Tag: fiction

The Curse. Tippecanoe Who?

Most of us have heard of the political slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler too”, but where did it come from and what does it mean? The saying was used throughout the presidential campaign of William Henry Harrison and John Tyler during the election of 1840. Harrison won largely on his victory over the Shawnee at the Battle of Tippecanoe, but the battle spawned a curse lasting more than 120 years.

The Combatants

General William Henry Harrison (1773 – 1841)

William_H._Harrison“Old Tippecanoe.” Governor of the Indiana Territory, a principal contributor in the War of 1812, and the ninth President of the United States. Harrison (left) was the son of founding father Benjamin Harrison and in turn was the grandfather of Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd president. He was a survivor of the 1791 massacre by Little Turtle and his Miami braves at St. Clair’s Defeat.



Colonel Abram Owen (1769–1811)

7504193_1425745214Aide-de-Camp to General Harrison. A veteran Indian fighter, Colonel Owen (right) was wounded during St Clair’s Defeat and participated in many battles during a twenty-year military career. He was a Kentucky legislator and served in the state’s constitutional convention. His death at the Battle of Tippecanoe changed history.



Tecumseh (1768 – 1813)

Tecumseh02Shawnee warrior, chief and primary leader of a large Native American confederacy in the early years of the nineteenth century. Born in present-day Ohio. Growing up during the American Revolution and the Northwest Indian War, Tecumseh (shown left) envisioned the establishment of an independent Indian nation east of the Mississippi River under British protection.




Tenskwatawa, The Prophet (1775 – 1836)

Shawnee_Prophet,_TenskwatawaCommonly known as The Prophet and spiritual leader of the Shawnee. Brother of Tecumseh. In 1808 Tenskwatawa (right) and Tecumseh established a village Americans called Prophetstown north of present-day Lafayette, Indiana. There, the brothers’ pan-Indian resistance movement included thousands of followers, with The Prophet providing the spiritual foundation. Together, they mobilized local Native Americans to fight the invading Americans and remained resolute in their rejection of alien authority and acculturation.

The Battle

In November 1811, as tensions and violence increased in Indiana Territory, Governor (and General) Harrison marched an army of about 1,000 men to disperse Native Americans gathered at Prophetstown.

Tecumseh was away recruiting allies. When Harrison arrived with his army, he asked for a meeting. The Prophet, suspecting the general’s true intentions, attacked November 7 at 4:00 a.m. The outnumbered attackers penetrated Harrison’s lines, but his soldiers stood their ground for more than two hours until the braves retreated, low on ammunition.

After the battle, the Indians abandoned Prophetstown. Harrison burned it to the ground, destroying the food supplies stored for the winter. Having accomplished his goal, Harrison proclaimed a decisive victory.

Public opinion blamed the violence on British interference in local affairs. As a result, the battle helped sway the country toward war in 1812. For the natives, the battle was the end of their dreams of a confederacy against white encroachment, and forced them to join forces with the British as the only defense to their way of life.

IMG_0774Tippecanoe’s battlefield monument, as it stands today, is shown above.

The Owen Connection

Col. Abram Owen is my fourth great uncle on my mother’s side. The Owen family has produced U.S. military members (including this author) since before the American Revolution.

ScanColonel Owen, a veteran of frontier struggles, died in the first few moments of the Tippecanoe Battle in a tragic mix up. The Prophet had informed his sharpshooters that General Harrison rode a white horse and directed all their efforts toward killing him. However, in the heat of battle, Harrison grabbed a dark-colored horse and Colonel Owen mounted a white one. The illustration above depicts that fateful moment. In it, Colonel Owen lies dead on the ground (Source: Indiana Public Library).

Owen’s unintentional sacrifice saved the life of a future president. In praise of Owen, General Harrison said, “… let me not forget the gallant dead. Col. Abram Owen, Commandant of the Eighteenth Kentucky Regiment, who joined me a few days before the action…accepted the appointment of volunteer aide-de-camp to me. He fell early in the action.” Harrison added, “The representatives of his state will inform you that she possessed not a better citizen, nor a braver man.”

