A Seminole Love Story

Walter Resce
Ruth Brigham
Production Date: 
Walter Resce
None, silent film
Run Time: 
Rainbow Pictures

Establishing shot: Seminole man and woman in a canoe
Named locations: Tropical Hobby Land (Musa Isle Seminole Indian Village), Miami Florida, Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation

Major themes covered: Florida Tourism film offers young love and alligator wrestling as a demonstration of Seminole culture (1947). Very much a product of its times, with Indian Madonna shots and sentimentalist representations of Seminole life in the Everglades--Jennifer Jenkins, 2013  This film depicts two major themes, love and alligator wrestling. It also attempts to document Seminole culture and life in a much romanticized style. 

Native activities shown:  Men cooking alligator, alligator wrestling, courting (man rowing woman in canoe), marriage preparation activities (i.e., chopping wood, sewing a skirt).

Individuals Named: Henry Nelson, world champion alligator wrestler, Jackie Willie, alligator wrestler.
Native language: none
Noteworthy elements: 
Jackie Willie and Henry Nelson were brothers and pro alligator wrestlers at the Tropical Hobbyland tourist attraction in Miami Florida. Ruth Brigham was a writer who, upon visiting Florida’s Tropical Hobbyland came to befriend Seminole alligator wrestler Jackie Willie. Brigham was invited by Jackie Willie to attend his marriage ceremony with a Seminole woman named Letoya. It was shared that in order to prove his worthiness and manhood to his bride, Jackie Willie needed to perform various tasks before he could be joined with her. Among the various tasked filmed were of Willie chopping wood in front of his bride and hunting a boar (which was not filmed). And among the tasks the bride must perform is the making of a skirt, for herself, to wear for her soon-to-be husband on the day of their ceremonial union. The bride also had to demonstrate her knowledge of managing a household and displayed her duties in cleaning. 

Other notes: "Rainbow Pictures presents."

Print Resources:

Covington, James, W. The Seminoles of Florida. University Press of Florida, 1993.

Garbarino, Merwyn, S. Big Cypress: A changing Seminole community. Case Studies in Cultural Anthropology; Holt, Rinehart & Winston Inc., 1972.

McReynolds, Edwin, C. The Seminoles. Norman University of Oklahoma Press, 1957.

Missall, John, and Mary L. Missall. The Seminole Wars: America's Longest Indian Conflict. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2004.

West, Patsy. The Enduring Seminoles: From Alligator Wrestling to Ecotourism. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1998.

Online Resources:

Reading Eagle newspaper article March 9, 1947, ‘First White woman attends Seminole Indian wedding.’



Information on Seminole Clans and Wedding Ceremony.



The official Seminole Tribal webpage



Florida tourism webpage. Contains information on Seminole Indians culture and history.



The Seminole Indians of Florida: A Summary of Seminole Indian History, Indian Bureau Activities, and Social, Religious, Educational, and Economics Conditions. Riverside, Calif: Sherman Institute Press, 1950.

--Sara Guzman, 2013