USF Libraries | Special & Digital Collections | Exhibits

Native American Architecture

Silver Springs, Seminole settlement, Florida

Chickee houses, [Date unknown].

During 1821, the Removal Act was in effect. This caused the lives of southern indigenous peoples to change forever. They were hunted down by American troops, so they were always "on the go". They could no longer rely on their traditional houses, which were stationary and equipped with features such as walls and sleeping quarters. They needed a quicker, easier to put up, and disposable shelter, as they frequently moved to diff erent camps.

This is how the "chickee" (Seminole word for "house") style began. Seminole tribes lived in these "chickees", which had cypress log frames and used woven palmetto leaves as roofs. The flooring was elevated to avoid wild animals and moisture. Though the sidings of this structure were opened most of the time due to the tropical climate, during wet season hides or cloth were used for covering the sides temporarily.