Sock and Buskin’s new production combines history and mysticism

Posted in Articles, Arts, History, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2015-12-09 02:51Z by Steven

Sock and Buskin’s new production combines history and mysticism

The Brown Daily Herald
Providence, Rhode Island

Jennifer Shook, Staff Writer

‘The Road Weeps, The Well Runs Dry’ examines journey of Black Seminoles to Oklahoma

In Sock and Buskin’s newest production “The Road Weeps, The Well Runs Dry,” legend and history come together to present a portrait of mid-19th-century life from a segment of the American population not usually depicted: the Black Seminoles, a group of black and Native American people.

Written by Marcus Gardley, assistant professor in playwriting, and directed by Kym Moore, associate professor of theatre arts and performance studies, “The Road Weeps, The Well Runs Dry” follows a community of Black Seminoles forced to relocate from Florida to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears. There, they create a new community and culture that is entirely their own while struggling with their racial and cultural histories. The Black Seminoles also face continued rivalries both within their community and with the neighboring Creek tribe. While the play depicts the plight of the diverse Seminole community, it also incorporates a mystical undercurrent that allows for a more metaphorical interpretation of its larger themes…

Read the entire article here.

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Play Could Begin Renaissance For Seminole Nation Culture

Posted in Articles, Arts, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2013-11-19 04:34Z by Steven

Play Could Begin Renaissance For Seminole Nation Culture

The Seminole Producer
Seminole, Oklahoma
pages 1-2

Karen Anson, Senior Editor contributed to this report

A play on the history of the Seminole Nation’s Freedmen is wrapping up in Los Angeles, but those involved hope it’s only the beginning of a movement.

The play, “the road weeps, the well runs dry,” will end Sunday in Los Angeles Theater Center.

It’s part of a “rolling premier,” being debuted in LA, as well as at the Pillsbury House Theater in Minneapolis, Minn; Perseverance Theater in Anchorage, Ala., and University of South Florida’s School of Theater and Dance.

“Surviving centuries of slavery, revolts and the Trail of Tears, a community of self-proclaimed Freedmen creates the first all-black U.S. town in Wewoka, Okla.,” states the press release about the play.

“The Freedmen (Black Seminoles and people of mixed origins) are rocked when the new religion and the old way come head to head and their former enslavers arrive to return them to the chains of bondage.

“Written in gorgeously cadenced language, utilizing elements of African American folk-lore and daring humor, ‘the road weeps, the well runs dry’ merges the myth, legends and history of the Seminole people.”

Playwright Marcus Gardley was awarded the 2011 PENN/Laura Pels award for mid-career playwright.

He holds masters of fine arts in playwriting from the Yale Drama School.

“Originally I set out to write a play about the first all-black town in the U.S., Wewoka, Okla.,” Gardley said.

“I had a special interest in the town because my grandmother was born there.

“In my research, I learned that Black Seminoles (people of African and Native American ancestry) actually incorporated the town…

…A third person involved in the program claims very close ties to Seminole County, Okla.

Phil “Pompey” Fixico spoke in a post program panel entitled “Exploring African American and Native American Spirituality.”

Fixico is featured in the Smithsonian Institute’s book and exhibit entitled “indiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas,” which will open its next show on Jan. 25 at the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Education Center in New York City.

For the exhibit, Fixico had to carefully document his heritage.

“I was a 52-year-old African-American, when I discovered that I was really an African-Native American,” Fixico said.

“This epiphany took place 14 years ago.”

Fixico’s found that he was the great-grandson of Caesar Bruner, an early leader of the Seminole Nation’s Freedman band…

Read the entire article here.

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Ethnogenesis and Ethnohistory of the Seminole Maroons

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2012-01-09 02:22Z by Steven

Ethnogenesis and Ethnohistory of the Seminole Maroons

Journal of World History
Volume 4, Number 2 (Fall 1993)
pages 287-305

Kevin Mulroy, Associate University Librarian
University of California, Los Angeles

At what historic moment and by what means does a ‘people’ spring into being?” ask Jacqueline Peterson and Jennifer Brown in their introduction to the 1985 ground-breaking study, The New Peoples: Being and Becoming Métis in North America. It is an intriguing question, and one that ethnohistorians are beginning to ask with regard to a wide range of groups living on many different frontiers. The editors of The New Peoples take strong issue with Frederick Jackson Turner’s belief that American national identity emerged on the frontier as transplanted immigrants were “fused into a mixed race.” Rather, they argue, the story is one of “genesis of composite ‘mestizo’ populations and the creation of bold and startlingly original ethnic and national identities throughout the two continents” of North and South America. “The rise of the ‘new peoples,’ ” Peterson and Brown believe, “is the most significant historical consequence of the wrenching collision and entanglement of the Old World with the New.” As Rebecca Bateman has pointed out recently, “the very processes responsible for the decimation of many cultural groups of the Americas led to ethnogenesis, the birth of new ones.” This paper will argue in favor of Peterson and Brown’s conclusions by examining the beginnings of one of these new and distinct peoples, the Seminole maroons, whose ethnogenesis took place on the southeastern frontier in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century, largely as a result of such entanglements between the Old World and the New.

