Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Osceola - Part Two

Continuing our series on the great Seminole leader Osceola, this vast and beautiful grassland just south of Gainesville, Florida, is Paynes Prairie.
Now a large state park, the prairie was a centerpiece of Seminole country during the years between the First and Second Seminole Wars (1819-1834). Believed to have been named for King Payne, a famed Seminole leader during the War of 1812, the prairie was surrounded by Seminole towns and settlements.
Following the destruction of the North Florida Seminole towns by Andrew Jackson in 1818, the survivors of McQueen's band fled south into this region of Florida. Osceola and his mother were among the refugees and he soon became associated with the groups living around Paynes Prairie.
It was in this area that the warrior grew to manhood, learning from the older members of his band how to hunt, fight and follow the traditional laws of the Creeks and Seminoles. Perhaps because he had spent much of his life as a refugee, he also developed a fierce attachment to the land and a determination to hold it for his people at all costs.
Osceola was not a chief, although he is often given this designation by modern writers. Instead he was a warrior, but because the Creeks and Seminoles recognized individual accomplishments as well as hereditary leadership, he grew to hold great influence among the people that had adopted his band. As such he became a powerful representative and leader for the Seminoles, although he was part of Micanopy's band.
Our series on Osceola will continue.

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