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Seminole Tribe featured in ‘Indigenous Firsts’ book

A new book published in October takes a fresh look and a deep dive at a long list of firsts that have been achieved by Native Americans.

“Indigenous Firsts: A History of Native American Achievements and Events,” features research on firsts and feats in sports, politics, art, science, business and the military.

Some are better known and current, such as Interior Secretary Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) becoming the first Native American cabinet secretary in U.S. history in 2021. Haaland was also one of two Native American women to first be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2019. The other was Sharice Davids (Ho-Chunk Nation) who represents Kansas.

Visible Ink Press published “Indigenous Firsts” in October. (Courtesy image)

Others achievements in the book are less well known, such as Susan La Flesche Picotte (Omaha) becoming the first female Native American physician to graduate from medical school in 1889.

Within the book’s 496 pages and 275 photos are firsts that have been achieved by the Seminole Tribe.

The tribe was the first in the U.S. to operate a high-stakes bingo hall in 1979, located in what is now the Classic Casino in Hollywood. Forty years later, in 2019, the tribe achieved another first. As the parent entity of Hard Rock International, it would see the world’s first guitar-shaped hotel be built 450-feet tall at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood.

Another first achieved by the tribe and featured in the book took place in 2009. That’s when the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum on the Big Cypress Reservation became the first tribally governed museum to be accredited by the American Association of Museums.

The book also mentions well-known tribal leader Betty Mae Jumper. Jumper was elected in 1967 as the tribe’s first chairwoman. She’d serve in the position until 1971. Jumper had already been a member of the first tribal council that helped secure federal recognition in 1957.

The authors of “Indigenous Firsts” are Yvonne Wakin Dennis (Cherokee/Sand Hill), Paulette F. Molin (Chippewa) and Arlene Hirschfelder. The book was published by Visible Ink Press and is available where books are sold. More information is at

Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at