Friday, February 10, 2012

Tenskwatawa

Tenskwatawa, (also called Tenskatawa, Tenskwatawah, Tensquatawa or Lalawethika) (1775 – November 1836) was a Native American religious and political leader of the Shawnee tribe, known as The Prophet or the Shawnee Prophet. He was the brother of Tecumseh, leader of the Shawnee. He was originally given the name Lalawethika (He Makes a Loud Noise or The Noise Maker). He denounced Americans as children of the devil and mobilized the Indians in the Midwest to fight them, but his movement was defeated in the War of 1812 when his brother was killed, and he faded away.

There is some disagreement among historians over whether Tecumseh or Tenskwatawa was really the primary leader of the Pan-Indian community that grew up around Prophetstown. Either way, Tenskwatawa's preachings grew more militant and narrowly political from 1808–1811, as more and more young disaffected warriors from nearby tribes joined his movement. By 1811, both white settlers in the region and the U.S. Army had become quite concerned about what was happening at Prophetstown.

Late in 1811, Tecumseh journeyed south to meet with representatives of other tribes in hopes of building a larger alliance, leaving Tenskwatawa in command at Prophetstown. According to legend, Tecumseh ordered Tenskwatawa to avoid any confrontation with whites during his absence. However, on November 7, 1811, while Tecumseh was still away, an American force under command of William Henry Harrison surrounded the village. Though the village was surrounded, it was Tenskwatawa and his smaller besieged force that attacked first. Tenskwatawa's forces were soundly defeated. (See the Battle of Tippecanoe.) It was a two hour battle that left many Indians dead or wounded. The Indians buried their men in the night, and stripped The Prophet of his powers. The village at Prophetstown was burned down and the defeat put an end to Tecumseh's hope of a broad Native alliance.

With his brother, Tenskwatawa participated in the defense of the Canadian colonies during the War of 1812. In 1813 he was present at the Battle of the Thames, but fled with the British forces and was absent when Tecumseh was killed.

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