Phil Wilkes Fixico (courtesy photo)

Recently the Los Angeles Sentinel spoke with Seminole-Maroon descendant Phil Wilkes Fixico regarding the truth behind African American and Native American heritage and his triumphant story of self-discovery.

Fixico was born and raised in the Los Angeles area in the cities of Watts and Inglewood. During his childhood, Fixico spent time living in the Nickerson Gardens projects with his family. As a child, he questioned his mother about the identity of his father. A question that went unanswered for most of his life.

The secrets behind the true identity of his biological father caused Fixico to experience an identity crisis leading him down a path of crime and drugs.

“I had a severe identity crisis because I wasn’t being told who my biological father was [so] I had sought to find identity within the gangs. I spent a year in four different juvenile institutions before I was 15,” said Fixico.

After receiving counseling Fixico began to turn his life around and rewrite his story. Soon he became a “solider” in the War on Poverty and a surgical technician. Despite his career progression, Fixico continued to struggle with his identity until the age of 52 when we found out he was of Seminole-Maroon descendant. According to Fixico, he is one eighth Seminole Indian, one-fourth Cherokee Freedman, one-fourth Seminole Freedman, one-fourth mulatto, and one-eighth Creek Freedman.

“Once I found out, then my life began as an activist or Seminole-Maroon which means Seminole Indian with Black freedom fighters, the Maroons are freedom fighters,” said Fixico.

Currently, Fixico is a member of the L.A. Chapter of the Buffalo Soldiers and the president of the Semiroon Historical Society, an organization he founded in 2012 after conducting his own research on the history of his people with the help of his son Justin Wilkes who assisted him and Vincent Wilkes who supported him. According to the historian, one of the primary reasons behind starting the organization was toinform his fellow Maroons about their ancestors.

“I had been through the war on poverty and I knew what it was to be an activist and I needed to create my own organization and to have my voice based on my research not buy into the oral history of [other] groups. I also needed to have a group to be associated with the national Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Act of 1998 and I am a private public sector partner of that,” said Fixico.

Today, Fixico continues to share his story at local schools and has been featured in the Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibit. Additionally, Fixico has been featured in the book “IndiVisble: African-Native American Lives in the Americas” which was published by the National Museum of the American Indian.

However, Fixico’s most recent accomplishment is being tapped to speak at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The forum, which is set to take place from Monday, April 22 through Friday, May 3, in New York City, will include representatives from all over the world.

“This is an honor and means so much to me. Remember I mentioned that I was a gang kid. I was so messed up until I went to professional counseling and that is a very dangerous period in our young peoples’ lives. Not for them but for the crimes they commit against people. So I want all those young people out there to say ‘look he was one of us and he somehow turned his life around.’”

Recently Fixico suffered from a massive heart attack and had open heart surgery. Despite his health problems, he is still traveling to New York to speak at the forum. In order to gain the financial support he needs to attend the forum, Fixico has created a Go Fund Me Account.

More information about the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the Go Found Me can be found on Fixico’s Facebook page under the name Phil Fixico. To contact Phil Fixico for additional speaking engagements please email him at [email protected]