Sunday, 19 February 2012

Seminole Tribe of Florida

The above link is for the Seminole tribe of Florida, a federally recognised Indian tribe who proudly state in their website's opening headline that they are 'the only tribe in America who never signed a peace treaty.' Their history is believed to be traceable as far back as 12,000 years ago and they fought several wars against the U.S Government that became known as the 'Seminole Wars', with one of their battles reportedly being 'the fiercest of all the wars ever waged by the U.S. Government against native peoples.'

In 1957 they drafted a tribal constitution and attained self-government through the formation of a tribal council. They also formed a company named the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Inc. to oversee the business matters for the tribe. They are considered 'one of the most successful native business peoples in the United States today,' and rely on their various businesses, such as gaming, cattle and citrus, to provide economic stability within their tribal community. ‘They employ more than 7,000 employees in their casinos, hotels and other enterprises and purchase more than $130.3 million in goods and services yearly.'

This all points to a thriving tribal community in contemporary America, and shows that although they take great pride in their history, as evidenced by the proud historical details on their website, they also understand the merit of embracing change and new technology in order to progress. They appear to be doing exceptionally well, even providing a link to an eBay marketplace where tourist memorabilia can be bought, despite or perhaps in spite of the huge struggles they have faced in the past.

Further examination of their website provided a wealth of knowledge on their culture, government and enterprises. They acknowledge paying taxes, even giving the figures to show that they do their part to support the country, and talk of employing non-Indians in what I conceived to be a rather politically clever move. They boast of having 'more non-contiguous reservations than any tribe in North America' and welcome people to take a walk through one of them, even providing a map for such situations.

All six of their reservations have links on the website, and each one has its own casino to provide an income to support the health and welfare, public services and education systems. The additional 'services' tab revealed some surprising information on the different variety of departments they own and run - including 'The Big Cypress' airstrip, broadcasting department and a newspaper named the Seminole Tribune which has been in circulation since 1996.

Notably, in a move that shows a certain level of respect for the U.S government, they also have a 'Veterans Building' - the star shaped building pictured above, in recognition of the five branches of the United States armed forces, dedicated to their veterans with honour. 

Overall, the Seminole Tribe of Florida appears to be successfully working self-sufficiently, and although they have a contentious history with the U.S, they appear to have adopted a modern integration approach, whilst still retaining their unique cultural independence.

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