Jessica Sink, Columnist

The presidential election of 2012 is quickly approaching. Like every election, there is excitement, but also trepidation. Whether the winner is the incumbent or a new candidate, the challenges they will face are numerous in the 21st century.

Throughout history, there have been incredible individuals who faced overwhelming odds to achieve success. These leaders are portrayed in history books as exceptional men and women who defied convention to create a better world. One of these leaders is the legendary American Indian Tecumseh.

“Sell a country! Why not sell the air, the great sea, as well as the earth? Did not the Great Spirit make them all for the use of his children?” With these words, spoken over 200 years ago, the legendary American Indian leader Tecumseh challenged the supposed right of white settlers to sequester lands occupied for thousands of years by their Indian ancestors. Tecumseh, the great Shawnee Chief, led, fought and ultimately gave his life in a fight for freedom. Less than 40 years after the founding fathers conducted their own fight for freedom, Tecumseh’s stand was equally profound.

Leadership appears to have run in the veins of the legendary chief. Tecumseh strove to protect the rights of all Native Americans and to unite them against impending threats. A brave warrior, he was known for his ability to organize and strategize in times of need, evident in the Battle of Detroit in 1812. Tecumseh was a distinguished leader, resisting imposition on his homeland and working for the security of his people. He represented hope and strength in times of fear and uncertainty. There was no possibility, in 1813, the year of Tecumseh’s death, that an American Indian, despite his immeasurable leadership qualities, would have ever been considered for President of the United States. Despite his outstanding persona, race dominated over character. But, in a hypothetical sense, could Tecumseh be elected today?

The noble qualities Tecumseh possessed are eagerly sought in candidates for the United States presidency. No one could contest the great strength, confidence and wisdom of this man. In many ways, his fight was not so different from the challenges we face today, with impartiality an ever-present challenge. Never has there been an opportunity for equality like that in the present age, with the election process more open than ever. Regardless of political persuasion, notions of race or gender precluding an individual from high office continue to be shattered.

Indeed, a leader like Tecumseh could be elected today. Our vision, cleared by the lessons of time, shows an image of strength and character, not race. America continues to evolve and carve its name in history. That evolution has revealed that in order to be grand, America must embrace its great leaders, regardless of their race or gender. Tecumseh would agree that men should be defined not by the color of their skin, but by the character found beneath it.

In the approaching election, America needs a leader like Tecumseh, with strength, wisdom and confidence to guide the country in the right direction. As the United States faces uncertain times and great obstacles, all we can hope for is that we will have a leader to depend on who will make the best choices possible for this nation. Only then will American continue to be great.