Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Ellskwatawa
|←Ellmaker, Amos||Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography
|Edition of 1900. See also Tenskwatawa on Wikipedia, and our Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography disclaimer.|
ELLSKWATAWA, Indian prophet, b. on the banks of the Scioto river, near what is now Chillicothe, early in 1775. The date of his death is unknown. He was the son of Pukeesheno, a chief of the Shawnees, and a brother of the famous Tecumseh. He possessed in 1808 a tract of country near the confluence of the Tippecanoe with the Wabash. With him was a band of about a thousand warriors belonging to various tribes. He administered the affairs of his followers so badly that in a short time he was deserted by all but about three hundred, and these were in a most wretched state of existence. At this juncture Tecumseh appeared among them, and assumed the direction of affairs, acting, however, in the name of the prophet. In 1809 the government directed Gov. William H. Harrison to purchase of the Delawares, Miamis, and Pottawatamies a large tract of country on both sides of the Wabash, and extending up the river sixty miles beyond Vincennes. This tract included the section settled upon by the prophet and his band, and the purchase led to the famous interview between Harrison and Tecumseh. The prophet is next heard of at the battle of Tippecanoe, 4 Nov., 1811. where he directed or ordered the attack. During the action he was performing conjurations on an eminence in the vicinity, but out of the reach of danger. After the end of the war between Great Britain and the United States the prophet received a pension from the British government, and resided in Canada till 1826, when, together with the only surviving son of Tecumseh and others, he settled beyond the Mississippi. The accounts relative to his character, and his pretensions as a prophet, are conflicting. There can, however, be but little doubt that the Indians generally regarded him as possessing the gift of prescience in an eminent degree. In his fiftieth year, while in the act of lighting his pipe, he fell back upon his bed, and became apparently lifeless.\ Preparations were made for his interment, but during his removal for that purpose he revived. His first words were: “Don't be alarmed. I have seen heaven. Call the nation together, that I may tell them what has appeared to me.” When the people had assembled, he told them that he had been conducted to the gates of heaven by two young men sent by the Great Spirit, and that the Great Spirit was angry with them, and would destroy them unless they refrained thenceforth from drunkenness, lying, and stealing. See Edward Eggleston's “Tecumseh and the Shawnee Prophet” (New York, 1878).