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HOME   -   PEOPLE IN HISTORY A-Z   -   PONTIAC

 
   


Pontiac Ottawa Chief 1720-1769

 

Pontiac 1720-1769

Pontiac's original name was Obwandiyag. For some reason Pontiac rolled better off a white's tongue.

Pontiac is also spelled Pontiak, Pondiak, Pondiac, Pontdiag, Ponteack, Ponteach, or Pontiague.

Image Above

Portrait of Pontiac by John Mix Stanley

Detroit Historical Museum


Pontiac was a chief of the Ottawa. Moreover, he united the tribes, inspired, and led them against the British in what became known as
Pontiac's Rebellion.

Although Pontiac did not succeed in expelling the British from the Great Lakes region, he stands out in history for attempting the endeavor.

Furthermore, he succeeded in uniting the tribes to fight as one, which in itself is a mighty accomplishment. In 1762 and 1763, several attempts by Indians to rally their fellow tribes were made, but none of them took off.


 

Pontiac's Appearance and Character

Pontiac is described as a respected, admired, and highly intelligent leader.

However, the descriptions vary from  "proud, vindictive, warlike, and very easily offended" to having "great strength of judgment and a thirst after knowledge."

The first is a quote from the Journal of Pontiacís conspiracy (probably by Robert Navarre), and the latter a 1765 quote from Major Robert Rogers.

Deputy Indian agent George Croghan had the following to say,

Pontiac is a shrewd, sensible Indian, of few words, and commands more respect among his own nation than any Indian I ever saw, could do among his own tribe.


Here you can read the quote in its context.


One thing is for sure, Pontiac did not pussy-foot around. He was a war chief and behaved as such.


Pontiac's Family

The tribal affiliations of Pontiac's parents are not known. The 19th century sources contradict each other.

 

Pontiac's Brief Biography

Around 1720 - Birth on the Maumee River (today Ohio). Exact place of birth not known.

1763 - 1766 - Pontiac's Rebellion

1766 - 1769 - Expelled by his village, Pontiac becomes a lone hunter and trader.

April 20, 1769 - Death at Cahokia, Illinois. Pontiac is stabbed and killed by a Peoria Indian.


See also the much more detailed
Timeline of Pontiac's Rebellion.

 

 

 

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