Excerpts taken from:
"Black Indians-A Hidden Heritage"
By: William Loren Katz

Maroon Indians
 "America's created race"

Louisiana Redbones



At the Congress of Angostura in 1819, liberator Simon Bolivar was elected president of Venezuela and planned a strategy that would free the Americas of European domination. He also found it necessary to clarify America’s racial heritage: “”It is impossible to say to which human family we belong.

The larger part of the Native population has disappeared, Europeans have mixed with the Indians and the Negroes, and Negroes have mixed with the Indians. We were all born of one mother America, though our fathers had different origins, and we all have differently colored skins. This dissimilarity is of the greatest significance.”  

  The 1920s estimate that a third of African Americans have Indian blood requires new research. Today just about every African-American family tree has an Indian branch. The number of Afro-Americans with an Indian ancestor was once estimated at about one third of the total.

In Latin America the percentage is much higher. This means that an important page in history has been missing. Three great races - red, white, and black - built the Americas together. Their contributions and their interrelationships have filled libraries with scholarly studies, history texts, and novels.




Maroon Warrior
Credit: William Loren Katz
"Black Indians"


The Black Seminoles


Maroon Indians

by definition


Black Indians are defined as people who have a dual ancestry or black people who have lived for some time with Native Americans

When slaves escaped to the woods and joined or began remote communities, they are called by the Spanish term maroons.




“If you know I have a history, you will respect me,”

a Black Indian student told a conferenceof New York teachers two decades ago.







Runaway Slaves



From the time of Columbus the gravest threat to European domination of the Western Hemisphere came from outlaw communities of former slaves. These maroon colonies, as they were called, were considered a knife poised at the throat of the slave system. Some fearful Europeans saw them as a sword pressed against the entire colonial system in the Americas.

As oulaw communities they operated in remote, difficult-to-find and hard-to-defeat locations. Maroons considered each day of survival a small miracle, and were thankful for each new dawn as free men and women.

Some colonies were begun a single African or Indian, and otheres were the result of several or many slaves fleeing together. From their first day maroon colonies faced enormous problems. They had to quickly find a safe location, plan a defense, feed and clothe their people, and plan the life of a stable community.

Women were usually in short supply, and many maroon raids sought to bring back African or Indian wives. Families meant that communities would last, remain at peace, and that their soldiers would fight harder because their loved ones and children were at risk.

Some maroons perched near large cities and lived as bandits. They raided local plantations, merchants, and even Indians and slaves. Their communities were unstable, often had few women and no children, and usually disappeared into the violence they helped create. Although some earned a reputation for daring raids on rich Europeans, most were feared by people of every Race.

Runaway Slaves

Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institute


It not only inflicted terrible damage, but terrified any invading army with the thought that a sudden, painful death could occur at any moment. These pits were almost impossible to detect.

Men and women, who once were starved and beaten by master, grew strong and vigorous in these hidden communities. Maroon self-esteem seemed to grow with


Men and women, who once were starved and beaten by master, grew strong and vigorous in these hidden communities. Maroon self-esteem seemed to grow with each month of liberty. It also sprang from the knowledge that Europeans were often afraid to march out and challenge their comunities’ defenses. “Their self-respect grows because of the fear whites have of them.” Wrote a Portuguese colonist to King Joao in 1719.

Maroon culture drew from the experiences of Africa’s nations, Native Americans, and what each of these peoples learned about Europeans as slaves or free men and women.

Africans, so far from home, made special efforts to preserve their ancestral ways and pass them on to their children and others who would listen. African patterns, prominent in farming and defense, were also important in government, administration of justice, and religion.

Maroon music also reflected the confidence settlements had in their military strength. A maroon song, preserved for generations in Brazil, assured villagers their enemies were doomed:

Black man rejoice
White man won’t come here
And if he does,
The Devil will take him off.

Many maroon colonies adopted forms of Christianity, but allowed a
Many maroon colonies adopted forms of Christianity, but allowed a number of competing religions to flourish. In some villages and families mystic religions played a vital part in the way people faced the terrible threats around them. Maroons were convinced that each day still alive was worthy of a blessing to a powerful outside force.





African/Indian Heritage

To the surprise of Europeans, many maroon colonies. Maroons settlements were an effort to re-create a free society by people who had once lived free. Before 1700 most maroon leaders were- like their followers- African-born. Some of these colonies built dynasties on African models that lasted for generations and had royal courts, cabinets, princes, and princesses.

By the beginning of the eighteenth century maroon figures were cut from a different mold. They were born in the Americas, often of Black Indian stock. Their skills were in dealing with Europeans in battle and at the negotiating table. They preferred to be known as governor or commander rather than king or queen.

Maroon leaders were first and foremost military figures. For over four centuries in Latin America European armed forces waged a war to the death against them.

the Black Seminoles