Seminole, a North American Indian tribe of Creek origin who speaks a Muskogean language. In the last half of the 18th century, migrants from the Creek towns of southern Georgia moved into northern Florida, the former territory of the Apalachee and Timucua. By about 1775 those migrants had begun to be known under the name Seminole, probably derived from the Creek word simanó-li, meaning “separatist,” or “runaway.” The name may also have derived from the Spanish cimarrón, “wild.”
The Seminoles located their new villages in the Everglades, a patchwork of dense thickets and wetlands that provided protective isolation from outsiders. There they were almost immediately joined by individuals who had escaped from slavery as well as by others attempting to avoid the bloody power struggles between European colonizers and other Southeast Indians.