This story of a remarkable people, the Black Semiles, and their charismatic leader, Chief John Horse, chronicles their heroic struggle for freedom. Beginning with the early 1800s, small groups of fugitive slaves living in Florida joined the Semile Indians (an association that thrived for decades on reciprocal respect and affection). Kenneth Porter traces their fortunes and exploits as they moved across the country and attempted to live first beyond the law, then as loyal servants of it. He examines the Black Semile role in the bloody Second Semile War, when John Horse and his men distinguished themselves as fierce warriors, and their forced removal to the Oklahoma Indian Territory in the 1840s, where John's leadership ability emerged. The account includes the Black Semile exodus in the 1850s to Mexico, their service as border troops for the Mexican government, and their return to Texas in the 1870s, where many of the men scouted for the U.S. Army. Members of their combat-tested unit, never numbering more than 50 men at a time, were awarded four of the sixteen Medals of Hor received by the several thousand Indian scouts in the West. Porter's interviews with John Horse's descendants and acquaintances in the 1940s and 1950s provide eyewitness accounts. When Alcione Amos and Thomas Senter took up the project in the 1980s, they incorporated new information that had since come to light about John Horse and his people. A powerful and stirring story, The Black Semiles will appeal especially to readers interested in black history, Indian history, Florida history, and U.S. military history.
Kenneth W. Porter was professor of history at the University of Oregon, USA. Alcione M. Amos is librarian at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., USA. She has done extensive work on African-American military history. Thomas P. Senter is a practicing physician in Anchorage, Alaska.