Seminole Days 2022

Windy Goodloe
October 20, 2022

by Windy Goodloe, Seminole Indian Scouts Cemetery Association secretary

From Friday, September 16 to Sunday, September 18, the Seminole Indian Scouts Cemetery Association (SISCA) held our annual Seminole Days celebration in Brackettville, Texas. This is our annual three-day gathering where we honor and celebrate the history of the Seminole Negro Indian Scouts and our heritage as Black Seminoles. This year was the first time we’ve been able to gather in-person since 2019, so attendance was larger than expected. The larger crowd made the event that much more meaningful.

On Friday, at seven in the morning, several attendees gathered at the Carver School for the first event of Seminole Days. Just as the sun was beginning to rise, we set out in several cars and headed toward Comstock, TX, where Seminole Canyon, our destination, was located. Our guide Tanya Petruney expertly helped the group of 30+ navigate our way to the Watering Hole, which was where the Seminole Negro Indian Scouts used to stop and rest when they were scouting between Fort Clark and West Texas. 

On Friday evening, two special events took place. The first, which took place at five was the first of two Afro-Seminole Creole lessons taught by renowned linguist Dr. Ian Hancock. Several members of SISCA have been taking part in a year-long language revitalization project. The two lessons helped to showcase the language that we have been working to revitalize since Juneteenth 2021.

Our lecture series speaker this year was Mr. Tom Ashmore of the West Texas Archeological Society, located in Iraan, TX. He enlightened the audience about the work he has been doing to, first, identify a Seminole Negro Indian Scouts encampment at Camp Meyers Spring using a drone and all the work that has taken place since. He gave an amazing presentation and even took the time to create a beautiful soundtrack that was played during our meet and greet that followed. 

Saturday is the busiest and most “event-filled” day of our Seminole Days weekend.  It began with a hearty breakfast provided by the Fort Clark Historical Society at the Palisado Building. We are so appreciative to them for taking on the task of feeding 50+ people ahead of a full day of events. The meal included breakfast tacos, fruit, coffee, and orange juice.

From there, everyone made their way into Brackettville to prepare to either participate in or to watch the parade. The parade, like Seminole Canyon, saw a higher-than-usual number of participants. We had several local participants like the Lipan Apaches and several families who came from other states such as Arizona and Ohio. 

Our parade marshal was Mr. Joe Louis Factor, who is also one of our board members. We had asked him to be our parade marshal back in 2020 before we had to cancel for the next two years because of COVID-19. So we were happy that he finally was able to lead the parade after waiting so patiently. His family was very supportive. They traveled from Lima, Ohio, to walk in the parade, and they all wore matching orange T-shirts.

The parade culminated at the Carver School grounds, where the rest of the events for the day would take place. At eleven, the annual program took place. Brother YJ Jimenez opened with a prayer. Then the audience sang “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” Afterward, our guest speaker was introduced by Bertha Benson. Our guest speaker this year was Mr. Reynard Faber, who is a Jicarilla Apache from Dulce, NM. He delivered a beautifully uplifting message about how he overcame alcohol addiction. Following his moving speech, the audience sang “Wade in the Water.” Then, the parade winners were announced by parade judges Elizabeth Hodges, Ernestine Paiz, and Terri Pierce. Third place went to Reynard Faber. Second place went to Casa de la Cultura/Black Seminoles. First place went to the Lipan Apaches.

After the program, our annual BBQ plate sale/fundraiser took place. Those who purchased a plate had brisket, sausage, and chicken to choose from, along with rice, beans, potato salad or veggie pasta salad.

After everyone’s stomachs were full, our afternoon lecture series began. The first presentation was by Mr. Johnny Montgomery. Ahead of Seminole Days, the Carver School was transformed into a gallery that displayed several of his pieces. During his presentation, Mr. Montgomery discussed each painting, adding historical context to his art and explaining the events that were taking place at that moment in history. 

After Mr. Montgomery’s presentation, the Florida Black Historical Research Project’s Dr. Wallis Tinnie and Mr. Dinizulu Gene Tinnie, who traveled to Brackettville from Florida, discussed their upcoming event that will be taking place from January 11-15, 2023. The event is called “Telling the Full History”: The 185-Year Seminole Maroon Family Reunion and Annual Spiritual Remembrance of the Two Pivotal 1838 Battles of the Loxahatchee River. The five-day event will take place virtually and in-person in Jupiter, Florida. Members of SISCA and Casa de la Cultura/Black Seminoles will be participating in the event. 

At five o’clock, the second Afro-Seminole Creole lesson took place. In this lesson, Dr. Hancock read a short story to the attendees in Afro-Seminole Creole. It was a funny tale about a young girl who had lost a spoon and was trying to get help to retrieve it.

At six o’clock, our annual meeting took place. During the meeting, the results of our election were announced. From 2022-2024, SISCA will have a new president and a new board member. Jerry Fay was voted in as president and Isabel Celestino became a new board member. Rafaela Brown, John Fay, Bertha Benson, and Joe Louis Factor all retained their previous positions.

At seven o’clock, we had our annual spaghetti dinner. And at eight o’clock, our annual dance began.

We had special guests attend Seminole Days this year. One group was from El Nacimiento de los Negros Mascogos. The group known as Casa de la Cultura/Black Seminoles included one of our elders named Lucia Vasquez. September 17 was actually her 90th birthday, so there was a little party that was planned for her. And many folks in the crowd stopped what they were doing and sang “Happy Birthday” to her. It was a true honor to be able to spend that day with her. 

On Sunday morning, we gathered at the Seminole Indian Scouts Cemetery to fellowship and to pay our respects to our loved ones who have passed away. Normally, we recognize those who have passed away within the last year, but because this was the first time we have gathered since 2019, we recognized everyone who had passed away from 2019 to 2022. Mrs. Billie Jean Ward Frierson was our mistress of ceremonies. She led as the group solemnly acknowledged our dearly departed.

Following the cemetery ceremony, we said our goodbyes. Every year, it seems like Seminole Days just flies by, but in the midst of the whirlwind, we are able to see how important our history is to all the people who take the time to attend. Each year, our goal is to make it better than the last, so we are certainly looking forward to our next gathering and all the wonderful people who will attend.