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Abraham  

Kenny A. Franks

also known as “Prophet,” was a runaway slave who became a prominent leader among the Seminole. Nothing is known about his parents or childhood. Fleeing his master, Abraham escaped south into Florida, and was eventually adopted into the Seminole tribe, with whom he enjoyed considerable status. In 1826 he accompanied a tribal delegation to Washington, D.C., and became an influential counselor to Micanopy, a leading Seminole leader. The Seminole, or Florida Indians, once were a part both of the Muskogee (Creek) nation that had been driven out of Georgia by the early English colonists, and also of the Oconee and Yamasee tribes that had been driven out of the Carolinas following the Yamasee uprising of 1715. They had first settled among the Lower Creeks in the Florida Panhandle and created a haven for runaway slaves. Indeed, Semino'le is the Creek word for “runaway.”

In 1818Andrew Jackson led ...

Article

Justin J. Corfield

“Leo Africanus,” (1488 or 1490–c. 1554), whose proper name is al-Hassan ibn Muhammad al-Wizzaa al-Fasi, is best known for his book on Africa, which was published in 1550 and which gave a great insight in early modern Europe into the world view of Africans. It remained, for many years, one of the major published sources on west-central Africa, and brought the city of Timbuktu to the attention of Europeans. His work also led to great tales being told of Timbuktu, a place of wealth but more importantly of remoteness, in a similar manner to Shangri La, which represented remoteness and spirituality, and El Dorado, a place of unimaginable wealth.

Leo Africanus was born in the kingdom of Granada, but his wealthy family had to leave the city when it was conquered by the armies of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1492 They moved to Fez ...

Article

Robinson A. Herrera

who lived in Trujillo, Honduras, an important Caribbean port during the colonial period, which is today an area with a substantial population of Garifuna people, the descendants of Africans and indigenous peoples from St. Vincent. Juan’s origins are unknown, as no documents indicate where he was born. He was married and was the father of several children, but the names of his family members are also unknown. In accordance with the Spanish pattern of naming African slaves, Bardales likely received his surname from a former owner. Juan’s origins and years of birth and death remain unclear, although the evidence indicates that he was likely born in the early sixteenth century and lived past 1565.

In 1544 and again in 1565, Bardales sought a royal reward for his services to the Spanish Crown. As a necessary step in requesting royal favors, Bardales had a probanza de méritos proof ...

Article

Jamie Bruce-Lockhart

British Royal Navy commander, who played a significant role in the opening of relations between Europe and the interior of west Africa in the 1820s through his participation in two expeditions sponsored by the British government to investigate countries of the central Sudan (Arabic, bilad as-Sudan land of the blacks and the final course of the River Niger He made important diplomatic contacts with leading states of the region and while he ultimately failed to clarify where the river entered the sea his accounts shed light on regions of Africa then unknown to Western science He was the first to chart every degree of latitude from the Mediterranean to the Guinea coast His extensive reports introduced Europeans to the character and riches of long established civilizations of the African interior and his investigations reliant as in part they were upon indigenous sources and aid paved the way for ...

Article

Born in Annan, Scotland, Hugh Clapperton went to sea at the age of thirteen and later became a lieutenant in the Royal Navy. In 1821 the British Colonial Office sent him, along with explorers Walter Oudney and Dixon Denham, on the Bornu Mission to trace the true course of the Niger River in Africa. They crossed the Sahara from Tripoli, in present-day Libya, and became the first Europeans to see Lake Chad, which Denham set off to explore on his own. From there, Clapperton and Oudney headed west into present-day Nigeria toward Kano, but Oudney died along the way and Clapperton reached it alone. He then traveled on to Sokoto but, detained by local rulers, was unable to find a guide to take him the 240 km (150 mi) to the Niger. He returned briefly to England before coming back to West Africa in 1825 With British ...

Article

William E. Burns

interpreter, was probably born in the sixteenth century in the region of West Africa under Portuguese influence. What is known of his career comes from legal cases and documents carried out in the Dutch Republic and France from 1607 to 1619. Da Costa's African Portuguese origin can be surmised from his Portuguese name, and the fact that a community of interpreters, some of African descent and some of mixed African and Portuguese descent, had formed in West Africa in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. That Da Costa appeared to his European contemporaries as black can be shown from the use of the word naigre to refer to him. However, his particular point of origin is not certain, nor is the way in which Da Costa's skills as an interpreter transferred from the African coast to that of North America.

