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.