From The Wall Street Journal:
In 1808, on the Wabash River—just downstream from where the Tippecanoe River flows into it—a new settlement was being built, in what is now northwestern Indiana. You could hear trees being cut down to construct houses and a 5,000-square-foot meeting house. Women were planting corn, beans and pumpkins. Founded by the Shawnee brothers Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa, this was Prophetstown.
The brothers’ houses were close to each other on Prophetstown’s southwestern edge, from which they could see the wide Wabash flowing through the prairie. And they could see pilgrims coming and going, visiting this place of hope in a dark time. A vast diversity of Native peoples—Wyandots, Ottawas, Lenapes (Delawares), Miamis, Potawatomis, Sauks—would pilgrimage to this multiethnic religious community, some staying and some returning home to spread the brothers’ universal Nativist message. As Tenskwatawa explained: The “Master of Life had taken pity on his red children,” who had been pushed around so long by white men. He “wished to save them from destruction” if they would cast aside “wealth and ornaments,” whisky and other trappings of “evil and unclean” white Americans and band together against those who “have taken your lands, which were not made for them.”
In “Tecumseh and the Prophet: The Shawnee Brothers Who Defied a Nation,” Peter Cozzens tells the intertwined history of the brothers Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa and makes the important argument that, without Tenskwatawa—who was known as “the prophet” for his spiritual visions and prophecies—“there would have been no Tecumseh.”
In most biographies and popular versions of this history, the famous warrior Tecumseh, who led a pan-Native force against the United States in the War of 1812, stands alone—exactly the opposite of his mission in life. As Mr. Cozzens shows, the brothers sought to bring together all Native Americans under Tenskwatawa’s teachings, persuading them to cast aside their political, cultural and religious differences to become one mighty race.
While the Master of Life spoke to the prophet Tenskwatawa, Tecumseh traveled throughout the eastern half of North America to spread the word, from Creek and Choctaw towns in the deep South to the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) nations in the Northeast, and across the Mississippi River to the Quapaws, the powerful Osages and bands of the brothers’ own Shawnee people who had already moved west. Everywhere, Tecumseh preached Tenskwatawa’s prophecies and readied men for battle against the United States.
. . . .
The book’s sharply drawn characters go beyond the central figures of Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa. One of their greatest influences was their older brother Cheeseekau, killed in 1792 fighting against Tennessee settlements alongside Cherokees and Creeks. Their Shawnee opponent, Chief Black Hoof, believed Tenskwatawa’s call for pan-Indian resistance, instead of Shawnee-directed diplomacy, was madness. The great Miami war leader Little Turtle defeated U.S. forces in the 1790s, but by the time of Tenskwatawa’s movement he believed that compromise with the United States was the only path. As governor of the Indiana Territory, William Henry Harrison was impressed by Tecumseh’s rhetorical and martial skills and frightened by his popularity. Harrison later would win the U.S. presidency as “Old Tippecanoe,” famed for defeating Tecumseh.
Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (PG apologizes for the paywall, but hasn’t figured out a way around it.)
PG has read a bit of American history, but this was completely new to him.
However, he did a bit of quick research and