From Ohio History Central
Tenskwatawa (also known as The Prophet), a member of the Shawnee Indians, was born in 1775. Named Lalawethika (the Rattle), his mother abandoned him in 1779. By all accounts, Lalawethika was a homely child and lacked the physical abilities that his other siblings, including his elder brother Tecumseh, enjoyed. His older siblings refused to train him in hunting and fighting. He was so unskilled with a bow and arrow that he blinded himself in his right eye with a wayward arrow. As an adult, he became reliant on the kindness of his fellow tribesmen to feed himself and his family. He also turned to alcohol to forget his problems, quickly becoming dependent upon liquor. Not having the physical abilities to become a warrior, Lalawethika attempted to learn the ways of his village's medicine man. When the man died in 1804, Lalawethika quickly proved unable to meet his people's needs. They remembered the drunken Lalawethika and did not respect his medicinal abilities. He quickly turned back to alcohol to provide himself with solace.
In April 1805, while lighting his pipe, Lalawethika fell into a deep trance. His family believed that he had died and prepared his body for a funeral. Lalawethika regained consciousness and claimed that the Master of Life, a Shawnee Indian deity, had visited him. According to Lalawethika, the Master of Life told him that the Indians must give up all white customs and products. The Master of Life reportedly viewed the natives' dependence on guns, iron cookware, glass beads, and alcohol as the worst possible sins. If they rejected these items and returned to traditional ways, the Master of Life would reward them by driving the white settlers from the Indians' land. The Native Americans must also stop fighting with each other over land and respect their tribal elders. If they followed the Master of Life's message, the natives would return to a life filled with happiness. Lalawethika also changed his name to Tenskwatawa. Tenskwatawa means "open door" in Shawnee. If the Indians followed the Master of Life's message as delivered by Tenskwatawa, they would have an open door. Whites called Tenskwatawa "the Prophet."
Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa continued their struggle. During the War of 1812, they allied themselves with the British against the United States. During this conflict, Tecumseh lost his life at the Battle of the Thames in 1813. The Prophet then sought to assume control of his brother's followers. Unfortunately for the Prophet, most Indians remembered his claims before the Battle of Tippecanoe and rejected his leadership. For the remainder of his life, Tenskwatawa continued to seek power among the Shawnee Indians. He first lived in Canada but eventually returned to Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio, moving from village to village, seeking a following among the Shawnee. In 1826, the Prophet moved with most Ohio and Indiana Shawnee to a reservation in modern-day Kansas. Here, the Prophet's quest for power continued. By the end of his life, Tenskwatawa lived in his own village with only his family. The other Shawnee people chose to live in the villages of younger and more prominent leaders. The Prophet died in November 1836. While the Prophet once was the catalyst for one of the greatest Indian alliances in history, he died a virtually forgotten figure.