The Seminole maroons’ ethnogenesis and cultural development place them within the frame of reference of neoteric or cenogenic societies, explanations of which tend to stress the multiple heritages of groups formed as a result of frontier expansion. Nancie L. Solien Gonzalez has defined a neoteric group as “a type of society which, springing from the ashes of warfare, forced migration or other calamity, survived by patching together bits and pieces from its cultural heritage while at the same time borrowing and inventing freely and rapidly in order to cope with new, completely different circumstances.” Such groups tended to welcome and even encourage rapid change in order to survive and prosper. Indeed, one might say that they were created by the circumstances to which they adapted.

Coining another term, Kenneth M. Bilby has described cenogenic societies as those

born of conditions associated with the major transformations wrought by the worldwide expansion of capitalism—the large scale uprooting of peoples through wars, conquest and colonization, slavery, migration, and the forced removal of people from their ancestral lands. Most of them emerged from frontier setlings. The resulting sociocultural “fusions” were truly new creations, owing much to the past, but without precedent at the same time. Indeed, the fact that those who evolved these new societies and identities were forced to call upon several cultural pasts, not just one or two, guaranteed original outcomes.

There is considerable overlap between the Gonzalez and Bilby models, but Bilby restricts his argument to small-scale societies. He also takes issue with Gonzalez’s notion that such newly formed societies are essentially “without roots,” arguing instead that “the special kind of abrupt ethnogenesis involved in the creation of these societies does not preclude the transmission of a great deal of cultural knowledge from the past.” Bilby’s central defining characteristic lor cenogenic societies, in fact, is the importance of history and historical consciousness in the development of their self-definition and identity, a notion crucial to an understanding of Seminole maroon ethnohistory…

Read the entire article here.

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Freedom on the Border: The Seminole Maroons in Florida, the Indian Territory, Coahuila, and Texas

Posted in Anthropology, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, Texas, United States on 2011-03-11 22:26Z by Steven

Freedom on the Border: The Seminole Maroons in Florida, the Indian Territory, Coahuila, and Texas

Texas Tech University Press
256 pages
8.9 x 6 x 0.6 inches
Paper ISBN-10: 0896725162, ISBN-13: 978-0896725164

Kevin Mulroy, Associate University Librarian
University of California, Los Angeles

In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, black runaways braved an escape from slavery in an unprecedented alliance with Seminole Indians in Florida. This is the story of the maroons’ ethnogenesis in Florida, their removal to the West, their role in the Texas Indian Wars, and the fate of their long quest for liberty and self-determination along both sides of the Rio Grande. Their tale is rich, colorful, and epic, stretching from the swamps of the Southeast to the desert Southwest. From a borderlands mosaic of slave hunters, corrupt Indian agents, Texas filibusters, Mexican revolutionaries, French invaders, Apache and Comanche raiders, frontier outlaws, lawmen, and Buffalo Soldiers, emerges a saga of enslavement, flight, exile, and ultimately freedom.

Table of Contents

1. Florida Maroons
2. Emigrants from Indian Territory
3. Los Mascogos
4. The Seminole Negro Indian Scouts
5. Classifying Seminole Blacks
6. In Search of Home
7. Either Side of a Border

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The Seminole Freedmen: A History

Posted in Anthropology, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, United States on 2011-01-23 18:19Z by Steven

The Seminole Freedmen: A History
University of Oklahoma Press
480 pages
6″ x 9″
Hardcover ISBN: 9780806138657

Kevin Mulroy, Associate University Librarian
University of California, Los Angeles

Captures the distinct identity and history of the Seminole maroons

Popularly known as “Black Seminoles,” descendants of the Seminole freedmen of Indian Territory 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 distinctiveness. To correct misconceptions of the historical relationship between Africans and Seminole Indians, he traces the emergence of Seminole-black identity and community from their eighteenth-century Florida origins to the present day.

Arguing that the Seminole freedmen are neither Seminoles, Africans, nor “black Indians,” Mulroy proposes that they are maroon descendants who inhabit their own racial and cultural category, which he calls “Seminole maroon.” Mulroy plumbs the historical record to show clearly that, although allied with the Seminoles, these maroons formed independent and autonomous communities that dealt with European American society differently than either Indians or African Americans did.

