One State-Many Nations

Western Reserve Public Media




  • Algonquian


  • There is some controversy about when the Ottawa entered Ohio. Some believe around 1650. Others think around 1741.

  • Traditionally were traders so both dates were possible.

  • Were very influential between 1615 and 1763 because of fur trading with the French.

  • During the Revolutionary War, the Ottawa sided with the British.

  • In the War of 1812, the Ottawa joined Tecumseh.

Family Life

  • Settled in and around present day Toledo, in Putnam County, Erie County and Paulding County. There are records they lived on the Cuyahoga River and the Maumee River

  • Dressed as other tribes except men had seam down the center of their leggings instead of on the side. Men also wore skin turbans.

  • Women wore a cloth blouse, a wraparound skirt, and knee-high, short-length leggings.

  • Ceremonial clothes were highly decorated with ribbon work, bead work and trade silver.

Famous Chief — Pontiac

  • Pontiac led the Ottawa in an attack south of the French Fort Duquesne (present Pittsburgh) and killed Braddock in 1775, the year he became chief.

  • Pontiac feared the British would flood into Ohio so he formed a confederacy of Native nations to oppose the British.

  • In 1763 Pontiac addressed the Native nations and they responded. Pontiac’s confederacy captured eight of the twelve British forts and a ninth was abandoned.

  • Fort Pitt (now Pittsburgh), which was still in British hands, was struck with smallpox. In 1763 Captain Ecuyer, commander of the fort, gave smallpox blankets to the Indians surrounding the fort causing an epidemic that spread to the nations as far away as the southeast.

  • By the end of 1763, most of the allies of Pontiac had signed treaties with the British.

  • Pontiac did not sign a treaty until 1765 that promised he would never fight the British again.

  • Pontiac was tomahawked from behind while visiting a friend in St. Louis in 1769.

  • With the death of Pontiac the influence of the Ottawa people in Ohio was ended.


  • In 1817, the Ottawa signed the Treaty of Fort Meigs which began the land cessions after the war.

  • By 1831 two bands of Ottawa had moved to Kansas.

  • By 1833 the remaining Ottawa were removed to the Indian Territory of Oklahoma.
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