The Unconquered Seminoles | Part 1: The Wild Ones

February 27, 2023

The Unconquered Seminoles | Part 1: The Wild Ones
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‘Go count the bleeding scalps of your murdered countrymen, of all ages, of all sexes!’

‘Go count the bleeding scalps of your murdered countrymen, of all ages, of all sexes!’


In this episode, we delve into the shrouded history of the Seminole people, a tribe with roots in Florida dating back centuries.


We will learn about how an obscure tribe became a symbol of resistance against the United States government and their attempts to force Native Americans to leave their land.


We uncover the fierce conflicts they faced, including their wars with President Andrew Jackson and the brutal forced relocation known as the Trail of Tears.

Join us as we unravel the mysteries of the Seminole people's past and be inspired by their legacy which continues to this day.




  • The Seminole by Liz Sonneborn
  • A Native American Encyclopedia: History, Culture, and Peoplesby Pritzker, Barry
  • Great North American Indians : profiles in life and leadership by Frederick J Dockstader
  • A Seminole legend : the life of Betty Mae Tiger Jumper by Jumper, Betty Mae
  • Unconquered people : Florida's Seminole and Miccosukee Indians By Brent Richards Weisman
  • Osceola's legacy by Wickman, Patricia R.
  • The Seminole wars : America's longest Indian conflict by Missall, John
  • The Scott massacre of 1817. A Seminole War battle in Gadsden County, Florida by Dale Cox
  • Indian removal Act 1830
  • Treaty of Paynes Landing
  • The Seminoles of Florida by James Corvington
  • History of the Third Seminole War, 1849-1858 Co-authored with Dr. Joe Knetsch.
  • The Black Seminoles by Kenneth W. Porter
  • Red Patriots: The Story of the Seminoles by Charles Coe


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If you were to take out your map of the USA and trace your finger down the east coast,
down the very bottom you'd reach the state of Florida. Outside the main Florida State
University campus there's a striking 31 foot 9 meter tall statue. The statue shows a man on horseback,
the horse is rewing up on its hind legs and the man raises a feathered spear above his head as if
yelling. The imposing statue has just a single word printed on its base, unconquered. The statue
built in 2003 shows Osceola, a Native American who fought against the United States Army that
came to take his land and tried to force his people to migrate. But so what, right? How many
Native American tribes had a similar story? How many Native American tribes resisted the USA
and fought to keep their lands? Lots sure, but how many kept their land as a result of those wars
though? How many beat the United States and to this day still reside on that same ancestral land?
Not many, but Osceola's tribe, the Seminoles, did. To give you an idea just how hard these guys were
we just need to look at their name. Seminole is derived from a Spanish word meaning the wild ones
and the wars with these wild ones would be the most expensive of all Native conflicts in the
history of the United States. These guys would bleed the USA dry in a conflict that would
span 40 years, 7 presidents and around 1 billion US dollars in today's money. Over the next few
episodes I'll be taking you through the history of the Seminole tribe, through the eyes of three
different leaders. First up, Osceola, the most famous of all Seminoles. Osceola was a cheeky
and charismatic young rebel who punched well above his weight in both his standing in his own tribe
and in the minds of the United States public. Dressing himself up in… I mean, how do you
describe it, he looks like Captain Jack Sparrow, garish clothes, right? He liked to be the center
of attention and his bravery and flair for theatrics made sure he always was. Next up,
Billy Bolegs, a particularly cunning chief who walked a middle ground between peace and war
with the US government. Bolegs would exploit his relationship with the US to such an extent that
he'd score himself a free tour of Washington DC. And finally, Abiyaka, a man who has fascinated me
since I learned about him. A medicine man of the highest renown in his own tribe. During meetings
with US representatives he would put his feet up on chairs to show his lack of respect for the
negotiation. To the citizens of Florida, he was this feeble old man, ambling through army camp
selling fish to US troops. No one suspected that this withered old man was one of the most esteemed
leaders of the Seminoles. Really, this guy was like Master Yoda. He hardly spoke, but he heard
everything and he knew every waterway, stream and gully throughout Florida like the back of his
wrinkly hand. And his resistance, above all others, would be the light and the darkness when his
people were ready to throw in the towel. This episode will be centred around the backstory
of the tribe, the first rounds of the Seminole war and a little bit about the main players in the
story. It's going to be a little more fact heavy than our usual episodes, and rather than following
a specific individual, we'll be covering the tribe as a whole. If you're not a fan of that
