"The Panther Passing Across"

Shawnee Warrior

It is believed that Tecumseh was born in 1768 in central Ohio. He was the second son of Pucksinwah, the Shawnee warrior who was killed at the Battle of Point Pleasant. In his dying breaths, Pucksinwah had commanded his eldest son Cheesuaka, to train the six-year-old Tecumseh as a warrior and to never make peace with the whites. Cheesuaka was as good as his word and excelled as both a warrior and a teacher, becoming quite close with his younger brother, and after their mother (Methoataske - "Turtle Laying its Eggs") moved to Missouri in 1779, acting as a surrogate parent as well. By all accounts, Tecumseh was a model child, and although it is claimed that he ran in terror from his first battle, his courage never faltered from then on. Tall, muscular, intelligent, and highly charismatic, Tecumseh proved to be a master tactician and an exceptional orator.

When Tecumseh was in his twenties, he and Cheesuaka made a number of lengthy expeditions, visiting other tribes and viewing the territory to the north and west of the Shawnees'. These voyages, considered a final rite of passage into the adult world by the Shawnee, introduced Tecumseh to other tribes and other traditions. One evening during their final journey together, Cheesauka serenenly predicted his own death the next day. That noon, he was fatally shot while storming a fort with a Cherokee war party. Tecumseh returned from this sad trip in 1790 and joined up with his adoptive brother BlueJacket in the fight to preserve Shawnee territory from the white settlers. In battle, Tecumseh demonstrated his strength, skill, and leadership ability, while in council, he demonstrated his firm opposition to any concessions to the whites. He soon developed a circle of equally militant followers, including his younger brother, Tenskwatawa. (The Shawnee Prophet)

Tecumseh's boycott of the treaty conference at Greenville resulted in a serious break with Black Fish's replacement as the principal chief of the Shawnees, Catahecassa, or Black Hoof. Tecumseh and his followers went to Deer Creek in western Ohio and in 1795 founded a village made up of Native American warriors linked by their militancy, not by their tribal affiliation.

Although Tecumseh is generally revered by Shawnee today, many of his followers were not Shawnees, and many Shawnees at the time viewed him as a troublemaker and an upsurger of tribal authority. Techumseh's unique achievements sometimes blind students of Shawnee history to the fact that at the time there were three main groups of Shawnees: the Shawnees in Missouri, the Shawnees under Black Foot in Ohio, and the relatively small group of Shawnees that followed Tecumseh.

By 1805 military and legal means against the whites had failed the Shawnee. Techumseh had begun to make a name for himself among the whites as well as the Native Americas as a pragmatic, eloquent, and intelligent leader. His practical leadership soon became necessary as followers of Tenskwatawa (Shawnee Prophet, Tecumseh's younger brother) flocked to his village. While Tenskwatawa was instigating a spiritual revival, Tecumseh began to instigate a political movement that was no less revolutionary. The basis of Tecumseh's political philosophy was the recognition of the dire threat the whites posed to all Native Americans. He believed that no treaty or border or land agreement would successfully protect the land and the native peoples against the consuming greed of the whites. The only way to combat this threat was for all Indian tribes to unite - not in a loose temporary confederation with each tribe under their own governance as was the norm, but in a single political body with unified leadership. This way if the whites wanted to purchase land or draw up a treaty, they would not be able to play one tribe against the other as they had in the past but instead would have to deal with a political body that represented the interests of all the tribes. If the whites wished to make war, they would have to face an enormous army comprising all the warriors of all the Indian tribes. This felt Tecumseh, was the only way for the Native Americans to successfully protect what land and resources they still had.

On October 5, 1813, Tecumseh and his forces, along side the British forces commanded by General Henry Proctor met with american invaders under the command of William Henry Harrison (future president). Harrison directed his forces to charge the British flank first,and the British lines instantly crumpled and retreated. Proctor leading the way. In contrast, the Native Americans fought doggedly, but they were forced to retreat, leaving their casualties on the battlefield to be retrieved later and buried during the long jourmey back to their villages. Among those casualties - as he had predicted the night before to his followers - was the 44-year-old Tecumseh. No one knows who fired the fatal bullet. Many took credit. With the great Shawnee chief gone ( his body never found, was said to have been removed and buried in a secret location by his men), the dream of a grand alliance was shattered.

Tecumseh's warnings about the threat the whites posed proved truer than even he could imagine. His portrait hangs in many Shawnee homes today, not so much for his predictions as for his willingness to stand up to the whites and defend his culture, his land, and his people. Numerous legends have cropped up around Tecumseh's life, describing a veritable god among men with superhuman strength, amazing magical powers, and saintlike compassion. But while some of the stories are no doubt exaggerated, it cannot be denied that Tecumseh was, in the words of Bill Gilbert, " a hero, a noble man of nature, and one who was right."

Tecumseh's Family

Paternal Grandfather-----Wawwaythi also known as Lawpkaway and Loyparcowah



Eldest Brother----Cheesauka sometimes spelled Chiksika or Chiksekau

Second Eldest----Tecumseh


(Triplets)First born of the triplets, Sauwaseekau (was killed at the Battle of Fallen Timbers)

Second born triplet Kumskaukau---is believed to have died in the first year

Third born of the triplets,Lalawethika or Tenskwatawa----the Prophet


Adopted Brother----Wehyahpihreshnwah (Blue Jacket adopted 1771)

It is believed that there was one other sister and another brother

Mohnetohse----First wife of Tecumseh whom he sent back to her parents for neglecting their infant son

Mahyawwekawpawe---First son of Tecumseh

Mamate----Second wife of Tecumseh, who died after childbirth

Naythawaynah (A Panther Seizing Its Prey)----Second son of Tecumseh

We are determined to defend our lands and, if it be the "Great Spirit's" will, we wish to leave our bones upon them."
Tecumseh, Shawnee Chief 1813

"Letter from Harrison 1806"

"Speech of 1810"[ "Words of Fire"

"The Shawnee Prophet and Tecumseh"

"Tenskwatawa's Vision"[ "Tecumseh's Death"

"Tecumseh's Teaching"

"Shawnee's Reservation"[ "Homepage"

1997 shawnee_1@yahoo.com

History of Tecumseh...Battle at Tippecanoe Creek

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