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Tecumseh (Tecumtha) ( Tribe : Shawnee )


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" a fire spreading over the hill and valley"

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Tecumseh was born about 1768 near present-day Oldtowm. Ohio. He was raised from birth to make war on the encroaching whites by his mother, Methoataske, whose husband, the Shawnee Puckeshinwa, was killed in cold blood by settlers when Tecumseh was a boy. Tecumseh and his mother found him dying. As he watched his father die, Tecumseh vowed to become like " a fire spreading over the hill and valley, consuming the race of dark souls." A few years later, Tecumseh's hatred for the whites was compounded by the murder of CORNSTALK, a Shawnee chief who had been a mentor to the young man.

As Euro-American settlement began to explode accross the Appalachians into the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes shortly after 1790, Native resistance expressed itself in attempts at confederation along lines of mutual interest. A confederation that included elements of the Shawnees, Delawares, Wyandots, Miamis, and Ottawas told the United States in 1790 that settlers were not to transgress beyond the Ohio River. Thousands of settlers were surging into the area, ignoring governmental edicts from both sides. The settlers, who were squatters in the Indians' eyes, sought military help after members of the Native confederacy began attacking their settlements. Military expeditions were sent into the Ohio country during 1790 and 1792, but the Native confederacy remained unbowed and unmoved. In 1794, a force under the command of General "Mad Anthony" Wayne defeated the confederacy's warriors at Fallen Timbers ( a battle in which a young Tecumseh fought). In 1795, most of present-day Ohio and parts of Indiana were surrendered at the Treaty of Greenville.

Native resistance surged again shortly after the turn of the century under the aegis of Tecumseh. As he came of age after the American Revolution, his influence grew rapidly not only because of his acumen as a statesman and a warrior, but because he forbade torture of prisoners. Both settlers and his Native allies trusted Tecumseh. By the turn of the century, as the number of settlers grew, Tecumseh beagn to assemble the Shawnees, Delawares, Ottawas, Ojibwas, Kickapoos, and Wyandots into a confederation with the aim of establishing a permanent Native state that would act as a buffer zone between the United States to the east and English Canada to the north. One white observer recalled Tecumseh as a commanding speaker. His voice was said to have "resounded over the multitude...his words like a succesion of thunderbolts." He advanced the doctrine that no single Native nation could sell its land without the consent of the entire confederacy that he was building. Rallying Native allies with an appeal for alliance about 1805, Tecumseh said, "Let us unite as brothers, as sons of one Mother Earth...Sell our land? Why not sell the air... Land cannot be sold." He tried to unite the southern tribes by appealing to history.

Terretorial governor William Henry Harrison (who would later popularize his coming battle with Tecumseh at Tippecanoe in a succesful campaign for the presicency with the campaign slogan "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too") tried to undermine the growing strength of Tecumseh's Indian union by negotiating treaties of cession with individual tribes. Since only a portion of each tribe or nation's warriors elected to follow Tecumseh, Harrison found it easy enough to find "treaty Indians" among those who did not elect to fight. By 1811, Harrison negotiated at least fifteen treaties, all of which Tecumseh repudiated. Harrison's wariness of Tecumseh's power sprang from a deep respect for him "The implicit obedience and respect which the followers of Tecumseh pay to him is really astonishing and more than any other circumstances bespeaks him as one of those uncommon geniuses, which spring up occasionally to produce revolutions and to overturn the established order of things. If it were not for the vicinity of the United States, he would, perhaps, be the founder of an Empire that would rival in glory Mexico or Peru. No difficulties deter him". For his part, Tecumseh was particularly galled by the fact that Harrison had chosen as his territorial capital the village of Chillicothe, the same site (with the same name) as the Shawnees' former principal settlement. At one treaty council, Tecumseh refused to meet Harrison's terms. Finding himself seated next to Harrison on a bench, Tecumseh slowly but aggressively pushed him off its edge then told Harrison that that was what was happening to his people. During his last conference with Tecumseh, Harrison bid the chief to take a chair. "Your father requests you take a chair," an interpreter told Tecumseh, to which the chief replied, "My father! The sun is my father and the earth is my mother. I will repose upon her bosom." He then sat crosslegged on the ground.

