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Seminole Patchwork

Satisfactory Essays
Seminole Patchwork

“Cross” or “sacred fire”, “arrow”, “zigzag”, “bird”, “wave”, “mountains” and “diamondback rattlesnake” all have something in common. What do all of these names have in common? They are all names of Seminole patchwork designs. What exactly is patchworking? It can be defined as the process of sewing pieces of solid colored cloth together to make long rows of designs, which are then joined horizontally to other bands of cloth to form a garment (Downs, 1995, 88). This Native American artwork is closely associated with the Florida Seminoles. The history of this tribe and how they came to make patchwork garments is rather interesting. In making patchwork garments, things to be considered include how it is done (process), what elements of design are used, whom the garment is to be made for and who actually makes it. Presently, there are less artists in this craft and the future of patchwork may be at risk. Seminole patchwork has been done for over a century, and it’s beauty and uniqueness needs to be revealed and recognized by Americans.

The Seminole Indians were not always located in Florida. In the early 19th Century the Seminoles lived in the cool areas of Georgia. They wore animals hides and furs to keep warm. This all changed in 1830, when President Andrew Jackson passed the Indian Removal Policy of 1830, which forced the Seminoles to flee to Florida. In fleeing to Florida they left behind their homes, some relatives who refused to leave and their cool climate. In Florida, there was no longer a need for the warm furs and hides and they turned to the use of cloth. In 1840, they disappeared into the Everglades and lived there in peace, with no influences from other tribes. The Everglades were rich with exotic items that were worth a lot in trade markets. Once a year, the Seminoles would take a voyage on the Miami River to Miami. In Miami they could trade items such as alligator hides and egret plumes for rolls of cotton cloth. The Seminoles would use the cotton to make various pieces of clothing. One year, a voyage could not be made to Miami to attain more cloth and the Seminoles were forced to use scraps of cloth, sewing them together to make a large piece of cloth or garment.
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