Tecumseh was a very significant Native American who gave his life for what he believed. He knew that the Americans were a tremendous threat to all Indian tribes, and realized that the Indians would be destroyed one by one if not united. Tecumseh created a confederation of thirty-two tribes in hopes that the Americans would recognize their borders and thus put a halt to westward expansion. His confederation may have succeeded if it were not for the mistakes made by his brother, Laulewasika, the Americans violent actions towards the Indian tribes, and the unwillingness of the different tribes to cooperate.
Chief Tecumseh once uttered these words: “When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home. ” Tecumseh died nearly two hundred years ago, yet his story lives on to inspire and intrigue many. You may wonder: Why was this Indian chief so important to our country’s history?
Let’s first explore Tecumseh’s early life, which in turn impacted his adulthood and made him one of the greatest Indian chiefs of all time. Tecumseh, one of seven children, was born on March 9, 1768 just outside of present-day Xenia, Ohio. His father, Pucksinwah, was a Shawnee war chief who was killed at the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774. Tecumseh was born into the Shawnee Indian tribe, which was located originally in Southern Ohio, West Virginia, and Western Pennsylvania, but is now scattered in South Carolina, Tennessee’s Cumberland Basin, Eastern Pennsylvania and Southern Illinois.
When Tecumseh was but a mere child, the Shawnee Indian tribe was displaced by encroaching white settlers and many, including Tecumseh’s mother, relocated first in Indiana, then Illinois, and finally in Missouri. Although Tecumseh was only eleven years of age, he dearly loved the land of his birth and remained to be raised as a warrior by his eldest brother, Cheeksuakalo and sister, Tecumpease. Tecumseh’s first military encounter occurred against an army led by George Rogers Clark into the Ohio Country in 1782. During the battle, Tecumseh became flooded with panic and fled from the battlefield.
After this humiliating event, he became determined to never run from a fight again. Quickly afterwards, he grew into a noble warrior and became a Shawnee leader. Some of his battles include the battle against the army of St. Clair in 1791. This time, the Indians in the northwest emerged from the battlefield victorious. This led him to be one of the most trusted leaders of the Shawnees! At the next battle in 1794, the Shawnees were not successful against the army of Anthony Wayne. Wayne’s men defeated the Native Americans, including their trusted leader, Tecumseh.
By the time the 1800’s came along, Tecumseh decided that the best way to halt white advancement would be to form confederacy of Indian tribes that were west of the Appalachian Mountains. If the Indians united as one, he believed that they would have a better chance militarily against the Americans. Tecumseh visited most Indian tribes west of the Appalachian Mountains between Canada and the Gulf of Mexico, trying to convince them to unite together. The Prophet Tenskwatawa, Tecumseh’s younger brother, assisted Tecumseh in uniting the Indians together.
He had a vision where the Shawnee Indian’s prime god told him to have the Indians give up all white customs and products, including religious beliefs, agricultural practices, guns, iron cookware, alcohol, and many other various items. The Indians had turned their back on their traditional ways, and thus offended their prime God, the Master of Life. If they resumed their native customs, their God would reward them by driving the white people from the land. Many Shawnees took heart to this message, and joined Tecumseh and his brother in returning to their previous Indian customs and traditions.
In 1811, William Henry Harrison, governor of the Indiana Territory, led an army to Prophetstown, where an ever-increasing amount of Indians were congregating. Tecumseh began recruiting Indian allies and left orders with his brother not to attack the Americans. At this time, the Prophet received another vision from the Shawnee’s God, who told him to send his warriors against the Americans, contrary to Tecumseh’s demand. The Master of Life even told the prophet that the American soldier’s bullets would not harm the Indians! As a result, the Battle of Tippecanoe erupted.
Unfortunately, the Americans defeated the Prophet and his followers, and even Prophetstown was ransacked beyond repair. This defeat tremendously weakened Tecumseh’s Confederation, who had already faced dilemmas in persuading tribes to put their differences aside and ally with other tribes to defeat the Americans. During the War of 1812, Tecumseh and his remaining followers joined the British in defeating the Americans. Tecumseh hoped that if the Indian and British alliance was successful, the Indians’ homeland would be returned to them. This great
Indian chief’s last battle was the Battle of Thames in 1813, an extremely significant fight. A combined English-Indian force met an American army led by William Henry Harrison. The British soldiers fled from the battlefield and left Tecumseh and his followers to continue on their own. The natives were driven from the filed by the Americans, and an American bullet struck Tecumseh and killed him. His death signified the end of the Indian resistance against the Americans. Another quote of Tecumseh was, “When the legends die, the dreams end; there is no more greatness.
