The Seminole Indians of Florida


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"A keystone of 19th-century Seminole scholarship. . . . Often hailed as the first ‘anthropological’ study of the Florida Seminoles, MacCauley’s report is a baseline for understanding specific clan and band histories of the modern era, and a benchmark in a larger study of culture change among the Seminoles."--Brent Weisman, author of Unconquered People: Florida’s Seminole and Miccosukee Indians

"A basic work for the earliest view of post-removal Seminole society in Florida. Anyone teaching Florida or Indian history should have access to this piece."--Harry Kersey, author of The Florida Seminoles and the New Deal

This classic portrait of the Seminole people, written at a time when their way of life was virtually unknown to the rest of the world, was originally published by the Smithsonian Institution’s Bureau of Ethnology in 1889.

In 1881, Reverend Clay MacCauley was asked by the bureau "to inquire into the condition and to ascertain the number" of the Seminole Indians of Florida. MacCauley, an anthropologist but without formal training in ethnology, spent three months in south Florida. When published six years later, his report was hailed by John Wesley Powell, director of the bureau, as "the first ethnologic exploration of the Seminoles of Florida ever attempted."

The report describes Seminole clothing and ornaments, the palm-thatched chickees in which families lived, economic pursuits, crafts, and other aspects of everyday life. Supplementing MacCauley’s report in this edition are additional materials and photographs.

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