Tecumseh was also angry over Harrison's treaty of September 30, 1809, with the Delaware, Potawatomi, Miami, Kickapoo, Wea, and Eeel River peoples. For $8,200 in cash and $2,350 in annuties, Harrison had laid claim for the United Staes to roughly three million acres of rich hunting land along the the Wabash River, in the heart of the area in which Tecumseh wished to erect his Native confederacy. When Tecumseh and his brother , also a Shawnee war chief, complained to Harrison that the treaty terms were unfair, Harrison at first rebuked Tecumseh by saying that the Shawnees had not even been part of the treaty. The implicit refusal to recognize Tecumseh's alliance angered the Indians even more. Realizing that Tecumseh's influence made it politic for him to do so, Harrison agreed to meet with him. At a meeting on August 12, 1810, each side drew up several hundred battle-ready warriors and soldiers. Harrison agreed to relay Tecumseh's complaints to the president, and Tecumseh said that his warriors would join the Americans against the British if Harrison would annul the treaty. Nothing came of Harrison's promises, and in 1811, bands of warriors allied with Tecumseh began ranging out of the settlement of Tippecanoe to terrorize nearby farmsteads and small backwoods settlements. Harrison said he would wipe out Tippecanoe if the raids did not stop; Tecumseh said they would stop when the land signed away under the 1810 treaty was returned. Tecumseh then journeyed southward to bring the Creeks, Chicksaws, and Choctaws into his alliance. He carried the message that he had used to recruit other allies.

For the most part the trip failed to bring new allies. During this time, the command of the existing alliance fell to Tecumseh's brother TENSKWATAWA, who was called the Prophet. On September 26, 1811, Harrison decamped at Vincennes with more than nine hundred men, two-thirds of them Indian allies. He built a fort and named it after himself on the present-day site of Terre Haute, Indiana. Harrison then sent two Miamis to the Prophet to demand the return of property Harrison alleged had been stolen in the raids, along with the surrender of Indians he accused of murder. The Miamis did not return to Harrison's camp. The governor's army marched to within sight of Tippecanoe and met with Tenkswatawa, who invited them to make camp, relax, and negotiate. Instead, Harrison's forces set up in battle configurations, and the Prophet's warriors readied an attack. Within two hours of pitched battle, Harrison's forces routed the Indians and burned the village of Tippecanoe as Tenskwatawa's forces scattered into the woods.

Returning to the devastation from his travels, Tecumseh fled to British Canada, where, during the war of 1812, he was put in command of a force of whites and Indians as a British brigadier general. During the battle in Ontario (Canada), Tecumseh was killed on October 5, 1813. After it, some of the Kentucky militia who had taken part found a body they thought was Tecumseh's and cut strips from it for souvenirs. (His warriors, who had dispersed in panic when Tecumseh died, said later that they had taken his body with them.) Having commited twenty thousand men and $5 million to the cause, the United States had effectively terminated armed Indian resistance in the Ohio Valley and sourrounding areas.

A statue called "Tecumseh" plays a major role in traditions at the U.S. Naval Academy. The statue was originally the figurehead of the ship 'Delaware' and, as such was said to portray Tammerund (Saint Tammany), a Delaware chief who befriended William Penn. The figure was renamed "Tecumseh" in 1891 and installed at the academy in Annapolis, Maryland, where its supernatural aid is often requested to help midshipmen pass their exams.
The real place where TECUMSEH's bones are is Walpole Island.


Tecumseh settled in Greenville, the home of his younger brother Tenskwatawa (formerly Lowawluwaysica) ("One With Open Mouth or The Open Door"), also known as The Prophet. In 1805, a nativist religious revival led by Tenskwatawa emerged. Tenskwatawa urged natives to reject the ways of the whites, and to refrain from ceding any more lands to the United States. Opposing Tenskwatawa was the Shawnee leader Black Hoof, who was working to maintain a peaceful relationship with the United States. By 1808, tensions with whites and Black Hoof's Shawnees compelled Tenskwatawa and Tecumseh to move further northwest and establish the village of Prophetstown near the confluence of the Wabash and Tippecanoe Rivers (near present-day Battle Ground, Indiana).