kind of storytelling and aren't really fussed about missing context, then no worries, you can skip
this one and wait for part two, it'll still make sense. My name's Elliot Gates and you're listening
to the Anthology of Heroes podcast. For any first-time listeners, welcome to the podcast. In this show,
I share stories of heroism and defiance from across the ages. And this is the unconquered
Seminole's part one, The Wild Ones. Just a heads up everyone, violence and sexual assault will
be mentioned very briefly towards the end of this episode. Florida is a land of twisting swamps,
drooping cypress trees and endless waterways. Almost 20% of its land is taken up by water,
one of the highest water-to-land ratios in any U.S. state. With alligators, snakes and even
panthers prowling around the banks of the river, it's not a place you'd want to get lost in.
But for a millennia, Native American tribes have tamed this unforgiving land and thrived.
In the mid-18th century, a charismatic leader who the Western texts call Cowkeeper broke away
from mainstream society. Cowkeeper was the chief of the Hitchhitty people, a now-extinct Native
American tribe from the modern state of Georgia. And he felt that things in this land had become too
crowded. Too many tribes boarded his own, it was time to stretch his wings and venture into the
unknown. Thanks to all the cateleon, the man was of high status within the community,
and so he had a good following of people who accompanied him into his voluntary exile.
Those that left would go on to be known as Seminoles, which is probably derived from the Spanish
word Kimaron, meaning the wild ones or the ones that broke away. For months, Cowkeeper and his
people walked aimlessly, wading through the thick swamps and dodging gators, searching for a place
they could claim as their own. And near the modern city of Gainesville, Florida, Cowkeeper told his
people to stop walking. As their leader ran his hand through the earth, he realized what a treasure
he'd found. The fertile soil was ideal for crops, and roaming the plains were feral cows, sheep
and horses descended from cattle ranches the Spanish had abandoned. Tall pine trees grew in
abundance, which, aside from building materials, made for a perfect defensible buffer. Over the
next century, the Seminole people would become distinctively different from those they'd left
behind. Their ceremonies and customs would change and a new language would be born.
They would find themselves forced to adapt to the challenging climate of Florida. In the sticky
summers, they moved to the coast, living in the open air, and in winter they moved inland and lived
in so-called chickies, thatched huts that were suspended on wooden stilts above the swampland.
Like some other Native American tribes, the Seminoles could be called a matriarchal society.
A tribe was organized into clans, and these clans were based on the mother's bloodline.
They planted beans, squash and pumpkin, and menlet to hunt, kill and cook alligators.
The most important person in Seminole society was the Miko, a kind of chief.
Even though the Miko held authority, it would be wrong to say he was the equivalent to a king.
The Miko was really just a representative of the tribe's will, and if he lost the tribe's
respect, he lost his position. The Miko presided over important tribe of rituals,
rituals like the black drink ceremony, a kind of airing of grievances meeting where tribal
members would consume liquefied stems and roots from the holly tree. These portions of the tree,
if roasted correctly, released a truly staggering amount of caffeine. For reference,
your usual espresso shot contains around 80 milligrams of caffeine, a 250 can of red bull
has about the same. If it was your turn to take a sip from the conch shell at the black drink
ceremony, you'd be having around 3 to 6 grams of caffeine, somewhere between 30 and 60 espresso
shots. This usually produced one of two results, you ended up vomiting or you ended up very, very
chatty. The black drink ritual was intended to purify the body, soothe anger between tribal
members and help them speak their mind. But the most important of all ceremonies was the
Green Corn Dance, a kind of Seminole New Year festival. Held in late summer as their corn began
to ripen, during this time the most influential members of the community retreated into these big
sweat lodges. In the feverish heat there would discuss any crimes that needed to be talked about
and meter out any punishments that needed to be given. When they emerged, days of feasting
took place and young boys would be initiated into manhood. The tribe would dance for days,
burning their old possessions and clothes as they prepared to start anew. And from the communal fire
they danced around, the matriarch of each household would scoop out hot coals and use them to light
the fire in her home, symbolically acknowledging her family's place in the tribe. For decades,
the Seminoles lived this way. By the time the year 1800 came along, Florida had been part of the
Spanish Empire for a few hundred years. Through their relaxed rule, the Seminoles had embraced
Western technology. Iron cooking pots and rifles were a common sight at any Seminole camp.
