[Documents menu] Documents menu

From worker-brc-news@lists.tao.ca Fri Mar 16 16:50:57 2001
From: Art McGee <amcgee@igc.org>
Subject: [BRC-NEWS] Justice and African Seminoles
Sender: worker-brc-news@lists.tao.ca
Precedence: bulk
To: brc-news@lists.tao.ca
Date: Fri, 16 Mar 2001 15:52:14 -0500 (EST)


Justice and African Seminoles

By William Loren Katz <wlkatz@aol.com>,
The Black World Today, 15 March 2001

The current leadership of the Seminole Nation has sought to legally prevent their Black sister and brother members from sharing in the nation's holdings and entitlements. In a legal suit currently pending in a U.S. District court, however, African American members of the Seminole Indian nation are seeking to insure their equal rights are protected.

Seminole leaders who seek to deny their Black members' equal status show little understanding of their history. Seminoles of African descent have one of the most valid claims to equal treatment of any people on the face of the earth.

Africans, who escaped from British colonial plantations in Georgia and Carolinas beginning in the late 1600s, had settled in an ungoverned Florida and built communities largely free of European interference. By the beginning of the American Revolution, the Seminole people, a breakaway segment of the Creek Nation, left Georgia to seek a new life in Florida. There Africans, who in all probability taught them methods of rice cultivation they had learned in Sierra Leone and Senegambia, welcomed the Seminoles.

Then the two peoples of color formed an agricultural and military alliance that basically reconstructed the Seminole Nation. Though some Africans chose to live in separate villages, racial intermarriage also marked the new multicultural nation.

The Seminole alliance withstood tests of time and adversity. For decades Slack and Red Seminoles united to fight off U.S. slave hunting posses. After 1819 when the United States purchased Florida from Spain, Black and Red Seminole freedom-fighters battled far more than forty years against the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marines, at times tying up half of the U.S. Army in the peninsula.

In 1837 U.S. General Thomas S. Jessup reported from Florida, This is a Negro, not an Indian war.

It was both. A multicultural Seminole Nation that only sought its share of the American Dream was fighting against a U.S. government that seized its lands, tried to re-enslave its African members and sought to terminate its sovereignty.

By the Civil War, a battered Seminole Nation with its African members finally assenting, agreed to accept U.S removal to the Oklahoma Indian Territory. During the U.S. Civil War Red and Black Seminoles fought some of the earliest battles for the Union cause. After the war, six men of African descent were elected to the 42-membar Seminole governing council.

The Black Seminole claim to equality stands on this worthy history.

Those Seminoles who today oppose the racial equality, brotherhood and sisterhood pioneered by their glorious warrior ancestors, are advocating a crude version of ethnic cleansing. It is all the more repugnant because its sponsors represent in lineage the first victims of racism and genocide in the Americas.