Tecumseh
and the Quest for Indian Leadership

By: R. David Edmunds

Luke Adair

His 101

Mr. Jack McKnight

Tecumseh was the fifth child born into the family in 1768. Tecumseh always the leader springboards into the position of War Chief, in which he leads many battles and defenses for the Shawnee tribe. Europeans settled in North America, claiming land that was never theirs to claim. The British initially making a deal to protect the Indians went back on it when a battle broke out in which many Shawnee fled the battlegrounds to a British Fort, where they were not allowed inside for protection. On August 3rd, the Indians signed a treaty calling for them to remain at peace, relinquish all the prisoners, and give up the land in the southern, eastern, and central Ohio. In return the United States gave the Indians trade goods, valued from $5,000 to $10,000.

The Shawnees’ lives were simple and they were spiritual people. The role of men and women is very simple; the men are the hunters and warriors. While the women are used as the housekeepers, clothe makers, and kept the families close. In the Spring/Summer months the main two projects are to farm and to re-build the villages. In the Fall/Winter months they do hunting, allowing them to feed the family. By the early 1800’s the Indian life became much more difficult. The white hunters wiped out most of the wildlife, forcing the Indians to start using more modern, “white man”, ways of hunting. The British finally agreed to a farming agreement and sent William Kirk in 1807 on a mission to Wapakoneta, where they set up farming for the Indians and British. The mission was a success, but in the long run did damage to the Shawnees’ ways of life.

Lalwethika is Tecumseh’s brother that is disliked by many people. Leading Lalwethika to drink such an abundance of alcohol that he passed out and fell into a deep trance, later that day several other Shawnee members found his body in the wigwam. They pronounced him dead. After this he woke from his trance he was known as Tenskwatawa, and was looked upon differently. The Prophet, as he was also known, gave the tribe a new faith. The Americans and British knew they were nearing a war; therefore the Americans made sure the Indians would not side with the British. Tecumseh ended up giving a three hour-long speech where he stated that there would be no further advancement by the Whites.

Throughout the years, things became much more difficult for the Shawnee to survive at the village site. Thus they decide to movie further west for better protection and food source. After the Treaty of Fort Wayne is where Tecumseh becomes known as more of a leader than just “The Prophets Brother”. After several meetings Tecumseh warns the British not to meddle with intertribal politics or a war will result. Later in a meeting with Harrison he stated Tecumseh is “The Moses of The Family”.

The next few months were brutal on the Shawnee tribe. Tecumseh went to meet with the British demanding the food and ammunition promised. Harrison had information making him believe that the Indians were going to be rebellious. Harrison sent troops into the Wabash area, Tecumseh found out before arrived and ambushed the sleeping troops, planning to kill Harrison. The plan did not succeed because they were discovered before they got to the troops; the battle lasted for several hours. Just before dawn the Indians retreated, as a result ending the Battle of Tippecanoe.

All was quarrels were eventually settled, Tecumseh and Harrison’s friendship was still intact. A British leader named Brock and Tecumseh join together in taking the American fort in Detroit. Tecumseh and Brock succeed in what seems to be an easy victory in Detroit as Americans surrender. Brock and Tecumseh create a strong friendship, until Brock is summands to Niagara to lead a counterattack against the Americans, during this attack Brock loses his life.

Tecumseh, considered the “bravest of the brave” and “the greatest Indian”, was killed in the Battle of Thames. Colonel Richard M. Johnson claimed that he is the one man that single handedly shot Tecumseh. Although many believe that Johnson truly was the one that killed Tecumseh it is an unknown speculation. The one thing all agree