tv American Artifacts Seminole Nation Museum CSPAN April 25, 2020 9:15pm-10:01pm EDT
c-span every weekend. all of our programs are archived on our website at c-span.org/history. you can watch lectures and college classrooms, towards of historic sites, archival films, see our schedule of upcoming programs. at c-span.org/history. >> approximately 4000 seminole indians who live in florida today are descendents of a band of seminole who never surrendered to the u.s. between 1817 and 1858. over the course of those years, the majority of seminoles were forced to move west of the mississippi river to what is now oklahoma. next on "american artifacts," a visit to the seminole nation of museum in oklahoma, to learn the story of the western tribe. >> hello. my name is louis johnson and i am a seminole tribal member with
the seminole nation of oklahoma. we are here at the seminole nation museum, located in the capital of the seminole nation of oklahoma, wewoka, oklahoma. what we have here today are different exhibits that portray the history of the people. as a people, before we were separated from our homes, from our original homes in florida. i am actually the twin chief. i am the assistant chief. of the seminole nation of oklahoma. i came into office in 213. this is 219, and i'm in my second term. i have two more years to fulfill my term. of over 500 native tribes in america, the seminoles are a tribe of people of interest. part of that interest is the
defiance the seminole put up during the conflicts and earlier history. to not be defeated. the only tribe in american history to never surrender when there was a war being fought against them. would never surrender to the united states north side official peace declaration with the united states, was the seminole. that brings ambience to both people who live within the united states and internationally. i think international people know who the seminoles are because of that history. all tribes have a great story to tell. all tribes and nations of the american and the indigenous peoples of america have such a beautiful heritage, culture and history to share. the seminoles in this museum would be pleased for anyone to
come and visit the museum. study in the library. they have a library research center here. all these things are of such importance. especially if you are doing something that is never really taught about. if you're doing a segment on slavery in america, that type of thing, you cannot portray slavery in america properly without including the african history that is aligned with the five civilized tribes, the descendents of african slaves, maroons, free people. something the seminoles still that is have today. we still have descendents of those people that came from florida that were not indian by blood. they were of african descent, but joined in the fight of freedom and are still part of the tribe today. they still sit on the tribal council and are still citizens of the seminole nation. since right after the civil war. the emancipation proclamation did not take place in the indian territory and that was the whole reason the treaties were
reassigned in the 1850's -- 66 -- the 1860's, 1866 for the seminoles. they were not the best of treaties. they took a lot of things away from us. land-based. they took many things away from us as far as seminoles are concerned. the thing of it is, we are still here. the seminole tribe in florida, which are our brothers, we are the descendents, the ancestors brought as visitors of war to the west. i want you to know even though seminoles are associated with the indian removal act of the 1830's and what is known as the trail of tears, our people, our males were shackled in chains and brought to the west. as prisoners of war. the seminoles are a very well studied native american people group and well-known people group as well. when you think about american indians, a lot of times people will think of the seminoles.
we extend our invitation to you. come visit us here in central oklahoma, the home of the seminole nation. let's take a look at the map. it speaks a little bit about seminole beginnings. the eastern part of the united states was home to many tribes. as you can see in this map. what became known as seminoles. you see seminole is not the original name of the nation and the tribe that exist in florida today. but many different tribal towns, tribal bands, even small tribes like tallahassee, all these people groups amalgamated and became known as seminole, which is what we call in the english deviation of that word seminole. so the seminoles, originally, actually, most of these tribal
groups and towns that became known as seminole existed in areas of alabama, certain areas of georgia and some were in the northern part of florida. by the time colonialism began to expand in the southeast, many of these people groups began to move into the northern area, what we would consider portions of the panhandle and this area to this area up north. the original tribes of florida are these names you see here. colusa. took a bog, colusa. tequesta, these were the original tribes of florida. what we do know, historically, they were decimated due to disease, slavery, early on as europeans come to this part of the world. so what became known as seminoles, they begin to settle