But from the north came another Western institution, slavery. To the north of Florida was a state of
Georgia, which was home to somewhere around 60,000 enslaved people, most of them from West Africa.
Now the Seminoles also practiced slavery, but it wasn't slavery split along racial lines.
The idea that the white race was superior and that lesser, and I put that in quotation,
races should serve them was comparatively new. Cotton had recently become the wonder fabric
in Europe, and Georgia, with its endless plantations, was making bank on the backs of anyone that had a
little extra melatonin in their skin. Generations of men, women, and children lived and died at
the whim of a man whose only difference to them was his skin color. It was backbreaking work even
at the best of times, which, understandably, led to many runaways who fled south into Seminole territory.
There they found a much more accepting society. Banding together Africans, either slaves or
freemen, enjoyed near identical rights to that of the Seminole counterparts. If they were loyal to
the tribe and served them in war, they were usually left to their own devices. Over time,
their clothing, diet, and language would take on a distinct Seminole flair. Soon, the swampy
hinterlands of Florida was an open secret to the slaves of South Georgia, and frustrated plantation
owners found their workforce decreasing by the day. Something had to be done. Not only was this bad
for business, but armed black men were a threat to the entire institution of slavery. Slavery was
already a polarizing topic in American politics. Many of the northern states wanted it gone completely,
but the economy of southern states like Georgia were literally built on it.
In 1835, a black preacher named Nat Turner shook the American colonies to their foundations when he
led about 60 slaves in rebellion in Virginia. Though the rebellion was crushed pretty quickly,
the precedent had been set. If a slave revolt happened once, who's to say it couldn't happen
again? Rich southern landowners began to pressure the US government to force the issue. But there
was a problem. The escapees were sheltering in Florida, which was part of Spain, not the United
States. The man who was about to solve this problem was a guy my US listeners probably see
on a daily basis whenever they take out a $20 bill. Andrew Jackson. Almost everything that
happened to the Seminoles was either directly or indirectly related to Jackson, so it's important
to understand the type of guy he was. Andrew Jackson was born somewhere between the two
Carolina states. He was the son of Scotts Irish immigrants, but didn't spend too much time with
them. He never met his dad, who was crushed to death by a tree before he was born, and his mother
died of cholera during his early teens. When the colonies of the United States declared
independence from Britain, Jackson fought passionately in defense of his fledgling nation.
Once after being captured in battle, a British jailer ordered the 14-year-old to polish his
boots. When Jackson refused, the jailer slashed at him, leaving the young man with a permanent scar
and hatred of all things British. From brazen child to fiery adult Jackson made headlines when
he challenged a prominent lawyer to a duel. The engagement came up after Jackson filled the
other guy's saddlebags with bacon as a kind of practical joke. Get it? Yeah, me neither.
When the other guy didn't see the humour in it, Jackson challenged him to pistols at dawn.
This time, no one was hurt, but Jackson did kill at least one man in a duel during his lifetime.
He soon found his way back into the military and earned the nickname
Old Hickory from his troops, who said he was as unbending as a tree and as tough as old wood.
