150th Anniversary of the First Scout Enlistment

Excerpt from Origins of the Seminole Negro Indian Scouts Booklet

This edited collection of official correspondence between the War Department, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Black Seminole leaders tells the story of how a group of Black Seminoles living as military colonists in Mexico under the leadership of Chief John Horse and Sub-Chief John Kibbetts came to cross back over into the United States and enlist as the Seminole Negro Indian Scouts.

These letters are available to the public through the Library of Congress, but have never been transcribed and put together in chronological order before.

The story they tell is fascinating and heartbreaking, as they provide a factual journey through the events in the 1870s that led to the creation of the Seminole Negro Indian Scouts.

This collection counters the narrative found in most books, which imply that the U.S. government was the originator behind the movements of the Black Seminoles. Instead, these letters make it clear that Seminole Negro leaders made active choices in seeking out the best opportunities for their people, and acting upon them, rather than being passive participants. They demonstrate the urgency the Seminole Negro leaders felt as they sought to establish a safe home for their people. 

Also evident is the support given the Scout community by the individual officers who worked most closely with them, even as the United States government and military tried to avoid responsibility for them.  Despite the ultimate refusal of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to honor its original intention to settle the Seminole Negroes in Indian territory, the story these letters tell is one of resilience, courage and self-determination on the part of the Scouts and their families.

The 150th Anniversary Edition of the booklet contains 50 transcribed letters and is available for the special Anniversary price of $30 (inlcudes shipping). 

All letters are transcribed from handwritten originals, keeping their original spellings and punctuation. On the Seminole Negro Indian Scout Historical Society website at https://www.seminolenegroindianscouts.org/ there is an ongoing project to make available both the handwritten originals and their transcriptions. Several examples may be found at the end of this booklet. Keep checking back on the website for more original documents as they are transcribed.

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Click on Image for an excerpt from the Origins of Seminole Negro Indian Scouts booklet.

Click here to buy a copy of  the booklet for $30 (includes shipping). Although the initial link is to Paypal, any major debit or credit card can be used . Checks can also be sent  and made payable to the Seminole Negro Indian Scouts Historical Society, 200 N. Pickett St., Ste 613, Alexandria, VA 22304.