October 26, 2004

The Freedmen: Dosar Barkus was a leader in a Black Seminole community


A significant number of Afro-Americans escaped or fled from slavery and eventually settled in the West, where they were adopted by Indian tribes and accepted into the tribal structure as equals. Many even assumed roles of leadership. Dosar Barkus is one such individual who became a leader in a Black Seminole community.


Though said to have been a slave of John Jumpers, Dosar Barkus emerged as one of the leaders in the Black Seminole community of Indian Territory in the late 1800s. According to his records documented by the Dawes Commission, his parents were known only as Charley and Tema without surnames enscribed. 

Dosar Barkus married a woman, named Sooky or Sookie and she was possibly a part of the Sango family that had returned from Mexico in the late 19th century, back to Indian Territory. 

Dosar Barkus emerged as a reliable leader in the Seminole Nation, and became a spokesperson for many of the African Seminoles going through the admissions process. Though details about earlier aspects of his life are unknown, by the time of the Dawes hearing he was a man of 50 years, and one who had a strong constiuency in the Seminole nation. This constiuency would later depend upon him to get them through the Dawes Commission hearings.

A series of the Dosar Barkus interviews were published in the Spring 2000 issue of the Frontier Freedman’s Journal. Barkus witnessed more than 50 interviews for the Dawes Commission and he was part of their final interview process, vouching for the character and reliability of the data provided, for the Commission. It is clear by this respect accorded him at the hearings that his word was to be listened to and followed. 

Dosar Barkus, alongside another band leader Caesar Bruner, both became leaders so strong, to have had bands named after them. The two African bands in the Seminole nation today carry their names after 100 years. 

Dosar Barkus resided in a largely black settlement in Sasakwa, Indian Territory with his wife, Sookey, and their children Daniel, Sango, Amey, Dolley , and Jackson.

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