LIMA — Most people with any interest in American history have heard of the American Indian warrior Tecumseh, but far fewer know much about his brother, Tenskwatawa — “the Shawnee Prophet” — whose spiritual leadership had perhaps a far greater impact than Tecumseh on a war fought across the region 200 years ago, a visiting historian said Sunday at the Allen County Museum.“Looking at the War of 1812 as a war of independence for Native Americans changes our perspective on that conflict,” said Professor Gregory M. Miller, of the University of Toledo. “What Tenskwatawa and Tecumseh tried to achieve was a confederacy of Native American peoples to stop white encroachment on their land. They attempted to draw a border, first at the Ohio River, when they set up their settlements, first at Greenville and later at Prophetstown, meant to be military religious outposts to stop white encroachment and bring all Native Americans together as one people.”A full auditorium of about 100 people listened appreciatively to Miller's lecture about the brothers and their run-in with future U.S. President William Henry Harrison.Tecumseh was born at the end of the Seven Years' War, around 1768 in old Piqua, along the Mad River. His brother was born a few years later, one of two surviving triplets. Violence was never far from them: the Shawnee had just moved back to the area after leaving to avoid a conflict between the Iroquois confederacy and Huron tribes, who were battling for trading rights with the French and British. At the same time, pioneers began arriving from over the hills from the southeast. The boys' father was killed in battle in 1774 in West Virginia; their mother fled west around 1780, leaving her young sons with their elder sister. As a child, Tenskwatawa was called “Lalawethicka,” which translates as “The Rattle” for his nonstop talking, Miller said, indicating the boy's penchant for talk may have been a compensation for his sense of abandonment.Tecumseh got his first taste of battle at age 14, and he fled the battlefield. He vowed to himself never to run again. He and Lalawethicka both were present at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794, when the American Indian forces were defeated. They relocated to the Anderson, Ind., area where both brothers fell prey to despondency and alcoholism.It was after one particular drinking binge in 1805 that Lalawethicka fell unconscious for several days. He awoke with an astonishing story of a conversation he had with the Great Spirit, who warned him the American Indians must give up all Western ways — especially alcohol — or suffer eternal damnation.Lalawethicka gave up drinking and began calling himself Tenskwatawa — “the Open Door.” He established a settlement near Greenville to attract other American Indians to his revelation. Tecumseh joined him. They built a longhouse that in many ways resembled a church, where he preached daily to growing crowds of American Indians and gave prophetic utterances.He also provoked territorial governor William Henry Harrison at the time Harrison was negotiating the Treaty of Fort Wayne. Tenskwatawa moved the settlement to the northwest, where the Tippecanoe River empties into the Wabash in Indiana, establishing a village known as Prophetstown. Many American Indians moved with him, setting up a direct conflict with Harrison's plans for the Indiana Territory.From this perspective, the War of 1812 actually began in November 1811, when Harrison attempted to intimidate the American Indians in Prophetstown, and ends with Tecumseh's death on the battlefield near present-day Chatham, Ontario, on Oct. 5, 1813, Miller said.Miller said history plays a vital role in the accumulation of a culture's knowledge.“You can't fully understand the present without knowing your past, and you can't fully plan for the future without understanding your past,” he said. “You can make more solid policy decisions based on your knowledge of what worked and didn't work previously. We kind of build on that.”
Tara Cutlip, 21 and pregnant with her second child, was shot and killed Saturday in her Bahama Drive home. Loved ones gather in front of Tara's home to remember her and speak out against domestic violence.