ANTH 3001 Week 1 The Black Seminoles of Florida

ANTH 3001 Week 1 The Black Seminoles of Florida

The Black Seminoles are descendants of North American escaped Native American slaves, African slaves, and free blacks known as “maroons.” The term “maroon” originated from the Spanish word cimarrón, which referred to domestic cattle that had taken to the hills in Hispaniola. Later, it was used to describe Native American slaves who had escaped from the Spaniards. Over time, the term developed connotations of being “fierce,” “wild,” and “unbroken,” which were also applied to escaped African American slaves (Price, 1992). Many maroons who escaped from South Carolina formed alliances and intermarried with the native Seminole people in Spanish Florida. Together, they established a strong military alliance to defend themselves against colonizing forces seeking to annihilate them. When King Charles II of Spain declared that all escaped African slaves who allied with Spanish settlers in St. Augustine would receive protection and freedom, their militia and combat skills were further strengthened. In 1738, the black Seminoles established a settlement that became the first legally sanctioned free African town in North America (Perkins, 2014). Today, the Black Seminoles of Florida are considered black Indians with connections to the Seminole people in Oklahoma and Florida. They actively strive to create economic opportunities for their members, preserve their proud heritage and culture, and work towards the preservation of their homeland in the Everglades of Florida.

ANTH 3001 Week 1 The Black Seminoles of Florida

International Law Order 169 defines tribal peoples as “peoples in independent countries whose social, cultural, and economic conditions distinguish them from other sections of the national community and whose status is regulated wholly or partially by their own customs or traditions or by special laws or regulations.” However, there are differing views on whether the maroon peoples should be classified under International Law as “minorities” or as “tribal peoples” rather than “indigenous peoples” (MacKay, 2010). The international community faces challenges in precisely categorizing and defining groups of indigenous people. Instead of attempting an official definition, certain characteristics should be used to identify them.

An article from the United Nations’ Permanent Forum identifies indigenous peoples as “practicing unique traditions, retaining social, cultural, economic, and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live” (United Nations, n.d.). Based on this description, the Black Seminoles and all other maroon peoples can be considered indigenous.


Price, R. (1992). Maroons: Rebel slaves in the Americas. Retrieved March 11, 2016, from

Perkins, A. (2014, February 11). The forgotten rebellion of the black Seminole nation. Retrieved

March 12, 2016, from

Survival, cultural. (2010, April 28). The rights of Maroons in international human rights law.

Retrieved March 13, 2016, from


MacKay, F. (2010, April 28). The rights of Maroons in international human rights law. Retrieved

March 13, 2016, from Cultural Survival,


United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. (n.d.). Who are indigenous peoples?

Retrieved April 21, 2015, from

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