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Abiaka

Statue of Sam Jones at Tree Tops ParkAbiaka (Sam Jones) lived through some of the most tumultuous and dangerous periods of Seminole life during the 19th century.  He was a medicine man who looked after his people. There were a number of leaders like Osceola who were better known by the Europeans, but Abiaka played just as great a role by keeping the Seminole people together and surviving through wartime to peace times. It was his stubborn and fierce determination to stay in the Florida peninsula, which steeled the Seminole people to resistance. Every Seminole who still lives today in Florida owes this fact to Abiaka.

Leaders of the Seminole can be both highly visible and invisible.  Leaders such as Osceola were written about and much publicized to the non-Seminole society. Other leaders stayed in the background and exerted just as much influence. This background role was the mechanics of Seminole society that the U.S. military did not see and did not include in their copious war reports. A leader such as Abiaka could do his work without their knowledge and awareness. It was his style of leadership preferred by Abiaka and he seemed to have been successful in leading warriors in battle and moving the elders, women, and the children to safety.

Artist drawing of Sam JonesAny group of people such as the Seminole who were relentlessly hunted, pursued, and whose material resources were destroyed gradually needs an intangible will to fight and to persist. Abiaka provided that inspiration and spiritual resources to prevail in war. His presence together with his medicine provided warriors in battle to believe that everything will come out alright in the end. This is the legacy of Abiaka. 

(Written by Billy L. Cypress, Executive Director of the Seminole Tribal Museum Authority)

More information about Abiaka can be found on Wikipedia.