Tecumseh and the prophet : the Shawnee brothers who defied a nation

by Cozzens, Peter, 1957-

Format: Print Book 2020
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"An insightful, unflinching portrayal of the remarkable siblings who came closer to altering the course of American history than any other Indian leaders."⁠ --Professor H.W. Brands, author of The Zealot and the Emancipator

The first biography of the great Shawnee leader to make clear that his misunderstood younger brother, Tenskwatawa, was an equal partner in the last great pan-Indian alliance against the United States.

Until the Americans killed Tecumseh in 1813, he and his brother Tenskwatawa were the co-architects of the broadest pan-Indian confederation in United States history. In previous accounts of Tecumseh's life, Tenskwatawa has been dismissed as a talentless charlatan and a drunk. But award-winning historian Peter Cozzens now shows us that while Tecumseh was a brilliant diplomat and war leader--admired by the same white Americans he opposed--it was Tenskwatawa, called the "Shawnee Prophet," who created a vital doctrine of religious and cultural revitalization that unified the disparate tribes of the Old Northwest. Detailed research of Native American society and customs provides a window into a world often erased from history books and reveals how both men came to power in different but no less important ways.

Cozzens brings us to the forefront of the chaos and violence that characterized the young American Republic, when settlers spilled across the Appalachians to bloody effect in their haste to exploit lands won from the British in the War of Independence, disregarding their rightful Indian owners. Tecumseh and the Prophet presents the untold story of the Shawnee brothers who retaliated against this threat--the two most significant siblings in Native American history, who, Cozzens helps us understand, should be writ large in the annals of America.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Acknowledging scholarly debt to Tecumseh by John Sugden, Cozzens (The Earth Is Weeping, 2016) incorporates into his portrait of the famed Shawnee leader the crucial influence of Tecumseh's younger brother, Tenskwatawa. Ridiculed by his tribe for lechery and alcoholism, Tenskatawa transformed himself and history when in 1805 he received revelation from the Great Spirit, who commanded him to prophesy a regeneration of Indian culture and a unification of the tribes to oppose the brutal encroachments of white settlers. Tecumseh was convinced of his brother's vision, and in ensuing years would become its political and military instrument. How he had attained prominence in Shawnee society occupies Cozzens' engrossing opening chapters as he focuses on the reputation Tecumseh acquired in frontier warfare. By age six, Tecumseh already knew his world would be a violent one, when his father was killed in battle in 1774. For the next 20 years, Tecumseh fought until the American victory in the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794. Now a Shawnee leader, Tecumseh moved his people to Indiana Territory, whose governor, William Harrison, killed Tecumseh in battle in 1813. Cozzens' biographyis solidly researched, fluently written, and bound to stand as the best history to date about the Shawnee brothers' lives and effort to rally pan-Indian resistance."
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Historian Cozzens (The Earth Is Weeping) delivers an enthralling, deeply researched dual biography of Shawnee leader Tecumseh and his younger brother, Lalawethika. Born in 1768 in modern-day Ohio, Tecumseh honed his warrior skills in a series of violent encounters with white settlers. Following the Northwestern Confederacy's defeat at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794, the Shawnee lost their homeland, but Tecumseh remained in the region and consolidated his political power as a village chief. Meanwhile, Lalawethika, who lost his right eye in a childhood accident, was a heavy drinker until a series of visions in 1805 inspired him to start a spiritual and cultural revival movement aimed at building a pan-Indian alliance "capable of resisting the onrushing white frontier." Adopting the new name Tenskwatawa, he and Tecumseh built the Prophetstown settlement as their movement's headquarters and clashed with territorial governor (and future president) William Henry Harrison. Siding with England in the War of 1812, Tecumseh was killed at the Battle of the Thames. Tenskwatawa, his power eroded and his planned confederation shattered, died in 1835 on a reservation in Kansas. Cozzens's cinematic narrative is steeped in Native American culture and laced with vivid battle scenes and character sketches. American history buffs will gain a new appreciation for what these resistance leaders accomplished. (Sept.)"
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Additional Information
Subjects Tecumseh, -- Shawnee Chief, -- 1768-1813.
Tenskwatawa, -- Shawnee Prophet.
Shawnee Indians -- United States -- Biography.
Shawnee Indians -- United States -- Social conditions -- 18th century.
Shawnee Indians -- United States -- Social conditions -- 19th century.
Shawnee Indians -- Wars -- United States.
Indians of North America -- Wars -- 1750-1815.
Indians of North America -- Government relations -- 1789-1869.
Publisher New York :2020
Edition First edition.
Language English
Notes "This is a Borzoi book"--Title page verso.
Description xv, 537 pages : illustrations (some color), maps ; 25 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 485-508) and index.
ISBN 9781524733254
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