Series: American Indians and the War of 1812

Confederation in a new world order: Tenskwatawa's vision for Indian destinies

By Kathryn Braund, Auburn University

Following increasingly restrictive and exploitative land cessation treaties between the United States and Indian nations, tribal people were faced with difficult choices. Would Natives follow the restrictions of the Americans or fight them? Would they remain an independent people, or assimilate into white society? Would they remain on ancestral lands at the risk of enraging land-hungry Americans, or leave home in the interest of keeping peace? These difficult choices did not have easy answers.

Although Tecumseh at first urged peace among tribes, his meaning was clear: Indians must unite and fight to save their lands if necessary.

Portrait of Shawnee religious leader Tenskwatawa
Tenkwatawa offered a new vision for Indian independence through alliance against the Americans.

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution