Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Tecumseh: Shooting Star, Crouching Panther by Jim Poling Sr

Tecumseh was one of the great figures of the War of 1812. To me, he is the greatest aboriginal chief of all time. Other chiefs in the late 1800's became more famous with their stand against the Americans due to the success of the press in the East.

Tecumseh though, int he late 1700's and early 1800's had the greatest vision. To unite all aboriginal peoples together as one nation, to stand against the encroachment of the Americans.

Tecumseh: Shooting Star, Crouching Panther tells his story. Shawnee war chief Tecumseh dedicated his life to stopping American expansion and preserving the lands and cultures of North American Aboriginal peoples. He travelled relentlessly trying to build a confederation of tribes that would stop the territorial ambitions of the newly created United States of America.

Tecumseh tried both diplomacy and battle to preserve his Ohio Valley homelands. When he realized that neither could stop the American advancement, he turned to the British in Canada for help was the War of 1812 began. He and Isaac Brock, British general and Canadian hero, captured Detroit early in the war and historians believe they would have gone on to more impressive battles had Brock not fallen at Queenston Heights in 1812.

A great leader, Tecumseh left an indelible mark on the history of both Canada and the United States. The story of his struggle to preserve a vanishing culture is one that remains relevant today. One of the greatest tributes to Tecumseh came from his enemy, Harrison, who later became president of the United States. He called Tecumseh an "uncommon genius," who in another place, another time, could have built an empire.

I found the writing to be a little simple, as if the author was writing to a juvenile audience. This did improve as the book went on. There were a few stories where certain facts should have been told before the event and not after, but overall this was a decent read.

One thing I did love was the authors use of quoting excerpts from letters and documents of witnesses and participants of the various events. Again one criticism is when the author gave Tecumseh's impassioned plea to General Henry Proctor at Fort Malden. Most of the speech was used, but some key elements left out. For the full speech, please click here.

This is one of the great figures in Canadian history. He did not fight for Canada or the British but for his own people and in the process saved Canada in the early part of the war. He was a man of great vision for his people. How great? Soon after he was killed in The Battle of the Thames, Ottawa Chief Naywash spoke of his affect of his passing, "Since our great chief Tecumtha (sic) has been killed, we do not listen to one another, we do not rise together, we hurt ourselves by it. It is our own fault, it is not our Fathers fault.

You warriors, when our father gives us good encouragement, we hurt ourselves, we do not, when we go to war, rise together, but we go one or two and the rest say they will go tomorrow
."

Although I know the subject I did learn from this book. The epilogue was excellent! If one wanted to know about Tecumseh, this would be an excellent place to start.

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