Osceola – Medicine Man and War Chief


Osceola (Billy Powell), Medicine Man and War Chief (1804-1838)

whom I have a direct blood linage to, was born in the Creek village of Talisi, now known as Tallassee, Alabama, around the current Macon County.  ”The people in the town of Tallassee… were mixed-blood AmericanNative/English/Irish/Scottish, and some were Black.  His mother, Polly Coppinger, was the daughter of Ann McQueen.  Ann’s mother was mixed-race Creek and her father, James McQueen, was Scottish-Irish.  Ann was likely the sister or aunt of Peter McQueen, a prominent War Chief of the Red Sticks in the Creek War.

In 1814, after forces of General Andrew Jackson defeated the Red Stick Creeks, Billy and his mother migrated from Alabama to Florida, then a territory of Spain.

Because the Creek are a matrilineal culture, Billy was absorbed into his mother’s clan and reared as Creek.  Billy gained his status from his mother’s people.  After years of being taught the Matrilineal Medicine ways of the Creeks, (Seminole) Billy was renamed Osceola, meaning a partaker of the Sacrament of Asi (Black Drink) and being a great shouter (yahola) of the ceremonial drink.

Upon Spain ceding Florida to the United States in 1819, Osceola attempted to peacefully co-exist with the United States and its  ‘Manifest Destiny’ policies.  Osceola was actually paid by the United States to assist the surveyors of the newly acquired land from Spain in designing the boundaries of the State of Florida.

However, when United States President Andrew Jackson’s removal policies of all the eastern American Native Cultures to Oklahoma were instituted, Osceola became the major spokesman and war chief that started and waged the only War that the United States failed to get it’s objective, prior to the Viet Nam War. Thus, the name of Unconquerable Seminoles became the known description of the Seminole culture.

Osceola secretly discovered and established a sanctuary hideaway in the Florida Everglades for his clan’s elderly, women and children.  It was subsequently named Harjo Town, and is now known as Oklevueha Band of Seminole Indians Reservation in Orange Springs Florida.

Osceola was unquestionably known throughout the United States and Europe in the early 1800’s, as being the most fearless and charismatic champion of the American Native cause.  Shortly after his death in captivity, his mother, wives, and daughters were placed upon a boat destined to sail around the Florida peninsula and up the Mississippi River, where they were placed on the trail of tears.  His mother, wives, and daughters escaped from their trail of tears trek somewhere along the Missouri and Arkansas borders just prior to entering Oklahoma, Indian Territory.

For the Most Accurate Accounting of the life and times of Osceola Read:  Light a Distant Fire by Lucia St. Clair Robson