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The Historic 1954
"Unconquered"*
Miccosukee Seminole Nation
"Buckskin Declaration
of Independence"
(Hand delivered in Washington D.C. on March 1, 1954)


Buckskin Text / Buckskin Signing (Photo) /
Buckskin Ratification
(Photo)


To the Most Honorable President of the United States of America

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Our Most Solemn and Respectful Greetings:

We the General Council, being the governing body, of the Mikasuki Tribe of Seminole Indians in the State of Florida, have met in formal council in the Everglades in this time of decision to our Tribe and appeal to you as a great leader of your people to dispense the justice which will preserve our freedom, property rights and independence.

We, unconquered, have been at peace with your Nation for over one hundred years. Our history tells us that in the past treaties have been made with the Nations of Great Britain and Spain, recognizing and entitling us to vast portions of lands in what is now known as the State of Florida.

When your Nation in 1821 made a treaty with the country of Spain you agreed to recognize our property rights in such of those lands that at that time were recognized by Spain. Subsequently your Nation made treaties with our independent Nation, all of which were dishonored by your Nation either by failure to act or by provoked wars.

Under the last treaty your Nation made with our Nation we were entitled to all of those lands as shown by the "Map of the Seat of War in Florida compiled by order of Brig. General Zachary Taylor, principally from the Surveys and Reconnaissance of the Officers of the U. S. Army by Capt. John MacKay and Lt. J. E. Blake" in 1839; as well as the lands due us under various other treaties.

We, the Mikasuki Tribe of the Seminole Nation, have made no requests of any kind upon your government since the McComb Treaty of 1839. We have never asked for nor taken any assistance, in money or in any other thing, from your Nation.

We have for over one hundred years lived on lands in the Everglades, some of which were established as Indian Reservations, and for over one hundred years we have not been discontent with our relationship, because you let us alone and we left you alone. For over one hundred years we have not allowed the conduct we have received from your government to disturb us in spite of many insults to our Nation, chief of which has been the deliberate confusion of our Mikasuki Tribe of Seminole Indians, governed by our General Council, with the Muskogee Tribe of Seminole Indians in order to avoid recognition of our tribal government, independence, rights and customs.

Now, and for the first time in over one hundred years, we are obliged to address ourselves to your government.

There has been filed before the Indian Claims Commission in your government, without our authority, a claim, supposedly by us, and supposedly to compensate our Tribe with money for lands taken from us by the United States Government in the past. We want no money. (emphasis supplied)

The Congress of the United States we learn is considering laws to make us equal, supposedly to White Men and to take away what little tribal lands your government has left us, all under the theory that our Tribe wants to be or should be treated as White Men with the rights of White Men to own individual land.

We have expressed our wishes, our customs and our view as a Tribe through our General Council which governs us to your government officials but have been ig- nored, given little courtesy and much insult, had your local Indian Agent interfering in our internal affairs and had your Secretary of the Interior tell us to change the form of government under which we have lived for centuries.

We have, and have had for centuries, our own culture, our own customs, our own government, our own language, and our own way of life which is different from the government, the culture, the customs, the language, and the way of life of the White Man. We do not say that we are superior or inferior to the White Man and we do not say that the White Man is superior or inferior to us.

We do say that we are not White Men but Indians, do not wish to become White Men but wish to remain Indians, and have an outlook on all of these things different from the outlook of the White Man. We do not wish to own lands because our land is for all of us. We live on our land, which is the land of all of our Tribe, and we live from our land which is the land of all of our Tribe. We have failed to have your Indian Agent or your Secretary of the Interior or your other government officials understand our outlook.

We are therefore solemnly and respectfully requesting that you appoint a special representative to act for you, who is not connected with any branch of your government, who is fair and impartial, and who will be instructed by you to meet with us so that we may make ourselves understood to him, so that he may try to understand us, and so that a satisfactory agreement can be reached between your Nation and our Nation on the preservation of the lands to which we are entitled under all past treaties, under the law of nations, and under justice; and the recognition of our tribal government, the General Council, so that we and you may live together in this land which was all once our land.

Signed this 26 day of February 1954, by the General Council.

 

(by their X)

Sam Jones Micco   Ingraham Billie   Jimmie Billie

Oscar Hoe   Frank Charlie   Jimmie Henry

Willie Jim   George Osceola   Jack Clay

          Translated, interpreted and witnessed . . . .


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