One of the most esteemed heroes in Canada, the life of Tecumseh has become the stuff of legend and folklore. Even though myths and stories have grown around him, a lot of facts have been established.
Birth and Early Life
He was born on March 9 1768 in what is now Ohio. He lived amidst constant warfare as the Americans were attempting to expand their territory. In 1774 his father was killed in battle.
In the midst of the Revolutionary War, he lost two more siblings. It was hardly a surprise when he decided to take up arms. Part of the reason was that the Americans were moving in on Ohio. The Americans offered the Treaty of Greenville in 1795. The life of Tecumseh and Native Americans would be forever changed. He refused to sign the pact, arguing that the land belonged to the Indians.
This was followed by the visions of his brother Tenskwatawa, urging Indians to come together amidst the threat from the white man. This would lead to unification among the Indians in battling the colonists.
War with the Americans
In 1811 Indiana Governor Harrison invaded Tenskwatawa’s village. The whole place was burned to the ground. This was a retaliatory attack as the Indians joined the British during the American Revolution.
The life of Tecumseh and the Native Americans would never be the same. The event led to longer and wider conflicts between the Indians and the colonists.
At the War of 1812 the Indians joined forces with the British again. Together with General Isaac Brock, the British and Indian forces took control of Detroit. However the partnership didn’t last.
A new commander was put in place, Col. Proctor. He was not as courageous as Brock and this led to defeats at the hands of the Americans. Eventually the British and Indians retreated all the way to Canada.
Even though they were outnumbered, the Indian leader showed great bravery and skill. It was his efforts that kept Canada free from the Americans, and why he is so highly regarded there.
The Battle of Thames
The life of Tecumseh would end at the Battle of Thames. The American forces made a push into Canada in 1813. Further disagreements with Col. Proctor would lead to heavy losses, and the Indian leader was killed in October of that year.
Even though he was an enemy, he earned the admiration of his opponents. It wasn’t just due to his leadership but also kindness. The humane treatment the Indian leader showed towards prisoners became well known.
He was the first and the last Indian to make a successful call for unity among the tribes. Under his rule, the Native Americans were able to unite and fight for a common cause. With his death, the unity ended and so did the dreams of freedom of the Native Americans.
The life of Tecumseh was filled with adventure. It has become intertwined with myths and lore. But through all the embellishments, one fact remains: he was a freedom fighter who died for the cause.