Native Americans Day 19: Southeast: Seminoles

Southeast: Seminoles

Today we are studying the Seminoles.  We made a drum and learned about Osceola.

1. Review:We learned about the Cherokee tribe in the Southeast region last time. Today we will learn about another tribe in the Southeast, the Seminoles tribe. Remind students where the Southeast region is on the regional map.

2. Map Skills: Compare the regional map to the globe or map today and see what countries or states are in the Southeast region.

3. Discuss: Fill out the Tribes Chart after reading each section. Have the child listen closely to choose what word to put on the chart. Bold type words are good suggestions.

  • Habitat: Southeast The Seminole developed from the Creek Confederacy, mostly from the Creek and Hitchiti tribes. They settled in Florida which was then Spanish territory.

  • Homes: Families lived in homes called chickees. The chickees had no outside or inside walls. The house was made by driving big logs into the ground between posts. The floor was made of long poles covered with cypress bark and palm leaves. The roof was made of poles covered with bark and leaves. The roof sloped down on each side from the center. A ladder was used for climbing up to the floor. Fires were built outside the house. In the center of the village was the Great House. The Great House was made up of four low, bark-covered houses build around a square courtyard. One large house in each village was used as the cook house. It had a raised floor which covered half of the building. Walls made of bark were built underneath the floor for a safe, cool room to store food. The roof was high so that fires could be kept burning at all times.

  • Dress: In the early years the Seminoles wore little clothing except during ceremonies. The men wore full skirts or long wide-sleeved shirts that hung from their necks to their knees. The men also wore soft high-topped moccasins. Headdresses were made of squares of wool folded cornerwise into bands about three inches wide. The bands wound around the head until it was as much as seven inches thick. This was to protect the eyes from the hot sun. The women wore short blouses. They made skirts by sewing strips of bright colored cloth. Woven slashes were wore around the waist. The women went barefoot.

  • Food: The Seminoles Indians were primarily farmers. They raised corn, squash, peanuts, sweet potatoes, and melons. Each family had its own garden. All members of the tribe helped plant, cultivate, and harvest the crops. They also gathered seeds, berries, and nuts. Blowguns were used to hunt small game and birds. The men hunted fowl, turtles, fish, shellfish, and deer. The Indians ate many fruits including bananas, oranges, pineapples, and coconuts. All parts of the palmetto palm tree were used for food. The top was eaten. Molasses was made from the berries. The leaves were ground into flour. Even salt was gathered from the burned trunk of the tree.

4. Read: Seminoles by Irene Estep

5. Comprehension questions:

  • What region did the Seminoles live in? Southeast

  • What kind of homes did the Seminoles build? Chickees

  • What kind of clothes did the Seminoles wear? Full skirts, moccasins, short blouses and shirts

  • How did the Seminoles get their food? Hunted, farmed and gathered



  • one empty salt container
  • brown felt
  • brown yarn
  • feathers
  • hot glue


  1. Wrap a piece of felt around the salt container. Glue this felt into place. IMG_4010IMG_4012
  2. Cut two pieces of felt in a waving zigzagged circle pattern to look like a piece of deer skin. The circles must be approximately 1/2 to 1 inch bigger in diameter than the top of the salt container. Glue one circle to the top and the other to the bottom of the salt container.
  3. Cut a small hole in each of the longer zigzags of the circle pieces of felt which have been glued to the top and bottom of the salt container.
  4. Weave yarn through the holes in the felt going from the top to the bottom of the drum each time.IMG_4017
  5. Decorate the drum with feathers. IMG_4018

