Pontiac (person)

Pontiac, or Obwandiyag, (c. 1720 – April 20, 1769) was an Ottawa war chief who became noted for his role in Pontiac's War (1763–1766), an American Indian struggle against British military occupation of the Great Lakes region and named for him. It followed the British victory in the French and Indian War, the North American front of the Seven Years' War. Pontiac's importance in the war that bears his name has been debated. Nineteenth-century accounts portrayed him as the mastermind and leader of the revolt, but some subsequent scholars argued that his role had been exaggerated. Historians today generally view him as an important local leader who influenced a wider movement that he did not command.

The war began in May 1763 when Pontiac and 300 followers attempted to take Fort Detroit by surprise. His plan foiled, Pontiac laid siege to the fort, where he was eventually joined by more than 900 warriors from a half-dozen tribes. Meanwhile, messengers spread the word of Pontiac's actions, and the war expanded far beyond Detroit. In July 1763, Pontiac defeated a British detachment at the Battle of Bloody Run, but he was unable to capture the fort. In October he lifted the siege and withdrew to the Illinois Country.

Although Pontiac's influence had declined around Detroit because of the unsuccessful siege, he gained stature as he continued to encourage resistance to the British. Seeking to end the war, British officials made Pontiac the focus of their diplomatic efforts. In July 1766, Pontiac made peace with British Superintendent of Indian Affairs Sir William Johnson. The attention that the British paid to Pontiac resulted in resentment among other Native leaders, as the war effort was decentralized and Pontiac claimed greater authority than he possessed. Increasingly ostracized, in 1769 he was assassinated by a Peoria warrior.

Full article...

American History USA Articles


American History

Military History

Previous: Stono Rebellion
Next: Minutemen

The Colonial Period (1513-1775)

American Indian History

Spread the Word