in this area here as early as the 1700s, that will become associated with those particular tribal people groups. the capital of today, as people will call it, tallahassee, is actually probably where this name cap way is. tallahassee is right along this area, if i have the estimation of the area -- tallahassee is my tribal town. that is the tribal town i come from. we as seminoles have tribal towns, what we call bands today and the formation of our trouble government. we also have clans. so my clan is bird clan. all of this derives from my mother's side. so we are matrilineal. whatever your mother is is the line you follow, especially with a your clan. constitutionally, today, if your mother is not a member of the seminole nation, but your father is, then you can be a member of that band of your father. but traditionally you followed your mother's side and you are
the same band and same clan your of mama. and the great warrior oceola was said to be of legacy in history from tallassee alabama, around the colusa river. he was bird clan as well. our legacy of tallahassee band often associates osceola as being from that original people, before moving from alabama into florida. here is an interesting exhibit. because it shows areas of everyday life. things that might have been used, especially in the 1800s. you have fishing equipment. you see a gig made of the sharp wooden spikes here that have edges so the fish cannot slip off very easily. the material is river came, which is an abundant plant,
which is also what this blowgun that you see here and the dark rts are made out of thistle. and also the river cane as well. even arrow shafts remain out of river cane at one point in our history. winnowing baskets were made out of split cane as you see here. these baskets were used for winnowing, such as when you are pounding corn and winnowing it in the wind. or maybe you are separating the corn after you have pounded it, with a tool, which is also available as one of the objects
here in the museum. of course throughout the history of the seminoles as we established ourselves here in the west, we did not have lands of our own until the year of 1856. one of the goals of the government policy at that time, was to relocate the seminoles here to be able to place them among the muskogee tribe, which was the larger tribe at that time and still is today, a lot larger in population than the seminoles. but in 1856, we acquired under the treaty of 1856 on august 7, lands that were our very own as the seminal nation of oklahoma. west of the mississippi it was our land. from that there begin to be a lot of things established within that particular area. we have our own law enforcement. as well and still to this day our tribal police go by the same name of the seminole light horsemen. these are the horsemen of an earlier time. they are very honorable people. they were selected because they have great courage.
they have great humility. they also cared for our people. here you see a form of punishment among the seminoles when one was found guilty by the tribal council for a certain offense. there could be one way of dealing with a person of that type. on the whipping tree. as you can see, the man is extended from the limb of the tree. there is a thong tied about where his ankles are. and then a poll would be taken over that song so that two men would sit on that and cause him to be stretched or add weight so he cannot cringe when he was taking his punishment from one of the horsemen that was applying the whipping for an
offense he may have done in our tribe. what we see here is the last execution taken in seminal history. he was found guilty of killing another individual. and the light horse would also be called out after he was tried for the tribal council. at that time in history the council was the jury and that -- and they would pass measures and that type of arrangement. for anything that was a transgression against the nation at the time. as you can see, he is blindfolded. there would be a leaf or a piece of paper. that would be placed where his heart would be. and several light horsemen would be called out. and many, many steps back they would be given the order to fire
on this man. it was known throughout the history of the seminole nation that there was never a person who ran from his appointed time with the execution. they always came back. it was an honor and their family. once the sentence was given they came back and took whatever the sentence was. in this case it was death by firing squad. if you look at this image, this is the actual execution tree. this is that very tree. this is on loan from the state historical society. that an individual had this cut down back in the early 1900s. and the historical society of the state of oklahoma has housed it. as you can see in the image, it is the very tree that is known as the execution tree. here we have one of the last seminole chiefs that left
florida around 1856 to 1858. we know his name and his name was billy bowlegs. he was famous during the seminole wars because of his prowess in war and as a leader and as a diplomat as well. he was the last chief to leave florida and come here to the indian territory. you can see this is seminole clothing of that time period. one of the famous warriors of the united states conflicts with the seminoles was a person known as osceola. the real pronouncing nation is in the language. here is a representation of an event that took place in history when they were talking about removing the seminoles.
