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The Legendary Tecumseh — Panther Across the Sky!

The Iconic Tecumseh
Image Credit: Roger Griffith

THE LEGENDARY Tecumseh was born sometimes around March 1768 under the augury of a shooting star – hence Tecumseh means "Panther Across The Sky". I love him because of his philosophy on life and death: especially in connection with his saying: "prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide." Uttered centuries ago, Tecumseh's "Death Song" message outlives his legend – it still rings a familiar note of life's purpose deep within me. Here goes his "Death Song" message:

  • Live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
  • Trouble no one about his religion.
  • Respect others in their views and demand that they respect yours.
  • Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.
  • Seek to make your life long and of service to your people.
  • Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
  • Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, or even a stranger, if in a lonely place.
  • Show respect to all people, but grovel to none.
  • When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength.
  • Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.
  • If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.
  • Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.
  • When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.
  • Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.

According to this wontolla link and many other sources elsewhere, Tecumseh was a native American Indian Shawnee, a fiery orator, a brilliant diplomat, a revolutionary thinker, a political and military genius who stood as a messiah to his people during one of the most crucial periods of their history, as the whites began to explore and expand to the west of the British colonies...

The Legendary Tecumseh
Image Credit: Wontolla

Proving himself a skilled hunter by the age of six, Tecumseh went on to be accorded warrior status at twelve – an almost unheard of honour. Commanding a remarkable amount of respect for a young man, at fifteen he took a stand against the torture and brutality Shawnee warriors inflicted upon whites and other prisoners – and, with an eloquence far beyond his years, swayed older warriors to his cause.

As the American forces planned a massive campaign to exterminate the Shawnee, the twenty-three-year-old Tecumseh repeatedly walked boldly through the streets of the settlement at Cincinnati – and within the walls of Fort Washington itself – to gather intelligence that led the Shawnee to win the greatest Indian victory in history over any American military force.

Though he did not belong to one of the ruling clans of the Shawnee, the visionary Tecumseh extended his power beyond tribal boundaries to become a leader among many Native American tribes, forming an unprecedented alliance against the white settlers and their government.

Although Tecumseh drew together perhaps the largest force ever commanded by a North American Indian, playing a decisive role in the capture of Detroit and of more than 2,000 U.S. soldiers during the War of 1812, his grand design for Native American unification was doomed to failure.

One year later, during the Battle of the Thames (Oct. 5, 1813), the Shooting Star disappeared and was never seen again. It is said, he died that day.

But the story does not end in defeat and death: The great warriors and statesmen of history are measured by the power of their charisma, the strength of their message, the boldness of their vision – and on that scale, Tecumseh's star burns as bright as ever.

Centuries on today, Tecumseh's message, the death song, outlives his legend – it even rings a familiar note deep within me...

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"Live your life [in such a way] that the fear of death can never enter your heart!"