Friday, March 2, 2012

Birth of a Shooting Star

It was 244 years ago in March, time of the declining snows, when a Shawnee woman lay in her bark birthing hut and watched a brilliant comet light up the early evening skies. Not long after, she gave birth to her third child, a son who would become a North American symbol of fighting for your culture against impossible odds.
Some months later, the child had a naming feast, at which an elder pronounced him Tecumtha, or Tecumseh -- Shooting Star.
Tecumseh became a Shawnee war chief at the time North American Indians were being driven farther away from their homelands by colonial advancement. He travelled thousands of miles on horseback trying to organize a pan-Indian confederation that would stop the westward march of the new American society.
He is best remembered as the man who fought alongside General Isaac Brock in the War of 1812 against the Americans. However, Tecumseh was no Canadian patriot. He fought for Canada but had no more liking for the British Canadians than the Americans. His sole interest was to hold some of the homeland being taken by people from afar.
His leadership and the battles he won against the Americans were important to Canada, however. His leadership inspired confidence and helped stiffen Canadian spines, which Brock himself noted were somewhat lacking.
In October 1813, Tecumseh died in battle along the Thames River not far from Chatham Ontario. He fell while trying to hold back the troops of William Henry Harrison, governor of Indiana Territory, and who would become president of the United States.
More on Tecumseh can be found in: Tecumseh: Shooting Star, Crouching Panther published by Dundurn.

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