it was said that osceola came in there and drew his knife and he put that knife in the treaty that was being presented before the symbols at the time and he said this is how seminoles sign such treaties of this type. one of the famous warriors of the united states conflicts with the seminoles was a person known as osceola. the real pronouncing nation is in the language. here is a representation of an event that took place in history when they were talking about removing the seminoles. it was said that osceola came in there and drew his knife and he put that knife in the treaty that was being presented before the symbols at the time and he said this is how seminoles sign such treaties of this type. in other words he was saying the seminoles want to live the life and want to remain in florida and to live the life the creator has made them to live. they did not want to move. that is called defiance. that is the name of this piece the defiant one. this is a copy of that treaty this is associated with. this is a copy. as you can see this was the tree of fort gibson because that was the treaty that the united states said the seminole's
agreed to move westward. some say that is a crease in mark and that is a mark of the knife that osceola did at that time in history. let's take a look at this one. throughout the history of the seminoles, there was a component of our history that dealt with people that were of african descent who were seeking freedom among the seminole people. and many of these were maroons. they were never slaves. some of them were free people. they were not slaves. some of them were escaped slaves from the southern plantations. but many of them would come and seek refuge in the area of the florida territory. they lived outside of the seminole camps, the seminole villages and had camps of their own. but they became very formidable allies with the seminoles throughout our history. at times they fought with the seminoles for the freedom that
they wanted for themselves as well as the seminoles wanted. they were never true slaves in the sense of southern alabama slavery to the seminole people. they would raise crops. they would raise produce. they would give a percentage of that to the chief of a tribal town. so it was that type of was annship that exchange back in that time. and whenever you have a people that has bonded together for the sake of freedom, then you have a faux and the united states found foe and the united states found that out because of the 42 years of the indian wars in florida with the seminole people. as late as the 1890's, the seminole nation and actually earlier than that there were
learning institutions that were developed to educate boys and girls. there was an early academy. there was the ramsey mission run by presbyterians. there was oak ridge mission school in the creek nations but many seminoles went there. and later in the 1891 and 1893, there were two large schools developed totally under the watch of the seminole people themselves. this particular school became known as a mahogany and mission. the architectural design of the two schools is very similar. they look very much alike. one was a girls academy and one a boys academy. eventually miccosukee became a
certain period of time. there were the most modern facilities in the territory at that time. they had indoor plumbing. they had heated water and things of that nature, which was not found in the 1880's and 1890's here in the territory. they were a majestic building at one time that many students with acquire education opportunities at. this is a map most people would consider. this is an actual map, and original map of what we call an allotment map. if you are able to see all of these names written here, you would see the different tracks of land, the different acres of land that was assigned to certain individuals during the general allotment act or what we
call the dawes commission came in and they were enrolling within that dawes commission. their duty was to assign a number to every native person living at that time because they wanted to take the land out of commons of the tribe and divide it into individual land tracts. obviously there would be surplus land because there were not as many native people as there were land to be divided up and many of those surplus tracks later in history would be settled by a non-native people. even these allotment lands would eventually be lost due to methods and policies that were enacted historically to the united states policy with american indians and in this case seminoles. the original land tract of the 1856 treaty was 2,169,080 acres. that was the land the seminoles originally called their home to the mississippi.
by the time the allotments began to be done, there's about 200,000 acres of land. and then an additional tract of land was purchased by the federal government. and the land extended another 180,000 acres. it still is a fraction of the land based the seminoles originally had in their original treaties. so, by the time the oil boom, oil was discovered in this area. there was measures and ways that much of this land was taken out of the individual land name and it was no longer in the oversight of the seminole nation at what point in our history. this was the 1930's, the 1940's, the 1950's. even until now, just recently. there was specific legislation signed to the five civilized
tribes, the seminole, chickasaw, choctaw and two others. the stigler act, there were components that if your bloodline ever got below half bloodline than that land would be taken out of restricted status which was restricted to the nation by the state or county or community. what that did is if the bloodline ever got below that than that land would be taken out restriction. and a lot of land was lost due to that. but recently, in the last year, that has been stricken from that particular congressional act. it was an amendment done by the efforts of the five civilized tribes, the seminoles included, that eventually got that blood quantum to be waived.
so now, with the limited lands we still have left, about 11,000 acres of land, that are in divisional landholdings, 500 acres of land in the trust, which is not much at all really when you think about acreages of land, we will be be able to retain that as long as those families also want to retain that land in that same status because of that amendment that just took place in the last year.
we have in the state capital, the state of oklahoma a large 22-foot tall statue called the guardian. this guardian was constructed by a seminole man. enoch kellyhany was a state senator. it was representative and early and then later after serving at the state level in those capacities, he becomes the chief of the seminole nation for one term. he has an outstanding, well acknowledged artist of the seminole nation in both painting and also sculpture. he did this piece. this is a miniature of that piece, the guardian. it stands in oh, city on the state capitol dome of the capital of the state of oklahoma.
