Osceola Mouse Mat
Osceola (1804 – January 20, 1838) was a war chief of the Seminole in Florida. Osceola led a small band of warriors (never more than 100) in the Seminole resistance during the Second Seminole War when the United States tried to remove the Seminoles from their lands. He exercised a great deal of influence on Micanopy, the highest ranking chief of the Seminoles.---------Osceola was born in 1804 in the village of Tallassee, Alabama around current Macon County. His mother Polly Coppinger was daughter of Ann McQueen who was part Muscokgee. Many sources state that Osceola's father was an English trader, William Powell, but others claim that Osceola's father was a Creek who died soon after Osceola's birth, and that William Powell married Osceola's mother afterwards. As a result of the association with William Powell, some contemporary whites persisted in calling the young man Billy Powell. Osceola claimed to be a full-blood Muscogee. Genealogical testing of what is believed to be Osceola's hair suggests he was of mixed ancestry. It should be noted that Osceola's mixed white ancestry would have been an anomaly at the time because, as a rule, the Seminoles strictly forbade intermarriage with whites. Osceola's great grandfather James McQueen was the earliest white man to trade with the Creeks in Alabama in 1714 and remained there as trader and Native American leader the next 80+ years. James McQueen's daughter Ann married Jose Coppinger and their daughter Polly was the mother of Osceola. ------------ In 1814 Osceola and his mother moved to Florida alongside other Creeks. In adulthood he received his name; Osceola (pronounced /ˌɒsiːˈoʊlə/ or /ˌoʊseɪˈoʊlə/) is an anglicised form of the Creek asi-yahola (pronounced [asːi jahoːla]); the combination of asi, the ceremonial black drink made from the yaupon holly, and yahola, meaning cry or cryer.------In 1832, a few Seminole chiefs signed the Treaty of Payne's Landing, where they agreed to give up their Florida lands in exchange for lands west of the Mississippi River. Five of the most important of the Seminole chiefs, including Micanopy of the Alachua Seminoles, had not agreed to the move. In retaliation, Native American agent Wiley Thompson declared that those chiefs were removed from their positions. As relations with the Seminoles deteriorated, Thompson forbid the sale of guns and ammunition to the Seminoles. Osceola, a young warrior beginning to be noticed by the whites, was particularly upset by the ban, feeling that it equated Seminoles with slaves. Osceola's wife was a Black woman, and he fiercely opposed the enslavement of free peoples till the end of his life. (Katz 1986) In spite of this, Thompson considered Osceola to be a friend, and gave him a rifle. Later, though, when Osceola was causing trouble, Thompson had him locked up at Fort King for a night. The next day, in order to secure his release, Osceola agreed to abide by the Treaty of Payne's Landing and to bring his followers in. On December 28, 1835 Osceola and his followers shot and killed from ambush Wiley Thompson and six others outside of Fort King.-------On October 21, 1837, on the orders of U.S. General Thomas Sidney Jesup, Osceola was captured when he arrived for supposed truce negotiations in Fort Payton. He was imprisoned at Fort Marion, St. Augustine, Florida. Osceola's capture by deceit caused uproar even among the white population and General Jesup was publicly condemned. Opponents of the contemporary administration cited it as a black mark against the government. The next December, Osceola and other Seminole prisoners were moved to Fort Moultrie, South Carolina. There painter George Catlin met him and persuaded him to pose for him for two paintings. Robert J. Curtis painted an oil portrait of him. These pictures inspired a number of other prints, engravings, and even cigar store figures. Afterwards numerous landmarks, including Osceola Counties in Florida, Iowa, and Michigan, have been named after him, along with Florida's Osceola National Forest. Osceola died of malaria on January 20, 1838, less than three months after his capture, and was buried with military honours.-------------After his death, army doctor Frederick Weedon removed Osceola's head and embalmed it. He also persuaded other Seminoles to allow him to make a death mask and kept a number of objects Osceola had given him. Captain Pitcairn Morrison took the mask alongside other objects that had belonged to Osceola and sent it to an army officer in Washington. By 1885, it ended up in the anthropology collection of the Smithsonian Institution, where it currently remains. Later, Weedon gave the head to his son-in-law Daniel Whitehurst who, in 1843, sent it to Valentine Mott, a New York physician. Mott placed it in his Surgical and Pathological Museum. It was presumably lost when a fire destroyed the museum in 1866. In 1966, Miami businessman Otis W. Shriver claimed he had dug up Osceola's grave and put his bones in a bank vault in order to rebury them at a tourist trap in the Rainbow Springs. Shriver travelled around the state in 1967 to gather support for his project. Archaeologists later proved that Shriver had dug up animal remains - Osceola's body was still in its coffin. Some of Osceola's belongings still remain in the possession of the Weedon family, while others have disappeared. The Seminole Nation bought Osceola's bandolier and other personal items from a Sotheby's auction in 1979. There are also forged items and claims of an intact head.