Image of a Shawnee painted by David Wright
What has become known as the French and Indian War (1754-1760) ended with the French defeat in Quebec. The English expected the Shawnee, Miami, Kickapoo, Sauk, Potawatomie, Fox, Chippewa, Illinois, Ottawa, and Delaware, who had all allied with the French to meekly accept the presence of English settlers and traders.
In 1762, an eloquent chief and brilliant military strategist rose to power among the indigenous of the Northwest (what is now Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana). He organized a confederacy of eighteen tribes that seized every British post in the Northwest Territory, except Forts Pitt and Detroit. But even at Fort Detroit they managed to hold a siege for eight months—the longest in American history.
Chief Pontiac and his Confederacy won from the British the famous Crown Proclamation of October, 1763. The Proclamation set an official line of demarcation running the length of the crest of the Appalachian Mountains, separating colonial from indigenous land. The Proclamation even demanded those colonists who had gone across the mountains to remove themselves.
Britain had its own reasons for such an agreement. The Crown wanted to stop the native rebellions but also wanted to limit the expansion of the colonies in order to keep them more dependent on the mother country. Land speculators, including George Washington, Patrick Henry, and Benjamin Franklin, had already purchased millions of acres in what was “Indian Territory.”
Chronicles of American Indian Protest, 41-44
Tecumseh and the War of 1812
Siege of Fort Detroit
Both Britain and the United States attempted to gain the indigenous as allies during the War of 1812.
At the beginning the war went well. Tecumseh rallied tribal unity and his military skill helped to force Fort Detroit to surrender with hardly a fight. More tribes began to join the fight on the side of the British. The Potawatomie captured Fort Dearborn, and the Miami laid siege to Fort Wayne. Tecumseh even convinced the great Creek nation in the South to join.
A change of British command brought in men who were cowards and hated Indians. Tecumseh was finally killed in battle, protecting the fleeing British troops. Those at the battle recalled seeing him being hit several times, with blood pouring from his mouth and covering his body; yet he was still yelling like a “tiger,” urging his braves on.
Chronicles of American Indian Protest, 77-81