Tribal Relations

OsceolaBetween the end of the Pleistocene (ca. 11,500 years ago) and the European colonization of the New World, populations of people lived in what is now known as the Osceola National Forest.  Many lived in-and-around this area as part of seasonal migrations for food and raw materials.  People who became known as the Seminole settled in this area during the latter 1700s and the early 1800s as they were pushed south out of their traditional homelands in Georgia and the Carolinas by British colonial interests.  In fact, the forest takes its name from Osceola, a powerful warrior of Muskogean descent who led a group of Seminole Indians during the Second Seminole War (1835-1842).   

Although many of the indigenous prehistoric groups that lived here over millennia predate the traditionally recognized 'named tribes', recent discoveries have uncovered evidence about their identity.  Archeological evidence indicates extended settlement networks of prehistoric groups dubbed by archeologists as 'Suwanee Valley Culture'.  Included are campsites, villages, 'Suwanee Valley' pottery, tools, and possible mounds constructed during the Woodland Period (ca. 2200-1000 years ago). 

Direct descendants of the 'Suwanee Valley Culture' are likely the Timucuan of North Florida.  This tribe (also related to the Ocale and the Potano of Central Florida) was largely wiped-out by early European settlers for many reasons.  Indigenous people were severely affected by European diseases for which native populations had no natural resistance or immunity.  Also, enslaving native people to work as agricultural laborers took a heavy toll on reduced populations.  Finally, warfare among indigenous and European groups for control of land and resources caused the extinction of some populations, dissolving of group identity through social and political turmoil and emergence of new Tribes as coalitions formed for individual and group survival.  Although nearly wiped-out by the end of the 1700s, some Timucuan speakers are believed to have been relocated to Cuba by the Spanish.  The Indian Removal Act of 1832 pushed some people into hiding by moving to more remote areas of Florida and some were removed to Oklahoma.

Today, relations between Tribal governments and the US Forest Service are integral to managing traditional homelands.  The Forest Service maintains 'Government-to-Government' relations with seven federally recognized Tribal governments as domestic sovereign nations.  These are the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Seminole Tribe of Oklahoma, Poarch Band of Creek Indians, Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Miccosukee Tribe of Florida, Kialegee Tribal Town of the Muskogee Nation, and Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town.  Through consultation, recommendations for responsible stewardship are made.  Federal cultural resource laws specifically require the Forest Service to identify significant archeological sites and potential Sacred Sites and adjust management practices accordingly.  Tribal consultation is a key component of this responsibility.