Jackson's style of leadership was very much my way of the highway. He made few compromises and
usually believed he alone had the answers. He soon grew to realise that the path to wealth
was on the literal backs of others through slavery. And I know what you're thinking,
well he was a rich southerner, I'm sure everyone owned slaves back then. And yeah, you're right,
most wealthy southerner did own slaves, but Jackson had more than most. The Hermitage,
a kind of museum built on Jackson's plantation, says in paragraph one on their website, quote,
In all reality, slavery was the source of Andrew Jackson's wealth, end quote.
Boom, it doesn't get much clearer than that, does it? The way he saw it, it was up to the white
man to lead the world. The reds and the blacks would, in time, benefit from the civilisation
that was brought to them. An outlook that was in total opposition to the way of life for the
Seminoles. Two worlds were about to collide. The year is 815. In an Indian village in the north
of Florida, a crowd of mixed-race Native Americans sit and raptured at the foot of a man. The man's
name was Peter McQueen, a kind of chief and prophet of the Creek people. McQueen had just
returned from a war in Alabama. The war was known as the Red Stick War due to the colour that the
Natives painted their clubs, and it had been a loss for the Creek people. 21 million acres,
85,000 kilometres of land, about half of modern-day Alabama and part of southern Georgia,
had been forcibly seized by Andrew Jackson, who the prophet referred to as sharp knife,
due to his cruelty and ruthlessness. Such an obvious land grab had made the intentions of
the United States clear to Peter McQueen. They wouldn't stop until they'd taken all the good
land from the tribes. McQueen spoke with thunder and fury as he described how the Cherokee,
Choctaw and even other creeks had sided with the white man against their own people.
The crowd was captivated, they could feel his passion as he insisted that the only
way to keep their lands was to fight for them. One of the people sitting in his feet,
hanging on his every word, was a distant relation of his. A 10-year-old kid named Billy Powell,
better remembered by his seminal name, Osceola. The name Osceola is actually a corruption of
Usse Yahola, which means something like Black Drink Singer, which could be a reference to his
antics during the Black Drink ritual we mentioned earlier. Osceola had lived a fairly turbulent
upbringing up to this point. He too was mixed race, the son of an Englishman and a native,
probably Cree, mother. Roving with different bands of Indian tribes, Osceola and his mother had lived
nomadically through his childhood. Today though, that changed. With his great uncle mentoring him,
Osceola seems to have found his calling, his identity. Osceola and his mother became followers
of McQueen and soon found themselves in Florida with the Wild Ones, the Seminoles.
Osceola grew into a handsome, if a little cocky, young man. He stood about five feet ten,
with a long angular nose, plump lips, and dark black hair which he wore tied into a headband.
With his soft, delicate features and large, thoughtful eyes, he styled himself as a bit of
a dandy. He put particular care into his appearance and you get the feeling he liked others looking
at him. He was a big fan of jewelry and had all manner of silver beads and baubles dripping from
his ears and neck at any given time. He inherited his great uncle's flair for public speaking.
Despite his young age and fairly unimportant position within the tribe, he began to insert
himself into tribal affairs. While tribal elders just dismissed the fiery teenager,
young warriors were drawn to him. Preaching freedom and armed resistance in this high,
shrill voice, Osceola developed a bit of a following. Sharpknife, Andrew Jackson,
had begun punitive expeditions into the Florida Swamps. Osceola was sure that what had happened
to the Northern Creeks could happen to the Seminoles if nothing was done. Since the success
in defeating the Crees during the Red Stick Rebellion, Jackson had become something of a
national hero for the United States. Writing on the coattails of his fame, Jackson thought himself
as the perfect fit to venture into the soupy, unmapped morass that was Florida.
The main purpose of the expedition was to recapture runaway slaves. Southern landholders were
getting more jumpy about how many angry armed black people with a grudge to settle lived within
striking distance of their plantations. A concern that, I'm sure, Old Hickory could relate to.
