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The Urban American Indian Collective- FIND YOUR TRIBE!

Reclaiming Fort Mose: A Call for Restoring Yamassee Authority

The resonance of Fort Mose's history in St. Augustine, Florida, echoes through the corridors of time, connecting us to our roots and the struggles faced by our ancestors (of the Yamassee Nation of Seminole). A poignant chapter in this narrative involves the Yamassee Indian Tribe, and it is time to shed light on their vital connection to Fort Mose, urging the return of this historical site to their ownership and authority.


Chief Sek'hu Gentle of the Yamassee Nation of Seminole reenacts the journey to freedom for score of guest at Fort Mose Historical State Park. Photograph via Findyatribe.org

Fort Mose, established in the early 18th century, served as a sanctuary for escaped slaves( many of which were Yamassee prisoners of war) seeking freedom, providing a haven where diverse communities, including the Yamassee, found refuge. Along this stop of Underground Railroad the Yamassee people, resilient and resourceful, played a significant role in shaping the culture and dynamics of Fort Mose. Their presence is etched into the very soil upon which the fort stands.

Members of the tribe are eager to teach tourist about their culture and traditions.. Photography by Findyatribe.org

The tragic massacre at Fort Negro (a sister Fort if you will, near the Western coast of N.Florida) during the Seminole War in 1812 remains a somber chapter in the history of the region. The fort, established as a haven for escaped enslaved humans and Indigenous peoples, became a focal point of conflict during the Seminole Wars. The attack on Fort Mose led to the loss of lives and the dismantling of this refuge, leaving an indelible mark on the collective memory of the Seminole and Yamassee communities. Over 400 women and children were murdered by the colonial government in a premeditated attack at Fort Negro a sister Fort to Fort Mose.


The neighboring city of Jacksonville, Florida, draws its name from General Andrew Jackson, a prominent figure in the Seminole Wars he donned the nicknamed "The Indian Killer." Following the acquisition of Florida by the United States from Spain in 1821, the area underwent significant military developments. General "Indian Killer" Jackson, who later became the seventh President of the United States, played a crucial role in these conflicts, including the First Seminole War and the massacre itself.

In recognition of Murderous Jackson's military contributions, the growing settlement in the region was named "Jacksonville" to honor his disgusting legacy. While the naming of the city is tied to historical events and figures, it is crucial to acknowledge the complexities of the era, including the conflicts and displacements that impacted Native American communities like those at Fort Mose. The historical context surrounding Jacksonville's name underscores the interconnectedness of local history and the broader narrative of Indigenous and colonial interactions in the Southeastern United States.

Local students eager to learn about the history of Ft. Mose. Photograpgh via Findyatribe.org

It is essential to recognize the intertwined histories of the Yamassee Seminoles (runaway) tribes, united by a shared struggle against oppression and injustice. The Yamassee, faced displacement and persecution, yet their contributions to Fort Mose are often overshadowed. Restoring this state park to Yamassee ownership is not just an act of justice but a recognition of their enduring legacy. Not only is it their sacred ancestral territory but they are stewards of it endowed by The Great Spirit.


Matriarchs of the Yamassee Nation of Seminole. Photograph via findyatribe.org

As we reflect on the historical injustices suffered by Indigenous peoples, the reclamation of Fort Mose by the Yamassee Tribe becomes a symbolic step towards healing and empowerment. Acknowledging the Yamassee's role in shaping Fort Mose encourages a more accurate representation of our shared history, fostering a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by Native communities.

The call to return Fort Mose to Yamassee ownership is not a demand for exclusion but an invitation for collaboration and shared stewardship. While, the tribe is incorporated into the history of the park it still remains in the hand of local colonial powers. By entrusting the site to the Yamassee Tribe, we honor their heritage and allow them to reclaim a space that holds profound cultural significance. This act promotes a more inclusive approach to historical preservation, acknowledging the diverse perspectives that have shaped the narrative of Fort Mose. In a similar way that Upper Sioux Agency state park in Minnesota, where bodies of those killed after US-Dakota war are buried, was transferred back into the authority of the tribe and countless other examples of historical sites being returned to their rightful owners Fort Mose is no different.

In conclusion, as a millennial Seminole, I advocate for the restoration of Fort Mose to Yamassee ownership, recognizing the historical bonds that tie our communities together. This initiative is not just about reclaiming land; it is a commitment to truth, justice, and a harmonious coexistence that transcends time. Let us embrace this opportunity to right historical wrongs and forge a path towards a more equitable future, where the Yamassee Tribe rightfully takes its place as stewards of Fort Mose.


 

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