The 250th anniversary of what has long been known as “Pontiac’s War” offers scholars an opportunity to reexamine the conflict and its impact on the history of North America. The role of the Odowa leader Pontiac and the widespread scope and the varying aims of other Native participants in the conflicts of the mid-1760s defy easy categorization, a problem well summed up by historian Francis Jennings’s phrase, “The War Called ‘Pontiac’s.’” Many contemporary British observers and combatants sought some conceptual clarity by casting the blame on French-inspired treachery. Many Native people located the treachery among the British. In the mid-nineteenth-century, Francis Parkman constructed an epic tale of a single charismatic Indian leader and the last gasp of a doomed people. More recent work offers a much more complex interpretation of an inter-Native movement grounded in Native spirituality and aiming to regain status as well as land for its Native participants in the new geopolitical world after the Seven Years War.
Accordingly, this conference, sponsored by the McNeil Center for Early American Studies with co-sponsorship from the Penn Center for Native American Studies and cooperation from the Arthur Ross Gallery, offers reexaminations of the War Called “Pontiac’s” from a variety of disciplinary and geographical perspectives. To foster the widest possible dialogue, papers will be pre-circulated to those in attendance and, in most cases, will not be read at the conference sessions. Instead, for each panel a senior scholar will comment on the papers and outline themes that will provide a springboard for general discussion among those in attendance.
The conference is free and open to the public, but preregistration is required for on-line access to the pre-circulated papers.
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