But a secondary complaint was that the Indians were stealing cattle from the white settlers across
the border. This was, at very least, tit for tat theft between two communities. There were
bad eggs on both sides, but the settlers had the United States Army behind them, and the Seminoles
didn't. An anonymous chieftain expressed his frustration when he said, quote,
The white people have carried all the red people's cattle off. I sent to all my people to let white
people alone and stay on this side of the river, and they did so. But the white people still continue
to carry off their cattle. The whites first began, and there was nothing said about that,
but great complaint made about what the Indians do, end quote. In other words, when your troublemakers
steal our cattle, nothing happens. But when the same thing happens to you, everyone goes for their
rifles. According to Jackson, a good portion of this disputed territory now belonged to the United
States of America. The peace treaty for his last war said so. So the way he saw it, even allowing
these Indians to squat on this land, was a hospitality, and if their chiefs couldn't control them,
then he would. This would be a reoccurring theme for Jackson. It was like, how do you say it,
willfully ignorant to the fact that one chief did not own or gland, and wasn't authorized to
surrender land that didn't belong to his tribe. With Jackson probing deeper and deeper into Spanish
controlled Florida, a war of words erupted between the two nations about what a US general and his
army were doing on Spanish sovereign land. It was no secret that the once great power of Spain
was falling apart. Napoleon's European War had made things worse for them, and now the sun was
setting on the Empire of Spain. All over the world, they were struggling to hold onto their colonies,
and their hold on Florida was especially weak. But still, USA was not at war with Spain, so Jackson
was in risky waters. He was poking around in foreign territory without any authorization from the
government of the United States. Just waiting on the sidelines for an excuse, any excuse, to jump in.
And when a US citizen and her baby were murdered and scalped by a group of renegade Seminoles,
Jackson came out swinging. Burning and dispossessing, Jackson put a torch to anything Seminoles he
came across. Consequences be damned. A particularly remote fort in the north of Florida became the
first target for reprisals for a frustrated Seminole chief that Jackson had chased off his land.
The fort held out against wave after wave of Indian attacks, but they were left low on food,
medicine, and crucially ammunition. So a relief expedition was organised, and around 50 men crowded
into a couple of boats and headed up the uncharted Appalachicola River. Through the twisting mangrove
marshes, the expedition paddled towards the fort. The screaming ambience of the swampland with
deafening as soldiers sweated through their linens, swatting away mosquitoes as they peered into
the frosts. In the distance they could see figures dashing through the tree lines,
and the expedition leader, Lieutenant Scott, instinctively felt something wasn't right.
So he sent back an envoy saying, quote, Mr. Hambly, that's one of his scouts, informs me that
Indians are assembling at the junction of the river, where they intend to make a stand against
those vessels coming up the river. Should this be the case, I'm not able to make a stand against
them. My command does not exceed 40 men, and one half are sick and without arms, meaning weapons,
end quote. Alligators, snakes, and snapping turtles peered at them from the banks,
as the boat's wooden paddle cut through the water one stroke at a time.
As the junction loomed nearer, drooping cypress trees grew larger, blocking out the sunlight above.
Suddenly the shore erupted in noise, shots rang out from all sides as birds darted from the trees
to escape the din. Invisible targets peppered the men with lead, as the troopers fired blindly
back into the forest. Those still alive dropped their weapons and began to swim desperately to
the shore, but by then, their assailants had emerged. With the glint of their tomahawks visible
in the muted light, the Seminoles began butchering the group almost to a man. It was not a pleasant
death. Those who were killed by gunfire got off easy. According to Dale Cox, author of The Scott
Massacre of 1817, all children and infants aboard had their heads bashed against the side of the
boat. Lieutenant Scott, the expedition's leader, had stakes of wood hammered into his body which
were then set on fire. The Scott Massacre, as it came to be known, outraged the American public,
and Jackson's ranks swelled to a considerable army. At least a thousand men strong made up of
militiamen army regulars and Indian allies all wanting to get their hands on the Seminoles.