if you take a look at this textile work, a lot of people associate, as far as clothing, this style of clothing with the seminoles. it is called seminal patchwork. very colorful. what you see here is they are basically small pieces of material cut at certain angles and then re-sewn back together to create the beautiful designs you see on the jackets, the skirts, on some of the dolls you see represented here. in this particular case, a good example of early. seminal bandolier bag. you can see the intricacy of the beadwork is here with southeastern designs. there are many tribes that had this style of a bandolier bag. that may vary from one tribe to the next. this most definitely is a seminole bandolier bag, which was worn by men in their traditional clothing. they would keep personal items inside the bag itself. the game of stickball is very popular in the southeast today, especially among some colleges and some high schools.
implemented the old southeastern woodland tribal gaming into some of their activities within their school systems. obviously, this is a game that has been played for thousands of years and it continues to be played among the seminole and the five civilized tribes today. as you can see, you have a set of balls sticks, totene, there represented. and the webbing within the ball sticks. the balls are quite small, so on the match game, the east and west game, you have the large field. you have the goal shaped like the one in the photograph. the object is to take the ball through there. it is not as easy as it sounds because you have others trying to keep you from doing that. it is an exciting game even today to see and watch being played. this image is from the early 1900s. as you can see, there is a time
a time when we were very much sustainable as a tribe. we grew a lot of our own food. we still did a lot of hunting at the time. you can see by the condition of the young men, they were in very fit condition and even the older men were in great physical health as well. so it was something that we included within our culture and our traditions. it was our way of life. i will touch a little bit on this. what we have here is, we have the bands system and the clan system. this is about how one takes from his father's clan and his mother's clan. but you always follow your mother's clan although you acknowledge your father's clan. and you have relations with your father's clan. you are closer in a matrilineal way to the clan of your mother because that's your clan.
as i touched on the bands as they was from the 1860's to the 1980's. you can see these are the names of the bands, and a lot of the bands, even though they had specific tribal town names, they may have went by the name of the chief. [speaking seminole names] all these different names were most likely that chiefs of those bands at the time even though they had a distinctive tribal town name. ok. this is the military room. yeah, this the military room. let me talk a little bit about the military room. this section here, we have a committed here at the seminole nation museum, a whole wing to represent those who have served this country and have showed themselves in great valor while serving this nation and all of
the branches of the military. wuwoka has always had a lot of soldiers that came from this area. many of them were seminoles and many were non-seminoles. announcer: still the same, wiwoka has always represented well. there always a lot of young men in this region that enlist in the military to uphold the freedoms of this country. what i want to talk about is a gentleman i had the opportunity to be able to take to washington as part of a delegation. his name was edmund andrew harjo . this is an image of edmund andrew harjo during world war two. when we went to washington in 2013 to the capital to receive a congressional code talkers medal, edmund went with us. we are so glad he was able to receive that congressional gold
medal on behalf of the seminole nation and for his personal self a silver medal. today we immortalize men , andng for the first time a member of the 195th field artillery battalion. in 1944, he was walking through an orchard in southern france and heard one of his brothers under a tree, and recognize the dialect. later on, a captain heard them talking and put them to work on opposite ends of a radio. that coincidence brought these men onto the stage of history band.ongside that ev band
he is with us today and i want to ask you to join me at welcoming him here and thanking him for his service. [applause] [applause and cheers] lewis: and he was the only giving code talker at the commemoration, the 20th of november. it was in 2013. this little traveling exhibit was designed when we had an exhibit, a much larger exhibit from the smithsonian, and we added a couple panels to it that that was sharing the seminole code talkers during world war ii. here we have edmund harjo and then we have tony palmer, who was also a code talker, so this
is one, on the gold congressional coin of the seminoles. this is inscribed in it in our language. is goodranslates to "it to climb and see." that was a message sent by palmer over the radio waves, so a lot of native tribes had code talkers. and i know at one point, you know, before the congressional committee, as i was the one who was sharing before the congressional committee, there were some designs that were initially picked out i believe by the committee. we did not necessarily totally agree with those particular design elements, and we began to share our story about our history of the seminoles, and i shared that. at one time in our history, the language that our people spoke actually wanted to be eradicated
off the face of the earth, but that same language that was so fiercely fought against during this conflict people know as the seminole wars, actually was the very same language that saved thousands of american lives during world war ii. and once i explained to them our elements and what our desires were as far as the seminole nation, then the united states men in that particular committee agreed the seminoles should have minted on their medal what they desire. and it was a great time in our history has seminoles but also as a personal moment in my life as well. here in this wing of the museum, it's called the margaret jane norman art gallery. market jane was a curator of the museum for many, many years. she was a teacher of art in the local high school at one point of her career, and she was very
much, she was very much a supporter of the concepts of the seminole nation and the city wewoka ought to have a museum to share the rich culture and traditions of all of the people who called wewoka their home. and because she was an art teacher in school, and she was very much interested in early native artwork, she knew a lot of artists of the 1940's, and 1950's, and 1960's, and one component the museum was able to do was collect a lot of this artwork so the museum has a distinctive collection of native american artwork, and at times, they display it at different intervals of time in the museum and throughout the museum and sometimes in the gallery, but right now, they have a special art show that is a traveling art show called altars of reconciliation.
