About Windsor-Tecumseh: Chief Tecumseh —

Tecumseh, Shawnee Chief, Leader of a First Nations Confederacy, military leader in the War of 1812, born in 1768 in south central Ohio, and died October 5, 1813 near Moraviantown (now, Thamesville, Ontario). Illustration by A.G. Smith.

The namesake of the town of Tecumseh in the riding of Windsor-Tecumseh is Chief Tecumseh.

Chief Tecumseh was leader of the First Nations Confederacy that was formed to resist U.S. encroachment on aboriginal land in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Tecumseh’s entire life was spent resisting this encroachment. His people had been forced to move five times. His father and brother had been killed in fighting the U.S. military and settlers. Betrayed by broken promises and dishonest treaties, Tecumseh believed that only by joining together and returning to traditional values could his people be saved. Tecumseh united the tribes based on his conviction that the land and the people were one; a people cannot be alienated from their ancestral land. Their hereditary rights are also inalienable. An inalienable right means you cannot lose it, no matter what. It belongs to you by virtue of your being.

In June 1812 the United States declared war on Britain. For his entire life Tecumseh had regarded the U.S. as the natural enemy of his people. He believed that joining forces with the British offered a chance for his people to regain their land.

During the war, the Indigenous nations united under Tecumseh fought more than 40 battles and skirmishes against the U.S. They were key to the British success at both Detroit and Queenston. Native warriors at the Battle of Beaver Dams, with no help from their British counterparts, defeated the U.S. forces, taking 500 prisoners of war. Thanks to Tecumseh and his warriors, the British won the War of 1812. Tecumseh himself was mortally wounded in October 1813 at the Battle of the Thames where he and his warriors fought the Americans to the death. During the battle, they were deserted by the British General Proctor who was later court-martialed for his cowardice.

After the War of 1812, the Treaty of Ghent halted U.S. expansion into Iroquois land in Canada. However, even though some Indigenous communities of the Great Lakes managed to remain in their original home areas, to date their hereditary rights continue to be violated. In the U.S., the lands of the Indigenous peoples continued to be usurped, the people forced onto reservations west of the Mississippi River or exterminated.