Tecumseh and the New Madrid Earthquake
by David Yarrow
"The story you are about to be told is true...." Indeed, the three responses to this topic are excerpts taken from "The Frontiersmen," an authentic historical novel describing how the white man took the Ohio Valley and Kentucky from the Indians. The events they describe are also recorded in several other authentic historical novels, one of which is the biography of Tecumseh entitled "Panther-Across-the-Sky," which, unfortunately, I've not had the opportunity to read yet.
When I studied Earth Science, I learned about the New Madrid earthquake -- the most violent and destructive tremor ever to strike North America in recorded history. Centered in New Madrid, Illinois, where the Ohio and Missouri rivers meet the Mississippi, this massive quake severely shook the entire eastern half of the continent. Chimneys fell all the way up in Maine from this one. And it wasn't merely a single quake, but a series of them spanning a period of four months.
The New Madrid quake is especially intriguing not only because of its unparalleled power, but also because it occurred in an area which is normally devoid of tectonic activity, including earthquakes. The implication is that this monster quake originated far deeper in the North American crust than is usual for an earthquake."
However, what I was never was taught by either Earth Science of American History is that Tecumseh didn't merely predicted the New Madrid earthquake. In truth, Tecumseh didn't merely "predict" this tectonic event, he actually "prophesied" this greatest earthquake ever to hit the continent. Tecumseh's prophecy was given many months in advance of the quake, and was accurate down to the very day it occurred. One of the odd enigmas of truth hidden under the veneer of American History is that this quake was actually his signal to the Indians of North America to unite in an army and drive the invading, land stealing whites off the continent.
This true story reveals a hidden dimension to American History and Geology which shakes not only the earth, but our very rational conceptions of the relationship between Science and Spirit, between Geology and Gaia. This is what I call "Herstory," and it is covered up because it forces us to confront certain political, racial and spiritual realities that are embarrassingly inconsistent with official dogmas. Yet, any thoughtful person must give a long pause to contemplate the implications of this untold tale.
The Prophecy Fulfilled
Monday, December 16, 1811
At 2:30 A.M. the earth shook.
In the south of Canada, in the villages of the Iroquois, Ottawa, Chippewa and Huron, it came as a deep and terrifying rumble. Creek banks caved in and huge trees toppled in a continuous crash of snapping branches.
In all of the Great Lakes, but especially Lake Michigan and Lake Erie, the waters danced and great waves broke erratically on the shores, though there was no wind.
In the western plains, there was a fierce grinding sound and a shuddering, which jarred the bones and set teeth on edge. Earthen vessels split apart and great herds of bison staggered to their feet and stampeded in abject panic.
To the south and west, tremendous boulders broke loose on hills and cut swaths through the trees and brush to the bottoms. Rapidly running streams stopped and eddied, and some of them abruptly went dry and the fish that had lived in them flopped away their lives on the muddy or rocky beds.
To the south, whole forests fell in incredible tangles. New streams sprang up where none had been before. In the Upper Creek village of Tuckabatchee, every dwelling shuddered and shook, and then collapsed upon itself and its inhabitants.
To the south and east, palm trees lashed about like whips, and lakes emptied of their waters, while ponds appeared in huge declivities which suddenly dented the surface of the earth.
All over the land, birds were roused from their roosting places with scream of fright and flapping wings. Cattle bellowed and kicked, lost their footing, and were thrown to the ground where they rolled about, unable to regain their balance.
In Kentucky, Tennessee and the Indiana Territory, settlers were thrown from their beds, heard the timbers of their cabins wrench apart, and watched the bricks crumble into heaps of debris masked in choking clouds of dust. Bridges snapped and tumbled into rivers and creeks. Glass shattered, fences and barns collapsed and fires broke out. Along steep ravines, the cliffside slipped and filled their chasms, and the country was blanketing with a deafening roar.
In the center of all this, in that area where the Ohio River meets the Mississippi, where Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri, and Illinois come together, fantastic splits appeared in the ground and huge tracts of land were swallowed up. A few miles from the Mississippi, near the Kentucky-Tennessee border, a monstrous section of ground sank as if some gigantic foot had stepped on the soft earth and mashed it down. Water gushed forth in fantastic volume and the depression became filled and turned into a large lake, to become known as Reelfoot Lake. The whole midsection of the Mississippi writhed and heaved and tremendous bluffs toppled into the muddy waters. Entire sections of land were inundated, and others that had been riverbed were left high in the air. The Mississippi itself turned and flowed backwards for a time. It swirled and eddied, hissed and gurgled, and at length, when it settled down, the face of the land had changed. New Madrid was destroyed and the tens of thousands of acres of land, including virtually all that was owned by Simon Kenton, vanished forever; that which remained was ugly and austere.
Such was the great sign of Tecumseh.
This was the earthquake which occurred where no tremor had ever been recorded before; where there was no scientific explanation for such a thing happening; where no one could possibly have anticipated or predicted that an earthquake could happen. No one except Tecumseh.
And though they were only a small percentage of those who had pledged themselves to do so, nevertheless quite a number of warriors of various tribes gathered up their weapons and set out at once to join the amazing Shawnee chief near Detroit.
Wednesday, April 1, 1812
The earthquake of December 16 was only a starter. It lasted, intermittently, for two terror-filled days; and at the end of that time, the atmosphere was so choked with dust and smoke that for a week afterwards the sun shone sickly reddish-bronze through an ugly haze.
The second earthquake struck on January 23, and the third hit four days later. And finally, on February 13, came the last and worst of them -- a hideous grinding and snapping which last for only an hour, but caused about as much damage as the other three combined.