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(born c. 1720, on the Maumee River in present-day Ohio, U.S.died April 20, 1769, near the Mississippi River at present-day Cahokia, Ill.) Ottawa Indian chief. At first friendly with whites, Pontiac realized that his people would lose their ancestral lands in the Great Lakes area if white encroachment were not stopped. With a series of actions that came to be known as Pontiac's War (1763–64), he coordinated the attack on 12 fortified British posts by a confederacy of tribes, winning a great victory. He himself led the attack on the fort at Detroit, in what is now Michigan, U.S. Continuing British action took its toll, however, and in 1766 Pontiac finally agreed to a peace treaty. His murder in 1769 by an Illinois Indian provoked the vengeance of several northern Algonquian tribes, resulting in the virtual destruction of the Illinois.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Pontiac, visit Britannica.com.