Seminole Food: Patterns of Indigenous Foodways in South Florida, 1855 to 1917

  • Albert D Gonzalez California State University, East Bay
Keywords: Seminole, Foodways, History, Archaeology


Few systematic historical studies of Seminole Indian foodways in Florida exist, fewer even for the critical period between Removal and World War I.  This paper aims to fill the gap in related foodways and historical literature, while establishing a starting point for zooarchaeological and archaeobotanical studies on the topic.  It addresses the issue from the ground up, developing an inventory of Seminole selective preferences in terms of food and tracking changes in those preferences over time.  The study borrows the use of presence/absence matrices from archaeology to facilitate that analysis, treating an extensive set of related documents as a stratified matrix in which historical observations of Seminole food consumption are recorded by food type.  It relies on Seminole oral histories to supplement the document index by providing additional information as to food preferences and taboos.  Results of data analysis lead me to the conclusion that two complimentary channels of foodways existed among Seminole Indians in South Florida at the time: (1) a conservative channel that maintained symbolically and nutritionally important foods and, (2) a more flexible channel that allowed for the incorporation of supplementary foods of various origins.

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