History - Where we came from
The Council Oak
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, after numerous community meetings, 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.
During the political turmoil surrounding the U.S. Government's termination policies, one particular group of Seminoles sought a separate recognition. This was granted to them as the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida in 1962. A few dozen Florida Indians who are not enrolled in either Tribe exist as organized "Independent" Seminoles not formally recognized by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). They continue to formally protest any government intervention into their lives and maintain an open land claim for much of the state of Florida with the federal government.
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. The wise framers of the Seminole Constitution foresaw 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 next generation of Seminole leaders took firm advantage of the sovereign paths to economic prosperity. Businessmen merged their expertise with natural-born leaders to move the Seminole treasury far beyond the million dollar mark. Native linguists and communicators such as Betty Mae Jumper - first woman to be elected chairman of an American Indian tribe - were instrumental in guiding the suspicious community through the doorways of the new age of opportunity.