05 October 2005

"Panther Crossing the Sky..."

Today is the 192nd anniversary of Tecumseh's death...



"Panther Crossing in the Sky"


In the dark and bloody year of 1768, a woman born Tsalagi but captured and married into the Shawenese and named Methotase gave birth to a healthy boy. At the very moment of his birth, a comet flashed low across the sky. This boy's father, a highly respected Shawenese warrior named Puckesinwa, himself the grandson of a famous chief, named his son "Tecumseh" or "Panther crossing the Sky." Because of this great sign, Puckesinwa knew that this man-child was destined for greatness. A national hero had been born into the Kispotho sept.

Tecumseh grew up in the company of six siblings. History has always associated him with his infamous brother Laulewasika (Makes a Loud Noise) because he was an ill-tempered infant and later known as Tenskwatawa (The Prophet). However, Tecumseh was closer to his older brother Chiksika, and his older sister, Tecumapese, whom he deeply loved.

Tecumseh grew to manhood amid the border warfare that ravaged the Ohio Valley during the last quarter of the eighteenth century. In 1774, his father was killed at the Battle of Point Pleasant, and in 1779 his saddened mother left with those Shawnees who migrated to Missouri. Tecumseh was raised by his older sister, Tecumapese. He accompanied an older brother, Chiksika, on a series of raids against frontier settlements in Kentucky and Tennessee in the late 1780s.

By 1800, Tecumseh had emerged as a prominent war chief. He led a band of militant, younger warriors and their families located at a village on the White River in east-central Indiana. There in 1805, Lalawethika (Makes a Loud Noise) experienced a series of visions that transformed him into a prominent religious leader. Taking the name Tenskwatawa, or "The Open Door", the new Shawnee prophet began to preach a new belief that seemed to offer the Indians a religious deliverance from their problems.

Tecumseh seemed reluctant to accept his brother's teachings, but after it appeared that he had accurately predicted an eclipse of the sun and a huge earthquake in New Madrid, Indians from throughout the Midwest tribes flocked to the Shawnee village at Greenville, Ohio.

Once gathered there, Tecumseh slowly transformed his brother's religious followers into a political movement.

After returning from the South, Tecumseh tried to rebuild his shattered confederacy, but when the War of 1812 broke out, he withdrew to Michigan where he assisted the British in the capture of Detroit and led pro-British Indians in subsequent actions in southern Michigan and northern Ohio.

When William Henry Harrison invaded Upper Canada, Tecumseh reluctantly accompanied the British retreat. He was killed by American forces at the Battle of the Thames on October 5, 1813. His body was never recovered.


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