Pontiac plans Massacre!

07 May
No authentic images of Chief Pontiac are known...

No authentic images of Chief Pontiac are known to exist. Dowd (2002), p. 6 This artistic interpretation was painted by John Mix Stanley. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Sitting Bull was dangerous, as recounted in yesterday’s story, but an Indian Chief who did far more real damage was Pontiac in 1768.  Before his uprising was brought under control, more than 2,000 British, including women and children, had been killed.

Many Indians in what is now western Ontario did not like Britain’s taking Canada from France.  When the red-coated soldiers occupied the French forts at Detroit and Michilimackinac, between Lakes Huron and Michigan, they were led to believe that the King of France would soon drive them out again.

Pontiac was chief of the Ottawas who lived near Detroit.  At a secret meeting he vowed to drive the British “off the face of the earth.”  Fortunately, Major Gladwyn, who was in charge of the fort at Detroit, was told of Pontiac’s boast.

Pontiac, professing undying friendship for the British, asked for a peace conference.  He and 300 followers arrived at Detroit on May 7, 1763, and were received in the fort.  Pontiac’s followers included a number of women who concealed weapons under their blankets.

The custom was that in a conference of this kind, the Indian chief would offer the white leader a belt of wampum.  Pontiac had arranged that when he stood up to offer the belt, the Indians would grab their concealed weapons and begin the massacre.

However, Gladwyn was ready for the masquerade.  He pretended to go along with the peace conference, but took obvious precautions to deal with any trouble that might occur.  When Pontiac looked around he saw that an uprising would have had no chance to succeed.  He gave no signal.

The conference proceeded as though it were genuine, and the Indians left with promises of goodwill and other friendly meetings in the future.  Soon after they were out of the fort they surrounded it and kept it under siege for more than a year until British reinforcements arrived.  This was only one of a number of manoeuvres organized by the wily Pontiac.

If you think Pontiac is interesting and want to learn more, I have a few sites to suggest.  For instance, a good place to look would be Galafilm‘s Chiefs, Government of Michigan‘s Department of Natural Resources, American’s, and I also suggest visiting Loon Lake Elementary School.  You might also want to read American Indians will meet to honor Chief Pontiac (


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29 responses to “Pontiac plans Massacre!

  1. Maurice A. Barry

    May 8, 2013 at 6:39 am

    Interesting to hear the story from Pontiac’s perspective. No doubt it involved disputed lands that the English settlers had recently moved onto.

    • Maurice A. Barry

      May 8, 2013 at 6:40 am

      Yup–just followed the links and that’s what it looks like.

  2. sheridegrom - From the literary and legislative trenches.

    May 8, 2013 at 2:48 am

    A wealth off information. Thank you.

    • tkmorin

      May 8, 2013 at 7:21 am

      I’m happy you enjoyed it! 🙂

  3. seeker

    May 7, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    Oh dear, I am beginning to change my mind about Indians. All along I thought they were fighting because how cruel the invaders (non-Indians) were. Thanks, TK.

    • tkmorin

      May 8, 2013 at 7:24 am

      Well, we also treated them badly …

  4. cindybruchman

    May 7, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    Your blog is always interesting to read. Thanks!

    • tkmorin

      May 7, 2013 at 9:19 pm

      Oh, I’m glad you enjoy the posts! Thank you! I always appreciate the encouragement … 🙂

  5. prayingforoneday

    May 7, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    Please accept this award and its meaning and award 10 people.
    10 People you feel or look to as your family you won’t meet..
    More love, Less Hate

    • tkmorin

      May 7, 2013 at 6:10 pm

      Ooh, great minds think alike! 😉

      • Cotton Boll Conspiracy

        May 7, 2013 at 10:35 pm

        Or in this case, this blogger recognized an worthy topic when he saw one.

        I wasn’t real familiar with Pontiac before I read your post and researched mine, but I did wonder after I finished how much the people at General Motors knew about the Ottawa chief when they began using the name for one of their models in the 1920s. Probably not a whole lot, I’m guessing.

        • tkmorin

          May 8, 2013 at 7:19 am

          There’s always so much going on, even even when telling a story. There are inter-crossing stories and viewpoints … Fantastic!! I’m glad it intrigued you! 🙂

  6. Professor VJ Duke

    May 7, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    I love these history lessons! Thanks, man!

    • tkmorin

      May 7, 2013 at 6:07 pm

      You’re welcome, dude! I’m glad you like it! 🙂

    • tkmorin

      May 8, 2013 at 7:52 am

      Heehee. I love getting someone interested and then letting go; then I sit back and watch (read). 🙂

  7. L. Marie

    May 7, 2013 at 10:35 am

    Wow. An interesting battle strategy!

    • tkmorin

      May 8, 2013 at 7:48 am

      Isn’t though? There’s a sci-fi writer I love who does something like “space military” books, and often when I read such stories, I think, “maybe I should tell I’m about this …” Heehee 🙂

  8. centristcanuck

    May 7, 2013 at 9:36 am

    Well they didn’t like the British because French treated them better. Also, when the French and the British settlers were fighting, it was good for them. Both sides needed them but after Britain winning, their “value’ dropped.

    • Shelli@howsitgoingeh?

      May 7, 2013 at 11:38 am

      I always wondered why in Canadian history some of the tribes sided with the French over the English.

      • tkmorin

        May 7, 2013 at 6:06 pm

        Does it make sense now, or do you need more info? 🙂

        • Shelli@howsitgoingeh?

          May 8, 2013 at 12:05 am

          If you’re offering, I’m always up for more info! 🙂

          • tkmorin

            May 8, 2013 at 7:20 am

            Okay …. I’m accepting the challenge! Stay tuned! 🙂

      • centristcanuck

        May 7, 2013 at 9:13 pm

        Yeah, learned that in university during my sophomore year Canadian history class.. tkmorin runs a very informative blog and I hope more people find our history fascinating,

    • tkmorin

      May 8, 2013 at 7:46 am

      Yes, we’ll said! 🙂


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