Adams Onis Treaty was made in 1819 by which Spain sold Florida to the U.S. for $5,000,000. The Treaty of Fort Gibson was signed by which the Seminole people relinquished all claims to land in the Florida Territory. In 1832 about 3,800 Seminole people were forcibly removed to Indian Territory and organized into the "Seminole Nation" and became one of so-called "Five Civilised Tribes." Billy Bowlegs and Chief Osceola became the leaders of a Seminole resistance movement against their forced re-location to Oklahoma, and the Second Seminole War erupted. The Seminole were eventually forced to surrender and were required to move to Oklahoma where they were resettled in the western part of the Creek reservation there. A few Seminole remained in Florida.


Where did the Seminole tribe live?
The Seminole are people of the Southeast Native American cultural group. The location of their tribal homelands are shown on the map.  The geography of the region in which they lived dictated the lifestyle and culture of the Seminole tribe.

  • The Southeast region extended mainly across the states of Louisiana, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and Florida
  • Land: River Valleys, mountains and swamps
  • Climate: The climate was hot and humid in the summer and mild in the winter
  • Animals: The  animals included rabbit, wild hog, turkey, opossum, raccoon, squirrel and deer
  • Crops: The crops grown in the area were corn, beans, squash
  • Natural resources: Fruit, seeds, pumpkins and nuts

Map showing location of Southeast Native American Tribes - Seminole tribe

Map showing location of the
Southeast Native American Tribes


Tuko-see-mathla, Seminole Chief

Tuko-see-mathla, Seminole Chief

What clothes did the Seminole wear?
The early clothes worn by the Seminole men consisted of breechclothes and deerskin clothing. The warriors wore face and body paint, tattoos and a scalp lock with a roach style headdress adorned with feathers as can be seen in the picture of the Seminole Chief, Tuko-see-mathla. By the 1800's the Seminole were greatly influenced by the American style of dress and the availability of trade cloth. The men wore buckskin leggings and a cloth, smock-like shirt with a matchcoat which extended to well above the knees. It had long sleeves fastened tightly at the wrists, and sashes which were fastened about the waist or across the shoulder.

The turban style headwear was worn by many of the southeastern tribes and made with strips of calico cloth wrapped around the head like a headband or turban adorned with a plume.

Seminole Clothing
The Florida Seminoles used trade cloth to make most of their clothes but embellished them with decorative elements. The women wore wide, flouncy skirts, blouses and shawls that were made up from small pieces of cloth and ribbons of many colors. The men’s shirts had very wide sleeves and were designed and made up of the same colorful pieces of cloth as the women’s clothes.

What did the Seminole tribe live in?
The Seminole tribe lived in different styles of houses depending on the time period and their location. The ancestors of the Seminoles living in Alabama and Georgia lived in Wattle and Daub Houses. These homes were built using a frame of poles and beams covered with wattle and daub mud. The walls were then covered by cane mats and a thatched grass roof. 

The early Seminole in Florida lived in stilt houses called chickees. The Chickee stilt houses had no walls, they consisted of thick posts supporting a palmetto-thatched roof and a flat wooden platform raised several feet off the ground and built along marshes, river banks and waterways. As time passed the Seminole lived in American style log cabins and houses.

Seminole Houses

What language did the Seminole tribe speak?
The Seminole tribe spoke in several related dialects of the Muskogean language family. They refer to themselves as "Red People," or "Istica-ti" in Muskogee.

What did the Seminole tribe eat?
The food that the Seminole tribe ate included included wild turkeys, rabbits, deer (venison), fish, turtles, and alligators. Their staple foods were corn, squash and beans supplemented with wild rice, mushrooms, pumpkins and plants. As time passed the Seminole began raising cattle and hogs that they acquired from Europeans.

What weapons did the Seminole use?
The weapons used by the Seminole included, war clubs, knives, gunstock clubs, bows and arrows, spears and axes. The Europeans introduced muskets and then rifles.

Seminole History: What happened to the Seminole tribe?
The following Seminole history timeline details facts, dates and famous landmarks of the people. The Seminole timeline explains what happened to the people of their tribe.

