Thursday, May 9, 2013

May 9 - Pontiac's War

Pontiac's War remains the most successful First Nations resistance to the European invasion in our history. Though it failed to oust the British from native lands, the conflict forced a recognition of native rights that has had far-reaching consequences to this day.
In late July of 1766, a great council was convened at Fort Ontario (Oswego). A weary superintendent of Indian Affairs William Johnson had called together the chiefs of the Great Lakes nations in order to find an end to the war.

A loose coalition of tribes in the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley area had captured 9 frontier forts, killed around 2500 "whites", and laid siege to Forts Detroit and Duquesne for months.

Many chiefs played their parts in the ensuing conflict, but the greatest among them was the Ottawa chief Obwandiyah, known to the English as "Pontiac".

He was an imposing figure, tall, strong, and heavily tattooed, as was the custom of the Ottawa. He was courageous, commanding respect far beyond his own people. Pontiac believed "if you allow the English among you, you are dead. Maladies, smallpox, and their poison will destroy you totally."

By the spring of 1763, Pontiac was contemplating war. With the support of the neighbouring Potawatomis and Hurons, he planned to capture Fort Detroit, but a spy revealed his intentions. On May 9th of 1763, he and his men began a series of raids against the English forts. Historians have called the conflict that followed a "conspiracy", "treason", or an "uprising". For the First Nations, especially for Pontiac, it was a war of liberation.

The war lasted for months, until Pontiac's alliance slowly began to disintegrate. On July 6, the Potawatomis dissociated themselves from him, and Také's Hurons followed suit. Despite a final appeal by Pontiac, most of his Ojibwa and Ottawa followers deserted him in October for their winter hunting grounds.

Peace was concluded at Fort Ontario in July of 1766. On July 25, Pontiac declared to William Johnson, "I speak in the name of all the Nations to the westward whom I command, it is the will of the Great Spirit that we should meet here today and before him and all present I take you by the hand and never will part with it." His acceptance of peace set his former allies against him, gaining him banishment from his own village. His own life was later taken at the hand of a Peoria in Cahokia, considered by many historians to be a bitter irony.

Today is also National Moscato Day, Occupational Safety and Health Professionals Day, and School Nurse Day!

Here are some interesting things that happened on this day in history:

- Reported witch burnings took place the courtyard of the Atrecht episcopal place in 1460.
- Colonel Thomas Blood attempted to steal the Crown Jewels in 1671.
- Five men arrested during a raid on Mother Clap's "molly house" in London were executed at Tyburn in 1726.
- British inventor Joseph Bramah patented the beer-pump handle in 1785.
- Judge Matthew Begbie, famous for bringing British law to a rough BC frontier, was born at the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa in 1819.
- At Batoche, the Métis effectively resisted General Middleton's forces for 3 in 1885 days until drawn out of their rifle pits by a concerted attack.

- The steam locomotive City of Truro became the first steam engine to exceed 100mph in 1904.
- Hank Snow, influential pioneer of country and western Music, was born in Brooklyn, Nova Scotia in 1914.
- A laser beam was successfully bounced off the Moon for the 1st time in 1962.
- 100 000 demonstrators converged on Washington, DC to protest the Kent State shootings, and the Nixon administration's incursion into Cambodia in 1970. It was a near spontaneous response to the events of the previous week.
- The Supreme Court of Canada declared that federal Cabinet decisions would be subject to judicial control under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1985.

- The final episode of the "Golden Girls" aired on NBC-TV in 1992.
- Twenty-six miners were killed at Plymouth, Nova Scotia in 1992, when a blast triggered by the ignition of stray methane led to a chain reaction of lethal methane and coal-dust explosions.

- Judge David Nevins of the Ontario Supreme Court struck down an Ontario law preventing homosexual couples from adopting children in 1995.
- Dorothy Joudrie was acquitted of charges of the attempted murder of her estranged husband, Calgary businessman Earl Joudrie in 1996. The jury found that she was suffering from a mental disorder.
- 127 football fans died in Ghana in 2001, in what would become known as the Accra Sports Stadium Disaster. The deaths were caused by a stampede (caused by the firing of teargas by police personnel at the stadium) that followed a controversial decision by the referee handling a crucial match between arch-rivals Accra Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko.

"I Am My Brother's Keeper" - Memorial in Honour of the 127 Lives Lost

- United States President, Barack Obama, officially stated his support for same sex marriage in 2012.

Stay tuned for our next, "On This Day in History"!

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