Little Owl was a member of the Creek Indians. The Creeks lived by the Tallapoosa River in Georgia.The Creeks always lived in one place, raising cattle. hunting, and farming.
The Creeks who sided with the Americans were called White Sticks. Little Owl's people sided with the English, so they were called Red Sticks. General Andrew Jackson was burning the villages of the Red Sticks. The Red Sticks lost their homes because they did not have guns to protect them. They ran away to Florida. Many of the Indians who had lost their homes in the last century had moved to Florida. They formed a large tribe called the Seminoles. When Little Owl's people reached Florida they were helped by the Seminoles.
In Florida slave owners came into the Indian villages looking for their runaway slaves. They fought the Indians and set fire to their homes. The Bluecoats attacked Little Owl's Indian village one night killing many braves. The Bluecoats burned down the village.
The Indians decided to go farther south. When the Indians reached Tampa Bay the Seminoles showed them how to build cool houses. They put long poles into the ground and covered the walls and roofs with palmetto leaves.
When Little Owl was 15 he went through a ceremony to become a man. He drank a bitter black drink and prayed to the Great Spirit. Little Owl was given the new name Osceola.
General Andrew Jackson and 3000 men started marching through Florida. In 1823 the Americans said the Chiefs decided to meet by the water of Moultrie Creek. At Moultrie Creek, Chief Neamathla was told the Indians must move from the east and west coasts of Florida. They would be paid each year for twenty years for the land. The Americans said if the Indians did not move, there would be a lot of bloodshed. The Chiefs signed the Treaty of Moultrie Creek in 1823 and agreed to move to a reservation in the central part of Florida.
Osceola helped fence in the reservation. He saw that the land was sandy and would not grow corn. Osceola rode from village to village to tell the Seminoles of the wrong the white men had done. In one village Osceola fell in love and married Morning Dew.
In 1829 General Jackson became President of the United States. He passed a law in May of 1830 that said that all tribes must move west of the Mississippi. In 1832 at Payne's Landing the Chiefs signed a paper that they thought said that some leaders agreed to go west and look at the land. If the land was good then in three years time the Indians agreed to move to the new land in peace.
In 1835 President Jackson sent a letter to the Seminole leaders saying they must sign a treaty giving up their lands. Osceola pulled his knife and stabbed the treaty. The Indians picked Osceola to lead their people after that.
The Indians built villages deep in the swamps and began attacking the settlers in Florida. In February of 1836 the Bluecoats came to fight the Seminoles. In the summer of 1836 many of the Indians and the settlers became sick with malaria. In the summer of 1837 General Thomas Jesup came to fight the Indians with 5000 fresh troops. In October 1837 Osceola, who was sick with malaria, knew the Indians could fight no more. He went to the General's fort at St. Augustine with a white flag. When Osceola went to General Jesup the General had his men surround Osceola. They threw the white flag to the ground and put chains on his hands and feet. The Seminoles were so angry with Osceola's capture that they continued to fight for the next five years.
Osceola was sent to prison. On January 30, 1838 Osceola died in a dark prison cell. After Osceola's death many Indians died, some moved west, and some continued to live in the swamps.