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AfriGeneas Western Frontier Forum

FROM AFRICA TO THE AMERICAN WEST

FROM AFRICA TO THE AMERICAN WEST

By Allen L. Lee
Santa Barbara, California

A good place to start recognizing African contact with Old West California near Santa Barbara is with the arrivals of New Spain's ocean explorers Juan Cabrillo in 1542 and Sebastion Vizcaino in 1602. Historians state that Blacks, (free Black Portuguese and African slaves), had a major role both as sailors and shipbuilders on New Spain's ships of conquest and exploration in the Pacific and both Cabrillo and Vizcaino were noted as having Black sailors on their ships. Slaves were said to have fled the Spanish ships that landed on the California coast and sought refuge among California Indians like the Chumash of Santa Barbara. These early contacts in California precede Anglo-American colonization contacts (Plymouth Rock and Jamestown) by several years. I've often tried to discover stories from Native Californians that might retell first sightings of a Black person, similar to that of Zuni contact with Esteban, but unlike the Zuni, several California indigenous cultures have become extinct since contact and the stories have been difficult to find.

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18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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