Popularly known as "Black Seminoles," descendants of the Seminole freedmen of Indian Territory and Oklahoma are a unique American cultural group. Now, Kevin Mulroy examines the long history of these people to show that this label denies them their rightful identity.
To correct misconceptions of the historical relationship between Africans and Seminole Indians, he traces the emergence of the group's society from its eighteenth-century Florida origins to the present day. Arguing that the Seminole freedmen are neither Seminoles nor "black Indians," Mulroy proposes that they are maroon descendants who inhabit their own racial and cultural category, which he calls "Seminole maroon."
Mulroy mines the historical record to show clearly that, although allied with Seminole Indians, these maroons formed independent and autonomous communities and developed a separate cultural identity.
Drawing on a wealth of unpublished information, Mulroy introduces colorful characters and important elements in African American history that have remained obscure until now. He describes the freedmen's moving experiences as runaways from southern plantations, slaves of American Indians, participants in the Seminole Wars, and emigrants to the West.
He then recounts their dramatic history during the Civil War, Reconstruction, enrollment and allotment under the Dawes Act, and early Oklahoma statehood. In a provocative concluding chapter, Mulroy considers the freedmen's relations with Seminoles in Oklahoma during the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.
Freedmen and Seminoles enjoy a partially shared past. This book shows that the freedmen's history and culture are unique and entirely their own. As the first full-length examination of the maroon community in Indian Territory and Oklahoma, The Seminole Freedmen makes a vital contribution to studies of racial identity, mixed-race societies, and African Americans in the West.
VOLUME 2 IN THE RACE AND CULTURE IN THE AMERICAN WEST SERIES