Tenskwautawa's original name was Lalwethika, or "the rattle
" (not a good thing to be named.) He was generally known as the local drunk
until his 1805 visions. His chosen name means "The Open Door." Although he certainly was a unifying force for the Shawnee and the Native alliance, there was a dark side
to his religious
movement. He was absolutely intolerant of viewpoints contrary to his own; in 1806, he instigated a sort of witch hunt
among the Delaware
tribes, in which a chief and several tribespeople were burned as "witches" for converting to Christianity
In 1811, William Henry Harrison
camped his army across Tippecanoe
Creek from Prophetstown, where Tenskwatawa was living. The Prophet ignored his brother's orders to wait for reinforcements and led a suicide
squad against Harrison. The battle ended in a draw, but the Shawnee warriors were forced to retreat, and Harrison burned Prophetstown. In 1812, he led what would be his final military
mission against Harrison, which also ended in failure.
After the death of his brother in 1813, Tenskwautawa wandered around for a few years. In 1826, he led a group of 200 Shawnee from Ohio to Kansas, a journey of starvation which few survived. The Prophet died in 1836, a man hated by his own people.