Recovering History by the Manatee Mineral Spring: Angola on the Manatee River

The official website for Looking for Angola is

In 2004, I joined a team of scholars looking for an early 19th century maroon community on the Manatee River, a haven of liberty on the Network to Freedom. From the 1770s until 1821, people of African heritage, some born free in Spanish La Florida and others having escaped from enslavement, came to the south side of the Manatee River. The destruction of the community in 1821 led some survivors to the Florida interior and others to Andros Island in what was then the British Bahamas. Nothing remained and its history nearly erased until a historian pieced together archival clues and then a community scholar organized a research team to look for Angola. This page has some of the strands of the anti-racist, feminist, decolonizing research and public engagement
LFA Research Team
In 2014, I thought I completed my scholarly engagement with Angola on the Manatee River (the name for the maroon community) but history and heritage compel continuing efforts. Here are some of the details of the trajectory, with the 2019/2020 excavations by the Manatee Mineral Spring and laboratory research found by scrolling down this page

Uzi Baram's scholarly articles and archaeological reports on the project include:
2006  “Looking for Angola” The Society for Historical Archaeology Newsletter 39(1):43-44.
2008 “A Haven from Slavery on Florida's Gulf Coast: Looking for Evidence of Angola on the Manatee River” African Diaspora Archaeology Network Newsletter June 2008. Available at 
2008  “Finding Lost Settlements with Multi-channel 3D GPR: Examples from North Carolina and Florida” third author with Ralf Birken and Eric Klingelhofer. FastTIMES: News for the Near-surface Geophysical Sciences 13(3):42-50.
2008  Testing Radar Tomography at the Manatee Mineral Spring: A Small View from March 2008. On file with Reflections of Manatee, Inc. 
2010  Testing Radar Tomography at the Manatee Mineral Spring: Exploratory Excavations. On file with Reflections of Manatee, Inc. 
2011 “Community Organizing in Public Archaeology: Coalitions for the Preservation of a Hidden History in Florida” Present Pasts 3(1):12-18
2012 “Cosmopolitan Meanings of Old Spanish Fields: Historical Archaeology of a Maroon Community in Southwest Florida” Historical Archaeology 46(1):108-122.
2013 "Partners in Search of History" Time Sifters Archaeological Society Newsletter. October 
2014 “Another Lesson that Provenience Matters: The Little Manatee River Drum found in 1967” Time Sifters Archaeological Society Newsletter. October 
2014 The Historical Archaeology of Looking for Angola at 8Ma103: Excavations and Public Outreach by the Manatee Mineral Spring, Manatee County, Florida. Report on the Public Anthropology Program Looking for Angola as an Update to 8Ma103, prepared for Reflections of Manatee, Inc; available at the Florida Master Site Files.
2014 "Radical Openness in Preserving Regional Heritage" Anthropology News 55(5-6):28-29
2014 "Many Histories by the Manatee Mineral Spring" Time Sifters Archaeological Society Newsletter. March
2015  "Including Maroon History on the Florida Gulf Coast: Archaeology and the Struggle for Freedom on the Early 19th-Century Manatee River" In The Limits of Tyranny: Archaeological Perspectives on the Struggle against New World Slavery, edited by James A. Delle, pages 213-240. The University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville.
2016 Tragedy and Survival: Bicentennial of the Southward Movement of Black Seminoles on the Florida Gulf Coast Commemorated through Virtual Worlds of Early 19th-century Maroon Landscapes at the Apalachicola and Manatee Rivers. Final Report on grant GR_0615-4142_2386 to the Florida Humanities Council
2019 In an Age of Heritage Signs, Encouraging Archaeological Sites to be Cosmopolitan Canopies. Present Pasts 9(1): 1–8.
2019 Archaeological Recovery of Identity. Journal of African Diaspora Archaeology and Heritage 1–2 (1):163–171.

