Chief Tecumseh, Panther in the Sky
BBC SCIENCE & SPACE
It was late Winter in the year of 1768 when Puckenshinwa, a Shawnee Chief, was traveling with his immediate family, Metheotashe, his wife who was about to deliver his child, his 12 year old son, Cheeseekau, his 10 year old daughter, Tecumapease, along with his extended family, and the other members of his clan known as the Kispokotha.
It was time for all the clans that made up the Shawnee tribe, to gather together in Chillicothe. Chillicothe is a Shawnee word meaning town, so there were many places named Chillicothe. They would talk about what they should do, concerning the white men who were crossing over the Cumberland Mountains, and moving further and further west into Indian lands.
They had almost reached their destination when Metheotashe could go no farther, as her baby would be born this night. Chief Puckenshinwa had sent most of his clan ahead, to tell the other chiefs that they would arrive as soon as they were able to travel.
While the women busied themselves with caring for Metheotashe, Puckenshinwa was left to watch the stars until the baby would be born. He thought about tomorrow's meeting with the other chiefs, and what he would say about the treaties that had been signed and ignored by the white man. He had begun to believe that there could be no peace in the future for his people and the white men.
As he slowly looked up at the stars, deep in his own thoughts, he was surprised to see a ball of white fire streak across the sky. After the shooting star had disappeared, he thought of the stories told by the tribal elders, of the spirit that moves across the sky to the horizon, it was the spirit known as "The Panther."
In a little while he would hear the first cry of his new son. He had already been given a sign, and his son would be named Tecumseh, for The Panther that he had seen crossing the sky.
Tecumseh had been born near Mad River, in what would later be known as Clark County, Ohio. He would grow up with many siblings including another brother who was adopted into their family, Lalawethika. Lalawethika would later take the name of Tenskwatawa, and become known as the Prophet.
Now it was told that Tecumseh's mother, Metheotashe, meaning turtle laying eggs, had a special gift enabling her to see beyond the present, and this gift was passed on to several of her children. In the years to come it would seem that Tecumseh had inherited his mother's gift.
The Great Chief Tecumseh's story about his place in American history will be continued . . .
The exact date of Tecumseh's birth does not seem to be known. I found several differing estimates, but with the mention of the shooting star, or a comet as some insist, on the night of his birth, I thought I might be able to find a recorded history of a comet in the year of 1768. I had been reminded of Samuel Clemmons a.k.a. Mark Twain. On the night that Mark Twain was born, November 30, 1835, Hailey's comet had passed overhead. A special birthday indeed, but it would become especially notable 75 years later, when on the night of his death, Hailey's comet made its next appearance in the sky.
Records show that a comet was seen in August and September of 1769, and the previous recorded comet appeared in April of 1766, making it unlikely that a comet was seen the night of Tecumseh's birth. So it is much more likely that Puckenshinwa did indeed see a shooting star or meteor that night.
METEORS AND THE NATIVE AMERICANS
In the course of learning about the life of Tecumseh, I encountered various dates and spellings for the same people, places, and events, so I have tried to find multiple sources for everything, in an effort to be as accurate as possible. However, if you feel that I have stated anything incorrectly, please let me know.