Da Costa first appears in the historical record in 1607 ...

Article

Peter Hudson

The history of black people in Canada can be dated from the early seventeenth-century expeditions of French explorer Pierre du Gua sieur de Monts Traveling with du Gua was an African man Mathieu da Costa who worked as an interpreter between the French and the indigenous Mic Mac people ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

Ohio frontier settler, was likely born a slave in Maryland. Though Johnson's life remains largely undocumented in official records, oral tradition regarding his life and that of his family members has been extensively recorded. The fragmentary details they reveal are a fascinating commentary both on the role African Americans played in settling the Northwest Territory and the lives they led afterward in what would soon become the state of Ohio.

According to the Zanesville, Ohio, historian Norris Schneider in his book Y Bridge City, based in part on the oral history newspaper columns written by Elijah Church for the Zanesville Courier in 1878, Johnson was a slave in Maryland in 1799 when he learned that his master was going to sell him Perhaps afraid of being separated from his family Johnson decided to flee and with another slave named Sam made his way north to Pittsburgh ...

Article

Kenyatta D. Berry

a black Seminole, was born around 1857 or 1858 in Nacimiento de Los Negros, the settlement established in northern Mexico following the emigration of Indian and Black Seminoles from the United States Indian Territory in 1849. In 1849 about two hundred Seminoles and blacks left the reserve without the permission of Indian agents or government officials and headed to Mexico. Nine months later they crossed into the Rio Grande at Eagle Pass. The Mexican government settled the new immigrants into two small military colonies at Muzquiz and Nacimiento de Los Negros. At its peak in 1850 this colony provided a home for more than seven hundred Black Seminole men women and children The tribes of Black Seminoles were a mixture of Seminole Indians and African American slaves fleeing from Florida after the Seminole War This group became famous for their thorough clearing of marauders from their territory ...

Article

Kahina  

Allen J. Fromherz

semi legendary queen of the Aures Mountain Berbers who resisted the Arab Muslim conquest of North Africa Her name the Kahina meaning the sorceress in Arabic was ascribed to her by Arab chronicles Indeed the main sources describing the Arab conquest of the Berbers are all in Arabic and are written from the perspective of the conqueror Legends ascribed to Kahina therefore must be seen as part of a conquest narrative even as they often portray her as a noble adversary of the spread of Islam Nevertheless it is almost certain that Kahina represented a historic person a woman or perhaps even a group of different queens or chieftesses who resisted the Arab conquest in the late seventh century Her memory is preserved and celebrated even by the most strident Berber converts to Islam In recent years she has become a powerful symbol of Berber nationalism both within and beyond ...

Article

Kahina  

Marian Aguiar

In the seventh century, the Arabs arrived in the land they called Ifriqiya, in present-day Tunisia, bringing Islam and seeking gold. The Jarawa Berbers in the Aurès Mountains became the main force halting their progress through North Africa. This group was known for their military prowess, and although they offered nominal allegiance to the Byzantine Empire, they in fact ruled their own land. Their chief was the Kahina, a woman who, some said, was more than a hundred years old and had two sons of two fathers, one Greek and one Berber She might have been a Christian or a Jew and some historians have attributed her resistance to religious fervor Or she might have simply been a strong ruler who would rather burn down her own kingdom than let it fall into the hands of an outside force There is little historical documentation of the Kahina s ...

