Tecumseh and Adoption

A romanticized depiction of Tecumseh_from c. 1915


Tecumseh (Waiting Panther or Shooting Star) was the brother (possibly the twin) of Tenskwatawa, and was born near Springfield, Ohio. Their father, Pucksinwa, died in the Battle of Point Pleasant against the white men in 1774, and in 1779 their mother left him and his seven brothers and sisters to be raised by relatives, including Chief Blackfish, who also fostered or adopted several white captive children.

In 1777 the murder of Chief Cornstalk turned the Shawnee against the Americans. By his 20s Tecumseh was a major chief of the Shawnee. He refused to sign the peace treaty of 1795 in Fort Greenville, Ohio because he strongly believed in communal land ownership: that no individual or even tribe could alienate land to the whites or own land individually.

In 1808 at Tippecanoe he and Tenskwatawa founded what they hoped would be a pan-tribal movement, an intertribal nation, stretching from the western Appalachians to the Pacific coast, but it was crushed by the whites in 1811 under the future President William Henry Harrison.

He allied himself with the British during the War of 1812 and was killed at the Battle of the Thames.


Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia, 1993-97 Drake, Benjamin. Life of Tecumseh and His Brother the Prophet. (Lewisburg: Wennawoods Publishing, 1999) Dictionary of American Biography Eckert, Allan W. A Sorrow in Our Heart: The Life of Tecumseh. (New York: Bantam, 1992) Shorto, Russell. Tecumseh and the Dream of an American Indian Nation. (Englewood Cliffs: Silver Burdett Press, 1989) (Alvin Josephy's Biography Series of American Indians) Handbook of North American Indians: Vol. 15: Northeast, edited by Bruce G. Trigger. (Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1978) Dever, Maria, and Dever, Aileen. Relative Origins: Famous Foster and Adopted People. (Portland: National Book Company, 1992) ("William Tecumseh Sherman") Ohio Public Library Information Network. "Ohio Indians: Tecumseh." [Includes portrait]. Formerly available at: "Tecumseh" [Website directory]. [Includes portrait]. Available at: