Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award

January 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Karen Marrero


Tecumseh has been hailed as the most famous Indigenous leader in the United States and Canada. Many scholars have bemoaned the difficulty to separating man from myth. One thing is clear: there could be no Tecumseh without his brother Tenskwatawa. It was Tenskwatawa who first had a religious awakening that birthed a spiritual movement. It was Tenskwatawa who was the first leader of this pan-Indigenous group of followers. Tecumseh’s leadership would not emerge until nearly six years later. In the many works on Tecumseh, Tenskwatawa’s story can be easily found. However, he is nearly always portrayed as less important and easily forgotten. This thesis seeks to answer two fundamental questions. Are Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa remembered differently because they were dissimilar? Why does Tecumseh’s legacy endure among Americans, Canadians, and Indigenous people (and by extension Tenskwatawa’s) when so many other Indigenous leaders in North America have been forgotten? This work argues that the two brothers only appear different when they are viewed out of context, through a colonialist lens. When they are viewed in context, from an Indigenous perspective, they are far more the same than different. This work also demonstrates that the legacies of the two brothers endure due to their intersection with formative periods and people in the early nineteenth century in the nation-building projects in the United States and Canada, with elements and individuals from that period still being commemorated today. The ideas, policies, and laws that intersected with the lives of the two brothers continue to have a bearing on the present as well, particularly in regard to Indigenous-settler relations in both countries.