conference papers on Angola include:
2005 Looking for Angola: Public Archaeology and Public Education. Second author with Vickie Oldham, Canter Brown Jr., Bill Burger, Rosalyn Howard, and Louis Robinson. Florida Anthropological Society annual meeting, Gainesville.
2007 Hidden Histories Along the Manatee River: Heritage Outreach and Interpretation with Traces of Our Past. Senior author with Sherry Svekis. Florida Maritime Heritage Preservation Conference. Bradenton.
2008 Revealing a Hidden History: Looking for Angola’s Public Archaeology Program. The Public Anthropology through Cross Disciplinary and Cross Cultural Collaboration, Inclusion and Engagement: “Looking for Angola” in Florida and the Bahamas Session at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, San Francisco.
2008 A Haven from Slavery on Florida’s Gulf Coast: Looking for Evidence of Angola on the Manatee River. The Underground Railroad, Marronage, Armed Struggle, and Beyond Symposium at the annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology. Albuquerque.
2009 Remembering a Community of Self-Emancipated Africans in Spanish La Florida: Historical Archaeology and Public Anthropology in Southern Tampa Bay. Annual meeting of the Florida Folklore Society, Family Heritage House Museum, Bradenton.
2010 A Maroon Community in Southern Tampa Bay, Florida: Resistance during the Transition from Spanish to American Rule. For the Cosmopolitanism and Ethnogenesis, Colonialism and Resistance: Florida in Global Perspective session at the annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology. Amelia Island, Florida.
2011 A Search for the Materiality of a Community of Freedom-seeking People in Southwest Florida: the First Five Years of Excavations, Public Archaeology, and Collaborations. Five Years of Looking for Angola: Accomplishments and New Objectives for the Public Anthropology Study of an early 19th-century Maroon Community on the Manatee River, Florida, Sarasota.
2012 Including Maroon History on the Florida Gulf Coast: Recovering a Haven for Freedom on the Manatee River. For Escaping to Destinations South: The Underground Railroad, Cultural Identity, and Freedom along the Southern Borderlands. National Underground Railroad Conference. St. Augustine.
2013 A New Chapter in African Diaspora History in Southwest Florida: The Evidence for a Maroon Community on the Manatee River. For the New Insights into African Diaspora Archaeology session at the annual meeting of the Southeastern Archaeological Conference, Tampa.
2013 Another Way to Inspire: Digital Natives and the Peopled Past of Florida. For the Public Archaeology Session at the annual meeting of the Florida Anthropological Society, St. Augustine.
2015 Dynamic Identities during the Flight for Freedom: Archaeological Traces of Marronage at Tampa Bay, Florida, USA. For Connecting Continents: Archaeological Perspectives on Slavery, Trade, and Colonialism, first joint meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists and the Society for American Archaeology, Curaçao.
2015 Local Politics and Site Ownership: Archaeology in the Age of Lawfare. For the Managing Archaeological Heritage in the 21st Century session at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco.
2016 Anniversaries and Commemorations: Digital Archaeology and the Prospect Bluff Fortification on the Apalachicola River. Annual meeting of the Florida Anthropological Society, Jupiter.

