The band was one of the two major elements of Seminole Society.
Originally, each band was a separate Tribe which later joined with the others
to form the
Seminole Tribe in the late 1700s and early 1800s.
Throughout the history of the Seminole Nation, the band was of primary importance
to the Seminole people.
The band was the center of religious life; first with the great
annual ceremonies such as the Green Corn Dance, and later with
the churches. It was also the center of political and legal life.
The band Chief, his assistant, and one of the band counselors from each
band formed the Tribal Council. Within the band, the band Chiefs
and the counselors made the laws for that band and served as a court
to settle disputes within the band. The band also was a focus of economic
life for the Seminole. Each band had a communal field which was
worked by all of its able-bodied members. The produce of the field was under
the control of the Chief and was used to feed guests, provide for orphans
and the destitute, and to help with the expenses of running the
Through time, the number of bands has been steadily reduced, as some
bands died out or joined with other, related bands. In the 1830s in
Florida, there may have been as many as 35 bands, in 1860 there were 24,
and by 1879 there were only 14 bands - the current number. In 1866,
two new bands were recognized. These were both Freedmen bands composed of
Negroes who had been associated with the Seminole since before removal.
Band membership was determined by birth and a person belonged
to the band of their mother. While it was possible to change bands,
this required the permission of both bands; and band membership was usually
for life. Bands were frequently known by the name of their Chief and
therefore the names would frequently change when a new Chief was selected.
The bands were also known on occasion by their old tribal names.
Hecete Speaking Towns
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