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About The Seminole Nation of Oklahoma

Location and Land Status

The Seminole Tribal Jurisdiction Area is located in south-central Oklahoma, approximately 45 miles east of Oklahoma City, and it includes most of Seminole County.

The Seminole Nation Tribal Complex is located in the town of Wewoka, Oklahoma. Wewoka lies at the junction of U.S. 270 and Oklahoma Highway 56 approximately 30 miles southeast of the town of Shawnee. Wewoka is also the site of several Seminole Nation programs and services. The Mekusukey Mission (which includes tribal offices, recreational areas, industrial and commercial areas, and a cultural area) is located 2 miles south and 2 miles west of the city of Seminole. The Seminole were removed to Indian Territory following the Treaty of Payne’s Landing in 1832. They were eventually granted a reservation, but after subsequent land cessations, these lands were allotted following the Seminole Agreement of 1909. Today, the tribe owns 372 acres of federal trust land and approximately 53 acres of fee simple land. An additional 35,443 allotted acres supplement the tribal land base.


History

The history of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma began when Spain first occupied the peninsula known as Florida. When Pedro Menéndez de Avilés founded St. Augustine in 1565, the first permanent settlement in Florida after at least 60 years of sporadic Spanish visitation, he discovered complex cultures sustained by hunting, fishing, farming and raising stock. Tribes from three different basic language groups, the Timuquan, Calusan and Muskhogean occupied Florida and lived in small and well-organized villages.

Seminole CountyAlthough today the term Seminole is used, this name originated due to a European misnomer, which categorized a diverse group of autonomous tribes together under the name Seminole. The Spanish first recognized the indomitable self-preservation of the speakers of the "core language” Mvskoke, and called them cimarrones, or "free people" (Seminole). Translated through several languages to English, this term came to apply to all of Florida’s initial inhabitants, and their neighbors who later fled to join them when deprived of their own homelands. The Seminoles absorbed remnants of other Florida tribes into their own. The Oconee were the original "Seminole," and later included the Hecete, Eufaula, Mikasuki, Horrewahle, Talahassee, Chiaha, and Appalachicola. Additionally, through intermarriage, traditional cultural adoption practices and treaty obligations, runaway and “freed” slaves were absorbed also. The term “cimarrones” spoken by the Spanish was initially transliterated by the Creek as “semvlonÄ“.” “ SemvlonÄ“” eventually morphed into “Semvnole” (pronounced sem-uh-no-lee by native speakers even today) and thus we have the term that would describe the various Indian tribes in the State of Florida.

Although a relatively large contingency of Seminole were able to hold out in the Florida Everglades during the Indian Removal Era and Seminole Wars, the majority were relocated to Indian Territory along with the other “Five Tribes” of the southeast.

Today the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma is located in Seminole County, Oklahoma. The entire county of Seminole is a portion of the original Seminole Nation jurisdiction, and covers approximately 633 square miles. The county is a checkerboard of tribal trust property, Indian allotments, restricted Indian lands, and dependent Indian communities. Native Americans make up 22% of the population of Seminole County.

The Seminole County service population is 5,315 Tribal citizens according to the Seminole Nation Tribal Enrollment Office. The total enrollment of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma is approximately 17,000 members. According to 2000 U.S. Census data the Native American (one race only) population is 4,328 and the Native American (one race or combination with other race) population is 5,485 respectively for Seminole County.

 

 

 

 


Overview of the Seminole Nation Today

The Seminole Nation of Oklahoma is a federally recognized tribal nation with a government anchored by a Band system, which is comprised of 12 traditional bands and two freedman bands.

