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Betty Mae Jumper

1994 Florida Folk Heritage Award


Betty Mae Jumper (1922-2011) was born on the Seminole reservation in Hollywood, Florida of a Seminole mother and an Anglo father. She was raised by her extended Native American family. As a child, Jumper was told traditional Seminole stories and was encouraged to appreciate the significance of her cultural heritage. After completing her public education, she attended nursing school in Cherokee, North Carolina.

For many years, Jumper worked as a nurse for the Seminole nation. Her training as a medical professional served as a vital link for her community which had a history of rejecting modern medical practices.

Jumper is a respected member of the Seminole community. The founder and editor of the Seminole Tribune, she played a vital role in the production of the weekly publication that serves the Seminoles of Florida. She was the first female member of the Seminole Tribal Council, one of the few Native American women in the United States to serve in this capacity, and was Chairwoman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida from 1967 to 1971.

Throughout her life, Jumper worked tirelessly as an advocate for Native American culture and history. She traveled extensively throughout the United States, sharing her repertoire of traditional stories and selling Seminole crafts to Native American and non-Indian communities.