North American Native American Cultural Areas: Southeastern Area

Figure 1.--Here we see a modern Florida Seminole family in their characteritic brightly colored clothing.

This areas includes the southeastern Umited States south of Virginia and extending into eastern Texas. The Spanish were the first to encounter Native Ameicans in the Southeast after Pomce de Leon discovered Florida (1513). Spanish settlement of Floida was rather limited. This changed when the English arrived in Virginia (1607). English settlers began arriving in large numbers. Cultural characteristics of Native Americans in the Southeast included intense agriculture, permanent villages, complex political organization, social grades and slavery, head deformation, good pottery, basic weaving, and the Busk or green corn ceremony. Some of the tribes built mounds and are often referred to as the mound builders. The supression of the Cherokee, whose people began building farms on the European model was one of the most outrageous examples of American Indian policies. Their removal was carried out despite a Supreme Court order and imortalized in the trail of tears. The principal tribes were the Caddo, Cherokee, Chikasaw, Choctaw, Creek, Seminole, and Yamasee. The Yamasee belonged to the Muskhogean language group. Their homelands were what is now northern Florida and southern Georgia. The advent of the Spanish in the late 16th century forced the Yamasee to migrate north into what would become South Carolina. Relations between the tribe and English settlers in that region were generally positive during the latter half of the 17th century. The Yamasee War (1715) would be a turning point in settler/Native American relations in the Southeast and a decline in the Indian slave trade. The Cherokee were an especially impressive people and their removal (1830s), especially tragic. A few of the lesser tribes are now extinct. The Seminole were a relatively modern creation and not ethically based, but an Amalgum of Southeastern tribes and escaped African slaves. Their heroic resistance to settlers and the U.S. Army is an important event in Native American history.


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Created: 1:54 AM 5/26/2007
Last updated: 9:12 PM 8/2/2014