The history of the Shawnee Indians and other native American tribes are entangled with our own Ohio history. Once the Ohio River Valley was the homeland for the Shawnee. It is from this heritage that we learn of the tale of Tecumseh, who was likely born in the Chillicothe area around 1768.
Tecumseh, Shawnee Chief
Tecumseh was a Shawnee chief and warrior. During his childhood, the Shawnees were losing territory to the expanding American colonies. Together with his brother, Tenskwatawa, Tecumseh united tribes in the area. The plan was that they work together to defend their territory.
His story is told each summer at the Sugarloaf Amphitheatre in the hills of his birthplace, near present-day Chillicothe, Ohio. The outdoor drama Tecumseh is in its 50th season and to date has played to more than three million visitors.
50 Years of Storytelling
The Scioto Society formed in 1970 as a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing prominence to the Chillicothe area. Sugarloaf Amphitheatre was constructed as an outdoor theater on 206 acres of land purchased by the society. The amphitheatre seats 1689 guests. The show plays to capacity crowds during the annual June through September season.
I remember enjoying the show as a wide-eyed child, mesmerized by the story and captivated by the horses. I remember begging my mother for “authentic” Indian gear in the gift shop. And I remember crying at the end when they carried his body off to stage right.
The Outdoor Drama Today
After many years of having a trip to Tecumseh on our family bucket list, we finally carved out time to see the drama last summer. All eight of us were in attendance and at least a few of us jumped the first time the cannons rang out.
The story was just as captivating as I remember. Now that I’m an adult, I recognize that some liberties have been taken in the re-telling of Tecumseh’s life story. But the performance is impactful just the same.
If You Go
If you plan to take in Tecumseh’s story be sure to check out their website before you go. Tickets are on sale in advance for as low as $20 per person for a weeknight performance. VIP tickets are available for $45 which includes the backstage experience.
Use caution if you plan on taking children. In addition to the cannons being very loud, some children may be disturbed by some of the themes portrayed during the drama. Actors portraying both the military and the Shawnee appear to die during the drama. There are a few depictions of people being scalped. It may not discourage you from going, but it is helpful to know before you go.
Thank you for FindingOhio with us today. If you’re planning to attend a showing of Tecumseh, you may want to make a day of it in Chillicothe. You can visit the Adena mansion. It was home to Ohio’s first governor and overlooks the hills that form the Great Seal of the State of Ohio. You might also like to visit the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park to learn more about ancient civilizations in Ohio.
There are plenty of great places to eat in Chillicothe as well. Two of my favorites are Hometown Hibachi downtown and Jerry’s Pizza.
There’s so much to see in the Buckeye State and we are bringing you new travels every week, so be sure to check back. Until then, and as always, we appreciate you sharing our content to your social media.