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Timeline / Reshaping America / 1808: Tecumseh’s leadership grows

1808: Tecumseh’s leadership grows

The 1795 Treaty of Greenville pushed Tecumseh’s tribe, the Shawnee, out of their traditional lands in Ohio and Indiana. By 1808, Tecumseh is organizing a confederacy of Indian nations with a battalion of 5,000 warriors willing to mount armed resistance to continuing U.S. takings of Native lands. The British recognize Tecumseh's growing leadership and ask him to form a Native alliance with Canada, but he refuses at this time.

“Brothers, — When the white men first set foot on our grounds, they were hungry; they had no place on which to spread their blankets, or to kindle their fires. They were feeble; they could do nothing for themselves. Our father commiserated their distress, and shared freely with them whatever the Great Spirit had given his red children. They gave them food when hungry, medicine when sick, spread skins for them to sleep on, and gave them grounds, that they might hunt and raise corn. Brothers the white people came among us feeble, and now we have made them strong, they wish to kill us, or drive us back, as they would wolves and panthers.” —Tecumseh, in a speech to the Osage, 1811

Land and Water, Native Rights

A late 19th-century artist’s depiction of Shawnee Chief Tecumseh (1768–1813)

Courtesy Library of Congress