Where are they now?

General William Henry Harrison

Harrison lived to become the oldest president ever elected at the time. However, he died of pneumonia a month after taking office. Tyler then assumed the presidency, setting a major precedent and ultimately the adoption of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution. Harrison is buried in North Bend, Miami Township, Ohio.

Colonel Abram Owen

IMG_0779Colonel Owen is buried where he died. His tombstone is visible in the lower right corner of the photo above. His name is also engraved on a plaque visible on the white monument to the left of the tree. Park rangers believe some of the park’s trees were living at his death in 1811. Two counties, one in Indiana and one in Kentucky, are named after Owen.


As a result of the battle, Tecumseh’s confederacy never fully recovered. This led to a further deterioration of relations between America and Britain and was a catalyst of the War of 1812, which began six months later. Tecumseh was killed by Americans in 1813 during the Battle of the Thames near present-day Chatham, Ontario. It is believed the chief’s mutilated remains were left on the battlefield.

Today, the U.S. Naval Academy has a Tecumseh Court which features a bust of Tamanend, an Indian chief who was known as a lover of peace and friendship. However, midshipmen prefer the warrior Tecumseh and refer to the statue by that name.

Tenskwatawa, The Prophet

Legend says that Tecumseh was so incensed at his brother’s ill-fated rush to battle, he swung The Prophet by the hair. The Prophet became an outcast, and moved to Canada during the War of 1812. He remained in exile until returning to the United States in 1824 to assist with the Shawnee removal to Kansas. He faded into obscurity and died in what is now known as Kansas City in 1836. His influence lives on in the form of a deadly curse.

The Curse of Tippecanoe

In revenge, The Prophet reportedly cursed all U.S. presidents elected during years with the same end number, zero, as Harrison.

The curse, first widely noted in 1931 by Ripley’s Believe it or Not! says that ever since Harrison became president (1840), every person elected to the office in 20-year intervals has died while serving as president. Harrison succumbed to pneumonia after just one month in office. Abraham Lincoln (1860) was assassinated, as were James A. Garfield (1880) and William McKinley (1900). Both Warren G. Harding (1920) and Franklin D. Roosevelt (1940) died of natural causes in office, while John F. Kennedy (1960) was assassinated. Ronald Reagan (1980) was the target of an assassin’s bullet, but survived.

Does the Prophet’s curse still hold? To paraphrase Yogi Berra, tough times ain’t over ‘til they’re over.

Honorable, Indeed

Animal Parts was bestowed an Honorable Mention in the 11th PSWA Conference in Las Vegas, NV, in July 2016!

There were a couple points taken off for Cougar having eaten a couple of spectators and a judge.

The thrilling mystery, Animal Parts by David E Knop, would’ve won First Place at the 11th annual PSWA Writers Conference but having a hungry 170lb mountain lion as your companion tends to complicate things.

Cougar asks that you read Animal Parts…and soon.

Buy now at Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com.



