FLORIDA SEMINOLE CHIEF JAMES BILLIE, DR. PAUL BACKHOUSE, SEMIROON PEACE BELT AND FIXICO
HOORAY AND HALLELUJAH !!!
September 26,2016 this morning I had the esteemed pleasure of speaking with Dr. Paul Backhouse , who is the Historic Preservation Officer for the Seminole Tribe of Florida. In addition to being an high ranking official of one of America’s respected and powerful Indigenous Nations, Dr. Paul Backhouse is in the tradition of his People an extremely warm and friendly HUMAN BEING.
My call to Dr. Paul Backhouse at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki museum in Clewiston, Florida was to clear my presentation of the Semiroon Peace Belt (A Chief’s version ) to the current Chairman and Chief Mr. James Edward Billie. Who is worthy of any “Lifetime Achievement Award that can be given to him. His reputation for working tirelessly in behalf of the Tribe is nothing less than legendary. Chief Billie will also deliver the Keynote Speech for the event. My initial nervousness in contacting the Seminole tribe of Florida comes from the fact that even though a good part of my ancestry is Seminole Maroon I have had very little contact with Traditional Indigenous Peoples. I was not raised in any of the Indian Country By-Blood or Maroon communities that I am a documented Descendant of.
My ancestry was hidden from me before I was even born and I did not satisfactorily confirm my biological father’s identity until I was 52 years old. My genealogy was significant enough to be featured in the Smithsonian Institution’s book and exhibit ,entitled : “indiVisible”: African-Native American Lives in the Americas. When I spoke with Dr. Paul Backhouse, I mentioned that this exhibit at been presented at the Tribe’s Library and he remembered it being there. All I know is from the documentation that Dr. Kevin Mulroy ( the World’s Leading Authority on Seminole Maroons) discovered and what I learned from family history is this. When my Maroon Ancestor’s left Florida under General Jesup’s and Prophet Abraham’s “Articles of Capitulation” in the late 1830’s and early 1840’s “There was Blood on the Ground and Smoke in the Air”. Through further research including help from Mr. Pare Bowlegs the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma’s Historic Preservation Officer, I learned that my great grandmother Dinah Fixico (# 900 Dawes Rolls) was a Fullblood Mikasuki Seminole of the Octiarche Band. Her father was Osa eneha Fixico.
My g-grandmother’s people’s Band did everything that they could to remain in Florida. It is in the military records that the women had snuffed the children under two years old and the the men had agreed to “put to death anyone who brought to them an offer of peace”. However ,in the group’s extremity they trusted the White flag of the US Military and were captured in December of 1842 at Fort Brooke near Tampa.
Back to today, I knew that the “Unconquerable Seminole Tribe of Florida ” had remain unconquered by holding firm to their Strong Traditional customs which included remaining isolated from so-called New World Civilization. Therefore, I wondered if my call as a Descendant of those who , for whatever reasons were compelled to take “THE BIG BOAT RIDE” would be welcomed.
Well “HOORAY and HALLELUJAH” it was welcomed with open arms!! There is more great news in the fact that we are all being brought together by the United States Forest Service to participate in the British Fort Historic Landmark at Prospect Bluff’s Bicentennial Commemoration to be held at the site , on October 22nd, 2016. I now am an official Forest Service Volunteer thanks to my friends Rhonda Kimbrough,Heritage Program Manager Erika Davis, P.E. Staff Officer and Supervisor of the Forest Ms. Kelly Russell. When this historic program draws to it’s conclusion I will have the honor of performing the “Semiroon Peace Belt Ceremony” It is a Performance-Art Presentation not meant to challenge anyones religious doctrine or cultural beliefs.
In the photo, above I am shown with the Paramount Chief and Grand Gaaman Bono de Velantie of the Ndyuka Maroons of Suriname ,South American. I owe this great honor to The Maroon Women Chamber of of Cooperation, and Her Excellency Dr. Ambassador Fidelia Graand-Galon who brought me to Suriname as the North American Maroon Representative for their 2015 National Maroon Day Celebration. In the photo I have presented his Majesty with a Lifetime Achievement Certificate and around his shoulders he wears the only , other Chief’s Version of the Semiroon Peace Belt. I wear the “Original” as Founder and President of the Semiroon Historical Society. Now that I have cleared “Protocol” with The Seminole Tribe of Florida’s ,Historic Preservation Officer Dr. Paul Backhouse. It is on to the site, where on October 22nd at the “Negro Fort” . There 200 years ago Maroons and Indigenous families stood together, in a Solidarity they held sacred enough to die for. We as Descendant and other interested parties, will be helped by an official agency of the United States of America in the pursuit of Healing and Reconciliation will all, pay homage to those Ancestors as Descendants of that “Era” and we who convene and will prove on that day, that our country has made inspiring and ever hopeful progress since July 27th, 1816.
Honor and Respect, Seminole Maroon Descendant
P.S. I first learned about the Negro Fort from the book ” Black Indians ” A Hidden Heritage by Mr. William L. Katz.