SEMINOLE MAROON SPIRITUAL REMEMBRANCE LAUNCHES 400TH YEAR COMMEMORATION IN SOUTH FLORIDA
The 181st Anniversary Annual Seminole Maroon Spiritual Remembrance of the two 1838 Battles of the Loxahatchee will be held on Sunday, January 20, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Battlefield site in Riverbend Park, 9060 W. Indiantown Road, in Jupiter, FL, during the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday
The Commemoration derives much inspiration from Dr. King’s teachings on social justice and the wisdom of nonviolence, even as it honors the memory of the fallen on all sides at a consecrated site of the Seminole War period, a conflict which U. S. General Thomas Jesup dubbed “A Negro War.”
Did You Know?
• Africans were in the Americas centuries before Columbus and the “slave trade,” as shown by the research of scholars like Ivan van Sertima and Leo Weiner. Some evidence suggests an early African presence in Florida.
• Africans accompanied the first Spanish explorers and settlers of Florida, nearly a full century before the English settlement of Jamestown, Virginia.
• While the Southern colonies, and later Southern states of the U.S., were dominated by plantation slavery, Florida was Spanish territory and “Freedom Land” for Africans escaping enslavement and Native peoples escaping settler encroachment on their traditional lands.
• Pirates were known for exercising “complete integration and complete democracy.” Among the most legendary of pirates was Black Caesar, who operated in South Florida waters.
• The first invasion of a foreign country by the U.S. began with the incursions into Florida which became known as the Seminole wars.
• Both the words “Seminoles” and “Maroons” are derived from the Spanish word “cimarrones,” which was used for livestock which escaped into the wild. “Cimarrones” became “Siminoli” in the Creek Indian language, and then “Seminole” in English.
• “The Seminoles were a people, not a tribe,” consisting of numerous Native groups and Africans. Black Seminoles were especially valuable to the alliance as interpreters, since they knew both European and Native languages.
• The Seminole Wars were the costliest in U.S. history, in both money and bloodshed, until the Vietnam War.
• The main goal of the Seminole Wars was not only to “fight Indians” and to displace them west of the Mississippi River on the Trail of Tears, but equally importantly to "recapture the 'property' " of Southern slave owners and prevent further escapes of enslaved people.
• One of the most important sites of the Second Seminole War was the 1838 Loxahatchee River Battlefield in northern Palm Beach County, Florida, where Black and Native Seminoles, outnumbered and outgunned, fought bravely for their freedom, until they were captured by U.S. forces, dishonorably, under a flag of truce, and marched on the Trail of Tears to Tampa, shipped to Louisiana and east Texas, and marched to Oklahoma.
LEST WE FORGET: Anniversaries of Known Massacres of Native Americans in the U.S. (November-January)
It is notable that the anniversaries of several of the worst of injustices against the Indigenous First Nations occur around during America’s holiday season, between Thanksgiving (which is in Native American Heritage Month) and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration in January. (We also note that several of these incidents, far from being a complete list, occurred during the Civil War, greatly overshadowed by the nation’s main focus of attention on the North-South conflict.)
The heartfelt gratitude and joy that we celebrate every year during this time are not diminished by the power of knowledge. On the contrary, like all human beings, we are only more empowered by knowing the history of the land that sustains us, and the human dramas which have shaped the world we know today. For this reason, this remembrance is included here as part of the FBHRP’s Mission.
Links to further information follow this list.
Nov. 26, 1868
“Battle” of Washita, attack by U.S. forces on a Cheyenne Arapaho camp, led by Gen. Geo. A. Custer, in which principal Chief Black Kettle is killed, four years after the Sand Creek massacre (see Nov. 29, 1864, below).
Nov. 29, 1864
Sand Creek Massacre: On Nov. 29, 1864, as Union armies fought through Virginia and Georgia, Col. John Chivington led some 700 cavalry troops in an unprovoked attack on peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho villagers at Sand Creek in Colorado. They murdered nearly 200 women, children and older men. Black Kettle had displayed an American flag to signal that they were “friendly,” but to no avail.
Dec. 20, 1786
Hanging of the youngest person in US history, Hannah Ocuish, described as a “half-breed Indian girl,” at age 12 years and 9 months, for allegedly murdering a 6-year-old white girl.
(Related to above: Dec. 21, 1855:
“Lynching of 19-year-old CELIA, enslaved mother, who was executed for killing her rapist “master” Robert Newsome in Fulton, Missouri.)
Dec. 26, 1862
Mankato Massacre: The largest mass execution in US history, takes place with the simultaneous hanging of 38 Dakota men (of 303 convicted, who rebelled against broken treaty promises and unlivable conditions) in Mankato, MN, by order of Abraham Lincoln.
Dec. 29, 1890
Wounded Knee Massacre, Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota: At least 200 killed, mostly women, elderly, and children,; 51 wounded, at Pine Ridge Reservation on South Dakota.
Jan. 23, 1870
Massacre of Piegan village in Montana, 173 killed, including 90 women and girls. (reported a month later in the NY Times, Feb. 22, 1870)
ONLINE LINKS TO FURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT THESE KNOWN MASSACRES
Washita Massacre link:
Sand Creek Massacre Links:
Mankato Massacre Links:
(NOTE: This account of the largest mass execution in U.S. history provides nothing of the background circumstances which led to this event. It mentions “murder” and “massacre” by the “Indians” but nothing of their own grievances, which were many, to say the least.)
Wounded Knee Massacre Links:
Related: A Time of Awakening:
“Healing Hearts at Wounded Knee”: Four Lakota activist women’s 2015 eloquent and insightful Invitation to the Global Indigenous to remember the 125th anniversary of the Wounded Knee massacre at noon on December 29 for four more years continues to be timely, especially as this marks a time of conscious (re)awakening for humanity:
Piegan (Marias) Massacre links: