If Sitting Bull is the most famous Indian, Tecumseh, the legendary Shawnee chieftain, is the most revered. In the early years of the nineteenth century he dreamed of welding the diverse North American Tribes into a vast confederacy stretching from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, strong enough to defend the cultures and lands of the Indians from the aggression of the United States. A charismatic leader with outstanding military and political talents, Tecumseh created a powerful pan-Indian alliance to replace intertribal conflict and indifference. A major figure in the War of 1812, he helped defeat American attempts to invade Canada, and his followers engaged U.S. armies across the entire frontier.
Although Tecumseh died in battle at the height of his fame with his vision of a great Indian confederacy in shreds, his reputation is secure. Unlike most Indian leaders, who operated locally or participated in intertribal warfare, Tecumseh does not stand for one tribe or nation but for all Native Americans. Tecumseh emerges as a man of unusual integrity, generosity, and compassion.