A comet appeared in March 1811. The Shawnee leader Tecumseh, whose name meant "shooting star", traveled to Tuckabatchee, where he told the Muscogee that the comet signaled his coming. McKenney reported that Tecumseh would prove that the Great Spirit had sent him by giving the Muscogee [Creek] a sign. Shortly after Tecumseh left the Southeast, the sign arrived as promised in the form of an earthquake.
On December 16, 1811, the New Madrid earthquake shook the Muscogee lands and the Midwest. While the interpretation of this event varied from tribe to tribe, one consensus was universally accepted: the powerful earthquake had to have meant something. The earthquake and its aftershocks helped the Tecumseh resistance movement by convincing, not only the Muscogee, but other Native American tribes as well, that the Shawnee must be supported.
|“||The Indians were filled with great terror ... the trees and wigwams shook exceedingly; the ice which skirted the margin of the Arkansas river was broken into pieces; and most of the Indians thought that the Great Spirit, angry with the human race, was about to destroy the world.||”|
|— - Roger L. Nichols, The American Indian|
The Muscogee who joined Tecumseh's confederation were known as the Red Sticks. Stories of the origin of the Red Stick name varies, but one is that they were named for the Muscogee tradition of carrying a bundle of sticks that mark the days until an event occurs. Sticks painted red symbolize war.