5 Facts You Should Know About the Seminole Tribe of Florida History

According to the Tampa Bay Business Journal (July 5, 2013 issue), Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa was noted as the fifth largest private employer in 2013. The property currently employs over 3,300 employees.

Prior to its $75 million expansion in 2012, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa had a total impact of over $533 million in annual expenditures. The expansion increased the economic total impact by $59 million, making the total impact $592 million in 2013.

Read about how the Seminole Tribe of Florida history and founding of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa.

1.  Origins and History

Opinions are divided among Seminoles and scholars as to the origins of today’s Florida Seminoles. While some believe they are descended from early Florida Tribes, whose members were decimated by diseases imported by European explorers in the 1500s, others point to their likely ancestors as the large populations of various Tribes who pushed into Florida in the 1500s, 1600s and 1700s. The word “Seminole” developed in the 1600s and 1700s and was likely spawned from the Spanish word “cimarrones” or runaways, because the Indians fled Spanish missions rather than give up their own beliefs.

2. Culture

The Seminoles live according to a matrilineal, clan-based culture, which is distinct from the European-based culture practiced by the descendants of Europeans who settled in North America beginning in the 1600s. The eight clans are the Bear, Panther, Otter, Wind, Snake, Bird, Deer and Bigtown.

3. Membership

More than 4,000 Seminoles are members of the Tribe. They live on and off reservations located in Southeast and Southwest Florida. To be eligible for membership, an individual must be at least 25 percent Seminole, established through historical documentation, DNA testing, or both. The Seminole Tribe of Florida is one of two Indian Tribes in Florida, the other being the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida.

4. Reservations

Nearly 100,000 acres of land within the borders of Florida are held in trust by the U.S. Department of the Interior for exclusive use by the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The two largest of these “reservation” lands include the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation south of Lake Okeechobee and the Brighton Seminole Reservation northwest of Lake Okeechobee. Others include the Hollywood Seminole Reservation near Hollywood, Fla., the Immokalee Seminole Reservation east of Naples, Fla., the Tampa Seminole Reservation, as well as land held in trust near Coconut Creek, Fla., in Broward County and near Fort Pierce, Fla., in St. Lucie County. The Seminoles have petitioned the U.S. Department of the Interior to take land into trust near Lakeland, Fla., in Polk County. This land was purchased by the Seminole Tribe for the development of homes for Tribal members who currently live in the Tampa Bay area.

5. Seminole Casinos

The original high stakes bingo hall is now the Seminole Classic Casino, one of seven gaming facilities owned and operated by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.  The Seminole Tribe expanded its gaming operations throughout the 1980s and 1990s with the opening of the Seminole Casino Brighton, the Seminole Casino Immokalee, the Seminole Casino Coconut Creek, the Seminole Casino Big Cypress and the Seminole Casino Tampa, which was transformed into the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa in 2004.  That same year, the Seminole Tribe also opened the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood.

Information courtesy of Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa