James’ Brand New Blog

Images of Tecumseh: So what did he really look like?

- August 15th, 2012

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David Morris as Tecumseh in a commemorative event this summer. Courtesy of the Amhertsburg Echo, a QMI ally

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Tecumseh was a respected warrior during the War of 1812. (illustration by Keith Milne and colourist Gord Coulthart, special to QMI Agency) 

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The Brock-Tecumseh stamps in an image via canadapost.ca

The three images of War of 1812 hero Tecumseh are all of recent vintage & JBNBlog wonders which, if any, is the most accurate. Is there any way to tell? JBNBlog vows to read Tecumseh’s Bones by Guy St-Denis in time for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Thames. Well before then. That’s a vow. Remind me about it.

Meanwhile, here is a 1964 account by my grandfather Stewart Thibaudeau about Margaret Middaugh (b. 1806 in Pennsylvania of UEL Pennsylvania Dutch parentage). She would be my great-great-grandmother if my reading of mom’s notes on her father’s account is right . . . “(she) understood four Indian dialects” in addition to French, English and German. Apparently turned down an invitation to dine with a First Nations chief when she detected a puppy’s paw in the meal being prepared.

“Her father’s farm was part of the site of the Battle of the Thames and  she saw Tecumseh before the battle. After it, she saw what the American soldiers declared was Tecumseh’s head, paraded on a stake,” grandpa Thibaudeau wrote. Is that possible?

In my father’s Colours in the Dark, Tecumseh appears as a character during a scene about the battle of Moraviantown Oct. 5, 1813.

“Tecumseh, are you going to die?” ask the children.

He asks for their help in crawling to a log aka a carboard box in dad’s stage directions.

“My mother was the moon, my father was the sun,” Tecumseh says . . . he disappears into box/log & the kids pull out a tortoise.

His recorded voice is heard.
“I am Tecumseh. I have changed into the tortoise who will never die. Climb on my  back and I will take you down the great river to meet your ancestors . . . .” (Colours in the Dark, Act I, Sc. 11)

At least one other wise character in the play, Mr. Winemeyer, uses “the magic log the Indians made” to be transformed during death . . . he becomes “a huge pale green luna moth” & leads the way to Yonge St.

So there is something about Tecumseh in my life, a reason to be proud.

Here is some background on War Chief Tecumseh from canadapost.ca

A visionary leader and superb orator, War Chief Tecumseh united warriors from several First Nations in order to save their lands and their cultures. Born into the Shawnee Nation, he grew up surrounded by war. His father, also a War Chief, was killed by settlers when Tecumseh was a child. Trained as a warrior and skilled at motivating others to follow him, his goal was to create a confederacy of First Nations that would stop American expansion. Once the Americans declared war in 1812, Tecumseh and his confederacy supported the British in exchange for their help establishing and protecting native-held lands. Tecumseh was killed at the Battle of the Thames on October 5, 1813—the only battle he fought in what is now Canada.

Categories: Entertainment

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3 comments

  1. although Harrison claimed that 33 dead warriors were found in the woods after the battle.

  2. a says:

    Also important to consider representations in film media too.

    See “Tecumseh’s Vision” part of “We Shall Remain: America Through Native Eyes” WGBH-Boston PBS American Experience documentary dir. Eric Burns

    Also,
    Re : Historical misrepresentation….must see:
    “Reel Injuns: On the Trail of the Hollywood Indian” a PBS, NFBofC, APTN production

    additional good list of movies/documentaries:
    http://libguides.lib.msu.edu/content.php?pid=62444&sid=460842

  3. james.reaney says:

    Reel Injuns is a classic . . . saw it at Museum London. For all the marbles, who was the director? He beat Mr. Sweet Caroline to London by a year or two.

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