When The Battles of Thames Killed Tecumseh: First and Second Variations

"Last year in AP US History, Mr. Temple required for us to write a creative piece based on the War of 1812. While researching to come up with an idea, an Indian chief named Tecumseh gripped my attention. To make a long story short, he died in action against the Americans and it marked a turning point. Historian Lisa Gilbert has said, "As a result of Tecumseh’s defeat, Natives were never again considered separate and equal partners in international relations." I wrote this poem to remind myself of the Native Americans, who I believe is a neglected people group of our country. I always hear about fighting for the blacks, the women, the LGBT community, and so on. But now I think it is time for us to hear the voice of the original Americans. They are not weaklings awaiting our help, but valuable people who we should listen to. I encourage everybody to become aware of them again, whether it is by Google-ling or by witnessing artistic creations about them like this poem." -SungMin Park

%22This+picture+was+taken+over+the+summer+when+my+family+and+I+went+on+a+road+trip.+In+West+Virginia+we+stopped+at+River+Valley+Gorge+and+I+was+inspired+to+take+this+picture+because+of+the+way+the+trees+frame+the+bridge+and+its+natural+beauty.%22+%0A-Hannah+Saylor

"River Valley Gorge" by Hannah Saylor, 11th grade

"This picture was taken over the summer when my family and I went on a road trip. In West Virginia we stopped at River Valley Gorge and I was inspired to take this picture because of the way the trees frame the bridge and its natural beauty." -Hannah Saylor

The poem is fiction. It comes in two variations and it is written from Tecumseh’s point of view. I imagined Tecumseh dying to an American soldier, a soldier who displayed a laughable irony. The irony is this: as the soldier is killing Tecumseh, he gives praise for the United States and for its ideals based upon human value. While the United States has, is, and will always uphold the ideals based upon human value, it certainly did not exemplify those ideals best during the removal of Native Americans, both from our lands and from our minds.

First Variation

Death calmly strode through the forest,

Passing by the bodies and bullets,

Of British, American, and Indian men

To seek my soul

And scoop it out of my chest

With cupped hands

Death carefully propped my soul up,

Dusting off the blood and bane,

Of fear, pain, and diseased war

To clean my soul

And remind me of

the last of my life’s moments

With awakened eyes

My last had only two men

Myself and a white man

We stood in stand still

Each with a gun excited to kill

 

I was sure to eliminate him

Until

His speech reached me

Before I reached my weapon

In fool’s wisdom, he screamed,

“For life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness

Endowed to all men by their Creator!”

He proceeded to profess

The importance

Of freedom from tyranny

And rejoiced at how America

Will now distribute

This freedom to every man

In the midst of his passion,

And my shock at his hypocrisy,

He bore the bullet

Through my body,

And allowed drip, drip out

Second Variation

Oh, for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness

Or, translated into contemporary English,

believe in yourself, and follow your dreams

because the sky’s the limit and anything is possible

Enough.

Only white men can say cliches

such as those,

to other white men.

I had more than a

half-cooked dream.

I too

had a vision

of an independent nation

free from threat

to individual rights

free of tyranny

capped upon a whole population.

How strange.

Is this how all humans dream

when they are strangled by an oppression

descending from a higher power

who has no regard for the people under?

As Death scooped up my soul,

with shaky hands and graceful flourish,

I reminded myself of

the white man

who screamed at me about the

importunity

of pursuing life, liberty, and freedom

because of the certain

unalienable rights

given to all men

by a creator

all while

he

killed

me.