Famous Native Americans



Pontiac was a member of the Ottawa tribe. The Ottawa Indians lived in the Great Lake area of North America.

In the winter the Ottawa Indians traveled north to the hunting grounds. They lived on the meat of the deer, beavers, bear, otters, raccoons, and other wild game that they trapped. In the late spring the Ottawa traveled south with the furs they had trapped during the winter. The Ottawa traded these furs with the Frenchmen at Fort Detroit for items such as steel knives and axes, brass kettles, cotton, and guns and gunpowder. During the summer the Ottawa lived in homes called longhouses. These homes were long and covered with bark. During the summer the Indians had gardens with corn, beans, peas, and pumpkins.

The Ottawa people thought Pontiac was a brave and strong warrior. When he grew older he became a chief. During this time the English and the French were at war with each other. The French were winning most of the battles. The Iroquois showed the English how to fight as the Indians did and soon the English began winning the battles.


In the summer of 1760 the French had surrendered most of their forts. They even gave up Fort Detroit to the English. Pontiac was upset by the Frenchmen The Frenchmen had been his friends.

The following spring Pontiac returned to Fort Detroit with furs to trade. The English gave him very little in exchange for his furs. Pontiac decided if war was to come that he would help the French. Pontiac traveled from tribe to tribe to tell the Indians that he planned to help the French if war was to come.

The Seneca Indians sent a wampum belt. The belt was a sign for war against the English. The beads on the wampum belt told of a surprise attack on the English in early July. When the English learned of the surprise attack they asked all the chiefs to a council meeting. The Englishmen promised that they would take no more of the Indians' land and that they would trade fairly. After the council meeting the Indians were treated no differently.

The Frenchmen met secretly with the Indians by dressing up like the Indians and coming into their camps. Pontiac called all the chiefs together to tell them he planned to fight the English. He wanted each chief to attack the nearest fort to their village.

In Paris in February of 1763 the English and the French signed a peace treaty. Pontiac did not know about the peace treaty. On May 2, 1763 Pontiac led 300 men in an attack on Fort Detroit. The Englishmen knew of Pontiac's plan. The Englishmen were ready for a fight. Pontiac decided not to attack.

The next day Pontiac came to the fort with a peace pipe and his warriors for another surprise attack. The Englishmen would only let a few chiefs in the fort causing Pontiac's plan to fall. Pontiac decided to surround the fort and force the Englishmen to surrender. Pontiac still did not know about the peace treaty that had been signed in Paris. He expected the Frenchmen to come and help him fight the English.

In late July, 22 English boats came with supplies for the Englishmen in the fort. The Indians could not stop the boats because they had cannons. Many Indians gave up the fight after the English boats came.

In October Pontiac learned about the peace treaty that had been signed in Paris between the English and the French. That winter Pontiac and his family traveled from tribe to tribe to tell the Indians to drive out the English. In August of 1765 Pontiac and 30 other chiefs signed a peace treaty with the Englishmen at Fort Detroit.

Pontiac was killed by an Indian in St. Louis while he was trying to trade his furs.