Chief Pontiac

The Indian chief is a strong, brave and great leader

Chief Pontiac was born sometime between 1712 and 1725, in an Indian village near the Detroit River. Very little is known about his early life except that he was a member of the Ottawa tribe, which was a Native American tribe residing in what is now Southern Ontario and Michigan. The Ottawa lived in wigwams, farmed, traded, and were well-known for their birchbark canoes, beadwork, and basketry. The name Ottawa means "traders."

Pontiac was a great and courageous warrior who fought against the British encroachment of Native American lands. He allied with the French in the French and Indian War, and other military actions. The British were victorious in this war and imposed harsh policies against the Ottawa and other tribes, cheating them in trade and depriving them of the weapons and ammunition they needed for hunting.

Chief Pontiac united many of the local tribes, urging them to attack British forts and take back their lands in an action known as Pontiac's Rebellion. Pontiac was influenced by a prophet named Neolin, who urged the tribes to reject British ways and return to their traditional way of life. The plan was scheduled to take place in May of 1763, and 60 other chiefs were involved. Pontiac led the attack on Fort Detroit, but was not victorious, and the British remained in control. Chief Pontiac was murdered by a Peoria Indian on April 20, 1769.Tradition reports that he was buried in St. Louis, Missouri.

Robert Rogers, a British soldier, wrote a play, called Ponteach: or the Savages of America. This play immortalized the Chief and led to his widespread fame. There are cities in six different states named after this courageous leader, including the city of Pontiac, Michigan. The popular Pontiac automobiles, made by General Motors, also bear his name.

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