Those years were further illuminated by two legendary Seminole leaders - the famous warrior Osceola (a.k.a. William Powell) and the inspirational medicine man Abiaka (a.k.a. Sam Jones). Elegant in dress, handsome of face, passionate in nature and giant of ego, Osceola masterminded successful battles against five baffled U.S. generals, murdered the United State's Indian agent, took punitive action against any who cooperated with the white man and stood as a national manifestation of the Seminoles' strong reputation for non-surrender. Osceola was not a chief with the heritage of a Micanopy or Jumper, but his skill as an orator and his bravado in conflict earned him great influence over Seminole war actions.
Osceola's capture, under a controversial flag of truce offered by Gen. Thomas Jessup, remains today one of the blackest marks in American military history. A larger-than-life character, Osceola is the subject of numerous myths; his 1838 death in a Charleston, S.C. prison was noted on front pages around the world. At the time of his death, Osceola was the most famous American Indian.
Though his exploits were not as well publicized, Seminole medicine man Abiaka may have been more important to the internal Seminole war machine than Osceola. Abiaka was a powerful spiritual leader who used his "medicine" to stir Seminole warriors into a frenzy. His genius directed Seminole gains in several battles, including the 1837 ambush now known as the Battle of Okeechobee.
Many years older than most of the Seminole leadership of that era, wise old Sam Jones was a staunch resistor of removal. He kept the resistance fueled before and after Osceola's period of prominence and, when the fighting had concluded, was the only major Seminole leader to remain in Florida. Starved, surrounded, sought with a vengeance, Sam Jones would answer no flag of truce, no offer of compromise, no demand of surrender. His final camp was in the Big Cypress Swamp, not far from the Seminole Tribe's Big Cypress community of today.