This year’s Seminole Days will go down as one of the rainiest celebrations ever. Despite the wet conditions, our annual celebration went off without a hitch. In the text below, we give a play-by-play of the weekend. We are looking forward to seeing you all next year.
Seminole Canyon Trip
The first event for Seminole Days 2018 was our annual trip to Seminole Canyon. The group set out a little after 7:30 AM. This year, we were happy to see three youngsters among the group. All of them were eager to make the trip. As they drove away from Carver School, we couldn’t help but wonder how their trip would go because of the rain.
When they returned, they reported that, while they were able to hike, they weren’t able to complete the whole tour because several areas were flooded. Everyone who went, however, enjoyed themselves.
Photo Courtesy of Sarah Nicole Johnson.
Friday Lecture Series
Our Friday Lecture Series was our first sign that a little rain couldn’t stop people from coming out and celebrating Seminole Days. We love rain in Brackettville because we are always in need of it, so the rain was not an inconvenience. It was almost its own character throughout the weekend, an added layer that made the festivities more interesting.
As the time for the lecture to begin neared, many worried about attendance levels, parking in (and getting stuck in) the mud, and several of the other concerns that come with rainy days. While we did start a little late, by the time Augusta “Gigi” Pines stood to welcome everyone, there was a full house.
Billie Jean Frierson delivered an engaging presentation. She recounted several historical facts and heartwarming stories about Black Seminole Scouts and their descendants, She, also, urged all in attendance to research their genealogy.
Mary Cleve shared a beautiful personal story with the audience about a dream she’d had. She ended her talk by encouraging everyone and letting everyone know that she prays for all of us.
Finally, Windy Goodloe spoke briefly about the conflict that has plagued SISCA for the past year. The good news is a resolution is in sight. Current members of SISCA are voting on the fate of the Seminole Indian Scouts Cemetery entrance. We will report the results by September 28, 2018.
At eight in the morning on Saturday, we were pretty sure that there would not be a parade. There was a slight drizzle, but a downpour seemed imminent. At 9:30, a few calls came in. The callers stated that they would be ready for the parade, rain or shine. A parade is many things to many people, but on this day, the word that could best sum up everyone’s feelings was pride. The people who walked and rode in the parade reminded us that small numbers can still get things done. We want to thank the Border Patrol for leading the procession, and we want thank Sterling Goodloe for bringing up the rear.
Our Annual Program
Our annual program took place after our parade. This year’s guest speaker was Brother Y.J. Jimenez. He gave a rousing speech. It seemed almost like an incantation as he repeated the phase “follow the dust.” This phrase was meant to remind listeners of the journey that the Black Seminoles took as they sought freedom and where life ends for all of us.
Photo courtesy of Corina Torralba Harrington.
Photo courtesy of Sarah Nicole Johnson.
The BBQ plate sale is our largest annual fundraiser. Along with this, it is also a chance for friends and family to sit down and catch up. This year’s BBQ plate was comprised of brisket, chicken, beans, and rice. Thank you to Louis Basquez for all of his hard work. Thank you to Mary D. Jaso for making the beans. Thank you to Lucille Wilson for making the rice.
Saturday Afternoon Lectures
This year, we added afternoon lectures to our list of events. We were honored to have two esteemed professors who agreed to present before our attendees, and an award-winning documentary closed out the event.
Photo courtesy of Corina Torralba Harrington.
Dr. Rosalyn Howard - Black Seminole Presence in South Florida and the Bahamas.
Dr. Rosalyn Howard’s presentation was an engaging overview of the field she is an expert in. As a cultural anthropologist, Dr. Howard has studied the Black Seminoles, who found refuge in the Bahamas, and their descendants. The attendees of this seminar learned that the Bahamian Black Seminoles are a proud group who live tough but resourceful lives. , Matt Griffin contributed invaluable information during her presentation. Following her presentation, she showed a twenty-minute video entitled Black Seminoles in the Bahamas. It was directed by Marvin Dunn.
Photo courtesy of Kato Wittich.
Dr. Paulina Del Moral - Bride Theft among the Negros Mascogos
Dr. Paulina Del Moral’s presentation was very interesting. She spoke about bride theft among the Negros Mascogos. We learned that there is an informal tradition among the group that allows for young couples to marry without having to incur a large expense. Dr. Moral provided interviews from different generations to show how much the ideas of marriage have changed and how much they have stayed the same. The question and answer period following her presentation was also quite engaging as audience members compared and contrasted their own or their family’s ideas about marriage.
Black Border Warriors Screening
Following the presentations by Drs. Howard and Del Moral, Joseph Hill’s award-winning documentary Black Border Warriors was screened by attendees. Cynthia Ventura Atchico was entrusted by Joseph Hill to present the documentary.
Last year, the unfinished film was screened at Brackettville’s high school auditorium. Following the event, Mr. Hill stated that it was his goal to return to Brackett during Seminole Days and allow the descendants of the Scouts to be the first to view the finished product. Thank you to Mr. Hill and Ms. Atchico for making this happen.
Our spaghetti dinner has become a favorite tradition. We don’t know if it’s because folks plan to shake, shimmy, and twist the calories away once the dance starts or because it’s just so darn good. No matter the reason, we appreciate how much everyone loved the spaghetti and how it is another chance for all of us to come together and talk.
This year, we had a special guest. Gina Ortiz Jones, who is a democrat running for the 23rd Congressional District, stopped by the Carver School after a busy day in Uvalde. While enjoying her dinner, she readily and confidently answered questions from those who were there. She was very thankful that we were so welcoming and willing to listen to what her plans are for our district if she gets elected.
Our annual dance was held inside the Carver School this year. The normal location was changed because of the rain. Nonetheless, as was the theme for the whole weekend, regardless of the weather, everyone had a great time.
Because of the rain, the cemetery grounds had become oversaturated. Unfortunately, even though there were several brave souls who had trekked out there to see if the ceremony could happen, we felt it was best and safest to bring the ceremony indoors, especially for our elders.
We would like to thank the Warrior clan from Tucson, Arizona, the Johnson family from Providence, Rhode Island, Bennie and Jerry McRae, Paulina Del Moral, Kato Wittich, Charles Carroll , and Mr. William Warrior and Mrs. Ethel Warrior for inviting us and allowing our Sunday ceremony to be held in the home they had rented for the weekend. This location was the perfect space for the culmination of Seminole Days. Just being indoors and within the comfort of a warm environment provided intimacy and warmth that those in attendance felt immediately, even with there being close to fifty people in the house. We, especially, want to thank Miles Warrior for cooking up a delicious feast for so many people with only a one-hour notice.
After Kato and Gigi welcomed everyone, Billie Jean Frierson asked the elders for permission to speak. Once she was given permission, she acknowledged our loved ones who had passed away since last Seminole Days. The act of calling their names is sacred. She spoke of the importance of doing this often. Following a moment of silence, Billie Jean led everyone in singing “This Little Light of Mine,” which started out a bit melancholy but was quickly transformed into the rousing and uplifting song it is meant to be.
Following the ceremony, everyone was invited to eat, and while eating, many interesting discussions could be heard. This last event gave everyone a chance to relax and talk about history and family and our hope and dreams for the future.
Save the Date:
Seminole Days will take place from
Friday, September 20 - Sunday, September 22, 2019.
The Seminole Indian Scouts Cemetery Association
is a democratic organization that was founded in 1967.
In order to stay neutral and to be a voice for the community, we feel
it is important to publicly state that we do not endorse any other organization or tribe. While individual members may do so,
SISCA has not and will not join another organization or tribe.