Who was Osceola?

Also known as Billy Powell, Osceola was born to a Creek mother and a white father. He migrated to Florida from Alabama as a child, following the Creek Civil War, and became part of what is now known as the “Seminole” tribe. His skill as a speaker, prowess in battle, and staunch opposition to removal, led him to becoming a prominent warrior. He often acted as a spokesmen for Abiaka. Though he was never a Tribal leader, his skill and charisma quickly made him the most famous Seminole outside the Tribe. When the war began, Osceola was given the task of killing Wiley Thompson, the man in charge of Indian Removal, who had previously had Osceola thrown in prison. Osceola’s attack on Fort King was swift and calculated, and brought him to the American People’s attention. He would then go on to lead parties in several major battles.

Osceola was captured in 1837 under a controversial white flag of truce, imprisoned by the U.S. army, and ultimately died in their custody. He was buried at Fort Moultrie in South Carolina. His personal possessions were distributed amongst his captors, friends, and family members after his death.

Lithograph of Osceola done by George Catlin

Lithograph by George Catlin