Seminole Band

Associated Tribe

Language Group

CEYAHA

CHIAHA

Muskhogean (Hitchite Dialect)

EUFALA

EUFALA

Muskhogean

FUSHUTCE

 

Muskhogean

HECETE

HITCHITE

Muskhogean (Hitchite Dialect)

HVTEYIEVLKE

 

Muskhogean

MEKUSUKEY

MIKASUKI

Muskhogean (Hitchite Dialect)

NURCUP HARJO

APPALACHICOLA

Muskhogean (Hitchite Dialect)

OCESE

 

Muskhogean

REWALKE

HORREWAHLE

Muskhogean

TALLAHASSE

TALAHASSE

Muskhogean

TOM PALMER

 

Muskhogean

TUSEKIA HARJO

OKONE

Muskhogean


Government

The Seminole General Council, chaired by the Principal Chief and Assistant Chief, serves at the elected governing body. The Chief and Assistant Chief are elected at large every four years. The Seminole Nation ratified a constitution on March 8, 1969, which the Commission of Indian Affairs approved on April 15, 1969. The Nation is comprised of 14 matrilineal bands, including two Freedman bands. Each band has an elected band chief and assistant band chief and meets monthly. Each band is governed by a set of bylaws which originate from the band. Tribal headquarters are located in Wewoka, the seat of Seminole County. The general council meets at the council house on the Mekusukey Mission Tribal Grounds south of Seminole. The Nation has been developing a new tribal constitution that will eliminate the role of the BIA in tribal government operations.

Tribal government departments include administrative, executive, fiscal affairs, treasury, domestic violence, Indian Child Welfare, family and social services, enrollment, gaming, housing, education, language, communications, elder services, environmental, law enforcement, dialysis, youth, child care, roads, and Head start. Tribal departments are funded with either tribal revenue or federal/ state funding.


Business Corporation

The Seminole Nation Department of Commerce (SNDOC) oversees five businesses: three gaming operations, a trading post, travel plaza, and convenience store. SNDOC will be expanding into other areas of business developments including, but not limited to, construction and manufacturing.


Economy

The Nation operates a number of businesses that contribute to the tribal economy. The net profits from these businesses are redistributed to tribal programs and to SNDOC for operational funds.

Economic Development Plans

The Nation continues to acquire land and businesses in Seminole County. The Nation purchased the River Mist Store in southern Seminole County and the Travel Plaza located just off I-40 at the Seminole exit.

Gaming

The Nation owns three gaming facilities: The Rivermist Casino in southern Seminole County, the Trading Post in Wewoka, and the Mystic Winds Casino locate on I-40 at exit 200. All three casinos offer electronic gaming.

Services and Retail

The Nation owns the Seminole Nation Trading Post, Seminole Nation Travel Plaza, Rivermist Convenience Store, and North Park Plaza, a lease management building.

Media and Communications

A monthly newspaper the Cokv Tvlvme, publishes and distributes 10,000 copies directly to tribal citizens and as supplements in local papers. The Nation also produces a weekly radio program every Tuesday at 11am on KWSH 1260am. An interactive website is located at www.sno-nsn.gov and is updated regularly.

Tourism and Recreation

The Nation holds its annual celebration, Seminole Nation Days, every third weekend in September at the Mekusukey Mission Grounds to celebrate tribal heritage and culture. The event is free and open to the public. The Nation provides free concerts, carnivals, and cultural events with the feature performer on Saturday evening. Other events include an art contest, banquet, princess pageant, cultural events, parade, and sports competitions. Food, art, and craft vendors and demonstrators are also on-site. A free traditional dinner is also provided. Estimated attendance is 10,000.

The Mekusukey Mission also has RV campsite facilities available year-round for a nominal fee. Also, at the Mission are softball fields and a gymnasium where athletic and cultural events are held year round.

Traditional dances are held throughout the spring and summer months at ceremonial grounds. Cultural ceremonies and grounds must be treated with utmost respect and decorum. Invited attendees must adhere to strict cultural guidelines and refrain from taking any photographs, videos and sound recordings.

The Seminole Nation Museum is located in the town of Wewoka and features exhibits on Seminole culture and history. An adjoining gallery and craft shop features contemporary and traditional Seminole crafts.

Transportation

The Nation operates a Federal Transit Program for public transportation throughout Seminole County. The Seminole Nation Transit System is available to all residents and runs on a set schedule. This schedule is available online. The Nation also has handicap-accessible vans that can veer off of the route within one mile to pick up elderly and/or handicap riders.


