The Seminole Indians, who first appeared in modern-day Broward County in the 1820s, are the only unconquered tribe and only tribe to never sign a peace treaty with the United States. After the Seminole Wars, the Seminole Tribe lived in poverty, hiding out in remote camps in the wet wilderness areas of South Florida. They lived off the land, and hunted, trapped, fished and traded at frontier outposts while maintaining minimal contact with the outside world.
In 1938, the U.S. Congress set aside more than 80,000 acres of land for the Seminoles in the Big Cypress, Hollywood and Brighton areas and the invitation to move in, to change from subsistence farming and hunting/trapping to an agriculture-based economy, was offered.
A special generation of Seminole leaders - children of that last generation to hide in the swamps - began to meet regularly beneath a huge oak tree on the Hollywood reservation. (The oak still stands! Called the Council Oak, it was spared in the construction of a parking lot and can be seen today near the corner of U.S. 441 and Stirling Road on the Hollywood Reservation.)
By 1957, a constitution was forged establishing a two-tiered government (Tribal Council and Board of Directors) with elected representation from each reservation community. That same year, the U.S. Congress officially recognized the unconquered Seminole Tribe Florida; the Tribe immediately began wading into the mainstream of the federal Indian system. The first Seminole government achieved what many felt was impossible, bringing the chaos of new organization under control and the first monies into the tiny Tribal treasury. Thus began the modern era of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, fostering an economic prosperity far beyond the small-time tourism ventures - alligator wrestling shows, airboat rides, roadside arts and crafts booths, village tours - that had become the staple of individual and Tribal economy.
The 1950's were a turning point in the history of the Florida Seminole people many significant issues to address. In 1953, the U.S. Congress passed legislation to terminate federal tribal programs. While the State of Florida supported termination of services to the Seminoles, Tribal members and their supporters were able to successfully argue against termination and by 1957 had drafted a Tribal constitution. They attained self government through the formation of a governing body, the Tribal Council. At the same time, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Inc. was created to oversee the business matters of the Tribe.
Today the Seminole casinos support a growing infrastructure for the Seminole community's health and welfare, public safety, education and other services. The economic stability provided by gaming, combined with the cattle, citrus, and other business enterprises, has made the Seminole Tribe of Florida one of the most successful native business people in the United States today. They employ more than 7,000 employees in their casinos, hotels and other enterprises and purchase more than $130 million in goods and services yearly.
This is an excerpt from semtribe.com/history. Please visit for more in-depth history of the Seminoles.