and altars of reconciliation is basically christendom among native americans, and of course, the seminoles were introduced to christendom through the missionaries that worked within the public -- not the public schools but the arranged schools that was built in the indian territory, so what you see here as an expression from several different artists that were a part of the show of altars of reconciliation. the seminole nation has always been considered one of the most less acculturated of the tribes here in oklahoma. the seminole nation of oklahoma is the only tribe of the 39 federally recognized tribes still here in oklahoma that have a traditional form of government, so even though things have changed over the
last couple of hundred years, the seminoles are very much a strong people. they adapt to a controversial or climates that has been brought their way historically, and we still thrive as a people. we still have our traditions, our customs, and our language that is still continuing today, and seminoles will always be that way in our perspective. and as long as we keep those things that are most important, those things that are tied to the family, the traditions of our extended families, our clans, our bands, our customs of the ceremonial grounds in a traditional church, all those components and elements really create a strong society as far as the seminoles are concerned. and it is my hope and my dream for that to continue for generations to come. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2020]
announcer: we look at the restored 1878 council house in oklahoma, taken from the tribe in 1907, but reacquired in 2010. here is a preview. john: this space is, we are utilizing it in the same manner as the council house was utilized when it was built in the first place. all those pieces of history our visitors see, it is all tied not just the process that happened here originally, but also the process, the laws they are passing. it is tied to that.
mound builderthe culture. there were lots of people living around those sites. when you have people living around those sites, certainly a take away for the visitors is this type of governance is not something that has been foreign tribalgovernance and sovereignty. we have known that for millennia. was the see, the visit council's meeting, this is tied to all of that. [singing]
>> ♪ he was born in the summer of his 27th year coming home to a place he'd never been before he left yesterday behind him, you might say he was born again you might say he found a key for every door when he first came to the mountains his life was far away on the road and hanging by a song but the string's already broken and he doesn't really care it keeps changing fast and it don't last for long but the colorado rocky mountain high i've seen it rainin' fire in the sky the shadow from the starlight is softer than a lullabye rocky mountain high (colorado) he climbed cathedral mountains, he saw silver clouds below he saw everything as far as you can see and they say that he got crazy once and he tried to touch the sun and he lost a friend but kept his memory now he walks in quiet solitude the forest and the streams seeking grace in every step he takes
his sight has turned inside himself to try and understand the serenity of a clear blue mountain lake and the colorado rocky mountain high i've seen it raining fire in the sky you can talk to god and listen to the casual reply rocky mountain high rocky mountain high now his life is full of wonder but his heart still knows some fear of a simple thing he cannot comprehend why they try to tear the mountains down to bring in a couple more more people, more scars upon the land colorado rocky mountain high i've seen it rainin' fire in the sky i know he'd be a poorer man if he never saw an eagle fly rocky mountain high it's colorado rocky mountain high
i've seen it rainin' fire in the sky friends around the campfire and everybody's high rocky mountain high rocky mountain high (colorado) rocky mountain high (colorado) rocky mountain high (colorado) rocky mountain high ♪ [applause] c-span covered seven hours of this rally on the 20th anniversary of the first earth day. you can watch more on our website, including appearances by richard gere, tom cruise, ll
cool j, c-span.org/history and typing 1990 earth day rally in the search bar. to junears ago, april 1 2 1945, the battle of okinawa raged. over 82 days, the japanese attacks on00 american ships. that came toet stay. this u.s. navy film opens with huge dramatized scenes on board a ship, but was assembled from aerial in combat footage by ensign budd boetticher, who directed many low-budget westerns. ♪