Dominance Of The Ohio Valley Region

4070 words - 16 pages

Dominance of the Ohio Valley Region

The Ohio Valley Region was known as the American frontier during the time period from 1760 to 1813. The white expansion into the Ohio Valley Region brought about the decline and the eventual dissolution of the Native American way of life. The struggles of the French and English in the north and the westward push of American settlers in the south were met with unified pro-nativist resistance. The individual struggles of three men characterize the turmoil between whites and Native Americans. Pontiac’s war against the English, Tecumseh’s organization of a unified Indian Confederation, and Daniel Boone’s leadership in the western migration into Kentucky demonstrate the fight for control in the Ohio Valley Region.

Pontiac, a heroic warrior who united previously feuding tribes in an unprecedented resistance to the men who would change their way of life and the face of their land forever, left a legacy of courage and honor. A member of the Ottawa Indian tribe, Pontiac refused to accept English control and settlement of the Great Lakes region without a fight, even after his French allies made peace with England (Rogers, 1).

The French first met the Great Lakes Ottawa in 1615, finding them armed with bows, arrows, and war clubs. The fiercely painted and tattooed Native Americans wore furs and had pierced noses and ears. Members of the Algonquin language family, the Ottawa, along with the Chippewa and Potowatomi, formed the Council of Three Tribes (Eckert, 29). The Ottawa were known to other Algonquin tribes as intertribal traders. The name Ottawa in the Algonquin language means, "to trade." In 1740, there were approximately 2,000 Ottawa, 200 Huron, and 100 Potowatomi in the areas around Detroit(Parkman, 42).

The tribes who inhabited the area saw little threat from the ensuing forts, which were seen as a sort of lease arrangement, built on Indian tolerance on Indian land for the convenience of all. In turn, the French protected the Indians and supplied them with guns, gunpowder, ammunition for hunting, and with provisions during harsh winters (Hough, xii). This European influence had radically changed the lives of the Great Lakes tribes. By the time of Pontiac’s boyhood, the stone and bone tools of his people had been replaced by steel axes, knives, and traps (Hough, viii).

In the 1740s, commercial competition between France and Great Britain had intensified, and war broke out in 1744. Ottawa warriors fought on the side of the French, as they did in all four major wars from 1689-1763 (Eckert, 127).

British forces under British Commander-in-chief Sir Jeffrey Amherst swept through the Great Lakes region, seizing control of most of the French forts by 1760. Amherst was well known to be arrogant and contemptuous of the Indians. He insisted that the good behavior of the natives should be bought with fear.

Under British occupation, unrest grew among the tribes (Hough,xii0). Pontiac called a meeting...

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