During the early 1800’s, when Andrew Jackson (the Indians called him Sharp Knife) worked his way into the presidency, he worked on relocating the Seminole Indians from Florida. The end game was the removal of all Seminole Indians from Florida. They were to exchange their land for land in the west. They were offered money, blankets for the men and frocks for the women. Woe to any Seminole who had an African ancestor. They were to be treated as runaway slaves. It did not matter if the taking of a mother or father, tore the family apart. Like the one-drop rule in other states, the white colonial relocators believed that anyone with any black ancestry should be enslaved.
Eventually, after several “Seminole Wars,” there were Seminoles who emigrated west as requested. They took cash and offered peace. But for many years the Florida Seminoles fought successfully. While the men fought the military, the women and children found refuge in the thick Florida jungles. Today, the descendants of the Seminole who resisted, can still be found in Florida, especially in the Florida Everglades.
Suellen Ocean is the author of the series, Civil War Era Romances. Available here:
Book One, Black Pansy: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1484900278
Book Two, Blue Violet: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B018ZWX0R4
Book Three, Black Lilac: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01EKJMTKA
Book Four, Ellie: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LWVNCTS
Book Five, Rose Thorn: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06X1GN58T
Book Six, Mississippi Wild Blue: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072L2WWMR
Book Seven, Dandelion Lane: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073WPHMWG
Genealogy websites are swarming with people whose oral history describes the Native Americans in their family tree. When the government relocated the Indians, families were scrambling to both hold on to their land and hide that they were part Indian. Imagine, standing in the shadows of the trees that graced your land and looking at the color of the skin on the back of your hand wondering, “Will they take us away?”
If our vulnerable ancestors were clever (and lucky) they blended in with European settlers who were so busy surviving, they didn’t have time to pry. Or were kind and kept their mouths shut.
Picture the ancestors throwing documents into the fire, or beloved keepsakes, anything that would expose them as Indian. Fast forward to today. We would give anything to see a document that proves that our ancestors were Indian as the family oral history professes. But there comes a time when we must accept that those documents may never be found, because they do not exist. Maybe they never did.
Some families are fortunate to have photos of their ancestors. Many of us do not, especially since photography didn’t hit mainstream America until the Civil War era. By that time, Grandpa was only one-quarter Indian. Wouldn’t we love to see a photograph of his parents or his grandparents, one of whom was entirely Indian? DNA may tell us more about our family genetics but in the end, sometimes all we have are old photos to stare at, as the oral history plays in our mind. Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret Genealogy IV – Native Americans Hidden in Our Family Trees. Available here: