Think the Seminole Nation started with Bobby Bowden? On February 12, You’ll Find out Differently.
By Bob Holladay, President
I’ve known Andrew Frank from the FSU History Department for about 10 years. I first met him when I was considering returning to school for my doctorate and thought I would ask him to be on my committee. Over the years, as we have run into each other at Costco or had barbeque together, we have become closer friends, particularly after he realized that I really was not going to return to school, and was therefore letting him off the hook.
I have tried to get him to speak to the Historical Society several times. Finally, last summer I cornered him in the fresh fruit department at Costco, where he could either say yes or freeze. I’m very pleased he said yes.
Andrew, who is going to speak on the origins of the Seminole nation (not the football team), knows a lot about the native cultures of Florida and the southeast. He follows in the footsteps at FSU of such luminaries as J. Leitch Wright, who wrote several books about them, but is probably most famous for The Only Land They Knew, which is about the treatment of the southeastern tribes at the hands of the federal government. Having Andrew Frank speak to us reinforces a very strong tie between the Tallahassee Historical Society and the history departments of Tallahassee’s three institutions of higher learning, something I write about in my newsletter column this issue. Over the years, scholars like Leitch Wright, Bill Rogers, Will Guzman, Mary Lou Ellis, Joe Knetsch and many others have given the Tallahassee History Society academic legitimacy that many organizations like ours lack. It is a connection that is important on many levels; it allows members to hear the latest scholarship and findings; for the history departments, it allows professors and graduate students to connect with the larger community. It is my hope, as President, to have at least one speaker from FSU, FAMU or TCC each season. It is a connection that cannot be allowed to lapse.
Andrew Frank is well-qualified to speak on the origins of the Seminoles. He is currently writing a book-length manuscript on their history, tentatively entitled Those Who Camp at a Distance: The Seminoles and Indians of Florida. He is also the author of Before the Pioneers: Indians, Settlers, Slaves, and the Founding of Miami (University Press of Florida, 2017). This book explores the 2000 years of continuous human occupation at the North Bank of the Miami River—a history that connects the ancient Tequesta with the 20th-century development of south Florida. The North Bank’s history includes the stories of Tequesta and Seminole Indians, Spanish missionaries, African slaves and white slaveholders, Bahamian wreckers, outlaws, runaways, American soldiers, and others. In exploring this often ignored past, Before the Pioneers explains how Henry Flagler, Julia Tuttle, and the other so-called “pioneers” of the late 19th century chose the site for modern Miami in part as a result of the legacies of the earlier settlers.
Andrew is also the author of Creeks and Southerners: Biculturalism on the Early American Frontier (2005), a volume that explores race and identity in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. His other books include The Routledge Historical Atlas of the American South (1999), The Seminole (History and Culture of Native Americans) (2011), and Borderland Narratives: Exploring North America’s Contested Spaces, 1500-1850 (2017). He has published more than two dozen book chapters and journal articles. Recent articles and books chapters include: “Red, Black, and Seminole: Community Convergence on the Florida Borderlands, 1780-1840,” in A. Glenn Crothers and Andrew K. Frank, eds., Borderland Narratives: Exploring North America’s Contested Spaces, 1500-1850 (2017); “Creating a Seminole Enemy: Ethnic and Racial Diversity in the Conquest of Florida,” Florida International University Law Review 9 (2014): 277-293; “Preserving the Path of Peace: White Plumes and Diplomacy during the Frontier Panic of 1849-1850,” Journal of Florida Studies 1 (2013), “Authenticity for Sale: The Everglades, Seminole Indians, and the Construction of a Pay-Per-View Culture,” in Karen L. Cox, ed., Destination Dixie: Tourism and Southern History (2012); “The Return of the Native: Innovative Traditions in the Southeast,” in The Old South’s Modern Worlds: Slavery, Region, and Nation in the Age of Progress, edited by L. Diane Barnes, Brian Schoen, and Frank Towers (2011).
Please come hear and greet Andrew Frank. As Tallahassee approaches its bicentennial in 2024, the reality of the state, and this part of the state as a true crossroads of multiple cultures is manifest. The March 12 meeting will begin at 7 pm at the Governor Martin House, 1001 DeSoto Park Drive, in Myers Park. We will have a reception beginning at 6:30. We have had outstanding attendance at our meetings this year, and want to keep the momentum going.