Form and Content
R. David Edmunds’ Tecumseh and the Quest for Indian Leadership recounts a history of the United States’ westward expansion from the perspective of Tecumseh, the Shawnee leader of the Native American opposition to this movement. The book is divided into nine chapters, the bulk of which are factual narratives of publicly recorded events. Following a chapter of Shawnee tribal biography, seven chapters record Tecumseh’s failed attempt at a Native American coalition opposing the United States’ usurpation of western lands. They are followed by a final chapter assessing the impact of Tecumseh’s personality on both friends and foes.
The book’s title features the well-known political leader of Native American resistance, but much of the text develops a spiritual aspect embodied in the figure of Tecumseh’s brother Tenskwatawa, called “The Prophet.” Details of Tecumseh’s fam-ily background and early life are few because records are sketchy. Edmunds focuses on the respective position in family of the two brothers, their father’s early death, their abandonment by their mother, and their nurture by an older brother and sister. Much of the early biographies of Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa is subsumed under tribal history and a narrative account of prerevolutionary conflicts between Native American and white settlers in the Ohio River Valley.
Chapters 4 through 7 constitute the main body of the narrative. Tenskwatawa’s vision of...
(The entire section is 512 words.)