"Drive off your land those dogs clothed in red who will do you nothing but harm." (Pontiac, Chief of the Ottawa nation)
27 April 1763: Today, 250 years ago, Chief Pontiac addressed an assembly of envoys from Algonquin tribes near Detroit, proposing a surprise attack on Fort Detroit, occupied by the British since three years.
|Robert Griffing: "Council at Slippery Rock Creek"|
Hostilities in North America during the Seven Years' War and the Treaty of Paris brought large territories under British dominon. Their attitude towards the local tribes differed fundamentally from that of the French. Besides being former French allies, the Algonquin were now confronted with the usual treatment of a conquered people. The meeting near Detroit Chief Pontiac had initiated was the last step of two years planning of an uprising against the British, the failed surprise attack and following siege of Fort Detroit a week later the beginning of the conflict that became later known as "Pontiac's War".
|Joshua Reynold's portrait of Lord Amherst (1765)|
The next three years saw heavy clashes in the region of the Eastern Great Lakes and Western Pennsylvania and Virginia that took on a genocidal scale - from all sides, including the distribution of pox-infested blankets among the hostile tribes by the British commander Lord Amherst, probably the first historical example of biological warfare. The war ended in 1766 with a military stalemate, but was a turning point insofar as it proved that native resistance, whoever hard it might be, could not stop white settlers pushing westward into the American continent. British colonial regulations tried to keep native and colonists apart, but were largely ignored, forcing the government to keep more troops in the colonies, a decision that was to be financed by higher taxes from the white colonial subjects - who just had experienced the limits of local military power during the war with Pontiac and preferred to arm and organise themselves. 10 years later they started their own rebellion against the British.
The picture above, called "Council at Slippery Rock Creek" by Robert Griffing shows a group of Hurons during pow-wow. More of Griffing's art can be found on:
and more on Pontiac's War: