An Assumption of Sovereignty


An Assumption of Sovereignty

Social and Political Transformation among the Florida Seminoles, 1953-1979

Harry A. Kersey Jr.

Indians of the Southeast Series

290 pages


September 2007


$24.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

In the early 1950s the very existence of the Florida Seminoles was in jeopardy. Mired in poverty, poorly educated, underemployed, and without a tribal government, they also faced the possibility that the U.S. Congress would terminate services to them. Fortunately, loss of reservation lands was averted and the situation began to improve. When the federal government approved a charter and constitution for the tribe in 1957, it marked both the official resumption of tribal sovereignty after more than a century and the first agreement that did not force removal of the Seminoles from the reservation.

An Assumption of Sovereignty continues Harry A. Kersey Jr.’s examination of Seminole history. He studies the effects of shifting governmental attitudes and policies on the Florida Indians during the past quarter-century. He also charts the social, economic, and political experiences of the tribe during these volatile decades. By the end of the account, readers understand that the Seminole tribe has become organized, functioning, and sovereign, with a stable economic base. The author has made extensive use of oral history from tribal elders as well as the memoirs and records of Florida congressional leaders.

Author Bio

Harry A. Kersey Jr. is a professor of history at Florida Atlantic University. He is the author of The Florida Seminole and the New Deal, The Seminole and Miccosukee Tribes: A Critical Bibliography, and Pelts, Plumes, and Hides: White Traders among the Seminole Indians, 1870–1930.


“A valuable resource for students and teachers who wish to expand the study of Florida history to include women and minorities. . . . Thanks to its documentation, bibliographic essay, and useful index, Kersey’s book provides a solid starting point for scholars as they build upon their achievement.”—Howard Meredith, Journal of American History

“Dr. Kersey drew material from essential primary sources to write this definitive book. Every person in any way interested in the modern Florida Indians needs to study it and will enjoy doing so.”—John K. Mahon, Florida Historical Quarterly

“A well-researched work that historians will welcome not only because it fills a gap in the historical record, but also because it offers insight into writing on contemporary Indian affairs.”—Larry Burt, Journal of Southern History

“An Assumption of Sovereignty stands out as a valuable addition to the literature of the Seminoles and on post World-War II American Indian history. Readable and thoroughly researched, the work effectively illustrates the fact that American Indians can alter their societies in response to outside pressures while maintaining (or regaining) a meaningful level of sovereignty and cultural distinctiveness. Kersey should be commended for ending his trilogy on a high note.”—Christopher K. Riggs, American Indian Quarterly

“Kersey has expertly placed the Florida Seminoles within the broad focus of federal legislation and the awakening of Native-American political consciousness across the nation. The field of Florida Seminole history has been greatly enriched by his contributions.”—Patsy West, Gulf Coast Historical Review

“Although geared for a scholarly audience, this book should be in of interest to those interested in American Indian law and economic development. Much of what Kersey presents fits with the growing literature on contemporary Native American communities such as the Mashantucket Pequot and Mississippi Choctaw.”—Laurence M. Hauptman, Georgia Historical Quarterly

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