Wars of Indian Removal, 1817-1858
As Florida's population increased through immigration,
so did pressure on the federal government to remove the
Indian people from their lands. The Indian population was
made up of several groups-primarily, the Creek and the
Miccosukee people; and many African American refugees lived
with the Indians. Indian removal was popular with white
settlers because the native people occupied lands that
white people wanted and because their communities often
provided a sanctuary for runaway slaves from northern states.
Among Florida's native population, the name of Osceola
has remained familiar after more than a century and a half.
Osceola was a Seminole war leader who refused to leave
his homeland in Florida. Seminoles, already noted for their
fighting abilities, won the respect of U.S. soldiers for
their bravery, fortitude, and ability to adapt to changing
circumstances during the Second Seminole War (1835-42).
This war, the most significant of the three conflicts between
Indian people and U.S. troops in Florida, began over the
question of whether Seminoles should be moved westward
across the Mississippi River into what is now Oklahoma.
Under President Andrew Jackson, the U.S. government spent
$20 million and the lives of many U.S. soldiers, Indian
people, and U.S. citizens to force the removal of the Seminoles.
In the end, the outcome was not as the federal government
had planned. Some Indians migrated "voluntarily." Some
were captured and sent west under military guard; and others
escaped into the Everglades, where they made a life for
themselves away from contact with whites.
Today, reservations occupied by Florida's Indian people
exist at Immokalee, Hollywood, Brighton (near the city
of Okeechobee), and along the Big Cypress Swamp. In addition
to the Seminole people, Florida also has a separate Miccosukee
Text from: A Short History of Florida
Used with the permission of Florida's Division of Historical