The Seminole people are a tribe that formed in Florida from the amalgamation during the 19th century of various groups that had been part of the Creek Confederacy and of other elements, including Black slaves. Most Seminoles are members of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida. Communities of Black Seminoles, descendants of slaves held by Seminoles who adopted Seminole culture, live in Oklahoma, Texas, Mexico and the Bahamas.
The Indians living in Spanish Florida when it was first reached by Europeans had severely declined in numbers by the beginning of the 18th century. The final blow for those people was a series of raids against the missions established by the Spanish among tribes in what is now southeastern Georgia and northern Florida, and then against the remaining tribes in peninsular Florida. The raids were carried out by by the English in South Carolina and their Indian allies, including groups from the Creek Confederacy. These Creeks also engaged in hunting, primarily for deer skins, throughout Florida.
In 1715 the Yemassees of South Carolina rebelled against their English allies, and after losing the Yemassee War, moved to Florida where the Spanish authorities were happy to settle them around St. Augustine as a buffer against raids from the English and their Indian allies. Creeks attacked the Yemassees and eventually greatly reduced their numbers, taking some of them, particularly the women, as slaves. These Yemassee women were ancestors of some of the people who eventually became Seminoles.
Groups of Creeks began settling in Florida in the 1750s, establishing towns around the Tallahassee-Lake Miccosukee area and the Gainesville-Paynes Prairie area. Other early settlements were along the Apalachicola River and in the area west of Gainesville over to the Suwannee River. (While the Creeks may have found remnants of earlier tribes in the area, there is no evidence of earlier cultures in the Creek townsites.) More Creeks entered Florida in the first quarter of the 19th century, raising the total Creek-descended population in Florida to about 5,000. Towns were established from south of Gainesville to Tampa Bay during this period.