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Survival Strategies
Digital History ID 664

Author:   Tenskwatawa
Date:1808

Annotation: Tenskwatawa, the Shawnee Prophet, describes his teachings to William Henry Harrison, the territorial governor of Indiana.


Document: Father:--It is three years since I first began with that system of religion which I now practice. The white people and some of the Indians were against me; but I had no other intention but to introduce among the Indians, those good principles of religion which the white people profess. I was spoken badly of by the white people, who reproached me with misleading the Indians; but I defy them to say that I did anything amiss.

Father, I was told that you intended to hang me. When I heard this, I intended to remember it, and tell my father, when I went to see him, and relate to him the truth....

The Great Spirit told me to tell the Indians that he had made them, and made the world--that he had placed them on it to do good, and not evil.

I told all the red skins, that the way they were in was not good, and that they ought to abandon it.

That we ought to consider ourselves as one man; but we ought to live agreeably to our several customs, the red people after their mode, and the white people after theirs; particularly, that they should not drink whiskey; that it was not made for them, but the white people, who alone knew how to use it; and that it is the cause of all the mischief which the Indians suffer; and that they must always follow the directions of the Great Spirit, and we must listen to him, as it was he that made us: determine to listen to nothing that is bad: do not take up the tomahawk, should it be offered by the British, or by the long knives: do not meddle with any thing that does not belong to you, but mind your own business, and cultivate the ground, that your women and your children may have enough to live on....

You have promised to assist us: I now request you, in behalf of all the red people, to use your exertions to prevent the sale of liquor to us....

Source: Benjamin Drake, Life of Tecumseh, and of His Brother, the Prophet (New York, 1841), 107-9.

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