President Clinton, Smithsonian Institution, Diane Miller and Fixico
Let us pause and thank former President Wm. “Bill” Clinton for the National Underground Railroad/Network to Freedom 1998 Act. It was passed during his administration, at a time when things weren’t easy for him, he and others deserve much credit for it’s existence. The program is ably implemented by the National Parks Service. The objective of the NUGRR/NTF Act which is stated in the law, is for the agency to coordinate educational and preservation projects across the country that memorializes our country’s history concerning the events for which the law is named.
After I took part in the NUGRR/NTF’s 2012 conference in St. Augustine, Florida, that was dedicated to the Black Seminoles and the Gullah/Geechee I was very impressed. My respect and admiration for the job done by National Program Manager Diane Miller and her talented and professional crew of Regional Managers had no bounds. Under Diane Miller’s experienced leadership, each year they put on a conference, that draws Scholars, Researchers, Descendants, Educators and others from all around the world ,They come to get the best information available on topics that have too long remained hidden and forbidden.
As a Descendant whose Ancestors were spotlighted by the NUGRR/NTF program , I was ecstatic when Pacific West Regional Manager Mr. Guy Washington (currently retired), after I had returned from St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands, where I presented at a Succeed, Inc. conference and gave the Invocation at the Inaugural Sacred Maroon Ridge Commemoration ceremony, Guy offered to help me apply to become a Private-Sector-Partner for the National Underground Railroad/Network to Freedom Program. I submitted myself to the process and after a couple of months I was accepted as a Partner as President of the Semiroon Historical Society, a one man entity. Because, I am an Activist , it requires me to take a position on sensitive and political issues , to avoid others who may have similar genealogy or cultural history as I do, from being identified with my views I describe myself as a “Nation of One”. I self-identify as a Seminole Maroon Descendant, all Black Seminoles do not feel the same way that I do about this. Therefore, I created a word , “Semi” (taken from the word Seminole) and “roon”( taken from the word Maroon) ,I put them together, to create the word “SEMIROON”. I than offered it to Texas Matriarch Izola Warrior Raspberry for the group. She told me in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS, this “My People would turn over in their graves if I called myself anything other than Seminole”! I got the message, they were at the time involved with a Law suit against the Powers that be for their “Indian Rights”. My next action was to complete a US Registered Trademark of the word “Semiroon”. On the pictorial section of my official Semiroon Trademark, among other things I use a historical rendering of “Gopher John/John Horse”, because it is Public Domain, and the Intellectual Rights have expired like works by Shakespeare and everyone has the right to use and add these as elements to their own new creations. Unfortunately, I was told by a friend that there was a threat made against me. All I can say to these people is that what I did ,I did out of reverence and I did it in a respectfull way. I strived for 17 years at my own expense to expand the world’s body of knowledge about my Ancestors history, others have those same rights.
In the title above, I included the Smithsonian Institution, I owe much to Dr. Gabbrielle Tayac ,editor and Curator for the the Smithsonian’s”indiVisible”: African-Native American Lives in the Americas the book and the exhibit. Dr. Kevin Mulroy’s research and essay about me and six generations of my family’s history gave me the national recognition that greatly contributed to my being selected to attend Suriname’s 255th Anniversary celebration of the treaty given to the Okanisi/Ndyuka Maroons by the Dutch colonizers. The Maroon Women Chamber of Cooperation’s spokesperson Her Excellency Dr. Fidelia Graand-Galon informed me that I had been chosen as the North American Maroon Representaive and invited me to their National Maroon Day Celebration in Diitabiki, Suriname on October 10th, 2015. The Smithsonian Institution not only deserves credit for the “indiVisible” book and exhibit but also for the 1992 Folklife Festival event in Wash. DC on the Mall, entitled: “Creativity and Resistance” Maroons in the Americas, by Kenneth Bilby and Diana Baird N’Diaye. I have included a link that gives a very informative tour of their show. In addition, to all who have helped me along my journey, such as “Indian Voices” and Mr. Wm. L. Katz the great author of “Black Indians”, I was humbled by the fact that Mr. Katz included my name into his classic book’s dedication . I pray that my Cultural Exchange/Peace Mission visit to Suriname will help take these International relations to another level and give even greater meaning to the Network to Freedom program.
“Through Warm Tears of Gratitude”