Article

Chouki El Hamel

Moroccan scholar, diplomat, and traveler, was born al-Hasan b. Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Wazzan al-Fasi al-Gharnati (hereafter, al-Wazzan) in Granada, Spain, to a wealthy family (some sources place the date of his birth between 1488 and 1496). In 1492, Granada fell into the hands of the Spanish Castilians, after which Iberian Muslims were forced to migrate to North Africa. In this context, the al-Wazzan family moved to Morocco and settled in the city of Fez. They were able to preserve their socioeconomic status and participated in diplomatic and commercial activities. In his book Description of Africa al Wazzan mentions that after his family settled in the region of Fez he used to accompany his father on business trips to the Rif region and the Middle Atlas mountains to collect taxes on behalf of the Wattasi sultan He also accompanied his uncle on a diplomatic mission to Timbuktu at age ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

The son of a wealthy family, Leo Africanus was born in Spain but moved to Fès, Morocco, as a child. There he was educated and later employed by his uncle as a clerk. Africanus’s first trip to the western Sudan, around 1512, was part of a diplomatic and commercial mission to the Songhai Empire led by his uncle on behalf of the rulers of Fès. During this trip Africanus traveled extensively throughout the region and visited its major trading cities, including Tombouctou, Djenné, Gao, and Sijilmasa. He recorded his observations on all of the region’s major states: the Songhai and Mali empires, the Hausa States and Bornu, as well as the Bulala state occupying the former Kanem empire. This trip provided much of the research for his later publications.

Between 1516 and 1518 Africanus made several trips to Egypt and possibly a trip to Constantinople. In 1518 during ...

Article

Roy Bridges

whose parentage and date of birth are unknown, was a freed slave of Yao origin who produced a remarkable record of the African initiative to return David Livingstone’s body to the coast in 1873. Until recently, Wainwright’s achievement has been overlooked and his character unfairly condemned.

Taken from near Lake Malawi to the coast for transport perhaps to Arabia, Wainwright was rescued by the British Navy’s anti–slave trade patrol in 1866. British policy was to transfer freed slaves to Christian missionaries, and Wainwright came into the care of the Anglican Church Missionary Society at Sharanpur School at Nasik, near Mumbai in India. Converted to Christianity and given a new name and an elementary education, he was soon able to write and speak clear, coherent English.

In 1871 increasing worries about the fate of Scottish explorer and missionary David Livingstone 1813 1873 led the Royal Geographical Society to ...

Article

William J. Harris

Revolutionary-era runaway slave, British Loyalist, and early settler in Sierra Leone, is believed to have been born in the Senegambia region of Africa. George Washington, then a colonel in the army of the British Empire, purchased Harry in 1763, along with Nan (believed to have been his wife) and four other slaves as a part of Washington's Great Dismal Swamp plan. According to this plan, Washington and five other planters would each provide five slaves to form a workforce to drain sixty square miles of the Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia and establish a rice plantation. By 1766 Washington had moved both Harry and Nan to work on his Mount Vernon Plantation in Virginia.

In 1771 Washington sent Harry to work on the construction of a mill approximately three miles from the Mansion House Clearly not content with his lot as a slave Harry made his first ...

Article

Alicia J. Rivera

slave, California pioneer, and miner, was born on a South Carolina plantation to a Cherokee Indian father and a slave mother whose names are not now known. In 1849, when he was thirty-two years old, he accompanied his master to the California gold mines, where he was permitted to work in the mines to buy his freedom. After obtaining his freedom, Wysinger settled in Grass Valley, California. In 1853 he married Pernesa Wilson and moved to Visalia, California, in the San Joaquin Valley. They had six boys and two girls, and Wysinger was determined that his children would have access to an education. He became a leading advocate for school desegregation in California.

Visalia had no school for African American children, although an 1869 state law required any town with ten or more black children to provide a school for them or to allow them to attend a ...

Article

Jean Ouédraogo

princess, ruler, and military leader, was born in Gambaga of the Dagomba country of northern Ghana. Her father was Naba Nedga and her grandfather Naba Gbewa of Pousga. An intrepid warrior, she married a hunter named Rialle late in life after fleeing the Dagomba. From their union was born a son named Ouedraogo, who is credited by historians with founding the sprawling medieval empire of the Mossi. Grief-stricken upon learning of the news of Ouedraogo’s death on the battlefield near Ouagadougou, Yennenga and Rialle both died within weeks and were buried in Zambanlga, Rialle’s native village.

It may never be possible to definitively elicit the facts dates and events surrounding the life of Yennenga Nonetheless the relevance and continued importance of their matriarch to the Mossi and to West Africa more generally cannot be overstated Despite the variations in the main narrative whose twists and turns remain rooted in the ...