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402 Coacoochee (Wild Cat), Seminole Leader

Posted By Manuel Garcia, Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Planted in a small area inside of Indian Hammocks Park (11395 sw 79 st Miami, Fl) lies a small garden dedicated to Coacoochee, also known as Wild Cat. Coacoochee was a Seminole leader in Florida during the 18th century. He led a group with his father of Seminole Indians and Black Seminoles that had resided in Florida for over a century. His father was captured in 1837 and imprisoned in Fort Marion. Coacoochee went to the fort in a ceremonial headdress as a sign of peace. Colonel Thomas S Jesup agreed to speak with Coacoochee and his Seminole brothers. When the all the Seminoles arrived Jesup ordered they all be arrested. He was able to escape along with nineteen other Seminoles. Coacoochee then went to lead Seminole forces against Zachary Taylor at the Battle of Lake Okeechobee. He fought until he was forces to retreat with his men into the Everglades in 1841. It wasn’t until his father’s death in 1843 that Coacoochee surrendered to U.S. forces along with 200 of his followers. After worsening conditions with constant attacks from other tribes on his reservation and lack of support from the government Coacochee took 100 of his followers and settled in a new community in Mexico. The garden that was planted for Coacoochee symbolizes freedom, which is what this Seminole Chief was fighting for. He fought for freedom regardless of ones origin. Despite being Seminole or of color Coacoochee fought to protect his people and helped shape Florida into what it is today.

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