US Review of Books Praises Animal Parts

Animal Parts Book cover-6th final-cropped

A Review of Animal Parts by David E Knop by the illustrious US Review of Books

Animal Parts
by David E. Knop

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

“They dragged the blubbering man off and the door slammed. Silence. Dark silence. Romero knew he wasn’t dead. Death couldn’t hurt this much.”
When it comes to novels, it’s virtually impossible to think about the combination of crime, mystery, and Native Americans, and not think about Tony Hillerman. His Navajo Tribal Police stories gave readers a different way to view people who had frequently been marginalized and too often caricatured in books, films, and television. This author’s oeuvre is similar, yet distinctive in its own right. His third and latest installment of the life and times of Cochiti Pueblo Police Officer Peter Romero is addictively engaging, thoroughly entertaining, even occasionally educational when it comes to events in history and tribal migration seen from a different perspective.
The book opens compellingly with a cougar in the crosshairs of a high-powered rifle. The big cat had recently attacked a couple of hikers, and Romero had been paid to dispatch the animal. One shot kills the beast, but his death is not the end. Actually it’s only the beginning of an adventure filled with danger, brutality, and mysticism.
It seems that poachers are out and about and it’s Romero’s job to find and stop them. But as is generally the case in these sorts of tales, there’s more here than meets the eye. While some poaching is being done to feed hungry families affected by the sluggish economy in New Mexico, there’s also mounting evidence that much of it is being done to fuel the lucrative but highly illegal market in animal parts. Elk and more are being found with their brains and sexual organs removed—organs that will likely end up in very expensive and questionably effective aphrodisiacs. But then the poachers start to end up dead. Not just shot, stabbed, or choked, mind you, but totally eviscerated. One might even say eaten.
Of course Romero must intercede, but things are not going well for him. His wife has left him, and he wants her to return. Local officials have sanctioned him, and he wants them off his back. A thoroughly alluring FBI agent might be coming on to him, and he’s not at all sure he can marshal the reserves to resist. His neighbor is attacked by something that appears to be neither man nor animal, and to top it all off, the cougar he was sure he killed returns. Just when it looks like things couldn’t possibly get worse, they get horrific.
Knop starts his tale in high gear and never takes his foot off the accelerator. He maintains a blistering pace not only with tightly woven subplots that zip from one chapter to the next, but also with prose that is short, sharp, and finely tuned. His exposition is quick and clipped. His dialogue is realistically conversational and spot on when it comes to nailing the way people actually react. This is a confidently written tale by an excellent storyteller.
Not surprisingly, there is even a surprise ending, which will certainly not be revealed here. Some readers may well find it completely appropriate, while others might find it slightly maddening, but whichever camp you find yourself in, you’ll have had an exciting dash to the finish line through the pages of this first rate thriller.
Read the super review here:  US Review of Books-Animal Parts

Buy Animal Parts at Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com.

Please let us know what you think!

Native American Cannibals – Are They Still Out There?


American history is often considered lean on the topic of cannibalism. True, the University of Colorado’s Union Cafeteria is named after one, Alfred Packer (1842 – 1907) who ate, the story goes, two of the three Republicans in his county. A few of us may remember modern-day cannibals like the Stella Maris College Rugby Team (1972) or  Jeffrey Dahmer (1960 – 1994), but North American folklore is actually filled with stories of human flesh eaters.

In Southwestern Colorado, researchers have discovered the first clear evidence that Native Americans practiced cannibalism at a small Anasazi (ancient ones) settlement. Down south, early Spanish explorers took care to avoid the Karankawa of Southeast Texas who practiced ritual cannibalism. South of the U.S. border, Pre-Columbian Aztecs were notorious for eating their enemies. Upstate New York’s Mohawk were called man-eaters by their Algonquian enemies in colonial times.

As proof of their abhorrence of these eating habits, Algonquian-speaking people (Mohegan, Cree, Arapaho, Blackfoot and Cheyenne, to name only a few) of the U.S. and Canada tell tales of the dire consequences of eating human flesh: transformation into a hideous monster called the Windigo (sometimes spelled Wendigo).

The Windigo is described as a half-beast demon that possesses both human and monster characteristics. Descriptions of the beast vary, but generally it is said to be tall and lanky, have glowing eyes, long, yellowed fangs and extremely long tongues. Most have sallow skin sometimes matted with hair while some have scales. All Windigos are driven by an uncontrollable craving for human flesh.

How does a person become a Windigo? According to lore, one is created whenever a human resorts to cannibalism for survival. Once the initial crises of starvation ebbs, cannibals, no matter how repentant, become victims themselves and find their cravings for human flesh never ending. It is unclear what kind of transformation a person undergoes to become a monster or how much he remains a human, but one point is clear: they are possessed by a condition they cannot control, an illness without cure or relief except in death.

