Tenskwatawa, (also called Tenskatawa, Tensquatawa or Lalawethika) (1775 – November 1834) was a Native American religious and political leader of the Shawnee tribe, known as The Prophet or the Shawnee Prophet. He was the brother of Tecumseh, leader of the Shawnee. He was originally given the name Lalawethika (The Noisemaker). He fathered a total of 20 children and had 3 wives.
He lost his right eye to an arrow shot into the air by one of his brothers. Disliked by many Shawnees, he became an alcoholic. In May 1805, he experienced the first of several visions. He became a religious leader, and taught that the white Americans were children of the Great Serpent, the source of evil in the world. He forbade his people to use European foods, clothing, manufactured goods and alcohol. He changed his name to Tenskwatawa (The Open Door or One With Open Mouth). In 1808 Tenskwatawa and Tecumseh moved their followers to a new village called Prophetstown (Tippecanoe), near the present-day town of , near the juncture of the Wabash and Tippecanoe rivers in Indiana.
In 1811, Tecumseh journeyed south to meet with representatives of other tribes, leaving Tenskwatawa in command of Tecumseh's forces at Prophetstown. Tecumseh had an advantage being a Shawnee. Shawnees moved around more than any other tribe, so Tecumseh knew how other tribes were being forced out of their land. During Tecumseh's absence, on November 7, 1811, Tenskwatawa ordered an attack on a U.S. force under the command of future President William Henry Harrison. (See the Battle of Tippecanoe.) The village at Prophetstown was eventually burned down and the defeat put an end to Tecumseh's hope of a broad Native alliance.
With his brother, Tenskwatawa participated in the defense of the Canadian colonies during the War of 1813. In 1813 he was present at the Battle of the Thames, but fled with the British forces and was absent when Tecumseh was killed.
Later years and death
In the following decade he unsuccessfully tried to regain a position of leadership among Native Americans. In 1825 he returned to the United States and assisted in removing many of the Shawnees west of the Mississippi. In 1826 he established a village at the site of modern Kansas City, Kansas. He died in 1836 at his village in Kansas City, Kansas (located in the Argentine area; the White Feather Spring marker notes the location).
Tenskwatawa was a religious leader who advocated a return to the ancestral lifestyle of the tribes. A large following and a confederacy grew around his teachings. The religious doctrine led to strife with settlers on the frontier, causing the group to move farther into the northwest and settle Prophetstown, Indiana in 1808.