Community Facilities and Services

The Nation maintains community centers in Wewoka, Konawa, Sasakwa, Strothers and the Mekusukey Mission Tribal Grounds. Community Services of the Seminole Nation offers child care, Indian Child Welfare, LIHEAP, emergency tribal assistance, and BCR programs. Its community division offers environmental, cultural and language preservation, housing, roads, transportation, Lighthorsemen, wildlife, and community health programs.

Education

The tribe’s education division offers adult, higher education, Head Start, TERO and Judgement Fund programs. Seminole State College is located in Seminole, OK and provides scholarships for Seminole tribal citizens.

Health Care

Health care services are available through the Wewoka Service Unite of Public Health Services. The health center is served by two physicians and one physician’s assistant. Programs include general medicine, prenatal, and well baby care, optometry, dentistry, and counseling.

The Nation administers the Alcohol Substance and Abuse Program, Community Health Representatives Program, Dialysis Center, Caregivers, and Diabetes Program.

Nutrition

The Seminole Nation Food Distribution Program is located at the Mekusukey Mission. Income eligible tribal citizens can participate in the program. A grocery store facility is available for participants to pick up their commodities. Nutrition and cooking programs are held at the full service kitchen at the Food Distribution building for interested community members.

The Nation also operates the Older American Program for tribal senior citizens. Nutritious meals are prepared Monday through Friday, except tribal holidays, at the OAP building just west of the tribal complex in Wewoka.


Ceremonialism

For Seminole people who continue to observe pre-Christian ceremonial practices, life revolves around activities at the “ceremonial or stomp grounds.” In modern times these are religious centers where ceremonial dances, dinners and ball games take place mainly during weekends throughout the spring, summer and early fall months.

Originally the individual tribes or etvlwv, as they are termed in the language, that would come to comprise the confederacy known as the Seminole Nation would physically organize themselves around the ceremonial ring. Seminole ceremonialism guided every aspect of Seminole life. Although not as complete, ceremonial teachings still continue to guide those who actively participate in modern times.

Today the “ceremonial cycle” consists of four or five dances throughout the “dance season” of which Green Corn or Posketv-rakko (Big fast) is the most important. Depending on the ceremonial ground, Green Corn can last from four days (Thursday – Sunday) to seven days (Sunday – Sunday). Friday is known as Hoktak-‘pvnkv Nettv (Women’s Dance Day) when Ribbon Dance occurs. Friday is also the day that Yvnvsv ‘Pvnkv (Buffalo Dance) occurs at the ceremonial grounds that perform this dance. The signature dance that occurs during the daytime on Saturday is the Cetvhayv ‘Pvnkv or the Feather Dance as it’s commonly referred to in English.

During Green Corn, as well as the other ceremonies, the participating members must commit themselves to dancing, fasting, medicine taking, work and other activities that are to be performed. The purifying herbal medicine is accompanied by “scratching” of the participants’ bodies. Generally administered to the arms and legs, but not limited to these areas, of the participants, “scratching” is performed to alleviate spiritual and medical ailments by strengthening the individual. Green Corn can be likened to the combined equivalent of the holidays of Thanksgiving, Easter and New Years.

During Green Corn strained relationships are to be reconciled and the wrongs that occurred during the year are to be forgiven. The nighttime songs include such things as recognition of tribal ancestors, spiritual entities, historical events, thanksgiving and well wishing or prayers for the coming year. Daybreak on Sunday marks the completion of the Green Corn ceremony and the beginning of the new year for the ground members.

Out of the eight ceremonial grounds that made the journey from their Eastern homelands to Indian Territory only one, Ceyahv (Gar Creek) still survives today with a fully functional ceremonial cycle.


Clan Law

In order to understand clan law and its guiding force in the lives of Seminole people it is necessary to provided a brief explanation of the origin of clans. In ancient times the people aligned themselves with certain animal and other supernatural spirits to assist them in enduring a hardship they were experiencing. Upon doing so a vow was made promising a commitment by the individuals associated with their particular being to remain in association from that point forward. For the majority of Seminole people this clan association had been maintained into modern times.

Clan Law and kinship are highly revered and held in great respect within the spiritual and ceremonial world among the Seminole people. Clan law traditionally governs every aspect of tribal life, from the spiritual, to the governmental, to the social.