Seminole History Timeline

  • 1542: Early contact with the Europeans began with their encounter with Hernando de Soto, the Spanish explorer

  • 1542: Epidemics of smallpox and measles and inter-tribal warfare with the Cherokee and Catawba diminish the Creek populations in the late 1500's and 1600's

  • 1688: The French and Indian Wars (1688-1763) begin

  • 1733: James Oglethorpe and his Georgia colonists arrived in 1733. Close contact and trade with the Europeans led to the establishment of strong cultural ties between the Creek and the newcomers

  • 1740: Alachua, the earliest recorded Seminole town, is established

  • 1790: The Treaty of New York, under the administration of George Washington, the Creek people ceded a significant portion of Creek lands to the US on the condition that they were allowed to live in the remaining territory

  • 1796: Benjamin Hawkins was appointed the federal agent to the Creeks and began the 'civilizing programs' leading to the name of the Five Civilised Tribes

  • 1813: The Creek War (1813–1814) erupted in Alabama and Georgia and many tribe members move south to Spanish Florida. The refugee Creeks begin to be referred to as the Seminole

  • 1815: Tensions between the United States and Spanish Florida had begun to escalate as black runaway slaves find sanctuary with the Seminole

  • 1817: General Andrew Jackson invaded Florida in pursuit of Seminole Indians sparking the start of the First Seminole War (1817-1818)

  • 1819: The United States acquired Florida from Spain via the Adams Onis Treaty by which Spain sells Florida to the U.S. for $5,000,000.

  • 1823: The Treaty of Moultrie Creek is signed by which the US seized the northern Seminole lands

  • 1830: The Indian Removal Act of 1830

  • 1832: About 3,800 Seminoles were forcibly removed to Indian Territory and organized into the "Seminole Nation" and became one of so-called "Five Civilised Tribes."

  • 1833: The Treaty of Fort Gibson was signed by which the Seminole people relinquished all claims to land in the Florida Territory.

  • 1835: Billy Bowlegs and Chief Osceola became the leaders of a Seminole resistance movement against their forced re-location to Oklahoma. The Battle of Ouithlacoochie, a victory under the leadership of Osceola, begins the Second Seminole War (1835 - 1842)

  • 1837: General Thomas Jesup captured Osceola in a trap. He was sent to Fort Moultrie on Sullivans Island, outside Charleston, South Carolina

  • 1838: Osceola died on January 31, 1838 in mysterious circumstances

  • 1842: The Seminole tribe was forced to surrender and required to move to Oklahoma where they were resettled in the western part of the Creek reservation. A few Seminoles remained in Florida.

  • 1887: The Dawes Act

  • 1893, President Grover Cleveland appoints Senator Henry L. Dawes, to negotiate land with the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole tribes

  • 1893: The Dawes Rolls, or the Final Rolls of the Five Civilized Tribes, entitled an allotment of land to tribe members, in return for abolishing their governments and recognizing Federal laws

  • 1934: The individual allotment policy of the Dawes Act was terminated by the Indian Reorganization Act

Seminole History Timeline

The Story of Osceola
For additional facts and information refer to the legend and the Story of Osceola, Billy Bowlegs and the story of the Seminoles in Florida


  • Interesting Facts and information about the way the Seminole people lived
  • The clothes worn by men and women
  • Description of the homes and the type of food the Seminole would eat
  • Fast Facts and info about the Seminole
  • Names of famous chiefs and leaders
  • Interesting Homework resource for kids on the history of the Seminole Native American Indians

Pictures and Videos of Native American Indians and their Tribes
The Seminole Tribe was one of the most famous tribes of Native American Indians. Discover the vast selection of pictures on the subject of the tribes of Famous Native Americans such as the Seminole nation. The pictures show the clothing, war paint, weapons and decorations of various Native Indian tribes, such as the Seminole tribe, that can be used as a really useful educational resource for kids and children of all ages. We hope you enjoy watching the video - just click and play - a great social studies homework resource for kids .


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