The first event of the Seminole Indian Scout Cemetery Association’s Seminole Days was our annual trip to Seminole Canyon. A group of twenty-two left from the Carver School a little after 7:30 AM. When we arrived, we were greeted by our tour guide Tanya. She expertly guided us through the canyon, to where our Seminole Negro Indian Scout ancestors camped. Being in the same space these brave souls once occupied was an emotional experience for many of us. After leaving this area, we walked to the other side of the canyon and up a few (many) steep steps to view the cave drawings. Seeing these drawings was definitely a highlight of the trip. They were created approximately four-thousand years ago. They are slowly fading, so there is an ephemeral quality to this art. It was an honor to see and be in the same space as this sacred art.
At six o’clock, our lecture series began. We had two special guests. Allen Mack, owner of the Living History Foundation, is a historical reenactor. He wowed the audience with his performance. He didn’t just inform those in attendance about the lives of the Buffalo Soldiers; he was able to transport us back in time. Interestingly, even though he highlighted the lives of historical figures, his overall message was deeply rooted in the present day. He challenged everyone in the audience, and he left a lasting impression. Following Mr. Mack’s performance, Dr. Shirley Mock gave a short presentation about Black Seminole women. Her decades-long research enabled her to speak intimately and effectively about this special group of women. Food and drinks were served at the close of the lecture series.
On Saturday morning, there seemed to be an electrical spark in the air as we prepared for our annual parade. Shortly after ten o’clock, the parade began, and its participants made their way down Ann Street and, after taking a right on Spring Street, turned right and concluded at the Carver School Grounds.
At the Carver School, we held our annual program. Our guest speaker was Brother Y.J. Jimenez. His rousing, uplifting message to “raise your wings” set the tone for the rest of our celebration. A special highlight of the program was the speech given by one of our beloved elders named Genevieve “Granny Cakes” Benson. At eighty-nine years young, she reminded the audience of the strength and tenacity that it took for many of her generation to persevere as they carved out lives for themselves. Following the program, the barbecue plate sale began. Many enjoyed the chicken, the brisket, and the sides that were served.
At one o’clock at the Brackett ISD auditorium, the special screening of Joseph Hill’s The Black Border Warriors: The Seminole Negro Indian Scouts documentary took place. This was a very special screening that allowed many of the subjects of the film to see themselves on the big screen before the rest of the world.
Following the screening of the film, back at the Carver School, the day’s festivities continued. There was a fierce game of bingo that began at three. Each time someone shouted “Bingo,” a chorus of groans could be heard coming from those who were probably very close to winning. Throughout the day, everyone had the opportunity to support the vendors who had set up shop for the day and tour our museum.
At six o’clock in the evening, our spaghetti supper began. This year, we were delighted to have Mr. Al Nofi, who is the husband of Mary Griner Nofi and a longtime SISCA member, lend his culinary skills to us for the evening. The spaghetti and the sauce received rave reviews.
After indulging in Mr. Al’s scrumptious spaghetti, we gathered outside for our annual dance and proceeded to dance the night away to music deejayed by DJ Musicman Trevino. Our eighty-nine years young Genevieve Benson surprised everyone when she took to the dance floor and showed everyone how it was done. She “outdanced” everyone.
During the dance, the winner of the 32” TV raffle was announced. The winner was Mrs. Mary Jane Jaso.
The next morning, at ten o’clock, we gathered at the Seminole Indian Scouts Cemetery for our annual service. Led by our elders, we sang “This Little Light of Mine” and “God is so Good” at the beginning of the service. Billie Jean Frierson, along with four of our younger members, honored our loved ones who have passed away in the last year. This special ceremony gave us all a chance to pay our respects to and to show our reverence for all who are buried in those hallowed grounds. We are already looking forward to next year’s celebration. We would like to thank everyone who came to Seminole Days this year, and we cannot wait to see you again next year.
Seminole Indian Scouts Cemetery Association PO Box 1797, Brackettville, TX 78832