Cecilia Indian Libre is part of the Afro-Indian creole culture in Louisiana. Creole stems from the Spanish Criollo, originally designated white children born in the Caribbean, and over time designate the entire French speaking population of Louisiana. Cecilia was listed as a “négresse” and slave to the Bordelon estate. Both Cecilia and the lady of the estate Maurgurite Bordelon got along well, until a man, Louis Patus came along, who fell in love with Cecilia. Patus force the Bordelons to sell Cecilia so that he could free her. However once freed in 1780, Cecilia refused to live with Patus, who tried to convince the Bordelons to destroy Cecilia’s emancipation papers then sell her to him. The Bordelons refused and Cecilia was free from Patus and her masters. Having learned a lesson, Cecille changed her name to Cecilia Indian Libre in which she advocated to free her entire family from slavery.
One petition included as the aunt of Babet who was a mistreated slave that died from her wounds, Cecilia made attempts to free the brother and daughter of Babet on the argument that Spanish Law prohibited people of Indian descendant to be a slave. Because of the shortage in women brought from Africa, black-Indian mixtures most likely descended from Indian mothers and black fathers, and their fathers were not normally able to free them. Some slaves listed as mulatto were black-Indian mixtures designated to avoid Spanish law of Indian slavery. Cecilia’s petition to the court was amongst thirteen similar lawsuits.
Even though Cecilia Indian Libre lost that argument, she and her family continued to be an activist in the emancipation of slaves in her family. This image is based on the paintings of Brunias, an Italian painter commissioned to the Caribbean by the British who made record of the changing society through colonization.
Copyright Owner: Chesley Antoinette
Photo Credit: JD Moore
Stylist: Courtney Guy
Make-up: Steven Hill
Model: Daniela Cruz, Marrissa Robinson, LeTempest Barnes
Limited Edition Print.