Tecumseh as a Shawnee chief

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Tecumseh, born in 1768, used to be the Shawnee Native Americans’ chief who led a exceptional tribal confederacy at some stage in the duration of the War of 1812 towards the United States, in which Britain (Tecumseh’s ally) participated (Cave, 2002). Tecumseh’s confederacy shaped an alliance with the Britain throughout the War of 1812 and succeeded in shooting Fort Detroit. After Lake Erie obtained conquered in 1813 by means of the U.S Navy, the Native Americans retreated alongside the British. However, they had been caught via the American forces in the Battle of the Thames in October 1813, the place the Americans killed Tecumseh (Cave, 2002). Tecumseh’s confederation disintegrated after his death, and the Native Americans had to, as soon as again, cross to the West. Despite his downfall, Tecumseh remained an iconic hero in the American, Canadian, and Aboriginal history (Edmunds, 1983). This paper explores Tecumseh’s life, as well as his impact on the culture of the Native North Americans.

Tecumseh’s Life

Tecumseh, which means “Shooting Star” in Shawnee, was born around Match 1768 in Old Chillicothe, modern-day Xenia Township in Ohio (Cave, 2002). During Tecumseh’s early years, his father got killed by the white frontiersmen during the 1774’s Lord Dunmore’s War at the Battle of Point Pleasant. The frontiersmen had violated a recent treaty by crossing onto Indian land. However, Tecumseh did not witness the battle that led to the death of his father, and the first battle he saw came in 1780 during the battle of Piqua (Cave, 2002). While Tecumseh did not take part in combat, the act of sacking his village contributed significantly towards his drive to become a warrior. Tecumseh, ultimately, resolved to follow the footsteps of his father by becoming a warrior and being “a fire that spread over the hills and valleys, consuming the dark souls’ race (Cave, 2002).”

Tecumseh was brought up in the County of Ohio during the Northwest Indian War and the American Revolutionary War, where he consistently got exposed to activities of warfare (Edmunds, 1983). As the Americans continued to move towards the West after the British surrendered the Ohio Valley in 1783 to the new United States, the Shawnee moved towards the northwest. They then settled in Prophetstown (the present-day Indiana) in the year 1808 (Edmunds, 1983). Occupied with the vision of creating an independent Native American nation in the eastern part of Mississippi under the protection of the British, Tecumseh worked towards recruiting more tribes from the Southern United States to his confederacy (Edmunds, 1983).

At the age of fifteen, after the end of the American Revolutionary War in 1783, Tecumseh joined a group of Shawnee, whose target was to stop the American invasion of their land. They, therefore, attacked the white settlers’ flatboats that used to travel from Pennsylvania, down the Ohio River (Cave, 2002). Tecumseh later came up with his own band of warriors, which he led as their raids became effective to the point that they ceased the Ohio river traffic. The efforts of Tecumseh were cut short in October 1813 by the Americans at the Battle of the Thames, where they killed him and caused the disintegration of his confederation (Cave, 2002).

Tecumseh’s Effect on the Native North American Culture

Tecumseh (1768-1813) was a Shawnee Indian war chief and political leader who came of age during the border conflict in the 18th century that ravaged the Ohio Valley. Tecumseh emerged as a prominent leader in the 1800s after participating in several raids of Tennessee and Kentucky frontier settlements during the 1780s (Medicine, 1981). One of the impacts of Tecumseh’s leadership to the culture of the North Native Americans was the transformation of his brother’s religious group into a political movement, a step which led to the establishment of the Prophetstown settlement in the year 1808 (Medicine, 1981).

Following the loss of a section of the Indian lands in the 1809’s Treaty of Fort Wayne, Tecumseh gradually replaced his brother as the key leader of the movement. As the movement’s leader, Tecumseh traversed the entire Midwest encouraging different tribes to form a single political confederacy so as to secure their lands and prevent any further erosion (Miller & Boxberger, 1991). As a result, he united several tribes in the native North America and brought diverse cultural practices together. However, while Tecumseh was in his mission in the South trying to persuade more tribes into his confederacy in 1811, the U.S forces invaded the Prophetstown and burned the settlement (Miller & Boxberger, 1991).

