I have a deep and abiding love for music and song, and have observed that many songs from the heart of gifted songwriters can open up the understanding to new things and even teach us some very good lessons on life.
A particular song that has recently come to my attention is an older one, but I have just re-discovered it. I was intrigued by the title, and after listening to it again, I thought to do some further research. The song spoke of some history that had taken place in the Florida everglades and spoke of the ghost of a man named “Osceola” .
Song “Seminole Winds” by John Anderson
I learned that Osceola was a Seminole Indian chief who fought for his people in the war, and was later arrested and died in prison. As I began to dig, a story began to unfold about the plight of the Native American Seminole tribe, and the wars which were waged by the military which resulted in their being removed from their homeland and placed on a reservation. It has turned out that my interest in this song has opened up some new and deep introspection on the injustice done to the earliest Americans, the Indian nations.
“Osceola: (born c. 1804, Georgia, U.S. – died Jan. 30, 1838, Charleston, S.C.) Seminole Indian leader during the Second Seminole War. Osceola was arrested and removed to a military fort at Charleston, S.C., where he died.
In brief, the Seminole Wars were a series of campaigns in the early nineteenth century mounted by the U.S. Army against various groups of runaway slaves, native Indian marauders, and white bandits, collectively known as the Seminoles, occupying parts of the present state of Florida. “
Another story related to this subject is the one concerning the true historical account of “The Trail OF Tears” This story involved Cherokees, Comanches and a few other tribes of Indians who were forcibly removed from their homelands and removed to reservations in the south. This forced evacuation reportably freed up 25 million acres of land.
This subject has been of interest to me for many years. I have often pondered on the many wars between our government and the Native Indian. It is a sad story, and a bloody one. These were people who were essentially robbed of all the homelands which had been the only home and life they had known for centuries. Many tales have circulated which seem to place blame on the Indian nation as barbaric and savage. I am more inclined to believe that they are just as any other ethnic group. A nation of people who love their families and want to do all they know how to protect them, with some brave heroes and some rotten apples which give the others a bad name. Major movies and books have made famous both villians and heroes which fought on both sides.
This excerpt from an article on the early Lewis and Clark expedition sheds valuable light on the nature of the early Native Americans. They were said to have been mostly peace loving and to have been invaluable to the expedition. I cannot help but comment also that the expedition was no threat to the natives, they did not come to take their way of life from them.
“Another achievement of the Lewis and Clark Expedition was that it established friendly relations with some of the indigenous Native American Indians. Without the help of the Native Americans, the expedition would have starved to death or become hopelessly lost in the Rocky Mountains.The expedition was especially indebted to a Shoshone woman named Sacagawea, who served as a guide and interpreter. The sight of a woman and her infant son would have been a reassuring sight to Native Americans who might have mistaken the armed explorers as a group on a warlike mission. For the most part, encounters between the expedition and the three dozen tribes they encountered were successful.”
I do not claim to know how our government could have prevented these terrible injustices. Without question there were serious injustices, and renegade leaders on both sides. The whole matter of the Native American affairs and the disposition of the lands for settlement was huge, truly beyond the scope of what the government of man had the wisdom to deal with. As in all human relationships, misunderstandings and fears based on a lack of trust of the unfamiliar others in our midst seemed to be the reigning contributor to the sad history.
The sad part I have seen in reviewing some of these accounts is that a few good and just leaders made some good and fair decisions for the good of the Indians, but a few corrupt but powerful leaders who came after them failed to follow through. I do believe there have been very serious and honorable attempts by government to repent and right some of the wrongs. Much prayer has gone up to God for mercies and justice, and restoration and healing of these old wounds from past history is in process.
And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.
I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners Indian warriors
Source: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/award98/ienhtml/curtho… Historical camp meeting