Seminole Burning: A Story of Racial Vengeance

Daniel F. Littlefield, Jr., Author University Press of Mississippi $35 (0p) ISBN 978-0-87805-923-2
In early 1898, two young Seminole Indians in Oklahoma Territory were burned alive for a crime they most likely did not commit. Littlefield argues convincingly that the incident was ""an exercise in vengeance based on personal grudges"" rather than a racially motivated lynching. The murder of a white woman in the Seminole Nation territory in December 1897 set off a chain of harassment and torture of Indians by relatives, friends and curiosity seekers that would culminate in the execution of two handpicked Seminole ""suspects."" Littlefield expertly illuminates the circumstances under which such acts were not only perpetrated but also condoned and suppressed by a whole community. He also clarifies other factors that helped cloud the issues, such as the public acceptance of lynching in that time, the question of jurisdictions in Oklahoma and Indian territories, local racial and economic realities and the personal agendas of those involved in the case. He further blames the local press for perpetuating the lies the mob members invented to cover their unlawful actions. Extremely well-researched (the author discovered documents previous researchers had neglected) and plainly written, it is a thorough examination of White/Indian relations in the border regions at the turn of the century. This is an outstanding detailing of one case of white brutality in the course of American expansion. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/1996
Release date: 10/01/1996
Genre: Nonfiction
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