Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Open Access Thesis



First Advisor

Terrance M. Weik

Second Advisor

Eric E. Jones


For over three centuries prior to the outbreak of the Second Seminole War [1835-1842], peoples of African and Native American descent independently and collectively formed multiple communities throughout what is now Florida. During the early 1990s, several ancestral African Seminole (otherwise known as “Black Seminole”) settlements were identified across Central Peninsular Florida, many of which were founded by self-emancipated Africans commonly referred to as maroons. Previous archaeological research at the African Seminole settlement of Pilaklikaha, or Abraham’s Old Town, has greatly stimulated both scholarly and public interest in tracing the historical trajectories of individual African-Native American communities while remaining attentive to local environmental contexts, the impacts of U.S. settler colonial expansion, and the uncertainties of (re)enslavement. To date, however, few of these ancestral settlements have been documented and investigated archaeologically. Early archaeological interest in pursuing multi-sited and comparative approaches to African Seminole cultural history in Florida, as such, has largely gone unrealized.

Grounded in anthropological approaches to settlement ecology, African Diaspora archaeology, and informed by the multidisciplinary field of Black-Native/Afro-Indigenous Studies, this thesis aims to identify the range of variables or factors that influenced the settlement location choices of ancestral African Seminole communities formed in Central Peninsular Florida during the early nineteenth century. Using a mixed-method (quantitative and qualitative) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS)-based approach to landscape reconstruction and the modeling of settlement processes, I examine the spatial relationships between the location of ancestral African Seminole settlements, environmental resources, and landscape features. These spatial relationships are examined to gain a fuller appreciation of how these communities may have perceived, engaged with, and shaped/were shaped by their surroundings within a context of increasing uncertainty. Results suggest that while subsistence, labor, and survival likely influenced the selection of locations where ancestral African Seminole communities came to dwell within Florida, attention to the trajectories of individual communities underscores the contingency of settlement processes.


© 2022, Jordan E. Davis

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