Graduation Year

2010

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.S.

Degree Granting Department

Biology (Cell Biology, Microbiology, Molecular Biology)

Major Professor

Richard P. Wunderlin, Ph.D.

Keywords

Ethnobotany, Native, Treatments, Illness, Florida

Abstract

Previous studies in Native American ethnobotany on the shared use of medicinal and cultural plants between communities fail to clearly reveal if these shared uses are part of changing culture or remain a stabilizing connection between old and new tribes. During the late 1700's to early 1800's, various factions of the Creek tribes of Georgia migrated into Florida, forming a new tribe called the Seminoles. This event provides the unique opportunity to study the changing cultural and medicinal uses of plants by a new tribe in a new geographic location, revealing if cultural purposes were passed from one group to another. A list of plants used for medicinal purposes by the Creek and Seminole tribes was produced from previous studies. Utilizing these lists, comparisons were drawn to determine if cultural practices were carried on between tribes as they changed locations and lifestyles. This study examines the use of 465 plants in 125 plant families. Of these, 39 plants were found to be used by both tribes for different treatment purposes. In contrast, only 15 plants where used by both tribes for similar treatments. The small number of shared use of plants indicates the newly formed Seminole tribe developed new cultural and medicinal practices. These findings indicate that the plants used for medicinal purposes by the Native American tribes of the southeast were a part of a changing culture, not a stabilizing connection between old and new tribes as previously thought.

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