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Seminole indians from florida exhibits and permanent collections in the museum. Guide and description for visitors.    
 
 
American Museum of Natural History .

The Menomini section of the American Museum of Natural History is particularly rich in silver work, basketry, medicine bags and clothing. The art of these peoples is shown in their porcupine quill and beadwork, basketry and bags. There are charms of various kinds used by witches, and a maple sugar outfit with interesting tradition. It is related by the Menomini that maple syrup formerly ran pure from the trees, but Manabus, their great mythical hero, fearing that mankind would become lazy and worthless if not obliged to work, diluted the syrup with water so that it must now be put through a refining process before it can be used. Of unusual interest are the antique bags woven of basswood string and yarn, most of them bearing designs of the Thunder Bird. In one case will be found a painted robe from a war bundle, the decorations representing all the gods of war, the medicines used in battle, the war leaders and the progressive sections of the war party from the war dance to the scalp dance. This robe is probably the only specimen of its kind in existence. Near-by will be found ordinary smoking and peace pipes of catlinite, and the regalia of the tribal officers of these Indians.

Among the Sauk and Fox specimens are a woman's ceremonial costume, decorated with thirty-nine large discs of German silver, bags woven from material which had been raveled from blankets (some of these are more than one hundred years old and bear designs of humanized forms of birds and other conventionalized bird figures), and deco-rated rawhide trunks.
The beaded belts and bags of the Winnebago tribe show a variety of ornamental designs. Their medicine bags, buckskin clothing, weapons, household utensils and implements will be found interesting.

The Eastern Cree are represented by birchbark canoes and a tule raft, clothing and charms. In this section will be found fancifully decorated garments made by the Naskapi, an Algonkin tribe related to the Cree.
One of the most important groups is that of the Ojibway. Upon the folk lore of these Indians is based Longfellow's poem "Hiawatha." A large collection of birchbark writings is exhibited in this group as well as examples of beadwork and household utensils.

The Seminole exhibit of the American Museum of Natural History is one of the three existing collections from these Indians. This tribe formerly occupied the greater part of Florida. In 1832, by treaty with the United States Government, they agreed to remove west of the Mississippi, but the treaty was repudiated by a considerable part of the tribe under the leadership of Osceola, the result being the most costly Indian war in the history of the government. In the end the seminole indians were conquered and removed to Oklahoma, with the exception of a few hundred who remained in Florida. These took refuge in the Everglades; they still remain hostile to the white man and will seldom permit him to enter their territory. They retain most of their primitive customs, and it is from them that the collection has been secured.

In the south wall cases are collections from the Mackenzie and Plateau culture areas. The Mackenzie Indians are mostly Christianized, and many of them are able to read and write their own language by means of syllabic characters. Their clothing is made from the skin of the caribou and their household utensils are of bark and wood. They travel by birchbark canoes in summer and snowshoes in winter.
In the center of the hall are special cases containing wampum, moccasin and food plant exhibits of the seminole indians.

The wampum material illustrates its several related uses by the tribes of North America. In its technical application wampum consisted of cylindrical beads made from shell, some of them white and others dark blue, the latter being the more valuable. Woven in belts or strings it was used to bind a treaty or a contract, and agreements between the tribes were solemnized by the exchange of belts of wampum. White wampum was emblematic of faith and purity. When a nation was summoned to war it received a black wampum belt with the figure of a hatchet in white. In concluding a treaty of peace between the warring tribes, the belts were exchanged as a ratification of the event. In trading between the Indians and the whites, the fathom was the name for the count, and the number of beads varied at different times and places. Under the Massachusetts standard of 1640, the fathom counted 240. Connecticut received wampum for taxes in 1637 at four beads to the penny, and wampum was current with silver in the colony in 1704.

The moccasin exhibit has been selected from a number of type specimens to give an adequate exposition of the primitive skin shoe. All varieties of pattern and decoration are represented.
The case of food plants contains samples and lists of the chief cultivated plants in the New World before 1492, most of which have since become world staples. This is the one great contribution of aboriginal New World culture. Adjoining is the

 

 

 

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