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Modern Era

Finally, in the MODERN ERA, Seminole society managed to both preserve and balance its unique culture within present-day Florida. From ranching, tourist attractions and hotels to Green Corn Dances, ball games, and traditional dress and architecture, Seminole culture is still an essential component of Florida life.

These images give only a brief insight into the vibrant culture and complex history of the Seminole Peoples of Florida. The following brief visual history was designed to coincide with the Museum of Florida History's newest exhibition, Seminole People of Florida: Survival and Success.

Seminole Tribe of Florida headquarters: Hollywood, Florida (1995)

Seminole Tribe of Florida headquarters: Hollywood, Florida (1995)

Image Number: PT04019

Nancy Billie (left) and Lottie Shore (right): Brighton Seminole Indian (1989)

Nancy Billie (left) and Lottie Shore (right): Brighton Seminole Indian (1989)

Image Number: FS89183

Modern Seminoles have become an integral part of modern Florida society. Yet many of today's Seminoless also strive to preserve and expand their traditional culture, including their foodways, recreation, dress, and architecture.

Lottie Shore holding hand ground corn: Brighton Seminole Indian (1989)

Lottie Shore holding hand ground corn: Brighton Seminole Indian (1989)

Image Number: FS89152

Susie Billie, a traditional Seminole healer: Clewiston, Florida (1995)

Susie Billie, a traditional Seminole healer: Clewiston, Florida (1995)

Image Number: FA2705

Frank Billie carving at the 1995 Florida Folk Festival: White Springs, (1995)

Frank Billie carving at the 1995 Florida Folk Festival: White Springs, (1995)

Image Number: F2018312

Seminole children playing stick ball: Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation (1989)

Seminole children playing stick ball: Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation (1989)

Image Number: FS89340

Seminole woman assembling connectors at a factory (1967)

Seminole woman assembling connectors at a factory (1967)

Image Number: C671010a

Seminole Tribe of Florida semi-truck: Big Cypress Reservation, Florida (1989)

Seminole Tribe of Florida semi-truck: Big Cypress Reservation, Florida (1989)

Image Number: FS89365

Danny Wilcox (right) and Bobby Henry (left) with dugout canoe: Tampa, Florida (1988)

Danny Wilcox (right) and Bobby Henry (left) with dugout canoe: Tampa, Florida (1988)

Image Number: FA1466

Rosie Billie cooking frybread: Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation (1984)

Rosie Billie cooking frybread: Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation (1984)

Image Number: FS86726

Excavation at Mission San Luis: Tallahassee, Florida (2007)

Excavation at Mission San Luis: Tallahassee, Florida (2007)

Image Number: PR30145

In recent years, scholars have begun to unravel the history of Florida's original peoples through archaeological sites, oral traditions, and historic documents.

Seminole chairman and popular singer Jim Billie performing at the Florida Folk Festival: White Springs, Florida (1986)

Seminole chairman and popular singer Jim Billie performing at the Florida Folk Festival: White Springs, Florida (1986)

Image Number: FA3904

Billie, a veteran of the Vietnam War and former hair stylist, was elected as chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida in 1979, replacing Howard Tommie. During his tenure, which lasted until 2003, Billie expanded the Seminole Tribe's financial and cultural activities into a multi-million dollar corporation. Beginning in the 1980s, Billie also became a popular singer, releasing several albums and performing throughout the nation. Here he is performing with Florida folksinger Will McLean.

Secretary of State Bruce Smathers wearing traditional Seminole patchwork jacket: White Springs, Florida (1975)

Secretary of State Bruce Smathers wearing traditional Seminole patchwork jacket: White Springs, Florida (1975)

Image Number: FS77258

By the late 20th Century, Seminole culture became prevalent throughout Florida. From Florida place names (Osecola and Seminole counties) to tourism to football mascots, many Floridians wanted to be linked with Seminole culture.

Florida State University cheerleader and Sammy Seminole: Tallahassee, Florida (1960)

Florida State University cheerleader and Sammy Seminole: Tallahassee, Florida (1960)

Image Number: RC01465

Early attempts to appropriate the image of Seminoles often played upon stereotypes and inaccuracies, such as FSU's well-intentioned but historically inaccurate Sammy Seminole.

Florida State University's mascot, "Chief Osceola" riding Renegade before a game at Doak Campbell Stadium: Tallahassee, Florida (1970s)

Florida State University's mascot, "Chief Osceola" riding Renegade before a game at Doak Campbell Stadium: Tallahassee, Florida (1970s)

Image Number: PR12845

Although Osceola was never a chief and the mascot has yet to be portrayed by a member of the Seminole tribe, nonetheless FSU's current mascot has the approval of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, who had a hand in the mascot's creation.

Although it has faced controversy in recent years, for many Floridians (including descendents of the soldiers who fought the real-life Osceola) the mascot demonstrates admiration and respect for Florida Seminoles.

The "Unconquered" bronze statue at Florida State University: Tallahassee, Florida (2006)

The "Unconquered" bronze statue at Florida State University: Tallahassee, Florida (2006)

Image Number: PR20765

Many have criticized the linking of Native American images with war and fighting as detrimental to their image. Others feel that it shows the pride and a willingness to preserve their way of life. Statues such as this one by Fritz White and other public images demonstrate Florida's continued centuries-old fascination with Seminole culture.

Portrait of Billie Bowlegs, III (1960s)

Portrait of Billie Bowlegs, III (1960s)

Image Number: FA3753

Seminole youth at the 1967 Florida Folk Festival: White Springs, Florida (1967)

Seminole youth at the 1967 Florida Folk Festival: White Springs, Florida (1967)

Image Number: FA3767