"Tecumseh, the Shawnee Prophet, and American History: a Reassessment" Review

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  • Topic: Shawnee, Tecumseh, Tenskwatawa
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  • Published : April 7, 2012
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R. David Edmunds, author of the article “Tecumseh, The Shawnee Prophet, and American History: A Reassessment,” published in Vol. 14 (pages 261-276), No. 3 by The Western Historical Quarterly in 1983, argues that Americans have idolized Tecumseh, a Shawnee Indian, to an extent where some of “his biographies have presented an Indian of superhuman qualities” (Edmunds 261). R. David Edmunds writes this reassessment not to belittle Tecumseh, but to actually show that the one that played a significant role in the Indian movement prior to the War of 1812 was his brother, Tenskwatawa. To Americans and British, Tenskwatawa was a pretender and a coward. They described Tenskwatawa as a “charlatan who manipulated the tribesmen for his own purposes” (Edmunds 262). The reason why Tecumseh and not Tenskwatawa, emerged as the Greatest Indian to Americans is because Tecumseh concepts were favored by the Americans. Edmunds states that, “Tecumseh concept of political and military unification under a centralized leadership appealed to whites because it was what they (the Americans) would have done” (275).

Conflicts among the Indians and Americans in Ohio were caused due to the Treaty of Greenville being ignored. This treaty was supposed to draw a line between Indian and American lands in Ohio. Americans did not respect the treaty and started crossing Indian lands which lead to the Indians stealing Americans livestock. This fighting was affecting the Indians more because the losses were much larger among the Indians. This hopeless Indians drowned their sorrows with alcohol which was destroying their lives even more. When all hope was lost to the Indians, a Shawnee Indian had woken up from a coma and declared that “the Master of Life” had spoken to him and chosen him to liberate all Indians from the Americans. “The Master of Life” to the Shawnees was the god that chose them to occupy the center of the earth and bring harmony to the world.

This Indian was known by the name of...
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