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The Urban American Indian Collective- FIND YOUR TRIBE!

TENS-QUA-TA-WA or The One Who Opens the Door; Shawnese Prophet, from The Aboriginal Portfolio c.1835


The Prophet’s declaration in 1805 that he had a message from the “Master of Life,” followed by his accurate prediction of a solar eclipse in 1806, caused a great stir among the tribes. He advocated a return to distinctively indigenous ways of life and rejected colonial customs such as the use of alcohol, clothing made of textiles rather than animal skins and furs, the concept of individual ownership of property. The Prophet engaged his followers by describing the supernatural contacts he instigated through incantations and dreams; witch burning was a feature of his program. In November 1811, while Tecumseh was away, The Prophet allowed the Shawnees to be drawn into military action with Gen. William Henry Harrison; their ensuing defeat on the Tippecanoe River thoroughly discredited The Prophet and destroyed the pan-tribal confederacy.


Shawnee, an Algonquian-speaking North American Indian people who lived in the central Ohio River valley. Closely related in language and culture to the Fox, Kickapoo, and Sauk, the Shawnee were also influenced by a long association with the Seneca and Delaware.


Artist-James Otto Lewis (February 3, 1799 – November 2, 1858) was an American engraver and painter who was noted for his portraits of Native American leaders and other figures of the American frontier.[1] Lewis began his engraving career in Philadelphia about 1815.


From 1819 to at least 1834, Lewis worked in the west, what was then Michigan Territory, including present-day states of Indiana and Wisconsin. For eleven years of that time, he was working for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, then within the War Department, to make portraits of Native Americans. He published copies of his work in The Aboriginal Port Folio in Philadelphia, between 1835 and 1836. Fascinated by what he learned of the western territories, as a young man he went west in 1819 and began traveling with Gov. Lewis Cass of the Michigan Territory. From 1823 to 1834, Lewis worked for the U.S. Government to paint official portraits of Indians, in what was an effort to preserve a record of their leaders and what was believed to be a vanishing culture.




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