Knowing for sure now that no one would care about a little Seminole blood being spilt, Jackson stepped
up again, torching Seminole villages wherever he could find them. And if the Seminoles thought
international law would stop Jackson, they had another thing coming. He marched to the biggest
and one of the last Spanish forts in Florida and pretty much told them to clear out. The Spanish
governor protested for a little while but he knew as well as Jackson there was no way he could stand
up to him. The Spanish garrison marched out and not long after, the crumbling Spanish Empire
formally ceded Florida to the United States. Jackson had gambled that Spain would not have
the forces to defend Florida and he'd been correct. The first Seminole war was over.
Marching back north with a trove of recaptured black slaves, old Hickory no doubt patted himself
on the back and thought to himself, well, oh boy, job well done. He'd cowed these Indians like he'd
cowed others and he'd conquered new territory of his country. Can't get much better than that,
can you? But if we look at the facts, all he'd really done was displace and anger a group of
people who were experts at living off the land and in guerrilla warfare. Jackson had kicked the
hornet's nest and was about to discover that the Seminole's wouldn't go quietly. If Jackson expected
a hero's welcome in Washington, the reaction was anything but. He had violated the Constitution of
the United States by declaring war on another sovereign nation, Spain. He had incited rebellion
against a native tribe that were relatively peaceful, the Seminole's, and after he'd captured
the Spanish fort, he'd executed two British soldiers who were hanging out there.
Gavils banged and voices boomed through the Senate House as words like outlaw and pirate
were thrown at the general. Who was this cowboy who treated the United States soldiers like his
personal attack dogs? But others defended him and New York-based senator stood up and boomed in
opposition, quote, go count the bleeding scalps of your countrymen of all ages, of all sexes,
found by General Jackson, and then returned to this house if this Seminole war was on the part
of our country an offensive war, end quote. While across the ocean Great Britain rattled sabers
printing in one of its papers, quote, we cannot doubt that every American will be anxious to remove
from his country the stain imprinted upon it by the base and vindictive conduct of this agent.
Common courtesy requires that the United States should disavow the proceedings of General Jackson,
end quote. Opinions on Jackson's tactics split the Democratic Republican Party.
Those that sided with Jackson went on to form the Democrat Party and those that opposed him,
the Republican Party, the two same parties that dominate US politics to this day.
Young Osceola and the Seminoles had traded overlords from a lax colonial empire governed
by a country on the other side of the world to a zealous and paranoid local power that sat on
the same land mass as they did. The Seminoles waited in suspense to see whether the Senate would draw
the great red line that would mark their new territory. The tribe extended an olive branch
and sent a few delegates to meet with Jackson, hoping to understand what he had planned for them.
Jackson had them both strapped in irons and arrested. He refused to recognize the Seminoles
to the tribe. To him they were just creek runaways, his old enemies from the Red Stick War.
Besides, he had no reason to negotiate, because he already had a solution to that problem. Leave.
The idea of a Western territory, a new home for Native American tribes, had existed before Jackson,
but it was about turbocharging. The prevailing idea about most, well, all Native American peoples
at this time were something like the noble savage. When a Bostonian merchant unrolled
his paper and sipped his morning coffee, he read about these fascinating exotic figures
living in a way that American society perceived as very primitive. The Indian danced, he sang,
he grew corn and maize and talked with the spirits, and for that he was respected. A kind of stock
figure from a time gone by, uncorrupted by the modern way of life. This perception led
most Americans into thinking of the Native people as kind of children of the forest,
or I guess, wards of the state. They didn't know what was best for them, and it was up to
the enlightened Westerners to show them. There were few that thought or cared enough to think,
maybe these people actually want to live this way. For now, it led Jackson into penning the
Indian Removal Act, better remembered today as the Trail of Tears. This is an important event
in American history, and I want to go over how it relates to our story. The Trail of Tears was a
forced relocation of the so-called five civilized tribes, Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks,
and the Seminoles. These tribes were assessed by representatives of the US government to be the best
candidates for, well, assimilation, meaning their culture had a framework that the United States
could build upon and begin in printing their culture on top of. So the members of these five
tribes were to be moved from their ancestral homes to what was then called the Western Territories,
but what we now call the state of Oklahoma. Once they got there, in theory, they would
live in harmony with each other and eventually become self-sufficient. Over the generations,
with a little help from the government, they would quietly assimilate into Western culture.
