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A Guide to the Seminole Medicine Chants and Songs

Finding aid created by R. Boyd Murphree

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections

September 2020

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Matteson, J. Harold
Title: Seminole Medicine Chants and Songs
Dates: circa 1940s
Abstract: Recordings of Seminole medicine chants and songs. Naturalist J. Harold Matteson recorded the chants and songs and includes a historical narrative.
Extent: 6 Items. Six double-sided, 78 rpm grooved discs with a total duration of 01:04:00.
Identification: MSS 0569
Language(s): Includes materials in English and Creek.
Online ContentItems from this collection have been digitized and are available online in the UF Digital Collections. For more information please see the note below.

Biographical/Historical Note

In the 1940s, Naturalist J. Harold Matteson of Miami made phonograph recordings of Seminole medicine men who performed traditional Seminole medicinal chants and songs. Matteson refers to the Seminoles he recorded as part of the "Big Cyprus People"; however, it is unclear if he made the recordings at the Big Cyprus Seminole Reservation. Although other researchers had previously recorded Seminole songs and dances, the recordings Matteson made have remained unpublished until the University of Florida's Special and Area Studies Collections had them digitized and uploaded to the University of Florida's Digital Collections in 2020.

Scope and Content

The original six grooved discs have been digitized and are available in mp3 files in the University of Florida's Digital Collections.

Seminole 1: Grooved Disc 7.1 a 00:05:28, Unidentified Seminole chant, Matteson on the historical and project background and Seminole clans; 7.1 b 00:05:38, Seminole chant and Matteson narrative on Seminole clans.

Seminole 2: Grooved Disc 7.2 a 00:05:41, Medicine chants for deer sickness and Matteson on Seminole medicine men; 7.2 b 00:05:41, Fire Song and Matteson on Seminole medicine men and the supernatural.

Seminole 3: Grooved Disc 7.3 a 00:05:33, Medicine chant for the giant sickness and Matteson on Seminole medicine men and the Seminole cosmology; 7.3 b 00:06:30, Water People and Water Animal chants and Matteson on Seminole belief in the transmigration of souls.

Seminole 4: Grooved Disc 7.4 a 00:05:43, Buzzard, Sun, Moon, Morning Star, Red Star, Three Stars, Two Stars, and Seven Stars chants and Matteson on Seminole medicines; 7.4 b 00:05:46, Parts of the Body Dance (from the Green Corn Dance) and Matteson on the importance of tobacco in Seminole healing rituals.

Seminole 5: Grooved Disc 7.5 a 00:05:26, Rattlesnake Song and Horned Owl Song from the Hunting Dance and Matteson on various Seminole medicinal rites; 7.5 b 00:05:45, Unidentified chant and Matteson on Seminole widows and the Green Corn Dance.

Seminole 6: Grooved Disc 7.6 a 00:03:26, Feather Dance chant and Matteson on the importance of documenting Seminole folkways before the elders die off; 7.6 b 00:03:22, Seminole war songs.

Access or Use Restrictions


The recordings are available for research; however, for preservation of the original discs, researchers should use the digitized versions of the recordings.

Related or Separated Material

See also:

Seminole Music

Seminole Songs

Seminole Legends, Dances and Religious Songs

Administrative Information

Alternative Format Available

Digital reproductions of selected items in the Seminole Medicine Chants and Songs are available online via the University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC). Please read the Permissions for Use statement for information on copyright fair use, and use of UFDC digital objects.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Seminole Medicine Chants and Songs, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Acquisition Information

There is no donor information available for this collection.

Selected Subjects and Access Terms

Indian dance.
Indians of North America -- Medicine.
Seminole Indians.

For further information, please contact: Special Collections Access Services.

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