The maples, oaks and birch were in full red, orange and yellow making a distinct contrast to the deep greens of the 80 feet tall white pines that rose in magnificent groves all through the northern woods. It seemed to the three travelers that this would be a nice place to explore further once the threat of war was gone. They were camped for the night near La Grand Traverse just a few days from Michilimackinac. For the most part they followed a native hunting trail that veered a few miles inland from Lake Michigan through stands of white pine and open meadows. Deer was in abundance as was pheasant and wild turkey and they came upon a herd of elk that had been spooked by a group of Ojibway hunters. ‘Tis a fine place for sure,’ voiced Mulhern, ‘I can see why them that are already here wanna keep other folks out.’ ‘Those Ojibway didn’t seem too pleased to find us in their hunting ground, ‘replied Liam, ‘though once their chief silenced them they became almost too friendly.’ ‘Aye, but I am grateful for that elk haunch they left with us,’ said Mulhern, ‘wouldn’t you agree there, momma bear?’ Wahta could only grin and nod his head, the drippings from the large morsel of elk he had just stuck in his mouth running down his chin and chest.
Monthly Archives: November 2014
This finely illustrated depiction of The Siege at Mallory Town gives you the sense of the chaos, the blood, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat at this small but pivotal battle for the frontier during Pontiac’s Rebellion in 1762. A brief snippet for your enlightenment and entertainment:
Pierre raised his musket to ward off the blow from Machk’s war club but he was struck above the right temple as the club slid down the barrel of the musket and crumpled to the ground. Machk’s cry of victory was cut short by the sound of the volley from the ambushers. He turned to see his warriors being massacred, his rage now out of control. He lifted his tomahawk and was bending to grab Pierre to scalp him when two musket balls hit him, one in the leg from the musket of William Crane but it was the second one that killed him as Liza, from the window in the main building, hit him square in the back of his head; the ball, bone and brain matter exploding out of the front of his head and onto the still unconscious form of Pierre. The remaining five assailants having lost their leader ran back to their canoe and pushed off into the Allegheny.
The Muse spake thus this morning :
Pontiac awoke the next morning to the sound of waves breaking along the shore. A brisk wind from the northwest promised to bring rain as it whipped the previously placid surface of the lake into four foot breakers. He followed the trail down the dune and plunged into the lake, the water refreshing him and helping to ease the aches from the ballgame of yesterday. He stood in the water as the waves broke upon him remembering the thundering roar of the people, his people after his talk last night. On the beach, Eluwilussit, the hoary, white haired Ottawa holy one watched his chief and spoke, ‘Just as these waves strike and fall away from you so shall the British disappear as droplets of water into the air.’ Pontiac shook the water from his hair as he walked to his spiritual advisor. ‘Manitou will bring us great victories but it is up to us to bring it about,’ he said, taking Eluwilussit by the shoulders, ‘come old friend, let us begin.’
La Grand Traverse – summer 1760
Nearing forty years of age, the Ottawa war chief Pontiac, was on the verge of accomplishing something he had been dreaming of since he was a young boy living on the banks of the Detroit River. His father had been an Ojibway warrior but his mother was an Ottawa so he was raised with his mother’s people. He learned early on that their reliance on the French was essential to the well-being not only of the Ottawa people but of the other tribes in the region as well. Another even more important learning experience came to him as an Ottawa war chief fighting alongside Ojibway, Potawatomi and Shawnee in the battle that defeated the British General Braddock at Fort Duquesne. He felt then the first surge of glory that came with leading a war band of differing tribes to a stunning victory over a vastly superior force. By banding together, he was convinced, was the way to defeat and drive the British from their land. By banding together under a strong leader was the way to ensure victory and he was convinced he was the one needed to be that leader. A meeting of many of the tribes was taking place near La Grand Traverse, the great bay reaching inland from Lake Michigan. It was a place of spiritual power, a place blessed by Manitou. It was here that Pontiac would convince the Ojibway, Potawatomi, Huron, Miami, Delaware, Seneca and many other tribes that the time was coming to throw off the oppression of the British; that the time was now to accept his leadership; that the time was now to begin the preparations.
He sat on top of the large sand dune that stretched for miles along the shore of the lake and watched the sun sink into the watery horizon. He was tired and not a little sore from the multi-tribe game of baaga`adowe, a game of stickball that his people had been playing for centuries. It had started at dawn and just concluded a short while ago when Pontiac scored the deciding points by striking the top of the goal post with the hide covered ball after carrying the ball from one end of the field to the other, the young men of his tribe, the ones who formed the war chief’s bodyguard shouldered or otherwise knocked his opponents out of his way. Pontiac himself was bringing down the last of the defenders with a sly spinning move using his hip and elbow to clear the way to the goal. As a gesture of goodwill Pontiac, after scoring the goal, went back and helped up the bloody nosed Piankashaw chief who in return lifted Pontiac’s arms in a victory salute. The on looking crowd cheered for what seemed like hours after watching the final play and the ending token of peace. Pontiac knew then that he had created the mood for success.