Mulroy describes the freedmen’s experiences as runaways from southern plantations, slaves of American Indians, participants in the Seminole Wars, and emigrants to the West. He then recounts their history during the Civil War, Reconstruction, enrollment and allotment under the Dawes Act, and early Oklahoma statehood. He also considers freedmen relations with Seminoles in Oklahoma during the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

Although freedmen and Seminoles enjoy a partially shared past, this book shows that the freedmen’s history and culture are unique and entirely their own.

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Red and Black – A Divided Seminole Nation: Davis v. U.S.

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery on 2010-08-11 17:41Z by Steven

Red and Black – A Divided Seminole Nation: Davis v. U.S.

Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy
University of Kansas School of Law
Volume 14, Number 3 (Spring 2006)
pages 607-638

Joyce A. McCray Pearson, Director, Law Library and Associate Professor of Law
University of Kansas

One of the longest unwritten chapters in the history of the United States is that of the relations of the Negroes and the Indians. The Indians were already here when the white men came and the Negroes brought in soon after to serve as a subject race found among the Indians one of their means of escape.1

There is no black Seminole…2

If you want to keep the bloodlines going, you got to keep’em separate…. the tribe is not trying to rewrite history-it’s just that the common fight for freedom that brought blacks and native people together 200 years ago doesn’t apply anymore.3

When we all started out, we started out as brothers. We fought together as brothers. Our blood ran together the same. When we settled we were still brothers. We were brothers until this money came up and then they went to pulling away.4

These sentiments and opposing points of view regarding the identity of Black Seminoles is at the heart of the matter in the case of Davis v. United States. The history of the Black Seminoles reaches as far back as the 17th century.  But the most recent history began in 1950 and 1951 when the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma (SNO) and Seminoles living in Florida filed claims for compensation for Florida lands ceded to the United States in 1823. In an attempt to quiet title to land taken from the Seminoles, in 1976 a $16 million judgment from the Indian Claims Commission (ICC) was awarded to the descendants of the “Seminole Nation as it existed in Florida on September 18, 1823.” The Department of Interior (DOI) directed that 75% of the money be distributed to the Oklahoma Seminoles, 25% to the Florida Tribes and nothing to the Freedmen or Black Seminoles because in 1823 they were considered slaves. Congress did not pass an act allowing distribution of the funds until 1990 which by this time, with interest, had ballooned to $56 million.

In 1996, Sylvia Davis, a member of the Dosar Barkus band of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, was denied a $125 school clothing allowance from the funds.  The Dosar Barkus and Bruner bands are Seminoles of African descent and are the only branches of the tribes being denied access to these funds. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the SNO argue that in denying their claims, they are not discriminating against the Dosar Barkus band based on race, but they are correctly enforcing the requirement that the funds be distributed to descendants as defined in 1823. The Black Seminoles, also known as Estelusi, were not considered members of the nation until 1866 when the U.S. government decided to recognize them as such after the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, and passage of treaties imposed upon the Seminoles and a number of other Indian nations who owned slaves. These treaties provided for the emancipation of any slaves owned by the tribes and allowed them to incorporate the “freedmen” into the nation “on an equal footing with the original members”

Obviously, there is much more at stake in the Davis case than $125 worth of school clothes. What is at stake is how tribes, federal agencies and other entities, based upon both an historical analysis and today’s public policy concerns over the distribution of resources, will choose to define or identify as Indian or Black, numerous people who have over the years identified themselves as Black Seminole Indians either through blood quantum, social construct, cultural affiliation, or proven descendancy from an identified ancestor.

This article will not draw definitive conclusions about how to label or categorize an obviously mixed race of people. I will not endorse one position at the peril of alienating the legitimacy of the opposite stance. I only propose to point out the claims of both the Black and Red Seminoles.

Part II of the article explores the historical backdrop which created this ostensibly Black and Indian race. It also looks at the numerous definitions of the word “Seminole.” Part III looks at the Davis case, and the rich heritage of the plaintiff, Sylvia Davis. This section will not employ an in-depth analysis of the procedural, constitutional or other substantive legal issues that plain people will never understand to be the reason why they win or lose a case. Because to plain people that is not what the real issues are. The real issue to plain people is the end result of litigation, not procedural questions or issues which ultimately sends them away from the courts empty handed.

Part IV looks at the reaction and the community outcry after Davis as tribal leaders and disenfranchised Black Seminoles express their agreement or discontent over the outcome of the cases.

Part V briefly explores how DNA and genetic tests may or may not bolster the claims of Black Seminoles, followed by a conclusion which unfortunately gives no solid solutions but instead is merely a few concluding remarks and observations…

Read the entire article here.

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