Seminole Nation***

Ben Savard, who is introduced in book five of the Wilderness novels, is a native of New Orleans. His father was French born and raised; his mother was the daughter of the Choctaw and Seminole nations and African slaves who escaped and claimed freedom in the southern Florida swamplands, often among the tribes.

Chief Coeehajov. 1837

Ben identifies strongly with the Seminole, the tribe of  his maternal grandfather.

[The Seminole] consisted chiefly of descendants of the Creek and Hitchiti tribes, with a considerable number of refugees from the Upper Creek after the Creek War, together with remnants of Yamasee and other conquered tribes, Yuchi, and a large African-American element of runaway slaves. In 1799, they had about seven villages, which increased over time. Source.

[Seminole] culture is largely derived from that of the Creek; the most important ceremony is the Green Corn Dance; other notable traditions include use of the black drink and ritual tobacco. As the Seminole adapted to Florida environs, they developed local traditions, such as the construction of open-air, thatched-roof houses known as chickees.  Historically the Seminole spoke Mikasuki and Creek, both Muskogean languages.

1883. Chief Tallahassee and son, Jimmy.
1883. Chief Tallahassee and son, Jimmy.

Florida had been the home of several indigenous cultures before the arrival of European explorers in the early 1500s. However, the spread of non-native diseases along with conflict with Spanish settlers and English raiders devastated Florida’s original native population, and by the early 1700s, much of La Florida was uninhabited apart from towns at St. Augustine and Pensacola. A stream of mainly Creek settlers began moving into the territory at that time to escape conflict with English colonists to the north and established towns mainly in the Florida panhandle. In part due to the arrival of Native Americans from other cultures, the Seminole became increasingly independent of other Creek groups and established their own identity. source: wikipedia.

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