What was Pontiac’s Rebellion?

Native American history is complex and fascinating. It is closely intertwined with the history of the United States as a whole and as such if you are to understand the origin of the United States you need to ensure that you understand the history of the Native American peoples. 

Therefore, if you need to know more about Native American people you need to understand pivotal moments in their history. 

So, if you don’t know much about Pontiac’s Rebellion then this article will tell you everything you need to know. 

In the future you won’t need to ask what Pontiac’s Rebellion was because you will know what it is!

What was Pontiac's Rebellion

So, What Was Pontiac’s Rebellion?

Let’s start by addressing the most important question first – what was Pontiac’s Rebellion? 

Pontiac’s Rebellion was a Native American uprising in 1763. It occurred in present day Michigan and Ohio. 

The rebellion was sparked by the French and Indian War, which had begun in 1754. Pontiac was a chief of the Ottawa tribe, who lived near Detroit. 

He was also known as Big Tree because he stood over six feet tall. Pontiac had served as an interpreter for General Jeffrey Amherst during the French and Indian Wars.

In 1763, Pontiac led an attack on Fort Detroit, killing several soldiers. He then attacked other forts along the Maumee River, including Fort Miami. After this, Pontiac went back to his home village at Michilimackinac.

In 1764, General Jeffrey Amherst arrived in Canada with new orders: “Drive all Indians out west of the Mississippi.” Amherst sent troops to destroy villages and kill everyone in them, including women and children.

Pontiac’s Rebellion lasted until 1766, but it left many scars on the United States. Many people blamed the French for starting the war, even though the British were responsible. They also blamed the Native Americans for losing the war.

After Pontiac’s Rebellion ended, the British tried to make peace with the Native Americans. However, most tribes refused to sign treaties with the British.

The British government wanted to control the land between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River. To do this, they needed to get rid of the Native Americans. 

The British wanted to build roads through the wilderness so that they could trade with the West Indies. They hoped that these roads would help them find gold and silver mines.

The British also wanted to establish military posts along the frontier. They thought that these posts would protect settlers from attacks by Native Americans.

The British wanted to settle the area around Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. They planned to use the lakes as ports to ship goods to Europe.

The conflict would eventually cause greater friction between the Native American people and the American colonists. 

Many Native Americans believed that the British had no right to steal their land. Some felt that the British should have negotiated with them instead of fighting. Others said that the British were only interested in taking more land.

Many Native Americans felt that the British were trying to force them into slavery. People like Pontiac and Tecumseh believed that the British intended to turn them into slaves.

Some Native Americans didn’t understand why the British wanted to take their land. They thought that the British were just greedy.

The British fought against the Native Americans because they saw them as enemies. They thought that the Native Americans were attacking white settlements.

The British lost the war because they couldn’t stop Pontiac and his followers from raiding white settlements.

Now that we’ve addressed what Pontiac’s rebellion was, let’s turn to what happened after Pontiac’s Rebellion ended in 1766. 

What Happened After Pontiac’s Rebellion? 

Despite the conclusion of the rebellion seeming to favor the British, it did not stop them from treating the Native American with suspicion and believing that they needed to protect themselves from the Native Americans attacking British settlements. 

For example, in 1768, the British army captured Chief Cornplanter. This meant that the Native Americans knew that the British weren’t going to let them keep their lands.

Therefore the British failed to convince other Native American leaders to join them. Because of this, the Native Americans continued to fight the British.

Although Pontiac’s rebellion ended in 1769, it left its mark on history. Many historians now call it the first major conflict between the United States and Canada.

Indeed, the Native Americans who lived along the Ohio River Valley were especially affected by Pontiac’s Rebellion with sanctions imposed on them and lack of rights. In fact, most of these tribes never recovered from the war.

Surprisingly however, during the subsequent American Revolution and the War of Independence, many Native Americans sided with the British. 

The Native Americans who fought alongside the British often called themselves “British allies.” However, they weren’t really loyal to the British. Instead, they wanted revenge against the American settlers.

The Native Americans therefore chose sides because they believed that the British were trying to take over their land. The Native Americans thought that if the British won, they would keep taking their land.

Some Native Americans also believed that the British wouldn’t treat them well. Other Native Americans didn’t care about politics. They just wanted peace.

Native American leaders tried to convince the Native Americans to fight for either side. But no one could make them change their minds. The Native Americans wanted freedom.

Final Thoughts

Pontiac’s Rebellion was a crucial moment in the relationship between the Native Americans and the European colonists. It was a moment in which the colonists began to become harsher towards the Native Americans and demonstrate that they would not willingly share land with them but rather they wanted the land for themselves. 

As such, from this moment onwards it became clear that the Native American tribes would have to do all they could to ensure their own survival – even if this meant fighting against what would eventually become the United States government. 

We should all know about and remember Pontiac’s Rebellion because it demonstrates to us all the harsh times that so many Native American people endured and also how complex their struggle for freedom has been.