Dec 19, 2017

Seminole Boys, Alligator Wranglers, and Weightlifters

Although the Seminole are the most famous Indian tribe of Florida, they were not among the 20 or so tribes living there when Europeans arrived in the 16th century.  They are the descendants of Creeks moving down from Georgia 200 years later.

  In the 19th century most were exiled to Oklahoma.  A few hundred moved into the Everglades to avoid removal.  Some African slaves also fled into the Everglades and joined them, becoming Black Seminole.

Today 4,000 of their descendant live in Florida, on six reservations.  About 1,600 speak the Mikasuki language and maintain cultural traditions, like stickball (the origin of lacrosse), alligator wrestling, and the Green Corn Dance.  

They hold a tribal fair and powwow in Fort Lauderdale every winter.

The traditional Seminole costume includes ornate, multicolored shirts, making it difficult to find beefcake photos.

Unless a guy take off his shirt to play stickball, as in this photo from the Florida State Archives.

But Seminole heritage, with its emphasis on strength, determination, and personal autonomy, has survived in many Florida names.  Two cities, the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa, several high schools, the Florida State University football team, and an endless number of streets, parks, and businesses.

This is the Seminole High School swim team.

And the water polo team.

Seminole Heights High School in Tampa is well known for its competitive weight lifters.  Both boys and girls participate.  Every year it sends two or three athletes to the all-regional and state competitions.

Abyu Perez (left) lifted 480 pounds and was named Weightlifter of the Year in 2014.

Kristian Gonzalez (top photo) lifted 540 pounds and was named Weightlifter of the Year in  2017.

Neither of them actually belong to the Seminole Nation, but it's the Seminole spirit that counts.

1 comment:

  1. Kinda weird how much the Seminole wear when we (I'm Lakota.) went shirtless during much of the summer, and during hunting and war, despite living in a colder climate.

    A lot of millennials wear that dancer's hairstyle, by the way. Seems like that Avatar cartoon made it really popular.


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