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Betty Mae Today

Although no longer in politics, Jumper's counsel is sought almost daily by the Tribal power structure.

This mother of two sons and a daughter, and grandmother to 10 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren (all of whom live on the Hollywood Reservation), laughs when she thinks back to the late 1950s when the Tribe first became organized and she was vice chairman. "We'd sit under the big oak tree across the way there, and we'd say one day we'll all drive Cadillacs. That was the dream."

Well, they've got their beautiful building. And the reservation chickees gave way long ago to modern suburban dwellings with landscaped yards and circular driveways. And while Betty drives a Suburban van, others in the Tribe tootle about in Cadillacs, Mercedes and BMW's. Or when on official business, in the Tribe's helicopter or private jet.

Her people, some 2,900 Seminoles scattered on six reservations, certainly are financially better off, Betty Mae says.

But in mining the good life, something has slipped away. "Now our kids don't know how to talk Indian." Not Miccosukee. Not Creek.

"They're losing the language. They're losing the stories and the crafts. We're losing our heritage," she laments.

Betty Mae Jumper with her grandson Jorge Chebon Gooden.
So she reminds the young, "Be proud of your heritage. Remember where you come from."

And she recounts the stories, whenever the young will listen. She even made a videotape, so the stories won't end with her own death.

And while there's something to be said for the comforts and conveniences of modern life, she admits, "I sometimes get a hankering to go out into the 'glades. I miss the quiet life."

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