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REPORT TO THE COMMISSIONER
OF INDIAN AFFAIRS CONCERNING CONDITIONS AMONG THE SEMINOLE INDIANS
SURVEY AND REPORT MADE IN 1930
SEMINOLE SURVEY OF 1930
By Roy Nash
A TYPICAL CAMP OF 1930
The starting point in time of this 1930 survey is the year 1880. Just half a century ago Clay MacCauley, of the Bureau of American Ethnology, sojourned in the camps of the Florida Seminoles; in the fifth annual report of that bureau appears the record of the first study of these Indians made without political bias. Two points 50 years apart may indicate the trend of a slowly moving body with some accuracy.
The starting point in space is Miami. From the gold coasts of pleasure the Tamiami Trail runs west across the Everglades. Within 30 miles of the city hall one encounters an astounding anachronism: In the canal a dugout canoe; standing in the stern, a man with poised spear. He wears neither shoes nor hat. He wears nothing that is worn in the city 40 minutes away. His only garment is a kneelength shirt, belted at the waist. Like Joseph's coat, it is of many colors, bright, vivid, marking the wearer as a man apart from the metropolis of 110,000 which has sprung up like magic on the edge of his wilderness. A primitive hunter 30 miles from a center of industrial civilization where airplanes purr and ocean-going liners dock and a hundred thousand idlers bask in the sun-the Seminole.
At the junction with the north and south road from Everglades to La Belle we turn from the pavement to a gravel road that parallels the rails of the Atlantic Coast Line, and motor north through the Big Cypress Swamp to Immokalee. Two stores, & hotel, a filling station, a boarding house, two or three bootleggers, and an Indian camp out beyond the railroad station.
Guava Camp, our immediate destination, lies 35 miles southeast of Immokalee. No proper appreciation of the camp, however, can be had without mention of the 45 miles to be traversed after one leaves anything that might be called a road. We load an Indian bull cart with camp duffel and get it started by 3 in the afternoon. Young Ivey Byrd has come in from the Hendry County Reservation in å Ford truck, but as the month is August and hot he waits until evening to make a start in order to spare the litter of pigs which are to share the vehicle with us. In the wet season four-fifths of the trail from Immokalee to the Reservation is covered with from 2 to 6 inches of water. Byrd belongs to the school of marsh drivers that holds chains