Tenskwatawa's religious teachings became widely known, and he attracted first nations followers from many different nations. Although Tecumseh would eventually emerge as the leader of this confederation, it was built upon a foundation established by the religious appeal of his younger brother. Relatively few of these followers were Shawnees; although Tecumseh is often portrayed as the leader of the Shawnees, most Shawnees in fact had little involvement with Tecumseh or the Prophet, and chose instead to move further west or to remain at peace with the United States.

In September 1809, William Henry Harrison, governor of the newly formed Indiana Territory, negotiated the Treaty of Fort Wayne in which a delegation of half-starved Indians ceded 3 million acres (approximately 12,000 square km) of Native American lands to the United States. William Henry Harrison was given orders from Washington to negotiate with Indians that claimed the lands that they were ceding. However, he disregarded these orders as none of these Indians lived on the lands that they ceded. Tecumseh's opposition to this treaty marked his emergence as a prominent leader. Although Tecumseh and the Shawnees had no claims on the land sold, he was alarmed by the massive sale. Tecumseh revived an idea advocated in previous years by the Shawnee leader Blue Jacket and the Mohawk leader Joseph Brant, which stated that Indian land was owned in common by all tribes, and thus no land could be sold without agreement by all. Not yet ready to confront the United States directly, Tecumseh's primary adversaries were initially the Indian leaders who had signed the treaty. An impressive orator, Tecumseh began to travel widely, urging warriors to abandon accommodationist chiefs and to join the resistance at Prophetstown (Tippecanoe). Tecumseh insisted that the Fort Wayne treaty was illegitimate; he asked Harrison to nullify it, and warned that Americans should not attempt to settle the lands sold in the treaty.

In 1810 and 1811, Tecumseh met with Harrison at Harrison's Vincennes, Indiana home Grouseland assuring him that the Shawnee brothers meant to remain at peace with the United States. Tecumseh then traveled to the south, on a mission to recruit allies among the so-called "Five Civilized Tribes." Most of the southern nations rejected his appeals, but a faction among the Creeks, who came to be known as the Red Sticks  answered his call to arms, leading to the Creek War.

While Tecumseh was in the south, Governor Harrison marched up the Wabash River from Vincennes with more than 1,000 men, on an expedition to intimidate the Prophet and his followers. On November 6, 1811, Harrison's army arrived outside Prophetstown (Tippecanoe). Tenskwatawa sent out his warriors against 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 victorious Americans burned the town and returned to Vincennes.

The battle was a severe blow for Tenskwatawa, who lost prestige and the confidence of his brother. Although it was a significant setback, Tecumseh began to secretly rebuild his alliance upon his return from the south. Now that 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 cooperation had backfired, instead making Tecumseh and his followers more fully committed to an alliance with the British.

War of 1812

Tecumseh joined British Major-General Sir Isaac Brock to force the surrender of Detroit in August 1812, a major victory for the British. Tecumseh's acumen in warfare was evident in this engagement. As Brock advanced to a point just out of range of Detroit's guns, Tecumseh had his warriors parade out from a nearby wood and circle around to repeat the maneuver, making it appear that there were many more than was actually the case. The fort commander, Brigadier General William Hull, surrendered in fear of massacre should he refuse.

This victory was reversed a little over a year later, however, as Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry's victory on Lake Erie, late in the summer of 1813, cut British supply lines and prompted them to withdraw. The British burned the public buildings in Detroit and retreated into Upper Canada along the Thames Valley. Tecumseh followed, fighting rearguard actions to slow the US advance.

The next British commander, Major-General Henry Procter did not have the same working relationship with Tecumseh as his predecessor. Procter failed to appear at Chatham, Ontario as expected by the Native Americans. Harrison crossed into Upper Canada in October, 1813 and won a victory over the British and the Native Americans at the Battle of the Thames near Chatham. Shortly after, the tribes of his confederacy surrendered to Harrison at Detroit. Certain eye-witness sources state that Tecumseh was killed by Colonel Richard M. Johnson, future vice-president of the United States under Martin Van Buren, although it has not been proven. After Tecumseh was killed, no one ever found his body.

