Tecumseh: The Power in Pan-Indigenism

"When it comes time to die, be not like those whose hearts arefilled with the fear of death, so when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home." -Tecumseh

Tecumseh was a Shawnee leader, born is what is now Ohio, March 9, 1768. He was vary instrumental in the War of 1812 and fighting against the westward expansion of the 13 American colonies by seizure of Native lands. His name meant "Shooting Star" and/or "Crouching Panther". Interestingly enough, many of his own people followed behind his vision and movement, instead moving westward as the colonizers advanced. Still, the movement which sprang from his brother's, Tenskawatawa, religious visions' would leave their names in the book of life. Tenskawatawa, originally born 'Lalawethika', claimed to have had a "vision" and from this, began to teach against European occupation, advancement and against Native peoples adoption of white culture. Bearing witness to the devastation these things had on Native life, Tecumseh supported his brother and became the key voice in promoting the message. It would essentially become a Pan-Indigenous message and movement of identity, solidarity and sovereignty.

"The way, the only way to stop this evil is for the red man to unite in claiming a common and equal right in the land, as it was first, and should be now, for it was never divided."
We gave them forest-clad mountains and valleys full of game, and in return what did they give our warriors and our women? Rum, trinkets, and a grave.

Brothers -- My people wish for peace; the red men all wish for peace; but where the white people are, there is no peace for them, except it be on the bosom of our mother. Where today are the Pequot? Where today are the Narrangansett, the Mohican, the Pakanoket, and many other once powerful tribes of our people?

They have vanished before the avarice and the oppression of the White Man, as snow before a summer sun." -Tecumseh

Although they were opposed by many Shawnee and other Indigenous leaders, they managed in rallying many behind them and uniting Indigenous people in one common cause and effort. Each tribal Nation continued to maintain their traditions and way of life. Still, they united in the understanding that only their solidarity and movement as a body could preserve it. Regardless to the uniqueness in the manifestation of their specific cultural perspective and traditions, they recognized their commonalities as Indigenous people and their origin in this part of the planet earth. It was agreed that only a return to their people's ways, the wisdom of their ancestors, and a rejection of the devil's, could they succeed in the salvation of their people.

"But, brother, I mean to bring all the tribes together, in spite of you, and until I have finished, I will not go to visit your president. Maybe I will when I have finished, maybe. The reason I tell you this, you want, by making your distinctions of Indian tribes and allotting to each a particular tract of land, to set them against each other, and thus to weaken us.

You never see an Indian come, do you, and endeavor to make the white people divide up?"-Tecumseh

Tecumseh traveled across Indian land, seeking audiences and speaking to the people. He taught extensively and promoting the "oneness" of the Original people. His brother Tenskawatawa, The Prophet, continued teaching as well from their center in "Prophetstown", in Indiana. Over time it was said that Tenskawatawa become more fervent and militant with the teachings. Tecumseh eventually forbid his brother was speaking out too aggressively against whites or engaging in any conflict with them whenever he was not around. The movement flickered out in 1811, when Tecumseh was on a trip to meet with southern " 5 Civilized Tribes" and Tenskawatawa led his people into battle against future U.S. president, William Henry Harrison. Reportedly, Tenskwatawa sought to establish grounds for a peaceful talk with the then military commander. Yet, Tecumseh arrived to find Prophetown burned and destroyed.

"How can we have confidence in the white people? When Jesus Christ came upon the earth, you killed him, the son of your own God, you nailed him up! You thought he was dead, but you were mistaken. And only after you thought you killed him did you worship him, and start killing those who would not worship him. What kind of a people is this for us to trust? "- Tecumseh

Their vision and message continue on. Not just amongst the neo-political and Indigenous sympathizers. Not just on the reservation or in the mindset of the those marginalized by America. It is a, idea, message and vision that re-verberates within the ancestral memories of our senses and cells. Pan-Indigenism is the desire to be as 'one' with our brothers and sisters, from the Artic circle to Tierra Del Fuego. Just as we understand all of creation being are relations in the most fundamental form. It is this universal oneness that should bind those of us from the First Nations whether colonized by the English, French or the Spanish.

"Thus were we created. Thus we lived for a long time, proud and happy. We had never eaten pig meat, nor tasted the poison called whiskey, nor worn wool from sheep, nor struck fire or dug earth with steel, nor cooked in iron, nor hunted and fought with loud guns, nor ever had diseases which soured our blood or rotted our organs. We were pure, so we were strong and happy."-Tenskwatawa

We are the Original people on this part of the planet earth. The fathers and mothers of civilization as his has been known by our people in this hemisphere from the earliest of recognized space and time. It is time to re-unite the different organs of the body, so that we may harnass the power of change and seize the direction of our future. We must move with strength in our numbers and mobilize to become more self-sufficient and sovereign. We must build where we are at and within our communities, applying the supreme intelligence we are endowed with to enhance and elevate our condition. Through tribal networking and grass roots organizing, we can tap into our greatest resource, ourselves. We can not think that government and those who came to oppress are going to be the ones to assist in our relief. We must as well, not seek to return to the days since past. We must preserve the best of what we can from amongst our traditions and move forward with complimentary and progressive ideas that will both honor our ancestors and ensure our future survival. We can no longer linger in the tensions and problems between tribes as in the past. We must adapt, adjust and over come. Seeking unity beyond difference and victory beyond defeat. By isolating ourselves within the island of our own prejudices and cultural comfort, we create an environment for 'internal' decay. We become so self-absorbed as if colonization and globalization won't be able to penetrate us. We become strangers to our own brothers and sisters and apathetic to each others trials and tribulations, if we have not all suffered at the hands of the same oppressive entity. We allow the swiftness and currents of other words, ways and actions to strain relations with our universal family, swallowing us up in the remoteness of self-responsibility. Being responsible for ourselves means both our immediate family and our community and people, our collective 'self'. This is the path of righteousness, the way of the supreme mind.

"Do not eat any food that is raised or cooked by a white person. It is not good for us. Eat not their bread made of wheat, for Our Creator gave us corn for our bread. Eat not the meat of their filthy swine, nor of their chicken fowls, nor the beef of their cattle, which are tame and thus have no spirit in them. Their foods will seem to fill your empty belly, but this deceives you for food without spirit does not nourish you."- Tenskwatawa

We must reclaim our ownselves and find the sweatlodge within 'self', the the kacike of your own 'consciousness' and the vision quest in your own veins. We must awaken our cultural kundalini and let it rise like smoke from the ceremonial pipe. We must free ourselves from the encomienda of miseducation and move forward with the furthering of Pan-Indigenous consciousness and activism.

"I am Shawnee! I am a warrior! My forefathers were warriors. From them I took only my birth into this world. From my tribe I take nothing. I am the maker of my own destiny!- Tecumseh


Original source of quotes: www.indigenouspeople.net/tecumseh.htm