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Tenskwatawa or Elskwatawa (1775 - November 1836) was a Native American religious and political leader known as the Shawnee Prophet. He was the brother of Tecumseh, leader of the Shawnee. He was originally given the name Lalawethika (The Noisemaker).

Table of contents
1 Early years
2 War of 1812
3 Later years and death
4 Tenskwatawa in fiction

Early years

Lalawethika was an awkward youth, who accidentally gouged his right eye out with an arrow. Disliked by many Shawnees, he became an alcoholic.

In April 1805, he experienced the first of several visions. He became a religious leader of the Shawnee, and taught that the Americans were children of the Great Serpent, the source of evil in the world. He forbade them to use European foods, clothing, manufactured goods and alcohol. He changed his name to Tenskwatawa (The Open Door). In 1808 Tenskwatawa and Tecumseh moved their followers to a new village called Prophetstown, near the juncture of rivers Wabash and Tippecanoe in Indiana.

War of 1812

With his brother, he participated in the defense of the Canadian colonies during the War of 1812. In 1811, Tenskwatawa was left in charge of Tecumseh's forces at Prophets Town when he journeyed south to meet with representatives of other tribes. On November 7, 1811, a U.S force under the command of future President William Henry Harrison attacked Tenskwatawa at the Battle of Tippecanoe, wiping out the Native camp and putting an end to Tecumseh's hope of a broad Native alliance. In 1813 he was present at the Battle of the Thames, but fled with the British and was absent when Tecumseh was killed.

Later years and death

In the following decade he unsuccessfully tried to regain a position of leadership among Native Americans. In 1825 he returned to the United States and assisted in removing many of the Shawnees west of the Mississippi. In 1826 he established a village at the site of modern Kansas City, Kansas. He died in 1836 at his village in Kansas City, Kansas (located in the Argentine area; the White Feather Spring marker notes the location).

Tenskwatawa in fiction

Tenskwatawa is one of the major characters in Orson Scott Card's alternate history fantasy series of novels The Tales of Alvin Maker (especially the second book, Red Prophet. In those books he is called Tenskwa-Tawa (previously Lolla-Wossiky).