Tecumseh’s humanitarianism, political leadership, oratory, and personal bravery instilled a culture of courage and confidence among the native North Americans. Tecumseh got admired by both the Americans and the British, and the legacy he left after his death continues to remind the native North Americans of both their cultural origin and political journey (Tull, 2004). Besides, the mythology developed about Tecumseh after his death continues to form part of the cultural practices among the native North Americans as well continues to remind them of Tecumseh as an iconic American hero (Tull, 2004).

Tecumseh played a significant role in restoring the land that defines the history and culture of the native North Americans. Tecumseh led the Indians in several wars, and by 1811, he had established a huge confederation of Indian nations aimed at stopping the encroachment of the American settlers on their lands (Cave, 2002). Had it not been Tecumseh’s efforts, the white settlers would have removed the upper Great Lakes and the Eastern Coast from the Indian lands, which today form part of areas that define the native North American Culture (Cave, 2002). Additionally, Tecumseh’s confederation contributed significantly in determining the future and cultural lives of the native North nations. Through Tecumseh’s leadership, he prevented much destruction and disruption of the native North Americans settlements by the Americans during the American Revolution. As a result, he ensured the continuity of a broad range of cultural practices among the native North Americans (Edmunds, 1983).

As a leader, Tecumseh made a decision to try and build a stable system of several alliances with various Native nations. Every native nation, at the time, was made of different communities, with each community speaking a different language. As a result, Tecumseh had to depend on interpreters to communicate to the Indian nations, and at the same time, he had to raise a huge, focused army from such diverse Indian nations, which was an involving task (Tull, 2004). However, Tecumseh managed to bring all the diverse native communities together, with all their different languages and cultures, and they fought as a single army. As a result, Tecumseh instilled the culture of unity and understanding among the native North Americans (Tull, 2004). Additionally, Tecumseh’s decision to form an alliance with the British bought the statecraft culture among the native North Americans (Medicine, 1981).

The various decision-making processes by Tecumseh went beyond politics and took into consideration the cultural life of the native North Americans. Tecumseh understood that the linear minds of both the Americans and the British moved from land claims to the exploitation of natural resources and colonization. He, therefore, remained focused on the native North American logic and inclusiveness, taking care of the native North American interests, as well as their communal relationships and values that defined their culture (Cave, 2002). He, thus, acted on an entirely different system from either the British or the United States. Tecumseh’s decision to form an alliance with the British was difficult at best, but he had to do it save the future of Native North American communities and their cultural practices (Cave, 2002).

Conclusion

The death of Tecumseh in 1813 and the subsequent downfall of the British-Native American Alliance was a huge blow to the Native American front. However, Tecumseh made a significant contribution towards the formation and restoration of the native North American culture by preventing the interferences and invasions by the United States’ forces. Tecumseh’s dream of having a pan-Indian confederation got realized later in 1944 following the foundation of the National Congress of American Indians. Tecumseh, therefore, contributed tremendously to the formation of the Native North American culture and he remains as an iconic folk hero among the native North Americans, as well as the entire United States.

References

Cave, A. (2002). The Shawnee Prophet, Tecumseh, and Tippecanoe: A Case Study of Historical Myth-Making. Journal Of The Early Republic, 22(4), 637. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3124761

Edmunds, R. (1983). Tecumseh, The Shawnee Prophet, and American History: A Reassessment. The Western Historical Quarterly, 14(3), 261. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/969620

MEDICINE, B. (1981). Political Organization of Native North Americans. ERNEST L. SCHUSKY, ed. American Ethnologist, 8(2), 403-404. http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/ae.1981.8.2.02a00200

Miller, J., & Boxberger, D. (1991). Native North Americans: An Ethnohistorical Approach. Ethnohistory, 38(4), 466. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/482488

TULL, S. (2004). CONCEPTUALIZING THE EVERYDAY LIFE OF NATIVE AMERICANS IN THE DISTANT PAST. North American Archaeologist, 25(4), 321-336. http://dx.doi.org/10.2190/6lw3-7qth-mj1c-x7ka

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