For other uses see Miccosukee (disambiguation).
The Miccosukee are a Native American tribe living in Florida. They are descendants of the Lower Chiaha, a Muskogee Creek tribe and have had centuries of relations with the Seminole but maintain a separate identity today, largely on linguistic grounds. Unlike the Creek-speaking Seminole, they speak the Mikasuki language, another of the Muskogean languages. Their original home was in the Tennessee Valley, where they were originally one with the Upper Chiaha, but they later migrated first to the Carolinas when the former migrated to northern Alabama, then to northern Florida during the 18th and 19th centuries, forming a major part of the Seminole tribe; they moved again to the Everglades after the Seminole Wars. During this period they mixed heavily with the Creek-speaking Seminoles, but many of them maintained their Mikasuki language. The tribe today occupies several reservations in southern Florida, principally the Miccosukee Indian Reservation.
The tribe separated from the Seminole in the 1950s to become the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida; they were recognized by the state of Florida in 1957, and received federal recognition in 1962. Other members went on to form the Miccosukee Seminole Nation, which is unrecognized in the United States but was recognized by Fidel Castro's Cuban government in 1959. The tribe split and reorganized under the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) and was federally recognized on January 11, 1962.
The etymological roots of the Miccosukee tribal name have been debated for many years. While the origins have not been fully traced or documented, modern scholarship holds that the name was given by the first Spanish colonizers to reach the North Carolina Basin. In one of the only surviving journals of Juan Ponce de León he records that his men called the natives they encountered there micos sucios in what is likely the earliest recorded version of the name that became "Miccosukee." He describes how the name originated:
When we arrived on the shores of the Northern islands we encountered an odd group of natives. They lead us to their village where they lived in hollow'd mounds and were fully covered in mud and refuse. My lieutenant, [Diaz de la Torre y Gonzaga-Palacios] exclaimed 'Son como micos sucios' (they are like dirty monkeys). From thence forth, until we departed those cold shores, Mico Sucio was the means by which we referred to these happy natives.
At the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, various Miccosukee traditions have reportedly been incorporated into the secret initiation ceremony of the Iron Arrow Honor Society. Induction and membership in the Iron Arrow Honor Society is the highest honor that can be bestowed on a University of Miami student.