In the book ‘When the Mississippi Ran Backwards’ written by Jay Feldman, the book talks about Tecumseh a Indian tribe leader who is on a mission to regain control of their land given to them by the Great Spirits. Along this mission there is a series of earthquakes that take place all across the country as sign of reinforcement of the Great Spirits’ approval of this movement.
In Chapter eleven; the chapter I was assigned, ‘A War of Extirpation’ begins with Tecumseh restating the importance and symbolism that the earthquakes has had on his mission to unite all the Indian tribes. The earthquakes are a confirmation to the indigenous people that he was in fact called by the Great Spirits. The earthquakes are a sign that the Great Spirits don’t approve and didn’t intend for the Indians to lose their culture and become inferior to the whites.
The earthquakes helped him greatly on his journey to recruit alliances among the tribes because of his prophecy that became a reality. Throughout his journey he saw the destruction caused by the white men and how it has affected the Indians. All throughout the land there was a common feeling of hostility towards the colonizers. It was inevitable that this trip would bring sadness and anger to Tecumseh after realizing the damage brought upon by the settlers. The Indians informed Tecumseh of the events that led to this situation, and after realizing his brother had betrayed the pan-tribal movement’s agenda of peace and resistance he was furious.
As Winter began to approach, he knew they had to gather food and other essential goods in order to survive, so Tecumseh asked for the British help in providing these goods. It was no surprise that at first the British were reluctant to help. The British had previously been accused of supplying the Indians with arms and weapons and in doing so, it could start a war that the British were in no way desiring. Tensions and rumors about a war had already arisen and the British allying with the Indians would only fuel these rumors even more.
There were already other problems between the British, Indians, and The United States; and many were pro-war. The U.S believed that defeating the British in a war and eliminating the Indians would cause their economy to flourish, unite the country, and give the U.S full control and authority. Although the Indians and British wanted to prevent this war a massacre of the whites along the frontier committed by Indians destroyed any possibility of peace or reconciliation between them. While all this was occurring, the earthquakes were still devastating the nation.
As the war started to break out Tecumseh remain steady in his message of peace and advised the tribes to remain peaceful unless the whites were to without reason begin to kill their people and attack their land. In an effort to distract the Indians from attacking and getting involved with the war Tecumseh shifted the people’s focus to rebuilt Prophetstown. Tecumseh had plans to go to Canada to get supplies from the British and restore peace among the Wyandots, Ottawa’s, and Chippewas, but agent Ben Stickney warned him that in doing so his actions and intentions could be misinterpreted by the others.
When Tecumseh and his men arrived at Canada the U.S interpreted this as a declaration to the start of the war and as the Indians officially becoming an alliance with the British. This put Canada in the middle of the war. The U.S threatened Canada to not get involved unless it was ready to face the consequences. This resulted in a numerous of back and froths between both sides. During the war they came across two large obstacles that would make it difficult for them to even stand a chance of winning this war.
First, they realized they didn’t have the right armor and weapons to win this war and take back their land. Despite the Indians being skilled with outdoor warfare they lacked a strong fort blockade. This didn’t hinder the British alliance and pan-tribal movement from winning the war of Fort Meigs. Due to the luring of American soldiers and the Indians/British outnumbering them they were able to succeed in this war. The British and Indians won at Fort Meigs, but they were unable to destroy the fort and kill Harrison. The war at Fort Meigs would be the last victory for the pan-tribal movement.
In a short summary Tecumseh in his pan-tribal movement tried his best to restore the peace between the white’s and the reds despite of the violence towards their land and people. He made a great effort trying to regain the peace between the two and tried to rebuild and re-establish all the land destroyed. He also aimed to bring the Indians back to their roots and wanted them to disassociate from the white’s way of living and regain all the Great Spirits has given them. The Indians found a great alliance in Britain, but several misunderstandings led to an unpreventable war against the United States. The war was a small victory for the pan-tribal movement, but it would be there last. Even thought they defeated the American in this battle at Fort Meigs, they were unsuccessful in destroying their fort and murdering Harrison.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book not only was it an entertaining action filled book that kept me on edge and captured my attention, but it also gave me a better insight on history’s events of slavery, war, colonization, Indian resistance and extermination, colonization, and the establishing of this country. A lot of these issues although in a different context or essence we still face today such as: racism, war, and discrimination. I would definitely recommend this book to everybody including all history and non-history students.