OKEFENOKEE Heritage Center
Native American Exhibit
Seminole Indians in South Georgia
There were three Seminole Wars that commanded the attention and manpower of the U.S. Army and Navy at the Georgia-Florida frontier since the early colonial period. The engagements that took place between American troops and the Seminoles in Georgia, the First (1817-18) and Second (1835-42) Seminole Wars.
British, Spanish & French colonists had been, at best, uneasy allies with Native American nations in the Southeast since initial contact in the 16th century. Conflicts over trade agreements and land cessions resulted in small-scale skirmishes that ultimately exploded into full declared warfare.
Seminoles in Southern Georgia
The Seminoles were multiple clans that had splintered from various southwestern tribes (Alabama, Lower Creek, Oconee, Yuchi, Choctaw, and Shawnee) and drifted into southern Georgia and northern Florida around 1700s. By 1750 these clans had united and built towns along the Suwannee River, linked to other Native American and maroon villages through intermarriage. In the 1790s the Spanish and British American colonists commenced identifying all of these clans as “Seminoles.” The first colonists understood Seminole to refer to wild people, adventurers, and wanderers. A census in 1890 estimated that there were about 5,000 Seminoles living along the Georgia – Florida border at the start of the First Seminole War.
Our Native American exhibit outlines the succession of cultures that have inhabited the Okefenokee region. Through dioramas and artifacts that include tools, pottery, and weapons, visitors can understand more about the way ways of life of Native Americans in Southeast Georgia. Artifacts on display were found on a nearby farm, including the pot shown here, a stamped piece from the Irene culture, circa 1200 A.D.