Tecumseh's War or Tecumseh's Rebellion are terms sometimes used to describe a conflict in the Old Northwest between the United States and an American Indian confederacy led by the Shawnee chief Tecumseh. Although the war is often considered to have climaxed with William Henry Harrison's victory at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, Tecumseh's War essentially continued into the War of 1812 and is frequently considered a part of that larger struggle.


In June 1930, the United States Naval Academy Class of 1891 presented the Academy with a bronze replica of the figurehead of USS Delaware, a sailing ship-of-the-line. This bust, one of the most famous relics on the campus, has been widely identified as Tecumseh. However, when it adorned the American man-of-war, it commemorated not Tecumseh but Tamanend, the Delaware chief who welcomed William Penn to America in 1682.

Despite his defeat, Tecumseh is honored in Canada as a tragic hero and brilliant military commander who, along with Brock, saved Canada from U.S. invasion. Among the tributes, Tecumseh is ranked 37th in The Greatest Canadian list.

A number of places have been named in honor of Tecumseh, including Tecumse, Kansas, Tecumseh, Michigan, Tecumseh, Missouri, Tecumseh, Nebraska, Tecumseh, Oklahoma, Tecumseh, Ontario, the town and township of New Tecumseth, Ontario, and Mount Tecumseh in New Hampshire.

The US Civil War Union general William Tecumseh Sherman, like Tecumseh also born in Ohio, was named "Tecumseh Sherman" at birth, but his foster parents insisted on adding a more conventional "Christian name". By coincidence (before Sherman was famous), Judy Garland's grandfather was also given the names William Tecumseh. Many organizations and ships have been named for Tecumseh as well.

Tecumseh's Family

Tecumseh's Family

Paternal Grandfather-----Wawwaythi also known as Lawpkaway and Loyparcowah



Eldest Brother----Cheesauka sometimes spelled Chiksika or Chiksekau

Second Eldest----Tecumseh


(Triplets)First born of the triplets, Sauwaseekau (was killed at the Battle of Fallen Timbers)

Second born triplet Kumskaukau---is believed to have died in the first year

Third born of the triplets,Lalawethika or Tenskwatawa----the Prophet


Adopted Brother----Wehyahpihreshnwah (Blue Jacket adopted 1771)

It is believed that there was one other sister and another brother

Mohnetohse----First wife of Tecumseh whom he sent back to her parents for neglecting their infant son

Mahyawwekawpawe---First son of Tecumseh

Mamate----Second wife of Tecumseh, who died after childbirth

Naythawaynah (A Panther Seizing Its Prey)----Second son of Tecumseh

Letter from William Henry Harrison


(Govenor Harrison, after learning of the witchcraft executions commanded by Tenskwatawa, had this letter delivered to the Shawnee. Harrison was determined to thwart The Prophet in what seemed to him to be that individual's effort to use tribal superstitions to stampeded the Indians into warfare.)

"My children, my heart is filled with grief and my eyes are dissolved in tears at the news which has reached me. You have been celebrated for your wisdom above all tribes of red people who inhabit this great island. Your fame as warriors has extended to the remotest nations, and the wisdom of your chiefs has gained you the appellation of grandfathers from all the neighboring tribes. From what cause, then, does it proceed that you have departed from the wise councils of your fathers and covered yourselves with guilt? My children, tread back the steps you have taken and endeavor to regain the straight road you have abandoned. The dark, crooked and thorny one which you are now pursuing will certainly lead you to endless woe and misery. But who is this pretended prophet who dares speak in the name of the great Creator? Examine him. Is he more wise and virtuous than you are yourselves, that he should be selected to convey to you the orders of your God? Demand of him some proofs at least of his being the messenger of the Diety.

If God had really empowered him, He has doubtless authorized him to perform miracles that he may be known and recieved as a prophet. If he is really a prophet, ask him to cause the sun to stand still or the moon to alter its course, the rivers to cease to flow, or the dead to rise from their graves. If he does these things, you may believe he has been sent by God.

