Black Seminoles

The Black Seminoles are descendants of free Africans and some runaway slaves who escaped from coastal South Carolina and Georgia into the Florida wilderness beginning as early as the late 1600s. They joined with the Native Americans inhabiting Florida at the same period. Together, the two groups formed the Seminole tribe, a multi-ethnic and biracial alliance. Today, Black Seminole descendants still live in Florida, rural communities in Oklahoma and Texas, and in the Bahamas and Northern Mexico. In the 19th century, their white American enemies and Estelusti, or “Black People”, by their Indian allies, called the Florida “Black Seminoles” “Seminole Negroes”. Modern Black Seminoles are known as “Seminole Freedmen” in Oklahoma, “Seminole Scouts” in Texas, “Black Indians” in the Bahamas, and Mascogos in Mexico. (

Their ancestors reached Florida through a variety of means, such as escape from American plantations, liberation by Spanish masters, and possible escaped from early slave ships or exploring parties. While some individual Black Seminoles were fugitive slaves, as a community, they were known as maroons -- a term that describes free and quasi-free blacks who escaped to the wilderness in the New World to create their own societies. Maroon communities were found all over the New World, especially in Brazil and the Caribbean. The Black Seminoles were by far the most extensive maroon community in North America. (

“Black Seminoles” is a 20-century term. We have no idea how the rebels described themselves in the 1800s, although outsiders used a variety of names – maroons, Seminole Negroes, Indian Negroes, and in the memorable phrase of one Revolutionary-era American general, “the Exiles of America.” In the 1850s, when the maroons relocated to Mexico, they adopted the name mascogos, a Spanish term that appeared to refer to...

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