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170th anniversary of Osceola's Death

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On January 31st, 1838, Osceola died in prison at Fort Moultrie, South Carolina.

Osceola is the most recognized Seminole from history, as well as the most enigmatic. Ask any non-Seminole whom they would recognize from history as Seminole, and it will be Osceola. Osceola became more folklore than reality even in his own life, just like Davy Crockett. (Who was also contemporary to the same time in history.)

The Seminoles say that from their oral history, they believe that Osceola was shot in the back of the head. This is different than what the written history vaguely accounts, which says a mixture of influenza and malaria did him in. It was not common practice for the military to execute Seminole prisoners, so there is some doubt about the head-shot story. But then again, none of us were there, so who can say for sure? Maybe it doesn't agree with written history, but since it is from the Seminole perspective, it says something important to them. Seminole oral history tries to relate the message, and that is their way. It displays their distrust for the government and military, and fear of what might happen to them if captured. There are incidents of the state militia soldiers killing Seminole prisoners, so there are precedent & justification for this fear.

Next week the exhibit "Osceola Remembered" opens at the Ah-tha-thi-ki Museum. Included are some original artifacts. I think one of them may be Jesup's letter announcing the capture of Osceola in October 1837.

Osceola was a warrior, not a chief. But he shows what one person with a lot of motivation can do.

Below is the cover of a DVD that you can buy at the museum: "Osceola's Journey, the Seminoles Return to Charleston." Since it features James Billie and Pat Wickman, they probably won't make any more once they sell out, so buy your copy now.

The DVD is good, but as all Seminole War things in print or video, I can even find something here I disagree with. Pat Wickman says that Coacoochee was at Dade's Battle. I am not sure about that. At the time, I thought Coacoochee (Wildcat) and his father King Philip were burning the sugar plantations on the East Coast.

Osceola was a man who had more myths and legends than what may be fact. He was a legend in the newspapers at the same time Davy Crockett became a celebrity by the same press. So even today it is difficult dividing the fact and fiction.

Current Location:
the hammock
Current Mood:
awake awake
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