Gems Native American Culture — 22 November 2014

A song by Tecumseh (1768-1813), a Shawnee Native American chief.


Live your life that the fear of death
can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about his religion.
Respect others in their views
and demand that they respect yours.

Love your life, perfect your life,
beautify all things in your life.
Seek to make your life long
and of service to your people.

Prepare a noble death song for the day
when you go over the great divide.

Always give a word or sign of salute
when meeting or passing a friend,
or even a stranger, if in a lonely place.
Show respect to all people,
but grovel to none.

When you rise in the morning,
give thanks for the light,
for your life, for your strength.
Give thanks for your food
and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason to give thanks,
the fault lies in yourself.

Abuse no one and nothing,
for abuse turns the wise ones to fools
and robs the spirit of its vision.

When your time comes to die,
be not like those
whose hearts are filled with fear of death,
so that when their time comes
they weep and pray for a little more time
to live their lives over again in a different way.
Sing your death song,
and die like a hero going home.

Tecumseh opposed the United States during the early 1800s and attempted to organise a confederation of tribes to resist white settlement. During the War of 1812, Tecumseh and his followers joined the British to battle the United States and he was killed in the Battle of the Thames in Canada a year later.

Painting by W.B. Turner (courtesy Metropolitan Toronto Library)