Tecumseh Speaks on the Dreams of His People

Tecumseh Speaks on the Dreams of His People
Anna Harrison: Religion, Social Issues and Reform

Skill: Middle School
Time Required: 2 class periods


Although the tenure of William Henry Harrison in the White House was brief, there is no shortage of stories about the hero of the Battle of Tippecanoe. He was a famed Indian fighter, frontier governor, and politician that eventually rode that fame into the White House. Anna Harrison and her husband William Henry Harrison lived during a time of massive Native American removal from the lands east of the Mississippi. In many ways Harrison can be considered the antagonist in this tale. If Harrison is the Antagonist, then surely the great Shawnee Chief Tecumseh is the tragic protagonist. 


1    Students will be able to accurately describe the plan Tecumseh had to keep the whites from taking any more Indian land.

2    Students will interpret the tone and purpose of Tecumseh’s speech to William Henry Harrison in August of 1810.

3    Students will be able to list and discuss specific injustices perpetrated on Native Americans by the United States Government.

Materials Required:

Tecumseh's Speech to Governor William Henry Harrison, Indiana Territory, August 11, 1810; Work Sheet on the Tecumseh speech to William Henry Harrison.   


  1. The lesson will begin by having the teacher play a small segment of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. This can be found in the Websites section below. 
  1. The class will discuss the purpose of this speech. Through this guided discussion the class will ascertain that the purposes of a speech are to either inform or persuade, usually both. The teacher will also guide a discussion on the tone of Dr. King’s speech. The class should eventually conclude that the tone is hopeful.
  2. The teacher will then inform the class that they will be reading a speech given by Shawnee Chief Tecumseh to William Henry Harrison. Not only will they be looking for historical context from this primary source document but also for the tone and purpose of the speech.
  1. The teacher may read the speech together with the class or have them read it themselves. The students will then complete the constructed response questions from the guided reading work sheet. On it they will complete responses to the following questions: 1. List and describe 3 examples of injustices perpetrated upon Native Americans by the American government discussed by Tecumseh in his speech. 2. How would you describe the tone of Tecumseh’s speech to William Henry Harrison? Use examples from the speech to support your answer. 3. What intention does Tecumseh state to William Henry Harrison? Explain his intentions and use examples from the selection to support your answer.  All answers must be supported by information from the reading selection.

Extending the Lesson:

Having the class research the life of Tecumseh could extend this lesson. Students could create a timeline of events up to the eventual death of Tecumseh at the Battle of Thames. Another interesting assignment would be to have the students write an alternate history with the topic being what might have happened if Tecumseh had been successful in uniting all the Native American Tribes. 

Sources & Resources:


Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" Speech

Tecumseh's Speech to William Henry Harrison

The Battle at Tippecanoe


Credits: This lesson was developed by Robert McClelland, Cleveland Metropolitan School District.