Disabling the Dead

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The Shawnee chief Tecumseh visited southern Native American groups in the summer of 1811 with the hope of getting them to become members of a confederacy that was formed with the British to help wage war against the United States. In his visit with the Chickasaw and Choctaw, Tecumseh described how the white people were destroying Indian land and leaving the Indians in poverty. In his multiple speeches with various Choctaw groups, he said that it was the duty of the Choctaw to forget the hatred they had for other Indian tribes and to get along with, and to unite with, not only other Indian groups but also the British in order to defeat the Americans. Tecumseh expressly noted in his talk to the Choctaw and in other talks made to other Indian councils that “the Indian custom of killing women and children in war” should end (Halbert and Ball 1969:44). “This custom they should renounce, and henceforth, in all wars, the lives of women and children should be spared” (Halbert and Ball 1969:44).