Painting of Chief Osceola

Fast Facts about Osceola
Who was Osceola and why was this Native Indian chief famous? Summary: Chief Joseph (1804 - 1838) was a famous leader of the Seminole tribe, a branch of the Creek tribe, who were based in Florida. He led the Seminole resistance against efforts to remove them from Florida to Indian Territory in Oklahoma.

Osceola was imprisoned by General Joseph Hernandez. Mystery surrounded his death on January 31, 1838.  Osceola is said to have died either by an attack of quinsy, by his own will or was poisoned. The following fact sheet contains interesting facts, background history and information about the life of Osceola and the events in history that led to his fame as a great Native American Indian leader.

Fast Facts about Osceola

  • Tribe: Leader of the Seminole
  • Mixed Parentage:  Creek and English. He was raised in the Creek tribe
  • Alternate names: As-sa-he-ola meaning black water. He was also known as Little Owl
  • Language: Muskogean and English
  • Lifespan of Osceola: 1804 - 1838
  • Place of Birth: Tallassee, Alabama
  • Date of Birth: 1804
  • Date of Death: January 1838
  • Place of Death: Fort Moultrie, South Carolina
  • Name of Father: William Powell
  • Nickname: Billy Powell
  • Name of Mother: Polly Copinger, a Red Stick Creek woman
  • Wars: First and Second Seminole Wars

Osceola - Background Information
Many members of the Creek tribe were displaced from Alabama during the 1700s and had moved to Florida. Over time these people formed their own tribe that became known as the Seminole. The Seminole (their name means "separatist") separated  from the Creek tribe in the early 1700's and settled in the former territory of the Apalachee in Florida where they were joined by black runaway slaves. The Seminoles were one of the Five Civilized Tribes were nations of Native American Indians who had assimilated cultural lifestyles and customs of the white colonists and settlers. The Seminole Native Americans were under Spanish rule but became involved in several major conflicts with the United States. The conflicts including the War of 1812 and other conflicts between 1817 and 1818. General Andrew Jackson retaliated and invaded Florida with more than 3,000 men to punish the Seminole tribe. The 1830 Indian Removal Act was passed, treaties were broken and in 1835 the Seminoles led by Chief Osceola participated in the Seminole Wars.

Osceola Timeline
The following Osceola timeline charts the life of this famous Seminole chief and his fight to prevent the Seminole Native Indians move to a reservation.

  • 1804: Osceola was born in 1804 to a Creek woman named Polly Copinger and an English trader called William Powell in the Creek village of Talisi Tallassee, Alabama where he spent his early years
  • 1814: The Red Stick Creeks were defeated at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in Alabama by General Andrew Jackson and the US troops started to burn all the Red Stick villages. The surviving Red Stick Creek Indians, including Osceola and his mother, fled Alabama and headed towards Florida
  • 1815: Osceola and his mother found sanctuary with the Seminoles of Florida, which was under Spanish rule. Florida had became a refuge for runaway slaves, fugitive Native American Indians, smugglers, and criminals of all kinds. Tensions between the United States and Spanish Florida had begun to escalate
  • General Andrew Jackson invades Florida in pursuit of Seminole Indians which sparks the start of the First Seminole War
  • 1817-1818: General Andrew Jackson comes into conflict with all habitants in Florida and burns native villages
  • 1819: The United States acquired Florida from Spain via the Adams Onis Treaty (aka the Florida Treaty)
  • 1823: The 1823 Treaty of Moultrie Creek is signed by which the US seized the northern Seminole lands. Osceola and his family moved with the Seminole tribe deeper into central and southern Florida
  • 1830: The 1830 Indian Removal Act was passed that started of the forced removal of Native American Indians from their lands to reservations

  • 1832: The Treaty of Payne's Landing required all Seminole Native Indians to leave Florida within three years for Indian Territory (now Oklahoma)
  • 1832: Osceola was living near present-day Ocala and was the leader of a Seminole resistance movement against their forced re-location
  • 1833: A few Seminole chiefs endorsed the Treaty of Fort Gibson, by which the Seminoles relinquished all claims to land in the Florida Territory in return for a reservation in the center of Florida
  • 1833: Osceola and many other Seminoles disagreed with the treaties than had been made and Oscelo seized the opportunity to unite the dissenting young Seminoles under his leadership
  • 1834: Osceola vowed to the U.S. Indian agent, General Wiley Thompson, that any Seminole chief who prepared to relocate would be killed
  • 1835: On December 23, 1835 Seminole Indians ambushed and a column of US Army troops in what was called the Dade Massacre when two U.S. companies of 110 troops, under Major Francis Langhorne Dade, were killed
  • 1835: On December 28, 1835, Osceola and his followers ambushed and killed General Wiley Thompson and 6 others outside Fort King
  • 1835: The Battle of Ouithlacoochie was fought on December 31, 1835 and claimed as a victory for Osceola and the Seminole Indians
  • 1835: The Second Seminole War. The two attacks and the battle under the leadership of Osceola, began the Second Seminole War
  • The Battle of Wahoo Swamp, fought on November 21, 1836, under the Seminole leadership of Billy Bowlegs resulted in the retreat of US troops and a victory for the Seminoles
  • 1836: Many large plantations were burned and settlers killed. By the end of 1836, all but one house in what is now Miami-Dade and Broward counties had been burned by the Seminole Indians
  • 1837: General Thomas Jesup arranged for peace talks with Osceola near St. Augustine, Florida. It was a trap and Osceola was captured. He was first imprisoned at Fort Marion in St. Augustine before being transferred to Fort Moultrie on Sullivans Island, outside Charleston, South Carolina
  • 1838: Osceola died on January 31, 1838.  Osceola is said to have committed suicide or died from an attack of quinsy or was poisoned

The Story of Osceola
For additional facts and information refer to the legend and the Story of Osceola.

Famous Native Indians
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