TheSeminoleare aNative Americanpeople originally ofFlorida. Today, most Seminole live inOklahomawith a minority in Florida; there are threefederally recognized tribesand independent groups.
Native American refugees from northern wars, such as the Yuchi and Yamasee after the Yamasee War in South Carolina, migrated into Florida in the early 18th century. More arrived in the second half of the 18th century, as the Lower Creeks, part of the Muscogee people, began to migrate from several of their towns into Florida to evade the dominance of the Upper Creeks and pressure of colonists. They spoke primarily Hitchiti, of which Mikasuki is a dialect, which is the primary traditional language spoken today by Miccosukee in Florida. They displaced the Calusa and Mayaimi tribes with the aid of theSpanish, who moved many of the smaller tribes to Cuba when they withdrew after ceding Florida to the British in 1763, following the French and Indian War. In Cuba the Florida tribes suffered high mortality due to disease. In Florida, the Creeks had earlier intermingled with the Choctaw and other few remaining indigenous people. In a process of ethnogenesis, the Native Americans formed a new culture which they called "Seminole", a derivative of the Mvskoke' (a Creek language) word simano-li, an adaptation of the Spanishcimarrón which means "wild", or "runaway”. The Seminole were a heterogeneous tribe made up of mostly Lower Creeks from Georgia, who by the time of the Creek Wars (1812-1813) numbered about 4,000 in Florida. At that time, numerous refugees of the Red Sticks migrated south, adding about 2,000 people to the population. They were Creek-speaking Muscogee, and were the ancestors of most of the later Creek-speaking Seminole. In addition, a few hundred escaped African-American slaves had settled near the Seminole towns and, to a lesser extent, Native Americans from other tribes, and some white Americans. The unified Seminole spoke two languages: Creek and Mikasuki. Two among the Muskogean languages family. Creek became the dominant language for political and social discourse, so Mikasuki speakers learned it if participating in high-level negotiations.
During the colonial years, the Seminole were on good terms with both the Spanish and the British. In 1784, after the American Revolutionary War, Britain came to a settlement with Spain and transferred East and West Florida to it. The Spanish Empire's decline enabled the Seminole to settle more deeply into Florida. They were led by a dynasty of chiefs of the Alachua chiefdom, founded in eastern Florida in the 18th century by Cowkeeper. Beginning in 1825,Micanopy was the principal chief of the unified Seminole, until his death in 1849, after Removal to Indian Territory.
This chiefly dynasty lasted past Removal, when the US forced the majority of Seminole to move from Florida to the Indian Territory after the Second Seminole War. Micanopy's sister's son, John Jumper, succeeded him in 1849 and, after his death in 1853, his brother Jim Jumper became principal chief. He was in power through the American Civil War, after which the US government began to interfere with tribal government, supporting its own candidate for chief.
TheMuscogee(orMuskogee), also known as theCreek, are aNative Americanpeople traditionally from the southeastern woodlands.Mvskokeis their name in traditional spelling.
The Muscogee are descendants of the Mississippian culture peoples, who built earthwork mounds at their regionalchiefdoms located throughout the Mississippi River valley and its tributaries. The historian Walter Williams and others believe the early Spanish explorers encountered ancestors of the Muscogee when they visited Mississippian-culture chiefdoms in the Southeast in the mid-16th century.
The Muscogee were the first Native Americans considered to be "civilized" under George Washington's civilization plan. In the 19th century, the Muscogee were known as one of the "Five Civilized Tribes", because they had integrated numerous cultural and technological practices of their more recent European American neighbors. Influenced by their prophetic interpretations of the 1811 comet and earthquake, the Upper Towns of the Muscogee, supported by the Shawnee leader Tecumseh, began to resist European-American encroachment. Internal divisions with the Lower Towns led to the Red Stick War (Creek War, 1813–1814); begun as a civil war within the Muscogee Nation, it enmeshed them in the War of 1812 against the United States.
During the Indian Removal of the 1830s, most of the Muscogee Confederacy were forcibly relocated to Indian Territory. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town, Kialegee Tribal Town, and Thlopthlocco Tribal Town, all based in Oklahoma, are federally recognized, as are the Poarch Band of Creek Indians of Alabama, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas.