He tells you that the Great Spirit commands you to punish with death those who deal in magic, and that he is authorized to point them out. Wretched delusion! Is then the Master of Life obliged to appoint mortal man to punish those who offend him? Has He not the thunder and the power of nature at His command? And could He not sweep away from the earth a whole nation with one motion of His arm? My children, do not believe that the great and good Creator of Mankind has directed you to destroy your own flesh; and do not doubt that if you pursue this abonminable wickedness His vengence will overtake and crush you.

The above is addressed to you in the name of the Seventeen Fires. I now speak to you from myself, as a friend who wishes nothing more sincerely than to see you prosperous and happy. Clear your eyes, I beseech you, from the mist which surrounds them. No longer be imposed on by the arts of an imposter. Drive him from your town, and let peace and harmony prevail amongst you. Let your poor old men and women sleep in quietness, and banish from their minds the dreadful idea of being burnt alive by their own friends and countrymen. I charge you to stop your bloody career; and if you value the friendship of your Great Father, the President -- if you wish to preserve the good opinion of the Seventeen Fires -- let me hear by the return of the bearer that you have determined to follow my advice."

Your Friend and adviser,

William Henry Harrison, Governor

Indianna Territory


Spemica Lawba and Peketelemund had deliver this letter to Tecumseh, who in turn had read it to the villagers at Buckangehela's Town. After the reading, Tecumseh folded the letter and handed it to Buckangehela. Tenskwatawa stood and said, "Let the messangers rest and eat. I will retire to my place and meditate on this and see what direction, if any, I shall recieve from the Great Spirit on this matter."

Tecumseh accompanied him. Within the hour, the two brothers emerged, Tenskwatawa odering all the villagers to be assembled at once. "The white beaver, Harrison," he said, " said that you should ask me, if I am really a prophet, to cause the sun to stand still and that if I can do this, then you can believe that I have been sent from God. Those are his words, not mine! Therefore, listen now to what I have to say: Fifty days from this day, there will be no cloud in the sky. Yet, when the sun has reached its highest point, at that moment will the Great Spirit take it into Her hand and hide it from us. The darkness of night will thereupon cover us and the stars will shine round us. The darkness of night will thereupon cover us and the stars will shine round about us. The birds will go to roost and the night creatures will awaken and stir. Then you will know, beyond further doubt, as the white chief Harrison has said, that your prophet has been sent to you from Maneto."

June 17, 1806...at precisely noon there was an eclipse of the sun.

A great deal has been written about this, the first truly significant, fully substantiated prediction by Tecumseh, via Tenskwatawa. Considerable effort has been made to say that Tecumseh had access to many whites and could have come into possession of an almanac giving the date and time of the next eclipse of the sun. Some sources say that this prediction was made possible from information obtained from the Shakers, but this claim is unsubstantiated and the Shakers were not known to have visited Tecumseh until he sent for them almost a year later. What is sloughed off is the fact that not only did the brothers not know that Harrison would levy such a challenge, neither could they have known that it would reach them while they were at Buckangehela's Town on the White River and not at their own quarters at Greenville where, if Tecumseh did have access to an almanac, the book would no doubt be. Then again Tecumseh, prior to this time may have memorized when the next eclipse would be...but this seems to be grasping at straws. Whether or not Tecumseh had prior knowledge of the eclipse cannot be known now. There is as good a case for it as against it.

Photo: At Vincennes in 1810, Tecumseh loses his temper when William Henry Harrison refuses to rescind the Treaty of Fort Wayne


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After the signing of the "Treaty of Fort Wayne," which sold three million acres of land for a single payment in goods of $7,000 and a small annual subsidy, to be divided among the tribes signing the treaty, Tecumseh met with Governor Harrison. "Brother, I wish you to give me close attention, because I think you do not clearly understand. I want to speak to you about promises that the Americans have made.

You recall the time when the Jesus Indians of the Delawares lived near the Americans, and had confidence in their promises of friendship, and thought they were secure, yet the Americans murdered all the men, women, and children, even as they prayed to Jesus?

