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Chief Pontiac

Chief Pontiac (1720 - April 20, 1769) was a great leader of the Ottawa Indian tribe. He organized his and other tribes in the Great Lakes area to fight the British, in what is known as Pontiac's War (1763-1764).

Chief and Leader of Many Tribes
Pontiac became chief of the Ottawa Indians in 1755. He soon became the head of the Council of Three Tribes, an intertribal group consisting of the Ottawa, Potawatomi, and Ojibwa people. The French traders and the Indian tribes had coexisted well, trading furs for supplies like food, guns, ammunition, and tobacco. In 1760, the British had just defeated the French and taken over their forts. Sir Jeffrey Amherst, Major Robert Rogers and British/colonial troops occupied Fort Detroit, and the British took possession of other forts around the Great Lakes region. Some of the British, including Amherst, were contemptuous of the Indians, limiting trade and angering the tribes.

Attacking the British
In 1762, Pontiac enlisted all of the local tribes to drive out the British. The English called this action "Pontiac's Conspiracy." Pontiac's strategy was to have each of the 18 local Indian tribes attack the fort nearest to them in May 1763, and then to eliminate the British settlements. Pontiac planned to begin the rebellion by taking Fort Detroit.

Attacking Detroit and the Other Forts
Pontiac planned to conquer Fort Detroit (what is now Detroit, Michigan) on May 7, 1762, but his plan was betrayed, and the British found out about it. He therefore did not attack as planned. Pontiac did lay siege to Detroit, encircling the fort with warriors, blocking supplies and reinforcements. On July 31, Pontiac won the Battle of Bloody Run, but reinforcements eventually did come to Detroit, and Pontiac retreated. The tribes captured eight of the 12 forts that they attacked, and the settlements were left in ruins.

Surrender
By 1764 the French no longer supported the Indian efforts and actually sided with the British, and the British re-took many of the areas. Pontiac agreed to a peace treaty in July 1766 at Fort de Chartres, Illinois. He was murdered by a Peoria Indian three years later. To avenge Pontiac's death, the Ottawa Indians killed many Peoria Indians.

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