The Tecumseh monument 80 years in the making was unveiled Monday on Walpole Island.
A statue of the Native American war chief, statesman and orator now sits on top of the Veterans’ monument. It faces towards the United States, watching over the St. Clair River. Tecumseh opposed the U.S. and became an ally of Britain in the War of 1812. He died Oct. 5, 1813 at the Battle of the Thames, fought east of Thamesville.
Walpole Island chief Dan Miskokomon said the monument was the culmination of Walpole Island’s veterans’ wishes.
“It was a long task that the veterans had, but it brings closure,” Miskokomon said.
Tecumseh’s remains were made public in the 1930s, and Walpole Island veterans raised funds to construct a cairn for the great chief’s remains. Walpole Island Soldiers’ Club had also planned a statue that was never completed.
Tecumseh’s remains were placed in the cairn at the Veterans’ monument in August 1941.
Joyce Johnson, director of the Walpole Island Heritage Centre, said the monument means a lot to not only Walpole Island, but to all local First Nations communities in Canada and the U.S.
“He was a true leader of our people,” Johnson said.
Without the leadership of Tecumseh during the War of 1812, Canada would be a very different country today, she said.
“We would not be standing in Canada today. It would look very different.”
Johnson said a lot of people are not aware that Tecumseh’s remains are at the Veterans’ monument on Walpole Island.
“It just became apparent in the last I would say five years. Because people were wondering where he was. Part of my job as the director of the Heritage Centre is to ensure that people really do know what we did for the chief and why his remains are here and that he fought for all of us,” Johnson said.
Georgina Toulouse Bebamikawe, a First Nation sculptor from Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve in northern Ontario, was commissioned to design the Tecumseh statue.
Toulouse Bebamikawe said she was excited to have people see her work.
“Finally the community gets to see it when it’s completed,” she said Monday. “It is a lot of work, and it’s a lot of stress off my shoulders now. Everybody is enjoying it.”