Uzi Baram's public presentations on the maroonage include:
2005 Looking for Angola. A series of six presentations in Sarasota and Manatee counties on the early 19th century maroon community, sponsored by the Florida Humanities Council. The presentations included a panel with an archaeologist, ethnographer, historian, and educator for the general public; other presentations were directed toward various communities in the region. The endeavor included interviews with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Africa Portuguese-language service and WMNF (Tampa Bay's 88.5) as well as several newspaper articles. 
2006 Looking for Angola. For the Sarasota Reading Festival, Sarasota.
2006 Looking for Angola. For Florida Conversations, sponsored by Tampa Bay History Center and USF Florida Studies Center.
2006 Public Archaeology and Hidden Histories. For Traces of Our Past program at DeSoto National Memorial (NPS), sponsored by the Florida Humanities Council.
2007 To Dig or Not To Dig: A Discussion of Ethics in Archaeology. For Traces of Our Past at Manatee Mineral Spring, sponsored by the Florida Humanities Council.
2007 A Hidden History: the Exiles living on the Manatee River. For Temple Emanu-El, Sarasota.
2007 Looking for Angola on the Manatee River: Filling a Gap in History. For the Sarasota Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
2009 Archaeology and History Hidden in Plain Sight. For the Temple Emanu-El Brotherhood, Sarasota. 
2009 Looking for Angola: New Approaches & Evidence in the Search for an Early 19th Century Maroon Community on the Manatee River. For the Gulf Coast Archaeological Society, St. Petersburg, Florida.
2010 Collaboration and Transnational Research in Looking for Angola: New Approaches and Evidence in the Archaeological Search for an Early 19th Century Maroon Community on the Manatee River, Florida. For Warm Mineral Spring/Little Salt Spring Archaeological Society, North Port. 
2011 Panelist for Five Years of Looking for Angola: A Retrospective on the Journey and Future Paths to Explore, Sarasota.
2011 Interviewed on Sarasota’s WWSB (Channel 7) Black Almanac program regarding Looking for Angola.
2012 Presentation for National Archaeology Day at Manatee Mineral Spring, Bradenton.
2013 Looking for Angola with the New College Public Archaeology Lab. Poster presentation at Archaeology Fest, Sarasota.
2013 The Many Histories around the Manatee Mineral Spring. For Viva Florida Pioneer Annual Heritage Festival, Bradenton.
2014 Sarasota’s Hidden Heritage of Freedom: Excavating the Life of Luis Fatio Pacheco from our Region’s Past. For Plymouth Harbor, Sarasota.
2014 The Heritage under Our Feet: The Early 19th century Freedom-Seeking Peoples of Southern Tampa Bay. Manatee Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Bradenton.
2014 Our Past and Present: Archaeology at Manatee Mineral Spring. Tour for Florida Archaeology Month, Bradenton.
2014 Archaeology of Freedom: The Anti-Slavery Havens of 19th-century Gulf Coast Florida. For the series Digging into History. Bonita Springs Historical Society, Bonita Springs.
2016 Piecing the Sherds Together: Archaeology in the Pursuit of Heritage and Social Justice. Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo.
2016 Remembering the Manatee River Maroons of 1821: Heritage, Archaeology, and Digital Reconstructions. With Vickie Oldham and Edward Gonzalez-Tennant. Manatee County Central Library, Bradenton.
2016 Remembering the Apalachicola River Maroons of 1816: Heritage, Archaeology, and Digital Reconstructions. With Vickie Oldham and Edward Gonzalez-Tennant. Center for History, Culture, and Art, Apalachicola, Florida. 2016 Rivers of Freedom, Landscapes of Liberty: An Update on “Looking for Angola” and the Archaeology of Maroons in Florida. Time Sifters Archaeology Society, Sarasota.
2017 Tragedy and Survival on the early 19th-century Florida Gulf Coast: History and Archaeology of the Freedom-Seeking Peoples Known as Black Seminoles. For Southwest Florida Archaeological Society, Fort Myers.
2017 A History No Longer Silenced: Angola on the Manatee River. Joint Meeting of the Vassar Club and the Wellesley Club, Sarasota.
2018 Looking for Angola Scholars Panel. For Back to Angola Festival, held at Manatee Mineral Spring Park, Bradenton.
2019 Tragedy and Survival: Archaeology and Commemoration of Freedom at the Manatee River. For Freedom Seekers at the Manatee: Exhibit and Speakers at Reflections of Manatee, Bradenton.
2019 Tragedy and Survival on the early 19th-century Florida Gulf Coast: The Heritage of Black Seminoles before 1821. For Charlotte Harbor Anthropological Society, Port Charlotte.
2020 Archaeology of Freedom: The Maroon Communities of 19th-century Gulf Coast Florida. For Mary Todd Lincoln Union Daughters Tent #10 of Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, 1861-1865 (DUVCW), Lakewood Ranch

Looking for a presentation on Angola? Uzi Baram is on the Florida Humanities Council speakers bureau. See

And Florida Humanities Council has a walking tour of the Manatee Mineral Spring, see the FHC website for Florida Stories

For publicity purposes, photographs available

For a soundless power point video of my contributions to the project, see

The community is known today as Angola, Dewey Dye, of Bradenton Florida, provided the first known documentation of what is archived as Angole based on Spanish Land Claims; the history for the free community in Spanish La Florida was uncovered by historian Canter Brown Jr. and published in 1990. Vickie Oldham launched and directed the search for Angola, beginning the program with public outreach and the public and local and descendant communities were partners throughout the research process.
My involvement includes supervision of the archaeological research which revolves around methodological challenges of locating a maroon community, public archaeology, raising questions for the archaeological and representational aspects of the work, and outreach to diverse audiences to encourage local and descendant communities to join in the search.
For information on this project, see my 2008 article in the African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter: A Haven from Slavery - unsolicited the article is read in a 2011 video: A key resource for the project is the webpage

A 2012 Historical Archaeology article laid out substantial evidence for the location on the Manatee River and used archival sources to construct a model for the archaeology. By locating material traces of the maroon community and providing a report to the Florida Master Site Files (an update to 8MA103), the crucial part of the archaeological project was reached in 2014. 

Because outreach has been central to Looking for Angola, there are several videos available on the project:

Vickie Oldham, founder of Looking for Angola, produced a twenty-minute documentary for the cultural history at the start of the research process.

Looking for Angola - culture history, at 2005

In 2009, University of Central Florida Anthropology Professor Rosalyn Howard provided a thirty-minute interview on her book Black Seminoles of the Bahamas; the interview offers the historical overview for the Black Seminoles in Florida.

UCF Rosalyn Howard Interview

In March 2009, the Gulf Coast Archaeological Society hosted Uzi Baram and recorded the presentation

Looking for Angola: New Approaches and Evidence in the Search for an Early 19th-Century Maroon Community on the Manatee River

In January 2011, New College of Florida hosted a panel presentation outlining the first five year of looking for Angola. 

