Shawnee Prophet

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Shawnee Prophet,

1775?–1837?, Native North American of the Shawnee tribe; brother of TecumsehTecumseh
, 1768?–1813, chief of the Shawnee, b. probably in Clark co., Ohio. Among his people he became distinguished for his prowess in battle, but he opposed the practice of torturing prisoners.
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. His Native American name was Tenskwautawa. He announced himself as a prophet bearing a revelation from the Native American master of life. The message urged the renunciation of the acquired ways of the whites and the return to Native American modes and customs in all matters. His doctrines were widespread among Native Americans, and his prestige was enhanced when he foretold a solar eclipse in 1806. His influence gave rise to the plan to confederate all the Native Americans in opposition to the whites—a plan that inspired the Creek War of 1813. In 1811 he led the Native American forces in the battle of TippecanoeTippecanoe
, river, c.170 mi (270 km) long, rising in the lake district of NE Ind. and flowing SW to the Wabash River, near Lafayette. U.S. Gen. William Henry Harrison fought the Shawnees in the battle of Tippecanoe, Nov. 7, 1811, on the site of Battle Ground, Ind.
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. The movement inspired by him provided many recuits for the British in the War of 1812, after which Tenskwatawa retired to Canada with a British pension. He returned to Ohio in 1826 and accompanied his people to Missouri and farther west into Kansas, where he died.


See B. Drake, The Life of Tecumseh and of his Brother the Prophet (1841, repr. 1969).

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Shawnee Prophet

See Tenskwatawa.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
One of the most promising--if necessarily speculative--examples of the role sign language plays in indigenous resistance movements occurs in Gunn's third chapter, which couples the controversial Indian captive John Dunn Hunter with the pan-Indianism of Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa. Discussing the famous 1810 meeting at Vincennes between Tecumseh and William Henry Harrison, Gunn writes that the Shawnee leader "was almost certainly interjecting" his opposition to Harrison's arguments "in sign language--a choice that ensured his objections could be known by all of those Native Americans present within and out of earshot" (106).
Fifteen years later, though, socioeconomic stress and American expansion engendered a new "nativist" confederation, whose leaders Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa formed an alliance of convenience with British Canada.
By 1812 the Shawnees had again gathered westward in Indiana with a dozen tribes nominally lead the Shawnee War Chief Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa, also known as the Open Door and the Shawnee prophet and tribal mystic and firebrand, all allied with the British in Canada.
In the negotiations' minutes, Langham notes the arrival of Tenskwatawa (also known as the Shawnee Prophet) and his invitation to address the gathering at the Monday morning session.
Into this dire situation came the Shawnee brothers Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa, one a politician and warrior, the other a visionary and religious leader.
247-8): 'From the late eighteenth century until the reforms of Commissioner of Indian Affairs John Collier in the mid-twentieth century, the consistent objective of white 'friends of the Indians' and their Native American supporters was the elimination of communal land ownership and of the social values that mode of economic organization represented [...] It is not surprising that Neolin, Tenskwatawa, and Handsome Lake, much as they differed on other matters, agreed that hell was the eternal abode of the greedy.
This interpretation often gave rise to nativistic religious movements such as those associated with the Shawnee prophet Tenskwatawa and the Delaware holy man Neolin.
Slight and sickly with a disfigured right eye, Lalawethika, the Prophet (who was also known by the name Tenskwatawa), cut a poor figure next to his brother.
The book finishes with a note reminding us of Said's critical depiction of how Orientalism portrays the other ("Orient as spectacle, as tableau vivant"), and with Trowbridge studying the Aboriginal prophet Tenskwatawa, preserving him and his people against the day they would disappear.
While Tecumseh was "out of town," his younger brother, Tenskwatawa (who fancied himself a prophet) attempted to steal some of Tecumseh's thunder by attacking the white army before the appointed time.
In 1763, the Delaware prophet, Neolin, provided the inspiration for Pontiac's rebellion, and some fifty years later the Shawnee prophet, Tenskwatawa, provided the inspiration for Tecumseh's revolution.