Tecumseh was born in 1768 near Chillicothe, Ohio. His father, Puckshinwau was a minor Shawnee war chief. His mother Methotaske was also Shawnee. Tecumseh came of age during the height of the French and Indian War and in 1774 his father was killed at the Battle of Point Pleasant during Lord Dunmore’s War. This had a lasting effect on Tecumseh and he vowed to become a warrior like his father. As a teenager he joined the American Indian Confederacy under the leadership of Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant. Brant encouraged tribes to share ownership of their territory and pool their resources and manpower to defend that territory against encroaching settlers. Tecumseh led a group of raiders in these efforts, attacking American boats trying to make their way down the Ohio River. These raids were extremely successful, nearly cutting off river access to the territory for a time. In 1791 he further proved himself at the Battle of the Wabash as one of the warriors who defeated General Arthur St. Clair and his army. Tecumseh fought under Blue Jacket and Little Turtle and the American Indian Confederacy was victorious slaying 952 of the 1,000 American soldiers in St. Clair’s army. St. Clair was forced to resign. In 1794 Tecumseh also fought in the Battle of Fallen Timbers. This decisive conflict against General Anthony Wayne and his American forces ended in a brutal defeat for the American Indian Confederacy. A small contingency of about 250 stayed with Tecumseh after the battle, following him eventually to what would become Prophetstown and a new pan-Indian alliance.
|Portrait of the Shawnee military and political leader Tecumseh, ca. 1800-1813. He worked with his brother Tenskwatawa, known as ‘The Prophet,’ to unite American Indian tribes in the Northwest Territory to defend themselves against white settlers.|
Tecumseh’s brother Tenskwatawa joined him at Prophetstown, also known as Tippecanoe in Indiana Territory and in 1808 the two men began recruiting a large multi-tribal community of followers under a message of resistance to settlers, the American government, and assimilation. Tecumseh traveled north to Canada and south to Alabama in an effort to recruit men to his cause. Meanwhile, William Henry Harrison, governor of Indiana Territory was negotiating treaties and utilizing American forces to put pressure on those tribes still in Indiana and especially those allied with Prophetstown. In 1809 Harrison, signed the Treaty of Fort Wayne which allotted him a massive amount of American Indian territory thus increasing Tecumseh’s efforts and amplifying his message. Tecumseh was away from Prophetstown on a recruitment journey when Harrison launched a sneak attack now known as the Battle of Tippecanoe. The American forces cleared the encampment and then burned it to the ground. It was a severe blow to the confederacy and a harbinger of war to come.
On June 1, 1812 under the advisement of President Madison, Congress declared war on Great Britain. In the Northwest Territory, American Indian tribes found themselves pulled in two separate directions – side with the British or with the Americans. Tecumseh and his confederacy sided with the British. He and his men were assigned to overtake the city of Detroit with Major General Isaac Brock. The siege of Detroit was a success due in no small part to Tecumseh’s military strategy. He continued to support British efforts under Major-General Procter at the Siege of Fort Meigs. The siege failed and morale waned as a result.
In the fall of 1813 as conditions around Detroit worsened, Procter began a retreat east toward Niagara. Tecumseh requested arms so that his men could stay in the Northwest Territory and continue to defend their lands. Procter agreed to make a stand at the forks of the Thames River. However, when forces reached the site communication broke down and some men deserted while others continued east. When the Americans attacked, large sections of forces broke leaving about 500 hundred American Indians to hold back 3,000 Americans. Tecumseh was fatally wounded in the battle. It is unknown who killed him or what happened to his remains. His death began a rapid decline in American Indian resistance and the War of 1812 is marked as the beginning of removal in the upper Midwest.
Originally from the southern states of Tennessee and South Carolina, the Shawnee Indians moved often before the first group arrived in the Wyandotte and Johnson County area.
In 1825, the Shawnee living near Cape Girardeau, Missouri, were removed from their homes by the United States government and given a tract of land south of the Kansas River and west of the Missouri River. Relocation began in 1826. The 1.6 million acre reservation extended west for many miles, but the Shawnee chose to occupy only a small portion. Few lived west of Lawrence, and the majority remained in Wyandotte and Johnson counties. Their numbers grew when Shawnee from Ohio began arriving later that year.
The spiritual leader Tensquatawa, the Shawnee Prophet, was among the Ohio Shawnee, arriving in 1828. In the early 1800s, Tensquatawa, the younger brother of Shawnee leader Tecumseh, had encouraged an alliance of all Indians against the American encroachment and preached that tribal leaders did not have the right to sign away tribal lands. His message caught on with young members of the tribe, and he developed a substantial following. In 1808 he established a village in Indiana called Prophetstown, and it thrived for three years. When Tensquatawa moved to Kansas, he established a new Prophetstown near the present South 26th Street and Woodend Avenue in Kansas City. His high regard with the Shawnee, however, had waned, and Tensquatawa never regained his status; the new town did not prosper. In the early 1830s he moved to a small cabin near a spring in the present Argentine area of Kansas City, where he died in 1837.
