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Seminole Voices

Reflections on Their Changing Society, 1970-2000

Julian M. Pleasants and Harry A. Kersey Jr.

Publication Year: 2010

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. Seminole 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.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Series: Indians of the Southeast


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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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List of Illustrations

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pp. viii-ix

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Series Preface

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p. xi

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 ...

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pp. xiii-xxi

This book project had its origins many years ago when Dr. Samuel Proctor, then director of the University of Florida Oral History Program (subsequently renamed the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program in his honor), was awarded a grant of $170,935 from the Doris Duke Foundation to help compile an oral history of Indians in the southeastern United States. Beginning in 1971, Dr. Proctor supervised the collection of some 900 interviews with Cherokees, Choctaws, Catawbas, Creeks, and Lumbees. ...

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pp. 1-14

During three tumultuous decades between 1970 and 2000, the Seminole Tribe of Florida underwent a dramatic transformation that affected virtually every aspect of the people’s lives. Within a little more than one generation the tribe moved from relative obscurity to unimaginable notoriety, primarily as a result of the wealth derived from its highly successful gaming and other business ventures. ...

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1. Economic Change

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pp. 15-65

From 1971 to 1979, the initiation and successful development of such lucrative enterprises as tax-free cigarette stores (known as “smoke shops”) and high-stakes bingo halls dramatically changed the modern economy of the Seminole Indians. The tribe continued to support the older standbys of cattle, tourism, and crafts, but it also encouraged economic diversification by providing both capital and a safety net for entrepreneurs desirous of branching out into new endeavors. ...

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2. Seminole Education

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pp. 66-100

By the late 1960s the Seminole Tribe of Florida had made only modest strides in having its children attend k–12 schooling; very few members of the tribe had graduated from high school or attained a postsecondary education. Although Indian children from the Hollywood and Brighton reservations attended the local public schools, this was arranged after prolonged negotiations with local school authorities. ...

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3. Transformations in Religion and Medicine

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pp. 101-140

Beginning in the mid-twentieth century, the Seminole people began to experience fundamental transformations in both their spiritual life and the way they tended to health needs. Historically there has been a close connection between spiritual beliefs and the physical medicine practiced by the shamans or medicine men of the tribe. The Green Corn Dance was ...

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4. Housing and Family Transitions in Social Context

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pp. 141-165

Seminole housing has changed dramatically over the past hundred years—from the thatched-roof chikees, to concrete block or wood frame structures, and more recently with increased wealth to elaborate mansions. This chapter addresses the changes in Seminole family and community life that occurred as a result of moving residents from traditional camps to modern housing provided by the tribal government. The changes in ...

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5. Dilemmas of Language and Culture

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pp. 166-200

Like many other American Indian tribes, the Seminoles continue to struggle to define what it means to be Indian in a world dominated by non-Indians. Although there is disagreement over how effectively the Seminoles have defined their worldview, at its core, culture retention requires an effort to preserve one’s language, material culture, and essential values as handed down by elders who are rapidly passing from the scene. ...

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pp. 201-210

Over the thirty-year span between 1970 and 2000, members of the Seminole Tribe of Florida underwent an extraordinary sociocultural, economic, and political transformation. By the opening decade of the twenty-first century, the tribe had created a workable governmental system and had established itself as an economic powerhouse. Gone forever were ...


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pp. 211-221


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pp. 223-229


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pp. 231-234

E-ISBN-13: 9780803230453
E-ISBN-10: 0803230451
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803229860
Print-ISBN-10: 0803229860

Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 14 illustrations, 1 map
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Indians of the Southeast
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OCLC Number: 794700539
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Seminole Voices

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Seminole Indians -- Social conditions.
  • Seminole Indians -- Medicine.
  • Seminole Indians -- Housing.
  • Seminole Indians -- Rites and ceremonies.
  • Seminole Indians -- Ethnic identity.
  • Social change -- Florida.
  • Seminole Indians -- Education.
  • Seminole Indians -- Religion.
  • Florida -- Social conditions -- 20th century.
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