At least 12,000 years ago, Native Americans or Paleo-Indians appeared in what is today referred to as "The South". Paleo-Indians in the Southeast were hunter-gatherers who pursued a wide range of animals, including the megafauna, which became extinct following the end of the Pleistocene age. The Woodland period from 1000 BCE to 1000 CE was marked by the development of pottery and the small-scale horticulture of the Eastern Agricultural Complex.
The Mississippian culture arose as the cultivation of Mesoamerican crops of maize led to population growth. Increased population density gave rise of urban centers and regional chiefdoms, of which the greatest was the settlement known as Cahokia, in present-day Illinois. Stratified societies developed, with hereditaryreligious and political elites, and flourished in what is now the Midwestern, Eastern, and Southeastern United States from 800 to 1500 CE.
The ChoctawNative Americanpeople originally from the Southeastern United States. The Choctaw language belongs to the Muskogean linguistic group. The Choctaw are descendants of the peoples of the Hopewell and Mississippian cultures, who lived throughout the east of the Mississippi River valley and its tributaries. About 1,700 years ago, the Hopewell people built Nanih Waiya, a great earthworkmound, which is still considered sacred by the Choctaw. The early Spanish explorers of the mid-16th century encountered Mississippian-culture villages and chiefs. The anthropologistJohn Swanton suggested that the Choctaw derived their name from an early leader. Henry Halbert, a historian, suggests that their name is derived from the Choctaw phrase Hacha hatak. The Choctaw coalesced as a people in the 17th century, and developed three distinct political and geographical divisions: eastern, western and southern, which sometimes created differing alliances with nearby European powers. These included the French, based on the Gulf Coast and in Louisiana, the English of the Southeast, and the Spanish of Florida and Louisiana during the colonial era. During the American Revolution, most Choctaw supported the Thirteen Colonies' bid for independence from the British Crown. They never went to war against the United States prior to Indian Removal. In the 19th century, the Choctaw became known as one of the "Five Civilized Tribes" because they adopted numerous practices of their United States neighbors. The Choctaw and the United States (US) agreed to nine treaties and, by the last three, the US gained vast land cessions and deracinated most Choctaw west of the Mississippi River to Indian Territory. They were the first Native Americans forced under the Indian Removal Act. The Choctaw were exiled because the U.S. wanted to expand territory available for settlement by European Americans, to save the tribe from extinction, and to acquire their natural resources. The Choctaw negotiated the largest area and most desirable lands in Indian Territory. Their early government had three districts, each with its own chief, who together with the town chiefs sat on the National Council. They appointed a Choctaw Delegate to represent them with the US government in Washington, DC.
Many thousands of years ago groups classified by anthropologists asPaleo-Indianslived in what today is referred to asthe American South.These groups werehunter-gathererswho hunted a wide range of animals, including a variety ofmegafauna, which became extinct following the end of thePleistoceneage.The 19th-century historianHoratio Cushmannoted that Choctaw oral history accounts suggested their ancestors had known ofmammothsin theTombigbee Riverarea; this suggests that the Choctaw ancestors had been in the Mississippi area for at least 4,000–8,000 years.Cushman wrote: "the ancient Choctaw through their tradition (said) 'they saw the mighty beasts of the forests, whose tread shook the earth."Scholars believe that Paleo-Indians were specialized, highly mobile foragers who hunted latePleistocenefauna such asbison,mastodons,caribou, andmammoths. Direct evidence in the Southeast is meager, but archaeological discoveries in related areas support this hypothesis.
TheChickasaware anindigenous people of the Southeastern Woodlands. Their traditional territory was in the Southeastern United StatesofMississippi,Alabama, andTennessee. They are of theMuskogeanlanguage family and arefederally recognizedas theChickasaw Nation.
The namechickasaw, as noted by anthropologistJohn Swanton, belonged to a Chickasaw leader.Chickasawis the English spelling ofChikashsha(IPA: [tʃikaʃːa]), meaning "rebel" or "comes from Chicsa".
The origin of the Chickasaw is uncertain. Twentieth-century scholars, such as the archeologist Patricia Galloway, theorize that the Chickasaw and Choctaw coalesced as distinct peoples in the 17th century from the remains of Plaquemine culture and other groups whose ancestors had lived in the Lower Mississippi Valley for thousands of years. When Europeans first encountered them, the Chickasaw were living in villages in what is now northeastern Mississippi; and some occupied areas of present-day South Carolina.
