The distinguished Shawnee chief from Ohio was gone. For years after the war great controversy arose over who had killed him and what happened to his body. Much credence was at first given to Colonel Johnson as being the one to fire the fatal shot. The only thing that seems certain is that he did shoot a warrior at close range. By 1830 he was a senator for Kentucky and was being touted as a candidate for president and did rise to vice president in 1837. During this time many so-called witnesses who backed Johnson came forward to corroborate the story. Those who opposed him produced many more deniers. Credit for slaying the great chief had become valuable political capital but he had always resisted never claiming to done the deed. After all he had never seen the great chief in person. Finally he succumbed to temptation in 1843 by affirming that indeed it was him that shot Tecumseh dead, but there is no definitive proof.
Just as many stories swirled about as to where his body was put to rest. Many of the fallen warriors were scalped and mutilated at the end of the battle. Some were skinned for such things as souvenirs and to make items like razor straps. Harrison was shown one body the day after the battle as it lay mutilated on the field. He was told it was Tecumseh but it was so badly abused and the face so swollen that he could not recognize him. One story has the body given to the Canadians who took it back to Sandwich for burial. Another has him buried at the site of the battlefield. Mythical stories arose of his closest companions spiriting the body away to be buried in a secret place. There is a monument at Bkejwanong (Walpole Island, ON) that claims him to be resting on the island. Another possibility, if the story of him being carried away by his comrades is true, is that he may have been interred at the great burial mound west of Chatham. Other great war chiefs were taken there for burial as it was a great honor to be laid to rest with other fallen warriors.
The Battle of Moraviantown and especially the lost of Tecumseh effectively broke his confederacy. Many of the warriors who drifted away never came back. Ojibwa chief Naiwash of Saugeen complained the following year saying “perhaps the Master of Life would give us more luck if we would stick together as we formerly did . . . and we probably might go back and tread upon our own lands. Chiefs and warriors, since our great chief Tecumtha 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 . . . We do not go to war , rise together, but we go one or two, and the rest say they will go tomorrow.” But there were those who carried on like Wawanosh from Aamjiwnaang who fought at Lundy’s Lane and Megish, a Shawnee who was living at Little Bear Creek (North Sydenham River) in Upper Canada, who also was killed at Lundy’s Lane. And of course the Caughnawaga Mohawks continued in the east at battles such as Chateauguay.
The War of 1812 ended with the Treaty of Ghent in 1814. Nothing changed. The U.S./Canada border remained the same. First Nations were left out of the treaty process altogether. The war became a textbook example of how not to conduct a war. Like most wars it consisted of, at least for one side or the other, a series of blunders. One thing it did do for First Nations was usher in a new era. This was the last time they would be looked upon as allies. The future did not bode well for Tecumseh’s people.
In the fall of 1818 the Saulteaux Ojibwa of the St. Clair region were invited to an “Indian Council” at Amherstburg to treat with the British Indian Department for a large tract of land known as the Huron Tract. The Napoleonic Wars were over in Europe and there had been a great flux of immigration to Upper Canada. The Colonial Government of Upper Canada needed more land for the newly arrived settlers. On October 16th the council was convened. In attendance were twenty-seven chiefs and principal men of the bands as Chenaille Escarte, St. Clair, Sable and Thames rivers as well as Bear Creek. The colonial government was represented by John Askin, Superintendent of Indian Affairs. Lieutenant Colonel Evans recorded the minutes and J Bth Cadot served as interpreter.
The minutes record that it was the desire of the government to purchase all of the lands north of the Thames River owned by them and asked what their terms were for the tract’s disposal.
The chiefs responded affirmatively by saying a most curious thing. According to the minutes they replied they “were willing to sell our lands . . . that is our wish that he [the Lieutenant Governor of the Province] set the valuation on the tract required. The seller was asking the buyer to set the selling price!
We have here members from two different cultures not communicating. To understand the Ojibwa’s strange request one must also understand their culture. Various nations had always traded with each other but it was not like the trade Europeans conducted. For example when these Ojibwa lived on the north shore of Georgian Bay they traded with their Huron neighbors to the south. The Ojibwa were hunters and fishers while the Huron were more agrarian. Extra produce was exchanged each year but it was done in a spirit of sharing rather than one of negotiations. Commerce for this culture was a system of sharing and if one suffered some calamity such as drought and had no surplus the other shared theirs anyway.
This system flowed out of the Ojibwa worldview where human beings as in the Western creation story were created last. But the stories are diverse from there. In the Western story humans are presented as the pinnacle of God’s creation and placed on the top of creation’s hierarchy even over and above their environment. The Creator instructs them to subdue and have dominion over it. In this culture any surplus was held back for the best price and if that could not be met the surplus goods could even be let go to waste.
In the Ojibwa story human beings were made weak and vulnerable. Their place on the hierarchy of creation was on the bottom. They were so vulnerable that the Creator called a council with all of creation. He asks the animals, birds, fish, and plants if they would give themselves as sustenance for humanity’s survival. They agreed. So all of nature provided for their sustenance making all things a gift from the Great Mystery. To hold any surplus back would be an affront to him so negotiations were unheard of. The word of this system of sharing was daawed.
Daawed was translated into English variably as sell, purchase, price or trade as understood in Western Culture. The British understood the treaty to mean land title transfer but the Ojibwa understood daawed to mean a sharing of surpluses. They knew because of a great decrease in their population due to war and disease they had a surplus of land but they had no way of knowing what the government had in the way of a surplus to offer them. So they asked and daawed was translated here as valuation. All treaties with the Crown have such misunderstandings embedded in them and unfortunately these historic documents are still misunderstood today.
For the Ojibwa the treaty was set that day but for the British the treaty would undergo two more revisions and not be completed until nine years later. Treaty No. 29 would see the title for 2.2 million acres transferred to the Colonial Government of Upper Canada and the creation of four reserves containing less than 20,000 acres. From there it would be all downhill.For example, Canada would see the infamous Indian Act enacted in 1876. It is a stifling paternalistic, monumental piece of legislation designed to control every aspect of First Nations lives. It is still in effect today. In 1887 the U.S. Congress would adopt the Dawes Act. This piece of legislation was designed to relieve First Nations of more of what little land they had left. Today, in Canada, First Nations are calling for the treaty relationship with the Government of Canada to be reset to a nation to nation basis. One of equal partnership sharing the land and its resources as the original treaties called for. The struggle continues.