2011 Looking for Angola Conference

In May 2011, CSPAN-3 broadcast a seven-minute video on the Looking for Angola program: 

C-SPAN Escaped Slave Community of Angola

also available at C-SPAN:

In a 2011 video Vickie Oldham, Project Director, explaining the program, with Uzi Baram focusing on the excavations

Vickie Oldham 2011 segment

The October 2012, the local television channel - SNN - produced a short segment on the excavations:

SNN story on Angola

In 2013, material traces of the early 19th century maroon community Angola on the Manatee River were confirmed, as reported by the Bradenton Herald in October 2013
Herald 2013

The research team looked for and found Angola. There is much more to do to build on the community programming, excavations to reveal more material evidence of the community, and add this important chapter in the history of freedom in Florida....And more programs developed to share the insights into the freedom-seeking people 

In 2014 Florida Humanities Council funded heritage interpretation signs for Reflections of Manatee including one for Angola

Another step for public interpretation of the maroon community, thanks to the Newspaper in Education program is tabloids for school children:

In a more adventurous spirit, thanks to funding from the Florida Humanities Council and the expertise of Digital Heritage Interactive: digital reconstructions of the landscape of Angola. See Tragedy and Survival: Bicentennial of the Southward Movement of Black Seminoles on the Gulf Coast (also available on the sidebar).

T/S Apalachicola 2016    T/S 2016 Bradenton    
Hal at VR on Desktop
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune captured the spirit of the FHC-funded public presentations of 2016 with this headline: A Story No Longer Untold
Herald Tribune 2016

Interest in the maroons continues: February 2018 Manatee County's little-known haven for escaped slaves 

March 2018 Sarasota Herald-Tribune marked the application for Angola at the Manatee Mineral Spring to be on the Network to Freedom with a story and video: Compelling Evidence of Angola

Compelling Evidence of Angola

The Manatee Mineral Spring location is preserved due to the efforts of Reflections of Manatee, an organization that has hosted excavations and festivals over the years

The excavations established the Manatee Mineral Spring as part of the early 19th century Angola community; the NPS placed the site on the Network to Freedom; the summer 2018 festival brought the history to life

Back to Angola
The 2018 festival received local media attention: 

The June 2018 issue of Sarasota Magazine has a superb write-up of Looking for Angola: A Newly Excavated Settlement Highlights Florida’s History as a Haven for Escaped Slaves by Isaac Eger

The Florida Historical Society offered a Florida Frontier segment in September 2018 on Angola - does not name any of the researchers but offers a interesting third-hand account of the program:

In February 2019, the National Park Service placed the archaeological site by the Manatee Mineral Spring on the Network to Freedom
NPS Network to Freedom

And Reflections of Manatee opened a Visitors Center with an Exhibit on the Freedom-Seekers at the Manatee River
ROM Exhibit 2019
(photo credit NCF Communications and Marketing)

Along with the Exhibit, in March 2019 the Florida Humanities Council funded lectures on the Underground Railroad designation; here are some photographs of the presentations

Excavated Artifacts on Display at Reflections of Manatee
The Heritage Interpretative Sign, on hallowed ground
once nearly erased, now remembered and commemorated

The Bradenton Times' Sunday Favorites in March 2019 included The Search for Angola 

In July 2019, the second Back to Angola Festival
The Scholars Panel 
(photo credit NCF Communications and Marketing)
Back to Angola scholars panel 2019
The Celebration from the Bahamas
(photo credit NCF Communications and Marketing)
Junkaroo 2019

New stories on Angola in 2019:
Florida Frontier broadcast a twenty-minute segment on the program: Florida Frontiers Radio Program #363

Florida Frontiers Television episode 34 Free Black Settlements in Spanish Colonial Florida (November 2019) starts with the July 2019 Back to Angola festival, tells of Prospect Bluff and Fort Mose, and gives the background for Angola on the Manatee River.
Uzi at FLFrontiersTV BacktoAngolaFLFrontierTV

Recovering History by the Manatee Mineral Spring

The successful Back to Angola festivals (July 2018 and July 2019) and the recognition of the Manatee Mineral Spring as part of the Network to Freedom (National Park Service) contributed to a decision to extend Riverwalk to the Manatee Mineral Springs Park. 

