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Pontiac's uprising

After the Seven Years' War, Native Americans continued the battle by seizing forts in the Great Lakes region. 


  • Pontiac was a leader of the Odawa tribe located in the area of modern-day Ontario, Canada, and the Great Lakes region.
  • He led a rebellion against the British colonists after they expanded their military presence in the Great Lakes area during and after the French and Indian War.
  • Pontiac’s uprising demonstrated the viability of pantribal cooperation in the struggle against European-American territorial expansionism and contributed to the deterioration of relations between Great Britain and its North American colonies.

The Seven Years' War

The Seven Years' War, also called the French and Indian War, which broke out in 1754 and lasted until 1763, was an imperial war between Britain and France over control of the Ohio territory. The French and British rushed into the region to build forts and establish a military presence in order to solidify their colonial claims on the area. A young George Washington, at only 21 years of age, was sent on behalf of the Virginia colony to build a fort at the forks of the Ohio river in what is modern-day Pittsburgh. When Washington and his small force of Virginians and Native American allies attacked a French reconnaissance party, the French counterattacked and drove them out of their fort and back into Virginia. The skirmish led to an outright declaration of hostilities.1
The war pitted the British colonists and their Native American allies against the French colonists and their Native American allies. Though the French gained the advantage in the early years of the war, the British ultimately triumphed, and in the Treaty of Paris, signed in 1763, France surrendered nearly all of its claims to North American territory. The Native American tribes of the region rejected the notion that France had the authority to cede their lands to the British.
Moreover, the Seven Years' War heightened tensions between the British and its North American colonies; once the French were removed from the region, a variety of other issues arose, including disagreements over westward expansion, taxation, and relations with the native tribes.2

Pontiac’s uprising

At the end of the French and Indian War, France abandoned its outpost at Fort Detroit, in what is present-day Michigan. The British took control of Fort Detroit and imposed a number of changes that dissatisfied the various Native American tribes that inhabited the Great Lakes region and had allied with France.
For instance, whereas the French had respected Native American traditions and had traded freely with the tribes, the British did not seem to care about maintaining good relations with the Native Americans and restricted their ability to trade. The Native Americans had grown accustomed to hunting with weapons and ammunition supplied by the French, but when the British took control of the area, they refused to provide arms to the Native Americans, which had a negative effect on their ability to hunt. British attitudes and actions provoked the distrust and hostility of the tribes in the area, many of which banded together to resist the further encroachment of the British onto their lands.3
Frederick Remington, depiction of the siege of Fort Detroit, late 19th century. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
In May 1763, Pontiac, a leader of the Odawa tribe, led a force of 300 members of different tribes in an attack on Fort Detroit, attempting to wrest it from the British. The British commander of the fort learned of Pontiac’s plan, however, and successfully defended against the siege. Although the British managed to hold onto Fort Detroit and put an end to Pontiac’s siege, Native American resistance spread, and soon Pontiac had tripled his force. Moreover, other Native American tribes launched attacks on British settlements and military outposts, managing to capture eight of the 11 British forts in the Ohio Valley.4
John Mix Stanley, artist's impression of how Pontiac may have looked, mid-1800s. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
On July 25, 1766, Pontiac and the British Superintendent of Indian Affairs negotiated an end to the war. Though the Native Americans were unable to kick the British out of the Great Lakes region, the uprising demonstrated the viability of pantribal cooperation in the struggle against European-American colonialism. The British government issued the Royal Proclamation of 1763, drawing a boundary line in the Appalachian mountains and forbidding colonists from settling the lands west of the line, which were designated Indian territory.
The British hoped to neutralize conflict between white settlers and Native Americans, but they ended up provoking the wrath of the colonists, who cited the Proclamation of 1763 as one of the grievances leading to the American Revolutionary War.5

What do you think?

Why do you think the outcome of the French and Indian War was significant?
How did the British differ from the French in their relations with Native American tribes?
Do you sympathize with Pontiac? Was he a hero or a villain?
In your opinion, what was the most consequential result of Pontiac’s uprising?

Want to join the conversation?

