leader of the eastern American Indian tribes

~1768 - 1813

Tecumseh was an outstanding leader of the eastern American Indian tribes in the late 1700's and early 1800's. He worked to unite all the tribes into a single alliance that would defend Indian lands against invasion by white people. Tecumseh means shooting star or meteor.

Tecumseh, the son of a Shawnee war chief, is believed to have been born at Old Piqua, a Shawnee village on the Mad River, northeast of present-day Dayton, Ohio. His father and two brothers were killed in battles with the American colonists.

White settlers were rapidly taking Indian lands, and Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa began a crusade to keep Indian lands for the Indians. Tenskwatawa, known as the Shawnee Prophet, led a religious revival. Tecumseh, a strong warrior and gifted orator, led in politics and war. He traveled frequently from his home in Ohio to visit other tribes east of the Mississippi River. The two men did much to restore the culture of the Indians of the Ohio River Valley region.

Tecumseh condemned a treaty that William Henry Harrison, then governor of the Indiana Territory, made with the Indians. His action led to the Battle of Tippecanoe in November 1811. Tecumseh joined the British to fight the Americans in the War of 1812 and commanded the Indian allies. He was killed leading his forces in Canada.

Contributor: Michael D. Green, Ph.D., Prof. of History, Univ. of Kentucky.


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