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100 years ago – The birth of Betty Mae Jumper

Betty Mae Jumper talks to a group of children in this undated photo. (File photo)

The 100th anniversary of the birth of Betty Mae Jumper, one of the Seminole Tribe’s most accomplished leaders, is April 27.

The legacy of Jumper’s life is evident throughout the tribe, including in the pages of the Seminole Tribune, which she cofounded.

Born in a camp in Indiantown on April 27, 1923, Jumper grew up around cattle and was a third generation cattle owner. In 1945, she became the first Seminole to graduate high school. After earning a degree in nursing, she became a nurse and helped to bring modern medicine to the tribe. The Betty Mae Jumper Medical Center on the Hollywood Reservation is a testament to her impact on the tribe.

In 1967, Jumper became the first female elected as chairwoman of the Seminole Tribe, or any other tribe in North America. She led Tribal Council from 1967 to 1971.

Betty Mae Jumper was born April 27, 1923. (File photo)

Some of her other accomplishments include cofounding the United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) and being appointed by President Richard Nixon to the National Congress on Indian Opportunity. She was inducted into the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame and earned a lifetime achievement award from the Native American Journalists Association. She also received an honorary degree from Florida State University and was named one of USA Today’s 100 Florida Women of the Century. Her portrait is painted on a 45-by-60-foot mural in Tallahassee along with two other influential Floridian women.

Jumper died Jan. 14, 2011, at age 88, but her memory and legacy lives on in the lives of her children and their families and the tribe.

Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at