Thursday, July 14, 2016

Black Indian Biography: Seminole John Horse

Florida was untamed country.  For this reason many people escaped to Florida.  This included black slaves (Maroons), and Creek.  The runaway Creek Indians became known as Seminoles, and the escaped slaves as Black Seminoles.  These two groups became allies in Florida.
John Horse (aka Cowaya and Juan Caballo) fit both these groups, as was common.  His father was Seminole and his mother African American.  African Americans brought knowledge of agriculture they had learned in Africa.  They also could speak English.  John Horse was useful as an interpreter.
Florida eventually came under American rule, and the Indian Relocation Act asked for all Native American to move to Indian Territory.  The Seminole refused to go.  Eventually they were defeated in the Second Seminole War and signed an agreement with the guarantee that the Black Seminole could go with them.  However the government vacillated, as there were those who looked on the blacks as valuable property.  However John Horse, Osceola and Wild Cat were tricked and taken prisoner.  Osceola died in prison.  John Horse and Wild Cat fasted until they could fit through the bars, and made their escape.  The war continued; but it was impossible for the Seminole to win.  They finally relented and went to Indian Territory.  However they were placed next to the Creek, and there was bad blood because of their history.  The Creek were more numerous, and the Seminole were at a disadvantage.  Wild Cat and John Horse traveled to Washington to lobby for their people.  The government did not listen, and in fact again threatened to take the Blacks and make them slaves.  Both Wild Cat and John Horse lead groups into Mexico where they made arrangements to protect the Mexican border for territory.  Slowly many of the Seminole returned to the United States.  The Civil War removed the threat of slavery.  The U.S. Government offered jobs as scouts to many.  Many returned and the Black Seminole group of scouts was a formidable collection of men.  However their families were not given land as promised.  They had to follow the military camps, and when their spouses became old and retired to were put out.  John Horse, who had returned to the U.S. tried to negotiate with the government to no avail.  He eventually returned to Mexico.  He died in Mexico City.

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