Yeah. The concept was flawed. North America is a huge place, and these tribes were nothing
alike. Some of them lived in mountains, some of them in the woods, some in the swamps, and others
in the plains. They spoke completely different languages, had completely different customs,
and perhaps, most importantly, many of them hated each other. People that had enjoyed almost
limitless roaming were now to be fenced in up against each other, against a tribe they despised.
This would be the same as grabbing a bunch of French people, a bunch of Turkish people,
a bunch of Italians and some Norwegians, dropping them on an island and telling them,
there you go, here's some vegetables and a bible, have fun guys. But the destination wasn't the
worst part of this. The journey to their new home claimed thousands of Indian lives. You were really
at the mercy of a local governor or town official, because it was up to them to ensure you and your
family had enough provisions for the journey. Individuals, families, sometimes whole communities
were loaded up into a wagon or two and told to get going with nothing but a guide and a few armed
thugs to see them through safely. With no comprehension of English, no knowledge of your
destination, people like this suffered the most. Groups of hundreds of Indians trudged over
thousands of kilometres criss-crossing the dense countryside. They bought with them their family,
including their kids or elderly relatives, maybe a few skinny heads of cattle, whatever
they'd been allowed to scoop up before they were seized. The deaths of some of these groups
were deliberate. Others were the result of neglect or corruption. The US government did generally
provide supplies, but with each hand that the goods were passed through, food was stolen,
provisions were swapped for cheaper alternatives, and medicine was sold off for profit. In the end,
what reached the Indians could be 10 sacks of grain when their group was estimated to need,
you know, 50 or something. There was just not enough planning or care put into a migration of this
scale. There's a stack of first-hand accounts of this ordeal, and some of them are really heartbreaking.
I'll just read one. This is an account of George Harkin's chief of the Choctaw people,
one of the first tribes to be forcibly relocated. George was a practice lawyer. He'd studied
European law to ensure his people weren't taken advantage of specifically to stop something like
this. And after he'd exhausted every legal appeal he knew, he left voluntarily with his tribe.
This is an extract from his letter, farewell to the American people. It goes like this, quote.
We go forth, sorrowful, knowing that wrong has been done. Will you extend to us your
sympathizing regards until all traces of disagreeable opposition are obliterated?
And then we again shall have confidence in the professions of our white brethren.
Here is the land of our progenitors, and here are their bones. They left them as a sacred deposit,
and we have been compelled to venerate its trust. They adhere to us, yet we cannot stay.
My people adhere to me, with them I must go. Could I stay and forget them, and leave them
to struggle alone, unaided, unfriended, and forgotten by our great father? I should then be
unworthy of the name of a Choctaw and a disgrace to my blood. I must go with them. My destiny is
cast among the Choctaw people. If they suffer, so will I. If they prosper, then I will rejoice.
Let me ask again to regard us with feelings of kindness, end quote.
These people hadn't done anything wrong. They weren't squatters. Up until a few years back,
this was their land. They had songs and stories about the lakes and mountains that were formed
around them. They'd lived in the same place since time immemorial. When all was said and done,
one source says that the death toll for Georgia's people, the Choctaw, was between 2500 and 6000
people, up to one third of the tribe. This was a fate that awaited any Seminole who took Jackson
up on his offer. But the swamps of Florida were dark and treacherous, and a young upstart named
Osceola was about to show our old hickory that his people would not go quietly. The burgeoning
United States was about to start the most expensive Native American war in its history,
and the only one it would never win. And that is where we leave it today, guys. We'll be back
in two weeks as things really heat up down in Florida. Shout out again to the Anthology of
Heroes patron team, Phil, Angus, Claudia, Malcolm, Alex, Seth and Tom. And if you haven't already,
you should sign up for our mailing list. If you do that, then I can let you know exactly when our
new episode drops. This has been Anthology of Heroes. Thanks for tuning in.