Culture - Who we are
There are many "medicine" traditions concerning death, and numerous interpretations of those traditions. Some say a widow must wait four years to remarry. Some traditional burials leave the deceased's body on an open platform, surrounded by favorite possessions, exposed to the wilderness elements for disposal.
In a 1986 interview published in the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Tribal member Betty Mae Jumper described the mourning process: "All the family mourns for four days and on the fourth morning they will use herbs the medicine man makes. They will drink them with tea or wash with them. And his wife will wear black and mourn for four moons - it is part of tradition."
Early missionaries made strong attempts to convert American Indians to Christianity not realizing that the cultural beliefs they demanded be cast off held strong ties to all aspects of Indian culture. While most Seminole Tribal members profess to be Christians - several Churches are located on reservation land - they continue to respect and consult the medicine man and other spiritual leaders.
Medicine men and women still play a vital role in the lives of Seminole Indians. These special individuals do not replace medical doctors, nor are their "treatments" designed to take the place of organized medicine. Usually elders (or especially gifted young people) who have gained the respect of Tribal members, employ roots, herbs, animal parts and other ingredients of nature to treat a variety of physical and mental disorders. Traditional chants and other customs, unexplained outside the Tribe, can also be important parts of the medicine man's technique. Many believe that good luck, bad luck, success, failure, danger, safety, right decisions, wrong decisions, etc. can be influenced by the application of "medicine." Most details concerning the Seminole Indian medicine culture, however, are not discussed outside the Tribe.