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The Life of Pontiac of Ottawa

Pontiac is a chief of the Ottawa tribe of North American Indians. He was famous for inciting the Pontiacís Rebellion in 1763. It was a rebellion participated by several North American Indian tribes against the British government and settlers in the Great Lakes region, in which the state of Ohio Ė http://www.bestohiofsbo.com Ė is located. The rebellion followed closely after the British victory over the French in the French and Indian War waged from 1764-1763.

Pontiac was a politically powerful Indian leader, a fact that led to his murder a few years after the Pontiacís Rebellion was ended through a dialogue with the British officials.

Early Life

Nobody knows any concrete information regarding the early years of this Indian chief. There have been no records of the actual year of his birth, and historians theorize that he may have been born between 1712 to 1725. No one even knows to which tribes his mother and father may have belonged, although his contemporaries point to him as belonging to the Ottawa tribe.

Tradition, however, holds that Pontiac was born to an Ottawa father and an Ojibwa mother. Yet another tradition points to a mother of Miami tribal affiliation.

Pontiac was first recorded in history during the rebellion led by Nicholas Orontony in 1747 against the French settlers of New France. Pontiac fought for the French, something he would continue to do until 1763, when the French were defeated by the British in the French and Indian war.

A Prelude to the Rebellion

The British victory resulted in Britainís dominance over the Great Lakes region. In contrast with the French policy of assimilating the North American Indian tribes living in the area, the British proceeded to subjugate the Indians. The new policies that Britain imposed over the conquered Indians led to dissatisfaction over the tribes, which ultimately led to the rebellion.

It was the policy imposed by General Jeffrey Amherst, the British commander-in-chief of the North American theater, in 1761 that stopped or reduced the amounts of gifts that the British provided the Indians. It was an important policy that led to alliances with the French and a symbolic American Indian custom, so the policy led several American Indian tribes of the region to consider it as an insult towards them.

Amherst also reduced the trade quota of ammunition and gunpowder towards Indian customers. Amherst wanted to prevent another rebellion after the Cherokee rebelled the same year, believing that the Indians might not rise up against the British if they had insufficient gunpowder available. The Indians, however, thought that the British were preparing to wage upon them by cutting off their gunpowder supplies.

Fort Detroit: The Outbreak of the War

American Indians in the New France area were gearing up for war by 1761, when the Ohio County Seneca tribes distributed war belts among the tribes as a sign of war. However, a quick council organized by Sir William averted the war for about 2 years.

Pontiac surprised the British on May 9, 1763 by laying siege to Fort Detroit, with a force of composed of warriors from the Ottawa, Ojibwa, Potawatomi and Huron tribes. The attack was well-planned. Pontiac and 50 Ottawa Indians paid a visit to the fort with the intention of finding out how strong the garrisonís defenses are.

The siege was bloody. All British forces that ventured out of the garrison were killed by Pontiacís forces, which by then were augmented by more than 900 warriors from other tribes. The British attempted a surprise attack, but were routed and defeated at the Battle of Bloody Run on July 31, 1763.

Despite a good start, Pontiacís siege of Fort Detroit was a stalemate which led him to remove his forces to the Maumee River.

Other Indian attacks were more successful, as a total of eight British forts were taken. Five small forts were captured during the period from May 16, 1763 until June 2, 1763. Pontiacís failure to capture Fort Detroit may have been the reason for his influence to lessen among his followers, although he continued to inspire militant resistance among the tribes.

Making Peace With the British and Final Days

The British considered Pontiac as a troublemaker, a fact which prompted a negotiation with Sir Johnson as negotiator. Pontiac formally ended hostilities with the British on July 25, 1766 in Oswego, New York after a time of negotiations.

Pontiac decided to assert influence over the American Indians in his region. It is said that the way the British government gave him attention had given the courage to do so. Because of that, he was met with several opponents among his fellow American Indians. Pontiac was kicked out of his Ottawa village in the Maumee River, which led him to return to Illinois Country.

Pontiac was murdered by a Peoria Indian on April 20, 1769. There are no concrete reasons for the murder, but the widely accepted theory was that it was done in retaliation for previous actions by Pontiac against the Peorians.

Nevertheless, Pontiac is well-remembered in American history. A city in Michigan bears his name, as well as a city in both Illinois and Quebec. Although several historians do not count Pontiac as an overall mastermind and leader of the rebellion, they all acknowledge that it was Pontiacís ambition and daring that gave him more prominence during the war compared to other Indian tribe leaders.

Submitted by:

Attila Jancsina

Attila Z Jancsina is a freelance copy writer. He occasionally writes for Ohio Real Estate FSBO. Website offers Free FSBO advertisement.




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