The same promises were given to the Shawnee one time. It was at Fort Finney, where some of my people were forced to make a treaty. Flags were given to my people, and they were told they were now the children of the Americans. We were told, if any white people mean to harm you, hold up these flags and you will then be safe from all danger. We did this in good faith. But what happened? Our beloved chief Moluntha stood with the American flag in front of him and that very peace treaty in his hand, but his head was chopped by an American officer, and that American Officer was never punished.

Brother, after such bitter events, can you blame me for placing little confidence in the promises of Americans? That happened before the Treaty of Greenville. When they buried the tomahawk at Greenville, the Americans said they were our new fathers, not the British anymore, and would treat us well. Since that treaty, here is how the Americans have treated us well: They have killed many Shawnee, many Winnebagoes, many Miamis, many Delawares, and have taken land from them. When they killed them, no American ever was punished, not one.

It is you, the Americans, by such bad deeds, who push the men to do mischief. You do not want unity among tribes, and you destroy it. You try to make differences between them. We, their leaders, wish them to unite and consider their land the common property of all, but you try to keep them from this. You separate the tribes and deal with them that way, one by one, and advise them not to come into this union. Your states have set an example of forming a union among all the Fires, why should you censure the Indians for following that example?

But, Brother, I mean to bring all the tribes together, in spite of you, and until I have finished, I will not go to visit your President. Maybe I will when I have finished, maybe. The reason I tell you this, you want, by making your distinctions of Indian tribes and allotting to each particular tract of land, to set them against each other, and thus to weaken us.

You never see an Indian come, do you, and endeavor to make the white people divide up?

You are always driving the red people this way! At last you will drive them into the Great Lake, where they can neither stand nor walk.

Brother, you ought to know what you are doing to the Indians. Is it by direction of the president you make these distinctions? It is a very bad thing, and we do not like it. Since my residence at Tippecanoe, we have tried to level all distinctions, to destroy village chiefs, by whom all such mischief is done. It is they who sell our lands to the Americans. Brother, these lands that were sold and the goods that were given for them were done by only a few. The Treaty of Fort Wayne was made through the threats of Winnemac, but in the future we are going to punish those chiefs who propose to sell the land.

The only way to stop this evil is for all the red men to unite in claiming an equal right in the land. That is how it was at first, and should be still, for the land never was divided, but was for the use of everyone. Any tribe could go to an empty land and make a home there. No groups among us have a right to sell, even to one another, and surely not to outsiders who want all, and will not do with less.

Sell a country! Why not sell the air, the clouds, and the Great Sea, as well as the earth? Did not the Great Spirit make them all for the use of his children?

Brother, I was glad to hear what you told us. You said that if we could prove that the land was sold by people who had no right to sell it, you would restore it. I will prove that those who did sell did not own it. Did they have a deed? A title? NO! You say those proves someone owns land. Those chiefs only spoke a claim, and so you pretended to believe their claim, only because you wanted the land. But the many tribes with me will not agree with those claims. They have never had a title to sell, and we agree this proves you could not buy it from them. If the land is not given back to us, you will see, when we return to our home from here, how it will be settled. It will be like this:

We shall have a great council, at which all tribes will be present. We shall show to those who sold that they had no rights to the claims they set up, and we shall see what will be done to those chiefs who did sell the land to you. I am not alone in this determination, it is the determination of all the warriors and red people who listen to me. Brother, I now wish you to listen to me. If you do not wipe out that treaty, it will seem that you wish to kill all the chiefs who sold the land! I tell you so because I am authorized by all tribes to do so! I am the head of them all! All my warriors will meet together with me in two or three moons from now. Then I will call for those chiefs who sold you this land, and we shall know what to do with them. If you do not restore the land, you will have had a hand in killing them!

I am Shawnee! I am a warrior! My forefathers were warriors. From them I took my birth into this world. From my tribe I take nothing. I am the master of my own destiny! And of that I might make the destiny of my red people, of our nation, as great as I concieve to in my mind, when I think of Weshemoneto, who rules this universe! The being within me hears the voice of the ages, which tells me that once, always, and until lately, there were no white men on all this island, that it then belonged to the red man, children of the same parents, placed on it by the Great Spirit who made them, to keep it, to traverse it, to enjot its yield, and to people it with the same race. Once they were a happy race! Now they are made miserable by the white people, who are never contented but are always coming in! You do this always, after promising not to anyone, yet you ask us to have confidence in your promises. How can we have confidence in the white people? When Jesus Christ came upon the earth, you killed him, the son of your own God, you nailed him up!! You thought he was dead, but you were mistaken. And only after you thought you killed him did you worship him, and start killing those who would not worship him. What kind of people is this for us to trust?

