Seminole women harvested crops of corn, beans, and squash. Seminole men did most of the hunting and fishing, catching game such as deer, wild turkeys, rabbits, turtles, and alligators. Seminole Indian dishes included cornbread, soups, and stews.
In the past, however, Seminoles made flour for cooking from the roots of the wild coontie (Zamia) plant. They did not necessarily adhere to the “three meals per day” schedule, eating only when hungry. Cook slowly in very little water for 20-30 minutes, adding two tablespoons of cane syrup or sugar and salt to taste.
The Seminole were also farmers. Women grew gardens of corn, beans, squash, and Indian potatoes. They also cultivated small patches of pumpkins, sugar cane, rice, sweet potatoes, and fruits such as: bananas, huckleberries, melons, and grapes.
They also introduced their Gullah staple of rice to the Seminole, and continued to use it as a basic part of their diets. Rice remained part of the diet of the Black Seminoles who moved to Oklahoma. In addition, the language of the Black Seminoles is a mix of African, Seminole, and Spanish words.
Corn was the main crop. They used corn to make corn flour, corn bread, corn pancakes, and even a corn soft drink called sofkee. Sofkee is still a popular soft drink among the Seminole today.
The food they ate was a version of the traditional Southeastern Indian diet, including regional plants and animals; fry bread, alligator, swamp cabbage, coffee and sofkee, the Southeastern Indian’s traditional drink of boiled corn or rice. Tropical fruits often accompanied the meal.
Seminole Indians lived in a home called a Chickee. A chickee was a house built on stilts usually about three or four feet above the ground. A chickee was usually about nine feet wide and sixteen feet long, with a wooden platform which served as the floor and a thatched roof.
Near and along the coast, early Floridians gathered edibles, such as berries and oysters. They also hunted and fished. In addition, they farmed on a limited basis, growing corn, beans, squash, pumpkins, and sunflowers. The Timucua feasted on a smorgasbord of food, when it was available.
Some Creeks were searching for rich, new fields to plant corn, beans and other crops. For a while, Spain even encouraged these migrations to help provide a buffer between Florida and the British colonies. The 1770s is when Florida Indians collectively became known as Seminole, a name meaning “wild people” or ” runaway.”
The Seminoles generally welcomed those newcomers. Their economy emphasized hunting, fishing, and gathering wild foods such as nuts and berries; they also grew corn (maize), beans, squash, melons, and other produce on high ground within the wetlands.
Seminole tribes generally follow Christianity, both Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. They also observe their traditional Native religion, which is expressed through the stomp dance and the Green Corn Ceremony held at their ceremonial grounds. Indigenous peoples have practiced Green Corn rituals for centuries.
Seminoles are all members of a clan, and there are eight today: Panther, Bear, Deer, Wind, Bigtown/Toad, Bird, Snake, and Otter. Other clans have gone extinct, including the Alligator clan. Children inherit their clan through their mothers and husbands traditionally go to live in the camp of his new wife’s clan.
The indigenous Indians immediately to the north of Florida were given names such as Creek, Mikasuki, Yamassee, Yuchi, Oconee, Guale, Eufala, etc.
Before the turn of the century, Seminole turned to outside traders for tobacco and foodstuffs like coffee and sugar, sometimes paying with currency, sometimes bartering. Today, almost all transactions take place in stores within the money economy.