Clans are matrilineal as they are inherited through one’s mother. For example, if an individual’s mother is of the Wotkvlke or Raccoon Clan, and the father is of the Hvlpvtvlke or Alligator Clan, that individual would be of the Raccoon Clan. However, this person would also be related to the Alligator Clan, as a son or daughter. In turn, all other Raccoon Clan people and Alligator Clan people would be that persons relations, and would be referred to as aunts and uncles, if the age of a fellow clansman was relative to that of the mother and father, or brother and sister if the age of the clansman was relative to that of the child him/herself.

The Seminole base the ability to take a spouse on clan relationships. There is never to be intermarriage of clans. In keeping with the previous example of marriage between a Raccoon Clan and an Alligator Clan, a Raccoon Clan woman marrying a man of the Raccoon or Alligator Clan would be the equivalent of a woman marrying her brother, or according to age, a daughter marrying her father.

Historically, many marriages were arranged according to clan strength, or need for renewing life into a dormant clan. Although there are various creation stories that relate the hierarchy of the various clans, each clan holds essential qualities that pertained to a specific job or position held in the ceremonial ground, as well as at home. Each clan had a special talent, as well as a balance of weaknesses for various aspects of the spiritual world.

For example, if a tribal town was only allowed to seat a certain clan as their chief, for example, they could only be of the Bear Clan, and there was a shortage of Bear Clan people in the tribal town, then men would be encouraged to take a wife of the Bear Clan. In turn, the children of this marriage would be of the Bear Clan, and would therefore help to restore the Bear Clan people.


Child Socialization

Traditionally child rearing was the responsibility of all the individuals in the tribe. Clan law regulated much of the specifics associated with the process. For example, in instances of discipline it was the child’s maternal uncle who was responsible for administering punishment because it was unlawful for an individual of another clan to do so.

Today extended family members raise many Seminole children. It is not uncommon for tribal children to live primarily with an aunt, grandparent or other family member. Seminole children are often raised with the core values of caring for one another. Elder siblings often play an integral role in the socialization of their younger siblings.


Mortuary Practices

Seminole people hold times of loss in high regard. Customarily, the passing of a loved one is a time of mourning that lasts for four days. During this time the family of the deceased carries out the final steps of the funeral process. Modern Seminole people still hold tight to ensuring that the burial of a loved one occurs within the four days after death. The time of mourning encompasses several customs and family traditions and, as it can be overwhelming for a family that has just experienced the death of a loved one, is usually only able to be carried out with the help of family and close friends. Many of the practiced customs include times of fasting, participation in overnight vigils, and much cooking, cleaning, and other varying activities.

The body of the deceased is customarily buried with his or her feet towards the East. Prior to removal, the body of the deceased was buried beneath the floor of the family’s dwelling. In modern times, the deceased are often buried in family cemeteries and a small house is erected over the top of the grave. This house is sometimes referred to as a poyvfekcv-cuko (spirit house). Objects that were meaningful to the deceased are placed within the house along with food that has been set aside from the meal that is traditionally prepared following the funeral services.


Seminole Churches

The Seminole Nation also has approximately twenty Mekusapkv-cuko (churches), commonly referred to as Indian churches, active within the community. Missionaries founded these churches, of Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian denominations, in the late 1800s in an attempt to convert Seminole people to Christianity. To encourage participation, building layouts, beliefs, and customs of the ceremonial grounds were incorporated into the churches. The first song books, bibles, and dictionaries written in the language were also created during this time and continue to be used today.

Church meetings are held every four Sundays and referred to in the community as “4th Sunday.” Church meetings are all day services with multiple visiting preachers who each conduct sermons. Traditional Seminole church hymns are sung before, during and after sermons. The Mvskoke language within the churches was used pervasively until the late 1950s when English began to be used intermittently. Today, sermons are conducted both in English and the Mvskoke language.

Locate Tribal Complex

Contact Executive

Ericka Pinion, Executive Assistant
Office:  (405) 257-7205
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Judy Jones, Administrative Asst.
Office: (405) 257-7207
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Executive Office
P.O. Box 1498
Wewoka, OK 74884
Fax: (405) 257-7209

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