chapter  1
Pontiac and Neolin
Pages 8

In the spring of 1763, Native Americans from Wisconsin to New York stormed the garrisons and frontier villages of the British North American empire. They came from at least eight tribes, and from two dramatically different language groups. Their attacks were neither spontaneous nor coordinated by a grand strategy, but they were quick, in many cases effective, in some cases, devastating. The assaults began at Detroit, Michigan, in early May, and then spread with news and rumor of Indian victories to the eastern slopes of the Allegheny Mountains and the western reaches of the Great Lakes. British officers, taken by surprise and thrown into confusion, confronted what appeared to be a general Indian uprising. The multitribal warriors were not followers of any single leader or pair of leaders, but two men, Pontiac and Neolin, may be taken as exemplars of the warriors' militancy, a religiously spirited challenge to the world's most powerful empire. Pontiac, an Ottawa warrior, led the Indians' seige of British Fort Detroit. Neolin, a Lenape religious leader in what is now eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania, led no warriors, but his teachings inspired Pontiac and others to defy Great Britain.