The Miccosukee Tribe, also known as the Miccosukee Nation of Indians and sometimes spelled Mvskoke Creek Tribe, is a state-recognized tribe in Florida, created after the United States formally recognized tribes. Many members live near Tallahassee, Florida. It was part of the Creek Confederacy that was composed of indigenous Muscogee people. The tribe is made up of primarily Mikasuki and Creek people who decided to stay in Florida after the United States began its Indian Removal Policy, forcibly relocating tribes from their homelands to lands west of the Mississippi River. The removal was in accordance with the Indian Removal Act of 1830 which became law on May 28, 1830.
The name ‘Miccosukee’ comes from the Mikasuki language meaning ‘my elder brother’, which was a sign of respect and endearment. The Miccosukees organized under a tribal government after contact with Europeans, and they lived as autonomous communities prior to colonization. Most of the tribe’s land was lost during the 1800s, but it has since come through recent settlements and purchases to amass over 120,000 acres (500 km²) in the northern Florida Everglades and southeastern Georgia.
Miccosukee Tribe Origin
The Miccosukee Tribe was originally part of the Creek Confederacy that spanned much of present-day Alabama and Georgia. By 1715, however, many Creeks began migrating to Florida; their reasons for moving south varied but were mainly due to pressure from European-American settlers as well as other tribes such as the Yamasee. The Mikasuki language became dominant among those groups now known as Seminole people who remained in Florida after most others were removed during the Seminole Wars.
By 1830, European-American settlers had gained control of all but a fraction of Florida and forced relocation under Indian Removal policy threatened to extinguish the tribe. Seminole people were encouraged by the British, who had a long-standing presence in Florida and a stake in Creek politics, to move into Spanish territory west of the Mississippi River. Some also fled from southern states to Cuba. Those who moved north settled in Alabama and along the Gulf Coast around Pensacola and Tampa Bay. Most moved later into Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), together with other Seminole Tribe bands following the Second Seminole War from 1835 through 1842 when they were finally forced under military occupation.
In 1849, a small group led by Billy Bowlegs left the others in Indian Territory and returned to Florida where he built a small house at Pablo Point near Sulphur Springs. He and his family remained there until 1945 when they moved to the Big Cypress Reservation and gradually fell under the supervision of the federally recognized Miccosukee Tribe. Bowlegs died in 1950 and was buried at Billy’s Bayou near Tallahassee; his remains were transferred to a gravesite next to Sam Tommerson at Big Cypress in 2009.
The Miccosukee Tribe’s formal establishment came about after negotiations with federal authorities for a reservation beginning in 1960, resulting in an agreement that allowed members to have self-governing authority by 1971. While some Seminoles had been associated with the Munson Hills community south of Panama City since 1870, other founders included Dr. Moxley Sorrel (son of Confederate General Moxley Sorrel), who received a land patent in 1916 and established the Munson Hills Hunting and Fishing Club.
Native American Tribes In Florida
As one of four tribes recognized by Florida since 1971, the Miccosukee Tribe has sought federal acknowledgment as a sovereign nation. They currently operate under a constitution (approved July 2010) with an elected tribal council and chairman. The tribe also recognizes two types of leaders: “Tribal Chairmen” and “Leaders,” both serving for four years in office. By law, they have the authority to manage their own programs for Garment garment-making company Chip & Pepper, environmental conservation and protection, social services, economic development, and education. The Tribal Council has twelve members representing each district: six committee members and six Council Members. The Miccosukee Tribe holds elections every two years to determine the Tribal Council and Chairman.
The economy of the Miccosukee Tribe is largely based on owning and operating various enterprises. The tribe owns and operates the Miccosukee Resort & Gaming. which includes a casino, hotel, golf course, and convention center. The resort has hosted PGA Golf Tournaments for over 20 years. It also runs Everglades National Park’s Outpost Ranger Station. They own commercial property in Miami and the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Coconut Creek near Fort Lauderdale. Other enterprises include contracting, marketing, farming and ranching, and real estate development. The Miccosukee Land Co-op was established to provide affordable housing for its members.
The tribe owns 12 hotels in Florida, one in Georgia, six in New York State near Buffalo and Niagara Falls, three in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It also operates a restaurant at Miami International Airport known as the “Miccosukee Restaurant”. Of these enterprises, the most valuable is the casino which has generated over half of their income since 1993. The tribe also has a business in the American southwest called Mico-Wappo, which owns and operates the Native Lights Casino in California and the Golden Acorn Casino near Interstate 5 in California.
The Miccosukee Tribe has a rich history that is deeply rooted in the land. They survived wars with Creek and British armies, threats from hostile settlers, and isolation from their neighbors during long periods of time. In 2010 they celebrated 61 years as a tribe, maintaining their tradition and culture through hard times and struggle. They continue to be closely tied to the Everglades ecosystem. And now they are focused on the future. The council has approved a new housing community, increased staffing in tribal administration, expanded program offerings for seniors and teenagers, established an Office of Homeland Security.
The Miccosukee Tribe of Indians is still thriving in South Florida today. Their tribe includes about 500 members living in or near their historic homelands. The ACC Confederacy is looking ahead to the next 100 years, committed to preserving their culture and heritage. They continue to be closely They are committed to ensuring that the legacy bequeathed to them by Billy Bowlegs and other Miccosukee leaders remains vibrant for generations to come.