Pontiac. An Ottawa chief, born about 1720, probably on Maumee
river, Ohio, about the mouth of the Auglaize. Though his paternity is not
positively established, it is most likely that his father was an Ottawa
chief and his mother a Chippewa woman. J. Wimer (Events in Ind. Hist.,
155, 1842) says that as early as 1746 he commanded the Indians, mostly
Ottawa, who defended Detroit against the attack of the northern tribes. It
is supposed he led the Ottawa and Chippewa warriors at Braddock's defeat.
He first appears prominently in history at his meeting
with Maj. Robert Rogers, in 1760, at the place where Cleveland, Ohio, now
stands. This officer bad been dispatched to take possession of Detroit on
behalf of the British. Pontiac objected to the further invasion of the
territory, but, learning that the French had been defeated in Canada,
consented to the surrender of Detroit to the British, and was the means of
preventing an attack on the latter by a body of Indians at the mouth of
the strait. That which gives him most prominence in history and forms the
chief episode of his life is the plan he devised for a general uprising of
the Indians and the destruction of the forts and settlements of the
He was for a time disposed to be on terms of friendship
with the British and consented to acknowledge King George, but only as an
"uncle," not as a superior. Failing to receive the recognition he
considered his due as a great sovereign, and being deceived by the rumor
that the French were preparing for the reconquest of their American
possessions, he resolved to put his scheme into operation. Having brought
to his aid most of the tribes north west of the Ohio, his plan was to make
a sudden attack on all the British posts on the lakes at once, at St
Joseph, Ouiatenon, Michilimackinac, and Detroit, as well as on the Miami
and Sandusky, and also attack the forts at Niagara, Presque Isle, Le Boeuf,
Venango, and Pitt (Du Quesne). The taking of Detroit was to he his special
task. The end of May 1763 was the appointed time when each tribe was to
attack the nearest fort and, after killing the garrison, to fall on the
adjacent settlements. It was not long before the posts at Sandusky, St
Joseph, Miami (Ft Wayne), Ouiatenon, Michilimackinac, Presque Isle, Le
Boeuf, and Venango were taken and the garrison in most cases massacred;
but the main points, Detroit and Ft Pitt, were successfully defended and
the Indians forced to raise the siege. This was a severe blow to Pontiac,
but his hopes were finally crushed by the receipt of a letter from M.
Neyon, commander of Ft. Chartrea advising him to
desist from further warfare, as peace had been concluded between France
and Great Britain. However, unwilling to abandon entirely his hope of
driving back the British, he made an attempt to incite the tribes along
the Mississippi to join in another effort.
Being unsuccessful in this attempt, lie finally
made peace at Detroit, Aug. 17, 1765. In 1769 he attended a drinking
carousal at Cahokia, Ill., where he was murdered by a Kaskaskia Indian.
Pontiac, if not fully the equal of Tecumseh, stands closely second to him
in strength of mind and breadth of comprehension.
Consult Parkman, Conspiracy of Pontiac; Randall, Pontiac's
Conspiracy, in Ohio Archaeol. and Hist. Quar., Oct. 1903; Hough, Diary of
the Siege of Detroit in the War with Pontiac, 1860.
Negwagon. A chief of the Ottawa of the Michilimackinac region of Michigan,
commonly known as Little Wing, or Wing, and also called Ningweegon. Although
the United State had declined the proffer
of Indian services in the war with Great Britain in 1812, Negwagon espoused the
American cause and lost a son in battle, whereupon he adopted Austin E. Wing.
When the British took possession of Michilmackinac, Negwagon retired with his
people to their hunting grounds, hoisting the American flag over his camp.
Happening to be alone, he was visited by British soldiers, who ordered
strike his flag. Obeying the command, he wound the emblem around his arm, and
drawing his tomahawk, said to the officer, "Englishman, Negwagon is the
friend of the Americans. He has but one flag and one heart; if you take one
you shall take the other!" Then sounding a war cry he assembled his warriors
and was allowed to remain in peace and to hoist the flag, again. After the
close of the war he annually visited Detroit with his family in two large birchbark canoes with an American flag flying front the stern of each. Lewis
Cass, then stationed at Detroit, never failed to reward him on the occasion of
these visits with two new flags. By treaty of Mar. 28, 1836, he was granted an annuity of
$100, payable in money or goods. Negwagon is described as
having been very large in stature. A county of Michigan was named in his honor,
but the name was subsequently changed. (Consult Wis. Hist. Soc. Coll.,
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of American Indians, 1906
Index of Tribes or Nations
Index of Tribes or Nations