In 1854 the U.S. government reduced the Kansas reservation to 160,000 acres and parceled out the rest of the land in 200 acre allotments. Susan White Feather purchased the property near the spring that was formerly occupied by Tensquatawa, and the site became known as White Feather Spring, the final resting place of the Shawnee Prophet.
During and after the Civil War, white settlers antagonized the Shawnee and a great many were ready to move on by the late 1860s. Some remained on the Kansas reservation, but most of the Shawnee relocated to a Cherokee reservation in Oklahoma.
Learn More by Visiting http://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/shawnee-indians/19230
Entry: Shawnee Indians
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state’s history.
Date Created: July 2015
Date Modified: December 2015
The two principal adversaries in the conflict, chief Tecumseh and American politician William Henry Harrison, had both been junior participants in the Battle of Fallen Timbers at the close of the Northwest Indian Wars in 1794. Tecumseh was not among the Native American signers of the Treaty of Greenville, which had ended the war, when the Shawnee and other Native Americans ceded much of their historic territory in present-day Ohio to the United States. However, many Indian leaders in the region accepted the Greenville terms, and for the next ten years pan-tribal resistance to American hegemony faded.
The Treaty of Fort Wayne, sometimes called the Ten O’clock Line Treaty or the Twelve Mile Line Treaty, is an 1809 treaty that obtained 3,000,000 acres (approximately 12,000 km²) of American Indian land for the white settlers of Illinois and Indiana. The tribes involved were the Delaware, Eel River, Miami tribe, and Potawatomi in the initial negotiations; later Kickapoo and the Wea, who were the primary inhabitants of the region being sold. The negotiations did not include the Shawnee who were minor inhabitants of the area purchased and had been asked to leave the area previously by Miami War Chief Little Turtle. Territorial Governor William Henry Harrison negotiated the treaty with the tribes. The treaty led to a war with the United States began by Shawnee leader Tecumseh and other dissenting tribesmen in what came to be called “Tecumseh’s War“.
Tecumseh was outraged by the Treaty of Fort Wayne, believing that American Indian land was owned in common by all tribes, an idea advocated in previous years by the Shawnee leader Blue Jacket and the Mohawk leader Joseph Brant. In response, Tecumseh began to expand on the teachings of his brother, known as The Prophet, who called for the tribes to return to their ancestral ways. He began to associate the teachings with the idea of a pan-tribal alliance. Tecumseh traveled widely, urging warriors to abandon the accommodationist chiefs and to join the resistance at Prophetstown.
The treaty also has two nicknames, the “Ten O’clock Line Treaty of 1809” and the “Twelve Mile Line Treaty”. The first nickname comes from tradition that says the Native Americans did not trust the surveyors’ equipment, so a spear was thrown down at ten o’clock and the shadow became the treaty line. There are other myths that say it was either a tree or a fence that was used. The Twelve Mile Line was a reference to the Greenville Treaty and the establishment of a new ‘line’ parallel to it but twelve miles further west.
In 1809 Harrison began to push for a treaty to open more land for settlement. The Miami, Wea, and Kickapoo were “vehemently” opposed to selling any more land around the Wabash River. In order to influence those groups to sell the land, Harrison decided, against the wishes of President James Madison, to first conclude a treaty with the tribes willing to sell and use them to help influence those who held out. In September 1809 he invited the Pottawatomie, Lenape, Eel Rivers, and the Miami to a meeting in Fort Wayne. In the negotiations Harrison promised large subsidies and payments to the tribes if they would cede the lands he was asking for.
Only the Miami opposed the treaty. They presented their copy of the Treaty of Greenville and read the section that guaranteed their possession of the lands around the Wabash River. They then explained the history of the region and how they had invited the Wea and other tribes to settle in their territory as friends. The Miami were concerned the Wea leaders were not present, although they were the primary inhabitants of the land being sold. The Miami also wanted any new land sales to be paid for by the acre, and not by the tract. Harrison agreed to make the treaty’s acceptance contingent on approval by the Wea and other tribes in the territory being purchased, but he refused to purchase land by the acre. He countered that it was better for the tribes to sell the land in tracts so as to prevent the Americans from only purchasing their best lands by the acre and leaving them only poor land to live on.