Now, Brother, everything I have said to you is the truth, as Washemoneto has inspired me to speak only truth to you. I have declared myself freely to you about my intentions. And I want to know your intentions. I want to know what you are going to do about taking our land. I want to hear you say that you understand now, and you will wipe out that pretended treaty, so that the tribes can be at peace with each other, as you pretend you want them to be. Tell me, Brother. I want to know.

After this meeting, both Tecumseh and Harrison were convinced that war was only a matter of time. As word of Tecumseh's opposition to the Treaty spread, Native Americans became less and less cooperative with the U.S. government, and tribes that had been quiet for the past 15 years began once again to attack white settlements.

In the fall of 1811, Tecumseh headed off with a band of warriors to attempt to enlist the aid of the large tribes in the South - the Chickasaws, Choctaws, and the Creeks. Afraid that Harrison might attack Prophetstown while he was gone, he tried to smooth matters with Harrison before he left, and he told Teskwatawa not to do anything to provoke the governor. Unfortunately, his powers of persuasion did not work well with the southern tribes, whose experience with the whites so far had been much less hostile than that of their northern breathren - in part beacause they were mostly farmers and were less dependent on vast tracts of land for their survival. Only the Creeks agreed to send a group of warriors north, and these were only to observe the situation. Tecumseh returned home in early January 1812 - and discovered that Prophetstown had been destroyed.

Just as Tecumseh had feared, Harrison had decided to strike the headquarters of the Indian coalition while their most competent military leader was gone and had rounded up approximately 1,000 militiamen from Kentucky and Indiana. His men were inexperienced in war, as was he - but the same was true of the men remaining in Prophetstown, and Tenskwatawa, who the inhabitants of Prophetstown looked to as a leader, vacillated between peace offerings and war threats as Harrison and his men approached. Finally on Noember 6, 1811, Tenskwatawa gathered the warriors of Prophetstown and told them that the Great Spirit had visited him. The Great Spirit had said that the Prophetstown forces should strike Harrison's men before the next sunrise., when the darkness would confuse the soldiers. In addition, he, the Prophet, would stand on a knoll near the battlefield, working his magic to make Indians immune to the white man's bullets. The warriors set out to surround Harrison's men.

Around four o'clock in the morning on November 7, a sentry's shot rang out in Harrison's camp, alerting the soldiers to the attack. The element of surprise lost, Tenskwatawa's men immediately opened fire on the Americans, taking a heavy toll on the American troops but suffering greatly when the soldiers returned fire. Both armies were undisciplined, and the conflict at times resembled a mob action, but Harrison proved a capable leader and kept his men engaged in the two-hour battle. Tenskwatawa, on the other hand, was far removed from the fighting, working his ineffective magic. When dawn came, the Indian troops began to retreat, only to discover that Tenskwatawa had preceded them and was nowhere to be found. The Indians scattered, and Harrison's men entered and destroyed the abandoned Prophetstown.

Chief Tecumseh Quotes

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and
Demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life,
Beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and
Its purpose in the service of your people.

Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend,
Even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and
Bow to none. When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the food and
For the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks,
The fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and nothing,
For abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time 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."

"No tribe has the right to sell, even to each other, much less to strangers.... Sell a country! Why not sell the air, the great sea, as well as the earth? Didn't the Great Spirit make them all for the use of his children?

The way, the only way to stop this evil is for the red man to unite in claiming a common and equal right in the land, as it was first, and should be now, for it was never divided."

We gave them forest-clad mountains and valleys full of game, and in return what did they give our warriors and our women? Rum, trinkets, and a grave.

Brothers -- My people wish for peace; the red men all wish for peace;but where the white people are, there is no peace for them, except it be on the bosom of our mother. Where today are the Pequot?

