Who was Tecumseh?

Tecumseh was a Native American leader who belonged to the Shawnee tribe. He was born in 1768 in Ohio, near Springfield. While he was still a boy, his father was killed by a white man over the ownership of land somewhere in the Ohio Valley.

Tecumseh as a Prophet

Tecumseh was not just a brave warrior but had many other extraordinary qualities which made him one of the most prominent Native Americans of his time. He was an excellent speaker and could make intensely emotional speeches to persuade Native Americans to follow him.

He also claimed to be a prophet and had many spiritual visions. It was due to these visions that he came to be called the ‘Prophet’. Eventually, Tecumseh established a new Native American town which he named the ‘Prophetstown’.

Struggle against American government

Tecumseh was strongly opposed to the American government which was slowly taking control of Native American lands and territories during the 19th century.

So he tried to persuade his fellow Native Americans to oppose the white man and fight against him. Initially, he tried to reason things out and in 1810, he met with the Indiana governor, William Henry Harrison, at the Council of Vincennes.

At the meeting, Tecumseh demanded that the Indian land taken over by the American government be returned. But the meeting led to no fruitful results.

Establishing an Indian Confederation

Tecumseh believed that the only way to fight the white man who was taking over their lands was if the Native American tribes united into a confederacy. So he set out on the mission to unite these tribes.

He could speak well and eloquently, and he used this gift to persuade different tribes to join his confederacy. During this period, he travelled throughout the western and southern areas of North America, gathering allies and asking other tribes to join his cause.

War with USA

Tecumseh’s confederation posed a serious threat to the American government. This was because if all Indian tribes united into a confederacy, it would have become a problem for the government to deal with them or to take over their lands.

So governor William Henry Harrison decided to fight Tecumseh’s warriors. The Battle of Tippecanoe took place in 1811. In this battle, Harrison’s army was able to defeat the Shawnee warriors of Tecumseh’s tribe and burned down Prophets-town.

War of 1812

In 1812, United States of America declared war against Great Britain. Tecumseh and the confederacy of Native American tribes that he had brought together decided to side with the British.

However, British faced losses and setbacks against American armies. At the Battle of Thames which took place in 1813, 500 Native American warriors under Tecumseh fought against 3000 American troops.

The Native Americans lost the battle and Tecumseh was killed in the fighting. Although Tecumseh died without achieving his goal of uniting Native Americans, his name became synonymous with bravery and courage. As a result, many myths and legends continued to exist about him even many years after his death.