History of Seminole Indians at Everglades Airboat Tours


Native Americans have inhabited the land that is designated as the Everglades for thousands of years. When the Seminole Indians had conflicts with the government, they would hide in the Everglades, and they lived there for many years, calling this area home. These Indians of the Everglades were labeled as Seminoles, which comes from the Spanish word Cimarron, meaning ‘wild’ or ‘escaped slave’. In the 1950s, the Federal government tried to cut ties with all Native American swamp tribes and South Florida Indians, then responded by forming their own tribe known as the Seminole Indians. The Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida was also formed at this time. Today, there are still thousands of Florida Indians living in South and Central Florida. Everglades Holiday Park, an airboat tour and gator park that features the Gator Boys Alligator Rescue Team in their gator shows, always does whatever they can to help the local Native American population.


The Seminole Indians were the first tribe to bring gambling to the reservation lands over 40 years ago. The extensive money made from the gambling industry has gone towards building schools, homes, and numerous recreation centers. This industry has completely expanded and brought wealth to the tribe. The Indians of the Everglades pride themselves in following their traditions since the beginning. Even though these Indians have made a nice living for themselves and their families, there are still tribe members who live in modern huts with the Everglades ecosystem. Some have found it hard to adjust to the modern world and still live a very simple and traditional lifestyle.

A Glimpse into the Seminole Tribe of Florida

Looking back hundreds of years, the typical Seminole Tribe lived in homes called ‘chickees’ which were made from a frame of cypress logs covered with palmetto thatch. The Seminole began their lives in Florida long before any other explorers or settlers arrived. The Seminoles had excellent crop-growing skills and grew corn, beans, squash, and Indian potato. Their unique arts such as basketwork, dolls, patchwork, and beading are still appreciated today.

The Seminole were able to use their cattle farming to sell animal hides and livestock to the explorers. This ability to trade and do business with those who had unsuccessfully tried to control them demonstrates the Seminole’s strong presence in the state of Florida. The Seminoles who survived illnesses were able to sustain life in a hostile time and use their adaptability and cunning nature to continue to be a force in Southern Florida today.

Taking a fun glimpse into modern Florida, the Seminole have wide-ranging enterprises, including casinos, recreation, and reservation tourism. Many travelers will pass a Seminole trading post and fill up with gas while grabbing snacks. The Seminole tribe of Florida today are Florida business moguls, and their collection of billion-dollar industries speaks for itself.

Cypress and Big Cypress: The Heart of Seminole Lands

Big Cypress Nature Reserve has a thriving ecosystem quietly booming. Many insect species thrive in this wet, tropical land with plenty of hardwood and vegetation. Big Cypress is, not surprisingly, sacred to the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The native people who survived the three wars never gave up and, instead of fearing the wet and marshy land, persevered to ensure a blossoming future. A deep understanding of the land and waters of Big Cypress enabled the tribe to conquer the Florida Everglades. Despite their billion-dollar industries, the connection to wildlife and the Earth remains strong today.

The Seminoles and the Reservation Lifestyle

Similarly thriving, Big Cypress Seminole Reservation is the largest of six reservations in Florida, with a population of about 600 tribal members. Visitors to the Big Cypress Reservation, one of the tribe’s most notable ventures, can see the culture and traditions of the Seminoles up close and in-person. Within the beautiful Florida Everglades, the Big Cypress RV Resort is another successful and important part of Florida Seminole Tourism. This venture, owned by the Seminole tribe, is one of southern Florida’s most popular RV resorts.

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    The Seminole Wars and their Legacy in Florida

    A series of three wars pushed the Seminole tribe from northern Florida to the Florida Everglades, a land thought uninhabitable back in the 1700s. The Seminole wars forced most of the Seminole tribe to Indian Territory. Still, a few hundred Seminoles went down to south Florida, specifically the Florida Everglades, and proved they would not be destroyed.

    The First Seminole War was a result of border tensions between the Seminole tribe and plantation owners and, ultimately, the United States government. Spanish explorers had much earlier declared Florida their territory as Seminole tribal members continued to occupy the same lands in northern Florida. When the indigenous people began to be harassed by those coming to find and take back escaped slaves, the Seminoles crossed over into US territory for retaliation. This led to the First Seminole War in 1817. Ultimately, Spain ended up ceding Florida to the United States and the Seminole made an agreement to move to the middle of the Florida peninsula.

    The Second Seminole War was one of the deadliest wars for American Indians in the history of North America. This prolonged war, made up of many small conflicts over the years, slowly whittled the Seminole Tribe of Florida down to only hundreds as the others were removed to Indian Territory or killed. This Second War ended with no treaty or agreement from the Seminoles. In the famous Battle of Lake Okeechobee, the Seminole had set up the scene to use Florida’s land to their advantage. They made the most of the tall grass, mud, and water, and the United States was less prepared than the native people.

    The Third of the Seminole Wars was the final battle over land where rewards for Seminole captures and constant military patrolling plagued the tribe. The US ended up paying many of the remaining tribe members to head West. Still, a number in the Florida Everglades defiantly remained, and their burgeoning population today is a true comeback story.

    Everglades National Park: A Tribute to Native Lands


    The Seminole Indians do their best to preserve their culture and the rich history of the Florida Everglades. You can immediately feel the pride and joy when you speak to a Seminole Indian, and their contributions to society and the state of Florida should not go unnoticed. Everglades Holiday Park provides a Florida shore excursion that includes learning about the history of the Everglades, including the Native Americans of the Everglades. For more information on the Everglades attractions and airboat safari tours we provide, call us today!

    Tourism in the Florida Everglades: A Balance of Nature and Culture

    There is an exciting balance of wild nature and history mixed with modern Seminole culture in the Florida Everglades. You can appreciate the natural beauty around you and experience the Seminole tribe as they were through their crafts, dances, and history. On the same day, you can see modern Seminole casinos and trade posts throughout southern Florida. The Seminole are a people who continue to adapt and thrive.

    Miccosukee and Calusa: Other Tribes of the Everglades

    Having branched off from the Seminoles to become their own independent tribe, the Miccosukee tribe was also well adapted to the environment of the Florida Everglades. The Miccosukee used their trapping and fishing skills to gather ingredients for their many soups and stews. The swampy marshlands provided many of their food staples, including turtles, alligators, and fish.

    Once a powerful tribe in the state of Florida, the Calusa people had a significant population decline after the Spanish invaded Florida, bringing many diseases with them. The shell mounds found on their island, Mound Key, marked territories and important burial locations. The Calusa’s native land in southern Florida may still be home to Calusa ancestors who joined the Seminole people as they found their own tribe disappearing.

    Alligator Wrestling and the Seminole: A Cultural Phenomenon

    The Seminole have undertaken many notable ventures throughout the years, with great success, but perhaps one of the most well-known attractions they have offered in south Florida is alligator wrestling. Going back to the early 1900s, when the Seminole first offered live entertainment in their tourist camps, visitors enjoyed attractions such as alligator wrestling, canoe carving, and traditional dances.

    The tribe’s first experiences with alligator wrestling were more practical as Seminoles in the Everglades used alligator meat and hides to survive life in the swamp. These techniques for capturing alligators later turned into an entertaining and profitable show for the tribe. Despite this entertainment, the Seminole relationship with alligators is a connection with deep respect. They revere the strength, adaptability, and wisdom of the special animal, and many would say the Seminole tribe embodies those same characteristics themselves.


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