Seminole Nation

State: Florida

Native American people group of Creek origin who spoke the Muskogean language. During the latter half of the 18th century, migrants from Creek villages in southern Georgia began moving into northern Florida. By 1775, they were known by the name Seminoles, a word derived from the Creek word simanó-li, meaning “separatist,” or “runaway,” which itself may have been derived from the Spanish word cimarrón, meaning “wild.” The Seminoles established their settlements in the Everglades, providing them a natural protective shield from outsiders. They were joined by African-Americans, Africans, and other Native Americans seeking to escape discrimination, slavery, and the growing power struggle between European colonizers and Native American tribes. These refugees came to be known as Black Seminoles. After the United States achieved independence, American settlers clamored to expropriate Seminole lands. To prevent further encroachment and forced removal to lands west of the Mississippi River, the Seminoles fought a succession of wars (1817-58). By 1842, most of the Seminoles had either died in battle or had been removed to Indian Territory. A few hundred Seminoles remained in Florida on an unofficial reservation. Once in Indian Territory, the Seminoles became one of the Five Civilized Tribes, along with the Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw, and Choctaw. During the Civil War, the Oklahoma Seminole backed the Confederacy.

Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, s.v. "Seminole," accessed July 19, 2018,; Edwin C. Reynolds, The Seminoles (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1957), 3-312; John K. Mahon, "Seminole Wars," The Oxford Companion to Unites States History, ed. by Paul S. Boyer (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 697-98.