Scholastic News
Leadership
Leaders Talk
Who's News
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
Activities

See All Special Reports
In the News: Chief Osceola
Chief Osceola made the news in Scholastic News Edition 5/6 on November 14, 2005
By Alexandra Cale

Chief Osceola
Chief OSCEOLA (C1804-1838). American Indian leader: American lithograph, 1842.
(Photo: The Granger Collection, NY)
Chief Osceola was the leader of a Native American Seminole tribe in Florida. He was born in either Alabama or Georgia in 1804 to a Native American mother and a British father named William Powell. Osceola was sometimes known as Billy Powell, but his Indian name came from the words asi, a special type of tea, and yahola, the name of a god, which someone about to drink asi would say.

Although Osceola only lived to be 34, he played an important role in Seminole history. When he was young, Osceola and his mother moved to Florida, where he spent most of his life. In 1832, after he had become a leader in his tribe, the United States government asked Seminole chiefs to sign a treaty, or agreement, to give up their lands in Florida in exchange for new land in what is now Oklahoma. The chiefs were outraged and refused to sign the document.

Three years later, Osceola was asked again to give up his land, and again he refused. He was put in jail, but he tricked the U.S. government by pretending to change his mind and was released. Once he was freed, he and 50 of his men hid near the fort where he had been imprisoned. They shot and killed 5 white men. The Second Seminole War began soon after.

Osceola led the resistance, or struggle, against the United States Army during the war. He was fairly successful in battles against the U.S. Army at the start of the war in 1835. But in the summer of 1836, Osceola caught malaria, and the following year he was captured. He died from malaria on January 20, 1838.