After two weeks of negotiating, the Pottawatomie leaders convinced the Miami to accept the treaty as reciprocity to the Pottawatomie who had earlier accepted treaties less advantageous to them at the request of the Miami. Finally the Treaty of Fort Wayne was signed on September 29, 1809, selling United States over 3,000,000 acres (approximately 12,000 km²), chiefly along the Wabash River north of Vincennes. During the winter months, Harrison was able to obtain the acceptance of the Wea by offering them a large subsidy and the help of Miami Chief Pacanne who helped to influence the Wea leaders. The Kickapoo were closely allied with the Shawnee at Prophetstown and Harrison feared they would be difficult to sway. He offered the Wea an increased subsidy if the Kickapoo would also accept the treaty, causing the Wea to pressure the Kickapoo leaders to accept. By the spring of 1810 Harrison had completed negotiations and the treaty was finalized.
Created / Published [between 1814 and 1890]
The Shawanese prophet and Tecumseh / Huyot.
|Print shows Tenskwatawa, the Shawnee Prophet, and Tecumseh, with other Natives and tipis in the background.|
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print
cph 3a20703 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3a20703
Library of Congress Control Number
Library of Congress Link:
Visit the Official Website of the Piqua Shawnee:
Publication date 1917
Publisher New York [etc.] D. Appleton and company
Digitizing sponsor Kahle/Austin Foundation
Contributor The Library of Congress
Tecumseh has long been recognized as one of the most romantic characters in American history. A Shawnee chieftain of boundless courage, devoted patriotism, and great tenacity of purpose, for many years he was a source of perplexity as well as of trouble on the frontier.
Visit the Official Web Site of the Piqua Shawnee at Piquashawnee.com
The Library of Congress is a great source for historical information and has many periodicals available for digital download and search.
The book notes that the earliest mention of the Shawnee by any writer is the beginning of the 17th Century. Mr. Jefferson in his “Notes on Virginia” mentions Captain John Smith (April 1607) there was a fierce War raging against the allied Mohicans, residing on Long Island, and the Shawanoes on the Susquehanna, and to the westward of that River, by the Iroquois.
|PBS: We Shall Remain Tecumseh|
By Philip Kennicott
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 13, 2009
“We Shall Remain,” a five-part PBS series that retells American history from the Native American perspective, is a remarkably old-fashioned documentary. It is built up slowly, chronologically, and powerfully from a few basic and familiar elements: talking heads, an authoritative narrator and loving aerial shots of the primordial forest. Even its use of historical reenactments reminds one of the kind of movies screened at National Park Service visitors’ centers a generation or two ago.
Executive producer Sharon Grimberg and a team of directors and producers (including Chris Eyre, Ric Burns, Dustinn Craig, Sarah Colt and Stanley Nelson) have committed to telling an alternative history, but they forgo alternative means. Even the events chosen to anchor the individual films are already familiar from history books: The Mayflower, the War of 1812, the Indian wars and Wounded Knee. But slowly, over the course of more than seven hours, one begins to realize the power of this approach. “We Shall Remain” is unapologetically committed to the now suspect idea of Great Man history, the chronicle of charismatic leaders, epic battles and dramatic, decisive events indelibly marked on the calendar and mythologized for centuries after.
In the second episode, the warrior Tecumseh must deal with all the same issues: Traumatized and depleted native communities resist encroachment on their land; they make alliances, in this case with the British during the War of 1812; those alliances are betrayed; the military power of the United States defeats them and they lose their land.
Tenskwatawa, Tecumseh’s alcoholic and depressive brother, had a transformative vision in 1805. It was what we might call a fundamentalist conversion: abstain from alcohol, live the old, traditional ways and avoid the white man. But it fired up a generation of warriors and gave hope to Tecumseh’s dream: A united Indian homeland in the Great Lakes region. And so two new themes, the political power of mystical visions and the need for a united, pan-Indian alliance, enter into this annals of native history.
The episodes devoted to Tecumseh and the Trail of Tears are the most emotionally powerful, and achieve the best balance between reenactment and standard documentary style. In “Trail of Tears,” the third episode, distinguished Native American actor Wes Studi stars as Major Ridge, a prosperous Cherokee landholder who decided it was in the interest of his people, and his own prosperity, to give up an independent Cherokee homeland in the southern Appalachians in hopes of peace and resettlement in land west of the Mississippi. It is one of the most vile and shameful chapters in the history of U.S. relations with Native Americans, and Studi captures well the anguish of his conflicted character.
Shawnee Indian political leader and war chief Tecumseh (1768-1813) came of age amid the border warfare that ravaged the Ohio Valley in the late 18th century. He took part in a series of raids of Kentucky and Tennessee frontier settlements in the 1780s, and emerged as a prominent chief by 1800. Tecumseh transformed his brother’s religious following into a political movement, leading to the foundation of the Prophetstown settlement in 1808. After Prophetstown was destroyed during the Battle of Tippecanoe, the Shawnee chief fought with pro-British forces in the War of 1812 until his death in the Battle of the Thames.