The Seminoles are communities that began settling in Florida in the 1720s and also the Africans enslaved by the British and who escaped to Florida. The Blacks among the Seminoles became known as the Freedmen. In the nineteenth century, Americans seized Florida after defeating the Seminole resistance including the Africans and they were forced to relocate to Oklahoma which was labeled the Indian country.
In Oklahoma, the Seminole towns were part of a system of communities whose people were all related within a network of clans linking many of the towns. The U.S never recognized the ancestral legal system that frames Seminole identity and colonial scholars still identify it as culture or traditions. There have been claims that the blacks controlled the Seminole government but no evidence supported this.
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Recently the Seminole nation has come under media scrutiny after it amended its constitution in July 200 so as to remove two communities of African American, the Seminole Freedmen from membership in the representation on the general council. This is because they claim that the Freedmen do not participate in Seminole culture. The media has portrayed this situation as a case in which American Indians motivated by racism and greed attempt to exclude entitled African Americans from a tribe and its benefits.
The legal issues rests on an article of a treaty between the Seminole Nation and the United States signed in 1866, but the court of public opinion admits arguments irrelevant to that case. This case raised an energetic publicity campaign. The appeal on behalf of the freedmen is a counter historical narrative of a multiracial history of Seminole African and African American relations. The narrative extends into the past well before the relevant date of 1866 to a spurious origin of the Seminole Nation.
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