  • blobby green style avatar for user Hannah
    what's the meaning of 'pantribal'? I can't find it in the dictionary.
    (9 votes)
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  • mr pink orange style avatar for user Trọng Công
    why do people call Indian as the Native Americans?
    What is difference between that one and Indian who are from India which is a nation in Asia?
    (12 votes)
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    • boggle blue style avatar for user Davin V Jones
      During early exploration and settlement of the western hemisphere by Europeans, the Caribbean islands were commonly known as the West Indies, as opposed to the East Indies of southeast Asia. As such, the indigenous people were labeled as Indians. To date, some prefer to be known as Native Americans while others prefer the term American Indians.
      (25 votes)
  • duskpin tree style avatar for user aalzghoul
    So, the Proclamation of 1763 started The Revolutionary war?
    (11 votes)
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    • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user Ginny  Page
      I don't think it did since the Revolutionary War started in 1775. The proclamation did increase tensions between Europe and the American colonies though. Actually, it says in the last paragraph that the proclamation was 'one of the grievances leading to the American Revolutionary War.'
      (24 votes)
  • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user Gloaming_Hour
    In the previous video, The Seven Years' War: battles and legacy, Kim says Geaorge Washington was 22 years old when he first went to fight the French, but the article is saying that he was 21. A small thing, but just wanted to point it out. Does anyone know whether he was 21 or 22 then?
    (12 votes)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user David Alexander
      The system of dates (the calendar) used in the British empire when Washington was born was changed during his lifetime. It messed up a LOT of dates in the 18th Century. Look here:https://www.britannica.com/science/calendar/The-Gregorian-calendar
      and find this paragraph a little more than half way through.
      In Britain and the British dominions, the change was made when the difference between the New and Old Style calendars amounted to 11 days: the lag was covered by naming the day after September 2, 1752, as September 14, 1752. There was widespread misunderstanding among the public, however, even though legislation authorizing the change had been framed to avoid injustice and financial hardship.
      (16 votes)
  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user audreybelote
    How did the British commander of the fort know Pontiac's plan?
    (13 votes)
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    • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Hecretary Bird
      Henry Gladwin, the British Commander, never disclosed who told him of Pontiac's plan, to our knowledge. There have been a couple theories as to how Gladwin knew of the plan over the years, including one scenario in which a Native American woman smitten with Gladwin told him of the plan.
      (11 votes)
  • male robot hal style avatar for user Zev Oster
    How did Pontiac had enough ammunition to besiege Detroit? I'd imagine it would be difficult to convince his constituents to stop using guns for hunting when the war was about reopening access to gun and ammunition merchants.
    (11 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Carlton Brice
    It’s interesting that apparently the Native Americans had grown dependent or at least gotten used to using Western weapons and couldn’t or wouldn’t hunt as effectively without them. They had hunted effectively without horses, let alone guns. It seems as though they weren’t technically sophisticated enough to backward engineer guns to manufacture their own. Not developing their own writing system (oral culture), not having invented the wheel, and not having developed ironworking (no iron plow; no draft animals(?)), might have put them at a disadvantage when Spaniards arrived. BTW, Pontiac was assassinated, probably by another Native American. Good warrior, but seemed to have poor tact.
    (8 votes)
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    • male robot hal style avatar for user Zev Oster
      It's called the luxury trap. When anything is first invented (or in this case introduced), it usually really expensive because optimizations and methods for it's mass production haven't yet been designed. When it cheapens, the wider market now learns that this neat new thing is affordable, and buy one to see what all this fuss is about. If it's really useful, it will spread like wildfire by word-of-mouth and other free advertising. After a while they start incorporating into their vital systems, and it's so much better they replace some or most of the previous tools with it, until one day, far too late, people realize they can't, either psychologically or literally, live without it. This happened with clothing, metal tools, housing, government, guns(!), vacuum cleaners, smartphones, AI (I know people whose productivity would go down tenfold without chatGPT), and much, much more.
      (13 votes)
  • primosaur sapling style avatar for user KennyZ189
    How did Britain’s status as a world power change after the Seven Years’ War?
    (13 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user drhodes975
    is this apart of of a car brand very curious?
    (8 votes)
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  • primosaur tree style avatar for user mafo20367
    Why didn't the English take the guns from the natives if they were not willing to give them more?
    (6 votes)
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