Pontiac (Obwandiyag)

After printing 500 more fliers to hand out to people and distribute along the way the blazing sun and baking carbon monoxide fumes in Cuyahoga Falls forced a reckoning. By all means – get out of West Vale Mall – but how? Which route? Akron to the south, Cleveland to the north – a little road called Bath Road looked inviting heading west on the southern edge of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
I stopped for rest at a farm that looked inviting and found this amazing statue – 12 feet tall and carved by a local artist in memory of Chief Pontiac and the Ottawa Nation, indigenous people who once lived in the area.
Pontiac is known to history as a war chief who inspired a rebellion against the British rule in the Great Lakes region following their defeat of the French in 1760.
The French, in general, had been more generous trading partners. Under the command of Lord Jeffrey Amherst, the British cut back on Native supplies and particularly on arms and gunpowder, which had come to be relied upon for hunting.
Many tribes began calling for resistance to British power – Pontiac was credited perhaps unfairly for planning widespread war – but he did lead by example by laying siege to Fort Detroit and defeating a British rescue party. He sent emissaries to other tribes, but by then the war was widespread and decentralized in its commission. At one pint Native forces controlled all but two of the British forts in the southern Great Lakes / Ohio region. They forced the British to treat with them on more equal terms in the ensuing peace. Yet now, where are the Ottawa?
Pontiac was assassinated they say by a Peoria Indian in revenge for a relative he had harmed. His burial site is unknown. It was just by chance I came this way.
There are extensive community gardens here now, with many people working together in the early dusk of summer to grow good and to visit with one another near where the Ottawa village once stood. The 19th century farmstead that preceded the community gardens was donated to the town of Cuyahoga Falls for a park; the barn faithfully restored. It was built from native lumber.


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