Tecumseh Biography


Shawnee chief
Born: 1768?

Tecumseh means “Panther across the Sky”; he was named for a shooting star that appeared around the time of his birth. With other Shawnees in Ohio, he fought the advance of American settlers at battles in the 1780s and 1790s. In the early 1800s, he tried to establish a pan-Indian political alliance to prevent further acquisition of land by settlers; he traveled throughout the Midwest to urge tribes to place their lands under central governance. However, his efforts to unify diverse tribes had limited success.

Tecumseh led British and Indian troops in the War of 1812. The British and their weaponry helped Indians to repulse American settlers in some areas, but British and Indian interests were not always the same. Following the British defeat at Lake Erie in September 1813, British general Henry Proctor prepared to withdraw troops. Tecumseh demanded that Proctor either stay and fight or relinquish his troops’ weaponry to the Indians. Proctor agreed to stay. However, the following month, at the Battle of the Thames, the British fled during the first American attack, leaving the vastly outnumbered Indians to fight unsupported. Tecumseh was killed and buried in a mass grave.

See also Encyclopedia: Tecumseh.

Died: 1813