Monday, May 30, 2016

Native American Biographies: Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa: Shawnee

Tecumseh tried to form a Pan American alliance in order to drive the White settlers into the sea.  Tecumseh was born, and raised in turbulent times.  The Shawnee fought for the British during the Revolutionary War.  The treaty gave their traditional lands to the United States.  After the war the U.S. government made a series of treaties with the Shawnee, always with minor chiefs, which were of questionable value, but through which they hoped to take the Shawnee land in Ohio.  Many Shawnee refused to recognize the treaties.  Tecumseh took part in many raids on the Whites.  His brother became a prophet (see below) who taught how the Indians could rid themselves of the Whites.  Tecumseh, during the time of the War of 1812 began attempts to forge a large political and military force, based on his brother's teachings.  Tecumseh was absent for the largest battle, and his brother lead the Native American forced, but did not do so well.  William Henry Harrison defeated the Indians at the Battle of Tippecanoe.  As a result the British and the Indians found themselves slowly pushed out of the United States.  After the battle Tecumseh eventually sustained a mortal wound trying to halt Harrison's advance.
Tenskwatawa when he was about 30, fell into a trance and had a vision.  After the vision he took his new name, but also had and vision of how the Indians could defeat the encroachers.  He had been taught in magic and medicine by Penagasha.  When he recovered from the trance, he began to preach a new gospel given to him by the Master of Life.  His message was one of revitalization; of how they could make themselves whole again.  This new gospel involved throwing off all things white, particularly whiskey and sexual promiscuity.  With this new religion, Tecumseh, his brother was able to forge a Pan American alliance among several tribes.  Governor William Henry Harrison of Indian was worried about this alliance, and marched at the head of a large force to Prophetstown.  Tecumseh was away, buy Tenstwatawa promised them that his magic would be sufficient to give them victory.  It wasn't.  After this defeat the influence of Tenstwatawa faded.  He eventually moved to the Shawnee Reservation in Kansas.

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