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Some account of the Shawanees, the tribe of TECUMSER
-Anecdotes illustrative of their character---Early his tory and lineage of Tecumseh---His first adventures as a warrior-:.His habits and principles---His brothers KUMSHAKA and ElsKWATAWA---The first open move. ments of the latter, in 1806---He assumes the character of Prophet---His doctrines---His mode of operation upon his countrymen---Other Indian Pretenders---An. ecdote of a Shawanee Chief, at Fort Wayne---Tanner's account of the ministry of the Elskwatawa's Agents---Concert traced between them---Witchcraft. superstition---Anecdotes of TETEBOXTI THE CRANE, LEATHER-Lips, and others.
As the distinguished personage whose history now claims our attention, was a member of the Kishópoke tribe of the Shawanee nation, a brief account of that somewhat celebrated community may not be irrelevant in this connection.
As their name indicates, they came originally from the South, (that being the meaning of the Delaware word Shawaneu ;) and the oldest individuals of the Mohican tribe, their elder brother,* told Mr. Heckewelder, they dwelt in the neighborhood of Savannah, in Georgia, and in the Floridas. “They were a restless people," we are further informed, “delight ing in wars;" and in these they were so constantly engaged, that their neighbors,--the Cherokees, Choctaws, Creeks, Yamassees, and other powerful tribes, finally formed a league, offensive and defensive, for
* So called, because their separation from the parent stock was one of the most ancient of which the tradition was distinctly preserved. Following the same princi. ple, the Delawares themselves have uniformly given the title of Uncle to the Wyandots.
the express purpose of expelling them from the country. But the Shawanees were too wise to contends with such an enemy, and they adopted the niore prudent policy of asking permission to leave their territories peaceably, and migrate northward. This favor being granted them, their main body settled upon the Ohio; some of them as far up as where the French afterwards built Fort Duquesne,-now Pittsburg,others, about the forks of the Delaware, and a few even upon the site of what is now Philadelphia.
Those who remained on the Ohio becoming numerous and powerful, it was not long before they crossed the Alleghany mountains, and fell upon a settlement of the Delawares, on the Juniata, of which very people, their grandfather, they had solicited peace and protection, through the interposition of the Mohicans, on their first arrival in the country. Murders were committed, plunder was carried off, and a war ensued. As soon as this could be disposed of, they engaged in the French war, which broke out in 1755, against the English. That being terminated in 1763, and the tribe being elated by its increased numbers, and by the strong confederacy now established between themselves and the Delawares, they commenced hostilities against the Cherokees. In the course of this war, the latter occasionally pursued the aggressors into the Delaware territories, and thus that nation was aroused again. The union of forces which ensued, added to the already existing hostility of the Five Nations, proved too much for the Cherokees, and in 1768, they solicited and obtained a peace. Owing chiefly to the influence of the Delawares, the Shawanees were now kept quiet for the unusually long term of six years, when they were involved in a war with the people of Virginia,
then comprising Kentucky,-occasioned by the noted murders committed upon Logan's relations and others, by white people. The burning of some of their villages had scarcely driven them to a sort of truce with this new enemy,
when the war of the Revolution com
menced, in which they allied themselves with the English, and continued openly hostile, notwithstanding the peace of 1783, until the famous victory of General Wayne, in 1795.
Their reputation as warriors suffered nothing during all this long series of hostile operations. The first settlers of Kentucky were molested and harassed by them, more than by any other tribe. Boone, who was taken captive by them in 1778, saw four hundred and fifty of their warriors mustered at one place, still called Chilicothe,-ready for a foray among the white settlements, which soon after ensued. Marshall, in his History of Kentucky, gives the particulars of an expedition against them, the season after this, in which many of the best men in the country were privates ;" the invaders were defeated and driven off, and nearly two hundred of them pursued with considerable loss, by about thirty of the Shawanees. “Of all the Indians who had been marauding in the country,” the same writer observes elsewhere, “the Shawanees had been the most mischievous, as they were the most active.” Loskiel represents the tribe in question as “the most savage of the Indian nations."
An incident, showing the disposition which they manifested, even at this period, (1773) towards their American neighbors, may throw some light upon their character, and upon subsequent events. The celebrated missionary, Zeisberger, visited some of their settlements, during the year last named, in the hope of establishing a mission among them. At one of their villages, he met with the head-chief of the tribe. The latter gave him his hand and addressed him: “This day," said he," the Great Spirit has ordered that we should see and speak with each other, face to face.” He then entered into a long detail of the practices of the white people, describing their manner of deceiving the Indians, and finally affirm ed that they were all alike,-all hypocrites and knaves The Missionary made some reply to these charges,
put the Chief was “ so exceedingly exasperated against the white people,” adds Loskiel, “ that brother Zeisberger's exhortation seemed to have little weight with him." He at length gave the Preacher permission to visit the other Shawanee towns, taking care to suggest, as a parting word of comfort, that he must rely upon having his brains beat out very speedily. Thir. ty years previous to this, when Count Zinzendorff himself went among the Wyoming Shawanees, to convert them, they rewarded that pious pilgrim for his labor of love, by conspiring to murder him; but, by a fortunate accident, he escaped safe from their hands.
On the whole, setting aside for the present the history of this nation for the last thirty years, during which we have suffered most from them, it would seem that a more warlike or more hostile people has scarcely existed upon the continent. Where, rather than here, should we look for the birth and education of TECUMSEH,* the modern Philip, and when, rather than at the stormy period of the Revolution ? Probably, at the very time when the troops of our Congress (in 1780,) were expelling them westward from the river Scioto, and burning their villages behind them, the young hero, who afterwards kindled the flame of war upon the entire frontier of the States, by the breath of his own single spirit, was learning his first lessons of vengeance amid the ruins of his native land, and in the blood of his countrymen.
His native land, we say, for it is tolerably well as certained that he was born on the banks of the Scio to, near Chilicothe. His father, who was a noted Shawanee warrior, fell at the battle of Kenhawa, while Tecumseh was yet a mere boy. His mother is said by some to have been a Shawanee, and by others a Čreek; but he is understood himself to have told a gentleman at Vincennes, in 1810, that she was a
* Pronounced by the Indians Tecumthé, and some times so written.
Cherokee, who had been taken prisoner in a war beween that nation and the Shawanees, and adopted, according to Indian custom, into a family of the latter nation which resided near the Miami of the Lake. This account is confirmed by the circumstance of this woman having migrated into the Cherokee territory in advanced age, and died there. The totem of her tribe is said to have been a turtle, and that of the father's a tiger. From all
the information which can now be gathered respecting the early years of Tecumseh, it appears that he gave striking evidence in his boyhood of the singular spirit which characterized him through life. He was distinguished for a steady adherence to principle, and generally to that of the best kind. He prided himself upon his temperance and his truth, maintaining an uncommon reputation for integrity, and, what is still rarer among his countrymen, never indulging in the excessive use of food or liquor. He would not marry until long after the customary period; and then, as a matter of necessity, in consequence of the solicitations of friends, he connected himself with an elderly female, who was, perhaps, not the handsomest or most agreeable lady in the world, but nevertheless bore him one child, his only offspring. With this exception, he adopted in his matrimonial life, the practices of the sect of Shakers, whose principles, as is well known, were afterwards so strenuously promulgated by his brother, the Prophet, that a certain prime functionary in that denomination gave him the credit of being as good a disciple as himself.* Whether there was an express concert or actual cooperation between the two, at this early period, respecting this or any other project or policy in which they subsequently engaged together, does not appear to be positively ascertained.
It is not to be supposed, that any remarkable
* See an authority cited at large in the following pa ges.