77 Intro Tecumseh’s Speech to the Osages

Tecumseh spoke to the Shawnee and Ohio Valley Indians to urge them to no longer trade with the white settlers who continued to illegally settle into already shrinking government reserved land. Every new paragraph in his speech starts with ‘Brother’ which is his way of softening the hearts and minds of those who heard. Early in his speech, Tecumseh said this, “We are friends; we must assist each other to bear our burdens.” This sentence builds common ground in his speech in order to draw broad support among the Indian tribes. Surely many of the Natives were hesitant to take up arms with the white man. However Tecumseh knew this would be an issue and would use rhetoric like this, “Who are the white people that we should fear them? They cannot run fast, and are good marks to shoot at: they are only men; our fathers have killed many of them; we are not squaws, and we will stain the earth red with blood.” in order to build morale and confidence. Citation 1

This speech helped organize the Ohio Valley Confederacy, this united Indians from the Shawnee, Potawatomi, Kickapoo, Winnebago, Menominee, Ottawa, and Wyandot nations. Not only did this confederacy help unite the scattered and unorganized tribes,but this confederation was believed to be the only way for American Indians to successfully hinder white settlements from continuing to expand.

This Confederacy successfully delayed white settlement in the region for a time.The confederacy forced white Americans to deal with all tribes as one. It is easy to pick on a tribe of few than it is a nation of many. This cultural embargo that Tecumseh envisioned was not as popular among all tribes as you might think. Many tribes from modern-day Tennessee, Georgia, and Mississippi held on to American products and customs. For American Indians to obtain white goods, they would participate in the fur trade. Consequently this trade caused food to become scarce in the Native lands. This lack of food and supplies would weaken the Confederacy and eventually result in its failure. Citation 2

In 1811, directly following the speech to the Osage tribe, William Henry Harrison led an attack on the Confederacy camp in the Tippecanoe River while at the same time, Tecumseh was attempting to convince more tribes to join the movement further South. The scale of defeat that the Natives received during this battle would cut Tecumseh’s armed forces in half.

When the war of 1812 erupted, Tecumseh had to choose a side and would understandably side with the British. This decision would ultimately seal his fate. Tecumseh would take Detroit with British General Brock but they wouldn’t hold the fort for long. The two war leaders would retreat into Canada where American General William Henry Harrison would cut them off to make up the Battle of the Thames. Tecumseh would ultimately lose his life on the battlefield while being outnumbered 500 Native warriors and 800 British soldiers against 3,500 American militiamen.  Citation 3

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Intro Tecumseh's Speech to the Osages by Timothy Robbins is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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