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North Brevard
Heritage Foundation, Inc.
a non-profit (501c3) organization established April 2005

P.O. Box 653, Titusville, FL 32781-0653



Seminole Chickee

By 1760, the Ais Indians and the Spanish had gradually abandoned the Indian River. There were several Spanish from Havana who were accustomed to spending the fall and winter seasons fishing on the Indian River but were unsafe and killed by warring Indians. The few surviving Ais at this time may have taken refuge among the Calusa in the southwest region of Florida. They probably crossed to Havana among the eighty (80) Indian families who went there upon the cession of Florida to Great Britain in 1763 bringing to an end the habitation of Florida by its indigenous population.

Florida was left to northern invaders consisting of Indians from various tribes such as the Oconee and Creek, which themselves had been shattered by disease and warfare. After 1750, these tribes gradually amalgamated, were reinforced by Indian and Negro fugitives from the British and Spanish colonies and formed a new group – The Seminole - with a center on the St. John’s River.

(Extracted from Rouse: Survey of Indian River Archaeology)

The British established trading posts on the St. Johns River but otherwise both they and the Spanish (who regained control of Florida in 1783) left the Seminole to themselves. Spanish missions were never re-established nor was effective political control extended beyond the coastal lagoons.

The Indian River area was split between the Seminole on the upper St. Johns Basin and the British-Spanish on the Indian River. The Seminole village of Loksachumpa is known to have been situated in the St. Johns headwaters about 1808. Other such settlements have left their traces in the form of “Indian Old Fields,” or areas of land formerly cleared and cultivated by the Seminole, of which the site of South Indian Field, discussed below is an example. The British and Spanish made several abortive attempts to settle the Indian River. Spanish land grants were given to soldiers who had served in the Spanish militia, but few were ever occupied by their owners because of isolation from American settlement in northern Florida. The purchase of Florida by the United States in 1821 had little effect on this situation.

By 1823 the Seminole population had increased to approximately 5000. The attempt to remove the Indians to Oklahoma during the Second Seminole Ware (1835-42) brought an end to isolation of the area. By May of 1838 the Indians had been pushed back into the swamps at the southern tip of Florida and the Indian River area was free of them. Although most of the Seminole were removed to Oklahoma at the end of the war, some were permitted to remain in Florida and few trickled back into the Indian River area. By the end of the war there were reportedly only 300 Seminoles left in the territory. Then they fought the Third Seminole War (1855-58) and another 240 Seminole were removed.

A map of 1856 shows an “Indian Garden” southwest of Fort Pierce. In 1879, early settlers encountered “an abandoned Indian camp” that was located at the headwaters of the Sebastian River. A band of Seminole, the Cow Creek, was recorded as living west of Fort Pierce in 1880 and are still present in that vicinity.

Tribes of Indians in Oklahoma began to be Christianized mainly through the efforts of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Home Mission Board as early as 1846. Baptist missionaries came to the Oklahoma Creek and Oklahoma Seminole tribes in the 1870s.

(Extracted from Seminole Tribe of Florida website,
Brief Summary of Seminole History by Willard Steele)

In 1907, the Department of the Interior set aside 540 acres of land near Dania for Seminole use. President Taft set aside land in Martin, Broward and Hendry Counties in 1911 to be used as reservations. The governor vetoed the bill stating that the Seminoles had signed a treaty to move to Oklahoma, had no rights as citizens of Florida, and that the right of 800,000 non-tribal members outweighed those of the 400 Seminoles that lived in the State. By 1913 there were 18 Indian reservations in Florida, ranging in size from 40 acres to 16,000 acres. The reservations divided the Florida native peoples into two camps. One became known as the Miccosukee Tribe of Seminole Indians and provided a safe haven for people who held traditional views. The second group took the offer of the reservation lands and began a new way to sustain the Seminole culture. They used the reservations as preservation areas in which to maintain customs, language and self-government of the Tribe. Most of the reservations that exist today were established at the end of the Great Depression. The Civilian Conservation Corps-Indian Department (CCC-ID) provided training in water control, digging wells, fencing, operating heavy equipment and constructing windmills.

The turning point in the history of the Florida Seminole people was during the 1950s. In 1953, the U.S. Congress passed legislation to terminate federal tribal programs, which was supported by the State of Florida. Tribal members and their supporters were successful in their argument against termination of services and by 1957 had drafted a Tribal constitution. They attained self-government through the formation of a governing body, the Tribal Council. At this time, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, inc. was created to oversee Tribal business matters.

Today, the Seminole casinos support a growing infrastructure for the Seminole community. The economic stability provided by gaming, combined with cattle, citrus and other business enterprises, has made the Seminole Tribe of Florida one of the most successful Native American businesses in the United States.


The replication of the Seminole Chickee will be located south of the Ais Indian Encampment and separated by a treed area on the banks of the “river.” To ensure replication authenticity, the North Brevard Heritage Foundation, Inc. is proposing to collaborate with the Indian River Anthropological Society (IRAS) and work with the Seminole Tribes of Florida in planning and structuring of this project. Additional labor resources to construct the Seminole Chickee are proposed to be avocational archaeologists and archaeology and anthropology students from various locations. Funding resources will be solicited through State and local grants, fundraising and the Seminole Tribes of Florida.

THE CHICKEE (Seminole house) – The Chickee will be constructed over a log pole frame, approximately 9ft x 16ft in size with a wooden platform which serves as the floor, approximately 3ft. to 4ft. above the ground, and a thatched roof made of palmetto fronds. This style was born during the early 1800s when Seminole Indians, pursued by U.S. Troops, needed fast disposable shelter while on the run.

The Seminole Chickee will provide a historical and educational insight to the lifestyle of the Seminole Indians through emersion programs and exhibits. Craft demonstrations such as “sweetgrass” basket making, beadwork, colorful Seminole patchwork will be presented as emersion programs. Seminole dolls made of cloth-wrapped palmetto fiber husk stuffed with cotton is a favorite learning experience. Exhibits and demonstrations of making tools, weapons and dugout canoes will be educational emersion programs.

Traditional food preparation will be demonstrated and included in emersion programs and served at special events. Educational programs about Medicinal Plants and the importance of the Medicine men and women who still play a vital role in the lives of Seminole Indians will be presented. Storytelling will be another important educational program.


To Heritage Foundation homepage. To Pritchard House webpages. To Clifton Schoolhouse webpages. To the Gibson Houses webpages. To the Oliver's Camp webpages. To the Hutchinson Barn webpage
To the Ais Indian encampment webpage To the Indian War/Civil War Fort webpage To the Palmetto Hut of Early Settlers webpage To the Cracker House webpage

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