Monday, March 12, 2012

Chief Pontiac

Pontiac or Obwandiyag (c. 1720 – April 20, 1769), was an Ottawa leader who became famous for his role in Pontiac's Rebellion (1763–1766), an American Indian struggle against the British military occupation of the Great Lakes region following the British victory in the French and Indian War. Historians disagree about Pontiac's importance in the war that bears his name. Nineteenth century accounts portrayed him as the mastermind and leader of the revolt, while some subsequent interpretations have depicted him as a local leader with limited overall influence.

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, and 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 in the Illinois and Wabash country 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 which the British paid to Pontiac created resentment among other Indian leaders, particularly because Pontiac claimed far greater authority than he actually possessed. Increasingly ostracized, in 1769 he was assassinated by a Peoria Indian.

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