The Chickasaw may have been migrants to the area. Their oral history supports this, indicating they moved along with the Choctaw from west of the Mississippi River into present-day Mississippi in prehistoric times. This may be an extremely ancient account. The Mississippian culture and earlier mound building cultures of the Woodland era had territory that ranged from the west side of the river in Arkansas to sites in present-day Louisiana and Mississippi, so both accounts may be reconciled. For instance, earlier Native American cultures built monumental mound complexes in northern Louisiana as early as 3500 BCE. The Mississippian culture was building earthwork constructions by 950 CE in complex, dense villages supporting a stratified society, with centers throughout the Mississippi and Ohio valleys and their tributaries.
The first European contact with the Chickasaw ancestors was in 1540 when the SpanishexplorerHernando De Soto encountered them and stayed in one of their towns, most likely near present-day Tupelo, Mississippi. After various disagreements, the American Indians attacked the De Soto expedition in a nighttime raid, nearly destroying it. The Spanish moved on quickly.
The Chickasaw began to trade with the British after the colony of Carolina was founded in 1670. With British-supplied guns, the Chickasaw raided their neighbors and enemies the Choctaw, capturing some members and selling them into Indian slavery to the British. When the Choctaw acquired guns from the French, power between the tribes became more equalized and the slave raids stopped.
Allied with the British, the Chickasaw were often at war with the French and the Choctaw in the 18th century, such as in the Battle of Ackia on May 26, 1736. Skirmishes continued until France ceded its claims to the region east of the Mississippi River after being defeated by the British in the Seven Years' War.
TheCherokeeare aNative Americanpeople indigenous to the Southeastern United States (principallyGeorgia,North CarolinaandSouth Carolina). They speak anIroquoian language. In the 19th century, historians andethnographersrecorded their oral tradition that told of the tribe having migrated south in ancient times from theGreat Lakesregion, where other Iroquoian-speaking peoples were.
The Cherokee's name for themselves is Ani-Yunwiya, which means "Principal People." Many theories—though none proven—abound about the origin of the name "Cherokee". It may have originally been derived from the Choctaw word Cha-la-kee, which means "those who live in the mountains", or Choctaw Chi-luk-ik-bi, meaning "those who live in the cave country." The earliest Spanish rendering of the name "Cherokee," from 1755, is Tchalaquei. Another theory is that "Cherokee" derives from a Lower Creek word, Cvlakke ("chuh-log-gee"). TheIroquois in New York have historicaly called the Cherokee Oyata’ge'ronoñ (inhabitants of the cave country).
There are two main theories of Cherokee origins. One is that the Cherokee, anIroquoian-speaking people, are relative latecomers to Southern Appalachia, who may have migrated in late prehistoric times from northern areas, the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee nations and other Iroquoian-speaking peoples. Another theory is that the Cherokee had been in the Southeast for thousands of years.
Researchers in the 19th century recorded conversations with elders who recounted an oral tradition of the Cherokee people's migrating south from the Great Lakes region in ancient times. They may have moved south into Muscogee Creek territory and settled at the sites of mounds built by the Mississippian culture. During early research, archeologists mistakenly attributed several Mississippian culture sites to the Cherokee, including Moundville and Etowah Mounds.
Pre-contact Cherokee are considered to be part of the later Pisgah Phase of Southern Appalachia, which lasted from circa 1000 to 1500. Despite the consensus among most specialists in Southeast archeology and anthropology, some scholars contend that ancestors of the Cherokee people lived in western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee for a far longer period of time. During the late Archaic and Woodland Period, Indians in the region began to cultivate plants such as marsh elder, lambsquarters, pigweed, sunflowers and some native squash. People created new art forms such as shell gorgets, adopted new technologies, and followed an elaborate cycle of religious ceremonies. During the Mississippian Culture-period (800 to 1500 CE), local women developed a new variety of maize (corn) called eastern flint corn. It closely resembled modern corn and produced larger crops. The successful cultivation of corn surpluses allowed the rise of larger, more complex chiefdoms with several villages and concentrated populations during this period. Corn became celebrated among numerous peoples in religious ceremonies, especially the Green Corn Ceremony.