Tecumseh's Confederacy - Background


Following the 1795 Treaty of Greenville, the Native American tribes in the Northwest Territory began to move out of the lands ceded to the United States. Many of the Natives, including the Lenape and Shawnee, moved westward at the invitation of the Miami tribe to settle in land considered to be part of Miami holdings. The tribes intermingled one with the other and most villages contained inhabitants of multiple tribes. The dominant Miami tribe inhabited much of modern central Indiana and the powerful Pottawatomie tribe lived in northern Indiana and Michigan. The Wea and Kickapoo (both related to the Miami tribe) and Piankeshaw inhabited a series of villages in western Indiana and eastern Illinois. The Piankeshaw later moved north further integrating with the Wea and Kickapoo following the 1803 Treaty of Vincennes. The Sauk, another powerful nation, lived in northern Illinois, to the west of the Miami.

The Shawnee, who had lost most of their territory during the Northwest Indian War moved into northwestern Ohio and Northeastern Indiana. The Lenape likewise had lost their territory and moved into south-central Indiana. Other tribes, including the Wyandot, Fox tribe, Winnebago, Odawa, Mingo, Seneca, and others had a presence in the regions villages. Leadership was organized at the village level, and not tribal level, so in most cases, a leader represented members of multiple tribes who were living together in the same settlement. Leadership in the villages was likewise divided between War Chiefs and Civil Chiefs. The Civil Chiefs negotiated the treaties and maintained outside relations, while the war chiefs took power in times of conflict. As the war chiefs, like Little Turtle, were removed from power following the war, that large confederacy of villages in the region began to fade and the Civil Chiefs urged the native populations to work with the United States to maintain peace.

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