Tecumseh was a famous Indian leader who lived in the early part of this country’s history. He had a vision of joining all of the Indian tribes into one nation. He was the first Indian diplomat both among his own people and with the white man.
Tecumseh was one of the first Indian leaders that desired peace with the settlers and pursued it. He was also the first to find out that the white man could not be trusted to take only what was given to them, but would attempt to take even more. The white man would attempt to drive the Indians from any land that they wanted and would resort to violence to get it.
Tecumseh was a leader with great power and who could persuade large numbers of people to come together and seek a higher good. He believed in the joining of all Indians under a single nation. His charisma was enticing and he was able to gather many of the tribes together to negotiate for Indian land with the settlers. They worked together in building a defense force to protect their land from those that would attempt to take it from them.
Tecumseh grew up in the Ohio River basin with his family. His father was a minor Shawnee Chief who was killed fighting the settlers over land. Tecumseh grew into adulthood with his brother and envisioned peace with the settlers, hoping that the Indians would give them some land and then everyone could live in peace. Unfortunately, hostilities continued to rise and soon there was bloodshed over the land.
The Shawnee territory was being taken over by the settlers that were flooding into America. Despite treaties and promises, the Indians were being evicted from their ancestral homes. The American encroachment on the Native Americans began with hostilities in the area east of Virginia, which was home to the Cherokee Indians. However, the settlers moved west and seized land owned by the Indians in the Ohio River valley.
Most of the rest of his life was spent trying to make this gathering of tribes a reality. He set up a center of government and political power in Tippecanoe. Tippecanoe became not only a center for Indian confederacy, but also a training center for the Indian warriors.
The settlers grew concerned about the power that Tecumseh was amassing around himself and his cause. They looked to the US government to deal with the problem.
The initial meeting of representatives from the Indian Bureau and the tribes was to be held in the region around Tippecanoe. As the two sides gathered, tensions were high. During the night before the meeting was scheduled, hostilities broke out and, by the time the fighting was over, there were a large number dead on both sides.
Tecumseh fled the area and didn’t return for three months. When he came back, he found the town destroyed and he gave up his vision of a confederacy with the settlers. Under the climate of expansion into the western part of the country, there could be no trust with the white man who cared not for being honest and true in their dealings, but only about gaining land for themselves.
Following the destruction of Tippecanoe, Tecumseh and his warriors joined the forces with the British during the War of 1812.
Tecumseh was the first Indian to serve at the rank of General in the British Army. Tecumseh fought as a Brigadier General during the War and when the British were defeated and turned tail to Canada, Tecumseh begged them not to give up the fight.
Finding no aid in their leadership, Tecumseh and his men decided to fight the Americans without the help of the British. Tecumseh died in battle at Chatham, Ontario. His death ended the dream of a unified Indian Nation.