United in Common Struggle
Throughout their shared history, African American and Native peoples have risen up together to fight against oppression. At times, the two communities came together in solidarity but kept themselves separate. At other times, however, the people blended through these struggles, forming irrevocable bonds of kinship.
Escaped African American slaves who were adopted into Native communities defended tribal homelands against invasion as a way to preserve their own freedom and that of their allies. When enslaved together, Native and African American captives attempted to overthrow those who claimed to own them. These compatriots were sometimes executed together in retaliation for defying the racial order.
John Horse and the Second Seminole War (1835–1842)
The Seminoles were a union of Southeastern Indian peoples—especially Creeks—who had lost their lands to English colonists and moved into Spanish-controlled Florida, along with independent communities of escaped black slaves, who became known as Black Seminoles.
John Horse was a powerful figure in the war that the Seminoles waged with the United States to fend off forced removal from Florida to Oklahoma. Unwilling to accept a restricted life of defeat in Indian Territory, he led a band of Black Seminoles into Mexico, where he died in 1882.
Courtesy UTSA’s Institute of Texan Cultures, #068-1107; Courtesy of the artist Kate M. W. Oliver