Osceola and the Seminoles

By: Emma Warr

Osceola

Born Billy Powell, Osceola came from a very diverse background as he was biracial. His mother was a Creek Indian and his father was Scots-Irish and English. Osceola learned the native ways because his mother had raised him from 1804 (birth year) up until he became a powerful advisor and influential leader in the Seminole tribe. He was a young boy in the Creek Wr, which is where he got his first glimpse into the major conflict the US government had created and how it turned nations against one another, and split them apart. Osceola became a very important Native American in the Second Seminole war. He lead many Seminoles in a fight in multiple sneak attacks, which is more commonly known as Guerrilla Warfare. Osceola was later captured at the end of the war, where the US government captured him and took him to prison. He died in prison from an internal illness/infection or possibly malaria. Osceola was either 33 or 34 when he died in Fort Moultrie, South Carolina. We don't know his exact age due to the fact that there is no recorded of what day or even what month he was born in. You could say that Osceola died a hero, which is pretty true. His legacy continued after his death, as more Seminoles had continued his battle strategies and fought as hard as they could against the government.

Red Sticks

The Creek War was kinda like a civil war between two halves of the Creek Indians. It was a fight between what the call of action was from the new laws and other pressure the US government had put on the natives in the Southeast. Some of the Creeks thought it was best to let the government win and move to the designated area in the West, while others chose to fight back. This divided the Creeks into the Lower Creeks, who wanted peace with the government, and the Upper Creeks, who wanted to fight for what they believed in. Due to the violence they portrayed, the Upper Creeks were known as Red Sticks. The term comes from their war clubs which were painted red. These sticks were very sacred and were used by medicine men and in ceremonies. The Red Sticks were very cultural people and did move after the Creek War, just not in the direction the US government would've liked. The Upper Creeks ironically moved down to Florida in hopes to keep the little spirit they had left, alive. The Upper Creeks also adapted to the Seminole title as they moved into Florida.

The Creek War

As white population grew from the early 1500s on, the Creek Indians split into groups based on their views of how to deal with the US government. The government was trying to move all natives in the Southeast to an assigned area in the West located in present day Oklahoma. The Creeks split into the Upper Creeks (Red Sticks) and Lower Creeks. The Upper Creeks wanted to fight for preservation of their culture and land, and the Lower Creeks wanted peace with the whites, and even adapted to their culture. These diversions influenced the Creek War.

The Creek War lasted about a year from 1813-1814, and was one of the many smaller wars that occurred in the War of 1812. At the beginning of the Creek War, sides were chosen as the Upper Creeks were backed by Spain and England, and a few whites, mostly whom were Quakers or other religious people. The Upper Creeks went against Andrew Jackson, much of the white population,and other native tribes such as the Lower Creeks, Cherokee, Choctaw, and Chickasaw.

This war has a long history behind it. It goes back to when Andrew Jackson was being sworn into office. Andrew Jackson created the Indian Removal law immediately as his presidential run began. This law said that all natives in the Southeast part of America, had to move to a piece of land set aside for them in the Western part of the nation. From Jackson's law, many states began forming more specific laws that had many natives who lived within state borders, having very little rights. This is where the natives took sides. Some thought fighting for what you wanted was better than just becoming like the whites in order to make peace.

In the end though, both sides lost to the very controlling US government. At some point after the Creek War, all natives were told they needed to give up their sacred land and move to the Indian Territory. Tribes were forced to sign treaties and give up their land and move West. The Upper Creeks ended up giving away 40,000 acres of land the the government by signing the Treaty of Fort Jackson which ended the war. Other tribes resisted these treaties and took them to court, and some like the Upper Creeks didn't let a peace of paper determine what they were going to do with their lands.

The Second Seminole War

After the Creek and First Seminole Wars, Andrew Jackson's "brilliant" Indian Removal Act sent 3824 natives to the land reserved for the, in the West. A large fraction of the remaining natives were the Seminoles led by Osceola. Not knowing that his decision would have such a big impact that it created another war, Osceola murdered a US Indian agent, while 300 of his tribe ambushed US soldiers. After this call to action, the Seminoles retreated back into the Everglades and executed numerous guerrilla tactics on the whites. Conflict between these two groups lasted more than seven years.

The war ended when the whites told Osceola that they wanted a truce. He agreed and met with them, where they captured Osceola and he was take to Fort Moultrie where he later died. Osceola May have died, but that didn't stope the Seminoles from fighting for their rights....until four years later when 4420 more natives moved to the West. Only a few hundred Seminoles remained in the Everglades and continued surprise attacks on the whites. These attacks would later lead to the Third Seminole War. From the Second Seminole War, thousands of Seminoles died as well as 1500 US soldiers. It also cast the government $30 million.

Summary and My Reaction

Summary


Osceola didn't live a very long life compared to the lifespans now a days. But, he did prove to America and other cultures that you need to fight for you and the ones around you who share the same beliefs. The Seminoles as well as many other Native American tribes located in the Southeast , faced numerous disagreements about Native rights and land ownership with the whites. The Seminoles had their first major debut in the Second Seminole War where Osceola led a large group of natives against the whites instead of moving into the West. Osceola was later captured and taken to prison where he later died of internal sickness.

My Reaction


Osceola was very motivational in this historical time. He was a true believer in fighting for what you believe in , and was a great influence on the Seminoles later to come, and other tribes. Osceola led many attacks in the Second Seminole War against the US Government hoping to win back control of their sacred lands. I think he is a very important historical figure because of his bravery which spread throughout the Seminole tribe. If Osceola had never taken leadership, I believe the outcome of the war would've been very different. Many Seminoles, in fact, did move to the Indian Territory in the West, so it is very likely that the Seminoles wouldn't have fought back, and then the government win right away. Osceola changed the way other natives thought and helped them realize the importance of standing up for your beliefs.