These activities are designed to help students understand the importance of Tecumseh’s stand for Native American survival and his visionary movement to secure cultural and physical space for Indian people through united resistance.

Thomas Jefferson's Views

Thomas Jefferson’s views on Native peoples are paradoxical. In this activity, students will read some of his writings on the subject and explore his changing attitude.

As a class, examine these quotes by Jefferson:

"I am safe in affirming that the proofs of genius given by the Indians of North America place them on a level with whites in the same uncultivated state."
--Thomas Jefferson to General Chastellux, 1785
"Our system is to live in perpetual peace with the Indians, to cultivate an affectionate attachment from them by everything just and liberal which we can do for them within the bounds of reason, and by giving them effectual protection against wrongs from our own people."
--Thomas Jefferson to William H. Harrison, 1803
“On those [Native people] who have made any progress, English seductions will have no effect. But the backward will yield, and be thrown further back. Those will relapse into barbarism and misery, lose numbers by war and want, and we shall be obliged to drive them with the beasts of the forest into the stony mountains. They will be conquered, however, in Canada. The possession of that country secures our women and children forever from the tomahawk and scalping knife, by removing those who excite them;…”
-- Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 1812

Develop a timeline and map of U.S. expansion from 1773 to 1812.

Did Jefferson’s views toward Native peoples change with westward expansion? Discuss as a class how key events like the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition might have affected his views.

Reimagining History

If Tecumseh’s plan had worked, it would have changed history. As a class, review and analyze Tecumseh’s oratory in the following film segments:

  1. Chapter Six, The Tribes Unite

    The articulation of Tecumseh’s vision, and unification speech to the tribes of the South

  2. Chapter Seven, Tecumseh and Harrison

    Confrontation with Harrison, 1810, and Tecumseh's speech to Harrison asserting leadership of all tribes

  3. Chapter Ten, The Final Betrayal

    Speech to the British, 1813

What does Tecumseh's oratory tell you about his character? Had Tecumseh lived, what do you think might have happened? Invent and write a story that retells history and imagines that Tecumseh didn’t die at Tippecanoe.

Treaties and the Loss of Native Lands

Divide the class into four groups. Each group will research one of the four treaties mentioned in the film, and present their treaty to the class:

Treaty of Fort Stanwix in 1768

Treaty of Paris in 1783

Treaty of Greenville in 1795

Treaty of Fort Wayne in 1809

Students should use a map of the U.S. to show the effect each treaty had on the lands of Native peoples. Then as a class, discuss the effects of this land loss.

Two Stances

During Tecumseh’s time, not all Native peoples were united in their views of the Americans. Divide the class into two groups. One side will take the accommodationist position of Shawnee leader Black Hoof, and the other will take the pan-Indian confederacy position of Tecumseh. Each group should research and discuss their assigned stance, then choose one student to present the group's position.

As a class, discuss the pros and cons of each stance. Do you think a United States for Native Peoples within or alongside the U.S. could have been possible? Would the geographic location of this Native American republic have been important to its success? Would it have been more feasible in some regions than others? Then discuss the elimination of British, French, and Spanish forces from the U.S., and what effect this had on Native peoples' independence.

Exclusive Corporate
Funding Provided by:
Liberty Mutual Insurance
Major Funding by:
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Additional Funding
Provided by:
American Experience