Before the landscape is transformed to be easternmost point for Riverwalk, the City of Bradenton funded January 2020 excavations through Reflections of Manatee, Inc., with Uzi Baram as the Principle Investigator

The local news covered the decision:

The background research was reorganized a group of volunteers came to the Manatee Mineral Spring on December 16-17th to survey for the stratigraphy across the properties

Lone Pine
In the lore for the first Anglo-American settlement on the Manatee River (then known as the Oyster River), three Cuban fishermen brought Josiah Gates and Miles Price to the Manatee Mineral Spring, a place marked by a lone pine. Previous excavations took place on the Reflections of Manatee property; the 2020 excavations include the property on the south bank of the Manatee River. Trudy Williams tells us that the pictured pine is the sister to that original pine tree seen by the Gates family

December 2019 Powers Property view
The December 2019 excavations to determine stratigraphy had an image of new developments in the background. That property was surveyed in 2016
December 2019 STPs  December 2019 STPs

The excavations began on December 30th and reporters came to document our efforts:
On Friday January 3rd
and Monday January 6th
and Tuesday January 7th
and Thursday January 9th
Friday January 10th 
ABC Action News Archaeologists uncover FL history  

Our partners Time Sifters offered a special edition of their newsletter for this project:

The open house at Reflections of Manatee on Monday January 20th brought an estimated 150 people to see the Freedom-Seekers of the Manatee River exhibit and tour the site; the free and open to the public event honors the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. ABC 7 reported on the event and interviewed excavation team member Jason Brown

The Bradenton Herald covered the event as well: 
Bradenton Herald January 2020

We held a media day on Wednesday January 29th
Bradenton Herald "Layers of history’ give researchers a peek at how Angola settlers lived in Bradenton"
Bradenton Herald video January 2020
NBC in Tampa started with drone footage (courtesy of Kimly-Horn)
Aerial of 2020 Excavations
ABC 7 in Sarasota provided an Excavation Update 

Scenes from the Excavations

Stratigraphy for 8MA103

The excavations completed, we brought the artifacts to the New College Public Archaeology Lab. 
The belongings will be curated at NCPAL. 
New College News tells of those next steps
NCF News 2020

Sherry Robinson Svekis of Reflections of Manatee created a three-minute video on the January 2020 project, found on this page
ROM Video 2020

Interested in volunteering to wash, identify, catalog, analyze, interpret, and represent the findings? Check with Reflections of Manatee for next August's opportunities

For a sense of the lab work, see the seven minute video

Announcing the Fall 2020 Open Lab at NCPAL

Reaching out to New College SAUCE and Ringling College of Art and Design, there is a 25 minute video laying out the background and goals for undergraduate involved with the laboratory research 
Loom Video April 2020

Research starts July 20, 2020

The First Step to Archaeology Lab Work - An Explanation of Washing Belongings

Two short videos for a First-Year Seminar at New College aimed at revealing community heritage (August 2020):

Concise History for Angola on the Manatee River 

Archaeology of Freedom - Overview of Angola Research Program

Bradenton Herald, reported by Ryan Callihan:  

Photograph/Bradenton Herald

Commemorating International Underground Railroad Month in September 2020
Manatee County recognizes the significance of the Manatee Mineral Spring and Family Heritage House - both on the Network to Freedom

On September 15, 2020, the Florida Public Archaeology Network - west central region produced a 12-minute video for International Underground Railroad Month, a virtual tour of NCPAL focused on the Angola project

The Underground Railroad is Here: Commemorating Angola

Thanks to Dr. Laura Harrison of Access 3D Lab at the University of South Florida, we have visualizations of the excavations; see 

Eight minute voiced-over powerpoint on the Archaeology of Freedom for the Society for Historical Archaeology Public Archaeology Day released January 2021: Archaeology of Freedom 

Archaeology of Freedom - January 2021

January 14,2021 Tour for the St Petersburg chapter of ASAHL and filming for the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of the Manatee Bar Association; documentary to be shown in February for the Bar and Sugg Middle School in Bradenton

Upcoming presentations on or including Angola:
Monuments Markers Memory

Baram 2021 BHM

Baram 2021 Bishop Museum

The 50-minute documentary Finding Angola: Manatee County's First Black Settlement 

Finding Angola: Manatee County's First Black Community

The documentary was edited and expanded to 60 minutes for the Sarasota Native American Film Festival

Finding Angola: Manatee County's First Black Community (60 minutes)

Continuing efforts with lab work: soil flotation

Jean explaining flotation

Jean explaining flotation of soil samples

Veronica Lee showing soil flotation

Process of flotation

Showing soil flotation

The Florida Public Archaeology Network - Northwest Region focused Archaeology Arcade on the virtual worlds for the early 19th-century maroon landscape of Gulf Coast Florida

Archaeology Arcade (Episode 18)- Tragedy and Survival Virtual Landscape

Fox 13 News came on March 19, 2021 and filmed the ongoing lab work:
Fox 13 March 2021