Yet, this seems to be untrue. Tecumseh was a great Shawnee chief who put together a federation of Indian tribes to try and drive the Americans from the land. He fought against superior weapons and won back much land. His brother the prophet, Tenskawatawa, betrayed him. His grand dreams of native control over their lands and resources were crushed, but he died a noble death, shot in the back while fighting a battle. Clearly, he made an enormous impact on American history, and is not one to be forgotten, like mere sand blowing in the wind.
Choose 3 main points to discuss in your essay (include specific details and include them in your essay) Why are these points important? How has the film added knowledge to you on the topic depicted in the film? Include and introduction and a conclusion Who was Tecumseh and what was his significance to American History? (13) Tecumseh was a famous Native American leader of the Shawnee people. By 1808, he and his younger brother Tenskwatawa began to talk more about resisting American aggression than about spiritual renewal.
They told Indians from all around to settle in pan-Indian towns in Indiana urging them to abandon accommodations chiefs and to join the resistance at Prophetstown. (one of the towns in Indiana). Tecumseh warned Americans that they should not attempt to settle on the lands sold in the treaty. But they denied them the claims of land that had been guaranteed to them as part of the Treaty of Grenville of 1795. His significance to American history was that he sought to unify northern and southern Indians by speaking about Indian resistance across large territories.
By him trying to spread his message southward scared the white settlers and government officials. In November of 1811, Tecumseh again met with Harrison to try to resolve the situation, but Harrison (Governor of Indiana) had made it his primary goal to acquire as much Indian Land as he could. Tecumseh told Harrison that the Shawnee and their Native American brothers wanted to remain at peace with the United States. Tecumseh then traveled south, on a mission to recruit allies among those Indians.
While Tecumseh was in the South, Governor Harrison went with more than 1,000 men, on an expedition to intimidate Tenskwatawa (younger brother) and his followers. Harrison's army arrived outside Prophetstown (Tippecanoe). Instead of being frightened, Tenskwatawa ordered his warriors to attack the American encampment that night. In the Battle of Tippecanoe, Harrison's men held their ground, and the Indians withdrew from the village after the battle. The Americans burned the town and returned to Vincennes. The battle was a blow for Tenskwatawa.
Although it was a significant setback, Tecumseh entered a formal alliance with the British. The Americans were also at war with the British in the War of 1812; "Tecumseh's War" became a part of that struggle. The American effort to neutralize potential British-Native American cooperation had backfired, instead making Tecumseh and his followers more fully committed to an alliance with Britain. Tecumseh seemed reluctant to accept his brother's teachings until June 16, 1806, when the Prophet accurately predicted an eclipse of the sun, and Indians from throughout the Midwest flocked to the Shawnee village at Greenville, Ohio.
Tecumseh slowly transformed his brother's religious following into a political movement. In 1808 Tecumseh and the Prophet moved their village to the juncture of the Tippecanoe and Wabash rivers, where the new settlement, Prophetstown, continued to attract Indians. After the loss of much Indian land at the Treaty of Fort Wayne (1809), Tecumseh gradually eclipsed his brother as the primary leader of the movement. He traveled throughout the Midwest urging tribes to form a political confederacy to prevent any further erosion of their lands.
In November 1811, while Tecumseh was in the South attempting to recruit the Creeks into his confederacy, U. S. forces marched against Prophetstown. In the subsequent Battle of the Tippecanoe they defeated the Prophet, burned the settlement, and destroyed the Indians' food supplies. After returning from the South Tecumseh tried to rebuild his shattered confederacy. But when the War of 1812 broke out, he withdrew to Michigan where he assisted the British in the capture of Detroit and led pro-British Indians in subsequent actions in southern Michigan (Monguagon) and northern Ohio (Fort Meigs).
When William Henry Harrison invaded Upper Canada, Tecumseh reluctantly accompanied the British retreat. American forces at the Battle of the Thames killed him on October 5, 1813. Tecumseh's political leadership, oratory, humanitarianism, and personal bravery attracted the attention of friends and foes. He was much admired by both the British and the Americans. After his death (his body was never recovered), a considerable mythology developed about him, and he has become an American folk hero.