The History of the Butterfly, part 128: The Indians go to New York

A number of the Indians whose names became places in Iowa were treated like rock stars when they visited Boston on October 30, 1837.  The local population greeted them warmly.  Both sides exhibited what seems to have been genuine affection and maybe even adoration.

At the same time, the nation was removing large groups of other Indian tribes from its borders.  The Creeks were removed with fairly significant losses due to disease, and at least one tragic accident that claimed almost 300 lives.

The nation was at war with Seminole Indians (as well as some Creeks) in Florida.  A general in the U. S. Army named Thomas Sydney Jesup captured Billy Powell, a man of Scots-Irish, English, and Creek descent when he came in to negotiate under a supposed truce.

Billy Powell was also known as Osceola, a name that was later given to an Iowa town and an Iowa County.  He was never a resident of Iowa though.  He was a leader of a band of Creek Indians fighting the U. S. Government during the Second Seminole War.

There was a general outrage in the nation about how he was captured–under a flag of truce, while expecting to negotiate for peace.  The whole affair seeming unfair and unseemly.

Our group, which included Poweshiek, Keokuk, and Black Hawk visited George Catlin at his New York studio in November of 1837. 

Sometime after the visit by the Sauk and Fox, George Catlin visited Osceola in prison and painted his portrait.  It was good that Catlin acted quickly—Osceola died of pneumonia in prison on January 30, 1838.

This is Catlin’s painting of Osceola, from Wikimedia commons.


About the roused bear

Nature photographer from central Iowa.
This entry was posted in American Indians, Black Hawk, Keokuk, Poweshiek, The History of the Butterfly and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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