In June of 1526, 500 colonists, 100 enslaved Africans, livestock, plants, and provisions were packed into three ships and sailed from Hispaniola for the coast of South Carolina/Georgia. They arrived on August 9th, 1526 but ran into an issue because their ship had sunk and they lost most of their food. The enslaved Africans were ordered to clear land, build houses, and plant food. Rampant disease killed many of the settlers by October, including their master, Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón.
Soon after, the remaining enslaved Africans set fire to their new leader’s house, and, as they all gathered to kill him, they escaped. It appeared they ran into the forest and were never to be seen again. This rebellion is known as the Turtle Island revolt.
However, it is believed that these Africans may have been taken in by the Indigenous Shakori people. Currently, some “Black Indians,” tri-racial isolate groups, and maroon communities abound in the Southeastern United States are descendants of these Africans. For instance, the Lumbee of North Carolina is said to be descended from Native Americans who intermarried with White settlers and freed formerly enslaved Africans. They were classified as “free people of color” before the Civil War. However, Black historian Carter G. Woodson stated that “one of the longest chapters in the history of the U.S. is that treating the relations of the Negroes and the Indians.”
- Brockell, Gillian. 2019. “Before 1619, there was 1526: The mystery of the first enslaved Africans in what became the United States.” Washington Post.
- Ranauta. Jaspreet. 2019. “Transnational Modernity/Coloniality: Settler Colonialism, Environmental Justice, and Punjabi Diasporic Positionalities for Critical Solidarity on Turtle Island.” YorkSpace.