There are at least two Windigo-related cases on official record, both in Canada. One occurred in 1879 involving a Cree trapper named Swift Runner. The Northwest Mounted Police found evidence that he had killed and eaten his entire family. At trial, Swift Runner confessed and was hanged that summer.

The most famous Windigo-hunter was a Cree as well, named Jack Fiddler, who claimed to have killed at least 14 of the creatures. His last murder resulted in his imprisonment at the age of 87. In 1907, Fiddler and his son, Joseph, were indicted for the murder of a Cree woman. They both pleaded guilty to the crime with the defense that the monster had to be killed before she murdered members of the tribe. Fiddler committed suicide before trial. His son died in prison.

Some legends start for reasons lost to antiquity, but Windigo sightings are still reported. Some believe that these monsters are roaming the cold, dark wilderness of North America. Others would like to believe that legends are only that. The real question is: are Windigos phantoms of our past, or are they still out there?


Sources & Bibliography: http://drvitelli.typepad.com/providentia/, https://www.prairieghosts.com/abtauthor, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wendigo

People of the Pueblo de Cochiti

Peter Romero’s home and people are a proud tradition.

Please visit their site for more information: http://www.pueblodecochiti.org/

The Pueblo de Cochiti, (Cochiti), is located 55 miles north of Albuquerque, New Mexico and is contained within 53,779 acres of reservation land that sustains 1,175 Pueblo members according to the 1990 BIA census. Cochiti, the northernmost Keresan Pueblo in New Mexico, is located in Sandoval and Santa Fe Counties, approximately 13 miles northwest of Interstate 25 and 35 miles southwest of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The topographic elevation varies from 5300 to 6800 feet above mean sea level and is characterized by the Rio Grande, which flows through reservation lands.  The principal land use includes farming, livestock, recreational, economic development, and agricultural and Pueblo home/residential construction purposes.  The demographic breakdown includes: 880 acres for agricultural; 4,443 acres of lake areas and wild river Bosque/wetlands; 7,042 acres dedicated to economic development consisting of residential and commercial lease properties and a golf course; and 41,424 acres of rangeland, pinion/juniper woodlands and Pueblo and residential use lands.

The people of Cochiti continue to retain their native language of Keres.  They maintain their cultural practices and have instituted programs dedicated to teaching and educating the younger generation Pueblo traditions and cultural practices emphasizing the native language.  Cochiti is well known for their craftsmanship in making jewelry, pottery, (storyteller), and drums.

Water in the Rio Grande, flows through Pueblo lands and is intermittently stored behind Cochiti Dam, which at a maximum capacity stores 502,330 acre feet of water known as Cochiti Reservoir. Cochiti has recently developed a Farm Enterprise Plan, which included the restoration of large acreage’s of traditional farmland inundated by seepage caused by the storage of water behind Cochiti Dam.  The reclamation of these lands, in cooperation with the US Army Corps of Engineers, (COE), was completed in September of 1994.

The Santa Fe River which headwaters in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains east of Santa Fe NM flows downstream through Santa Fe NM, La Cienega, NM and finally into pueblo lands at the mouth of La Bajada Canyon.  The river flows through Pueblo lands and discharges into the Rio Grande several miles hence.

Historically, Cochiti has had no private employers or economic enterprises.  This was changed with the Pueblo’s acquisition of the Town of Cochiti Lake and the creation of Cochiti Community Development Corporation, (CCDC) in 1995.  The Town of Cochiti Lake was established under a 99-year lease agreement with private investors to establish residential housing units under a strict building code and relative covenants.  The property has been under the direct management of Cochiti since the early 1980’s and has been a primary revenue source for the community.

Of primary importance to the Pueblo de Cochiti are the land, air and water on and adjacent to the reservation, which is the lifeline of the Pueblo Traditions and Culture. The Pueblo is located in the heart of the traditional homeland and it would be impossible to retain peoples and culture if the environment is impacted to the point where the Cochiti decide the land is dangerous to utilize for habitat, farming, fishing, hunting, and maintaining Cultural Tradition.