Where today are the Narrangansett, the Mohican, the Pakanoket,
and many other once powerful tribes of our people?

They have vanished before the avarice and the oppression of the White Man, as snow before a summer sun."

Big Jim


(?-1900). Big Jim, a Shawnee chief, grandson of Tecumseh and son of one of the chiefs who signed the Indian treaty of February 23, 1836, was born in the Sabine reservation in Texas in 1834. His native name was Wapameepto ("Gives Light as He Walks"), and his popular name, Big Jim, was a mistake for his English name, Dick Jim. In 1872 he became chief of his band, often called Big Jim's band of Absentee Shawnees. He resented the encroachments of settlers, never became Christianized, and made efforts to move his people away from white men. In 1900, while in Mexico to investigate possibilities of moving his people there, he died of smallpox.

Curse of Tippecanoe

The term Curse of Tippecanoe (also known as Tecumseh's curse, the presidential curse, zero-year curse, or the twenty-year curse) is sometimes used to describe the pattern where from 1840 to 1960 each American President who had won election in a year ending in zero (such as 1880 or 1900) died in office.

The curse, first widely noted in a Ripley's Believe It or Not book published in 1931  began with the death of William Henry Harrison, who died in 1841 after having been elected in 1840. Every 20 years thereafter for the next 120 years the winner of the United States presidential election ultimately died while serving in office, from William Henry Harrison, (elected 1840, died 1841) to John F. Kennedy (elected 1960, died 1963).


The name "Curse of Tippecanoe" derives from the 1811 battle. As governor of the Indiana Territory, William Harrison bribed Native Americans to cede their lands to the U.S. government and handed out whiskey that caused alcoholism to run rampant among Indians.  These hostile acts angered the Shawnee chief Tecumseh and brought government soldiers and Native Americans to the brink of war. As a result, Tecumseh and his brother organized a defensive group of Indian tribes designed to resist white westward expansion. In 1811, Harrison successfully attacked Tecumseh’s village in which Harrison defeated the Shawnee leaders Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa, known as the Prophet along the Tippecanoe River earning Harrison fame and the nickname "Old Tippecanoe." Harrison strengthened his reputation even more by defeating the British at the Battle of the Thames during the War of 1812 Supposedly, the Prophet set a curse against Harrison and future White House occupants.

After the observation by Ripley, talk of the curse resurfaced as the next cursed election year approached. A similar oddities cartoon feature, Strange As it Seems by John Hix, appeared prior to Election Day 1940, with "CURSE OVER THE WHITE HOUSE!" A list, running from "1840 - Harrison" to "1920 - Harding" was followed by the ominous "1940 - ??????" and the note that "In the last 100 years, Every U.S. President Elected at 20-Year Intervals Has Died In Office!" Ed Koterba, author of a syndicated column called "Assignment Washington", referred to the subject again in 1960.

As 1980 approached, the curse was sufficiently well-known, and Americans wondered whether the winner of that election would follow the pattern (or whether a madman with a sense of destiny might seek to hasten the winner's death). The Library of Congress conducted a study in the summer of 1980 about the origin of the tale, and concluded that "although the story has been well-known for years, there are no documented sources and no published mentions of it". Running for re-election in 1980, President Jimmy Carter was asked about the curse at a campaign stop in Dayton on October 2 of that year. Taking questions from the crowd, Carter replied, "I'm not afraid. If I knew it was going to happen, I would go ahead and be President and do the best I could, for the last day I could."

The election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 was not followed by his death in office. Reagan survived his eight years in two terms, despite being seriously wounded in an assassination attempt within months of his inauguration. Days after Reagan survived the shooting, Columnist Jack Anderson wrote "Reagan and the Eerie Zero Factor" and noted that the 40th President had either disproved the superstition, or had nine lives; like the presidents who had died in office, Reagan was succeeded in office by his vice president George H. W. Bush, the first incumbent vice president in 152 years to assume the presidency other than upon the death or resignation of the president. Reagan's would-be assassin, John Hinckley, Jr., was found by a jury to be insane, but there was no evidence that he was motivated by  belief in curses.

Contributor: bgill
Created: June 16, 2007 · Modified: February 9, 2012

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