Tecumseh grew up here in the Ohio country during the American Revolution and was staunchly opposed to the American government. He established a tribal confederacy and fought to preserve the Native American way of life. He was one of the key Indian leaders in the War of 1812 which was fought over the impressment of sailors on the high seas, and control of the fur trade on the western frontier.
During the War of 1812, Tecumseh was given the rank of general by the British, who recruited over 10,000 Indians as auxiliary troops for the British Army. The British government purchased more than 25,000 special guns for native allies during the four-year war. The conflict essentially ended in a draw, with British armies burning the US national capital, but being defeated at Baltimore and New Orleans.
After the U.S. Navy took control of Lake Erie in 1813, the Native Americans and British retreated. American forces caught them at the Battle of the Thames and killed Tecumseh in October 1813. Tecumseh traded his rifle for a Kentucky rifle just days before he was killed at the Battle of the Thames in Ontario. After his death, the tribal confederation disintegrated, and the Native Americans had to move west again, yet Tecumseh became an iconic folk hero in American, Aboriginal and Canadian history
At the September Prairie Days Festival, expert gunsmith Lee Wise presented Darke County Parks with a completed replica of Tecumseh’s rifle. The rifle is an exact replica down to the “Indian War Department” marks from the British government, the English Walnut used in the stock, and the maker’s marks. Director of the Darke County Park District, Roger Van Frank said, “Darke County Parks are very fortunate to be friends with Lee Wise and the Greenville Muzzleloaders, and we’re thankful that Lee was willing to produce a replica of the Tecumseh rifle for the Tecumseh Room in the nature center. It is truly a work of astonishing craftsmanship.” The rifle will be put on display in the Tecumseh Room which teaches visitors about Native American life around the time of the Treaty of Greenville.