Seminole Indian history began with bands of Lower Creek Indians from British-ruled southern Georgia. After entering into conflicts with Europeans and Upper Creek tribes in the mid-1700s, the Seminoles migrated to northern and central Florida. They were joined by other groups of Indians from Alabama and Southern Carolina, such as the Miccosukees. At that time Florida was ruled by Spain and the Indians soon became collectively known as Seminole, a name derived from the Spanish word cimmarones, meaning wild people or runaways.
In the early 1800s, American troops entered the picture and were fighting the British in the War of 1812. In order to free new land for white settlers, the US government authorized the raiding of Seminole villages with the intent of displacing the Indians and re-enslaving Black fugitives who wereknown to be harbored by the Seminoles.
Between 1817 and 1858, the United States waged three Seminole Wars, nearly extinguishing the Indians and shipping survivors to Oklahoma. There were only a few hundred who managed to escape capture by moving south and hiding in the Everglades. Today, slightly more than 2,000 Seminoles live on six reservations in the state located in Big Cypress, Brighton, Fort Pierce, Hollywood, Immokalee and Tampa.