Florida, 1830. Of all eastern Indigenous nations, only the Seminoles have resisted being moved to reservations. Having retreated to Florida, they live a simple horticultural life. But white plantation owners, angry at the increasing numbers of Black slaves fleeing to Seminole protection, want to take their land.
Plantation owner Raynes, in particular, has convinced the military to wipe out the Seminoles. His rival Moore, a sawmill owner from the North who has a Seminole wife, is against slavery and considers it unprofitable. Chief Osceola sees the coming danger, but although he tries to avoid provoking the whites, he cannot prevent the war that breaks out in 1835.
Osceola was primarily filmed in Cuba and Bulgaria. It is one among 14 productions made by the East German DEFA Studios from the 1960s to 80s that tried to present an allegiance with indigenous peoples and their resistance against colonizers.
Since the 1960s, the East German DEFA Studio for Feature Films adapted the Western film genre for socialism, while also attempting a gesture of solidarity with the indigenous nations of North America. Films such as this one include the representation of unacceptable practices, cultural appropriation, as well as racist and stereotypical depictions, characterization, language and imagery. The DEFA Film Library’s English-subtitled version makes efforts to address racist language and honor authorship. In the subtitles, terms for Black, Native American and Indigenous peoples that have always been derogatory in English and German are indicated as [n-word] or [i-word].