This drum turned out really neat and J likes playing it still.IMG_4019

Osceola Biography

Read: Osceola 1804-1838 by Rachel A. Koestler-Grack


Many of the Creek Indians who had lost their homes in the battles with the white soldiers had moved to Florida. They formed a large tribe called the Seminoles. When Little Owl’s people reached Florida they were helped by the Seminoles.
When the Indians reached Tampa Bay the Seminoles showed them how to build cool houses. They put long poles into the ground and covered the walls and roofs with palmetto leaves.
When Little Owl was 15 he went through a ceremony to become a man. He drank a bitter black drink and prayed to the Great Spirit. Little Owl was given the new name Osceola.
General Andrew Jackson and 3,000 men started marching through Florida. The Americans said if the Indians did not move farther South, there would be a lot of bloodshed. The Chiefs signed the Treaty of Moultrie Creek in 1823 and agreed to move to a reservation in the central part of Florida. Osceola helped fence in the reservation. He saw that the land was sandy and would not grow corn. Osceola rode from village to village to tell the Seminoles of the wrong the white men had done. In one village Osceola fell in love and married Morning Dew.
In 1829 General Jackson became President of the United States. He passed a law in May of 1830 that said that all tribes must move west of the Mississippi. In 1832 at Payne’s Landing the Chiefs signed a paper that they thought said that some leaders agreed to go west and look at the land. If the land was good then in three years time the Indians agreed to move to the new land in peace. In 1835 President Jackson sent a letter to the Seminole leaders saying they must sign a treaty giving up their lands. Osceola pulled his knife and stabbed the treaty. The Indians picked Osceola to lead their people after that.
The Indians built villages deep in the swamps and began attacking the settlers in Florida. In February of 1836 the Bluecoats came to fight the Seminoles. In the summer of 1836 many of the Indians and the settlers became sick with malaria. In the summer of 1837 General Thomas Jesup came to fight the Indians with 5,000 fresh troops. In October 1837 Osceola, who was sick with malaria, knew the Indians could fight no more. He went to the General’s fort at St. Augustine with a white flag. When Osceola went to General Jesup the General had his men surround Osceola and captured him. The Seminoles were so angry with Osceola’s capture that they continued to fight for the next five years.

Osceola was sent the prison. On January 30, 1838 Osceola died in a dark prison cell. After Osceola’s death many Indians died, some moved west, and some continued to live in the swamps.


A biography is simply the story of a life. Biographies can be just a few sentences long, or they can fill an entire book—or two. They can be very short that tell the basic facts of someone’s life and importance, or they can be longer that include that basic information of course, with a lot more detail, but they also tell a good story.

Biographies are usually about a famous person, but a biography of an ordinary person can tell us a lot about a particular time and place. They are often about historical figures, but they can also be about people still living today. Many biographies are written in chronological order. Others focus on specific topics or accomplishments.

Biographers use primary and secondary sources. Primary sources are things like letters, diaries, or newspaper articles; and secondary sources include other biographies, reference books, or histories that provide information about the subject of the biography.

To write a biography you should:

1. Select a person you are interested in and find out the basic facts of that person’s life. Start with the encyclopedia or almanac.

2. Think about what else you would like to know about the person, and what parts of the life you want to write most about. Some questions you might want to think about include:

  • What makes this person special or interesting?
  • What kind of effect did he or she have on the world? other people?
  • What are the adjectives you would most use to describe the person?
  • Would the world be better or worse if this person hadn’t lived? How and why?

3. Do additional research at your library or on the Internet to find information that helps you answer these questions and tell an interesting story.

4. Write your biography. IMG_4065

Native American Unit Study

Day 1: Circum-Caribbean: Taino

Day 2: Mesoamerica: Maya

Day 3: Mesoamerica: Aztec

Day 4: Southwest: Apache

Day 5: Southwest: Pueblo

Day 6: Southwest: Navajo

Day 7: California: Pomo

Day 8: Great Basin: Shoshone

Day 9: Plateau: Nez Perce

Day 10: Northwest Coast: Chinook

Day 11: Sub Arctic: Cree

Day 12: Arctic: Eskimo (Inuit)

Day 13: Great Plains: Sioux

Day 14: Great Plains: Cheyenne

Day 15: Great Plains: Blackfeet

Day 16: Great Plains: Pawnee

Day 17: Great Plains: Crow

Day 18: Southeast: Cherokee

Day 19: Southeast: Seminoles

Day 20: Northeast Woodland: Iroquois

Day 21: Northeast Woodland: Shawnee

Day 22: Northeast Woodland: Wampanoag

Day 23: Native American: Homes