The French and Indian War is the name given to the North American campaigns of the Seven Years’ War fought between 1754 and 1763. A precursor to the world wars of the 20th century, the Seven Years’ War was fought across the world between the British Empire and the Bourbon dynasties of France and Spain. Further elements of the war came from Prussia and the Habsburg Empire, which led to fighting in Europe, North America, Africa, India and the Philippines. The French and Indian War was primarily between France and Britain, but involved alliances of 12 Native American tribes. The war devastated French colonial hopes in North America, while Britain’s attempt to ask American settlers to contribute towards war costs led to the American Revolutionary War.
The Algonquin and Shawnee
The Algonquin linguistic and cultural group gave three Indian tribes to the war: the Algonquin, the Abenaki and the Shawnee. The Abenaki tribe lived in New England, Quebec and the Maritimes. They became allied with France as they migrated north into Acadia/New France because of British settlement in New England. The Algonquin were driven from their New England lands by the Iroquois and were allied to France during the war. However, after the war they became British allies and then fought against the American revolutionaries. The Shawnee lived further west around Ohio and Kentucky, but are now settled in Oklahoma. The Shawnee fought alongside France until 1758 when they signed the Treaty of Easton with Britain.
The Lenape tribe came from between the Delaware and Hudson rivers. After contact with the Dutch they were slowly forced towards the Ohio River due to European settlement, Iroquoian expansion and conflicts with their Susquehannock enemies. Lenape sided with the French at first, but some leaders tried to build bridges with the British. After the war, the settlers continued to push the Lenape westward, and the tribe sided with the American revolutionaries during the revolutionary war.
The Mi’kmaq, more commonly known as the Micmac, came from northeastern New England and Canada’s Maritime Provinces. They were friendly with the French before the French loss of Acadia in 1710 (renamed Nova Scotia) and had been fighting British settlers for many years before the French and Indian War. At this time the Mi’kmaq formed part of the Wabenaki Confederacy with the Abenaki tribe. While many private Mi’kmaq joined the continental army, the Mi’kmaq nation stayed out of the war and found peace in Nova Scotia and later Newfoundland.
The Ojibwa and Ottawa
The Ottawa (also called Odawa) and Ojibwa tribes were related, but distinct from one another. The Ojibwa were originally from the Great Lakes area, but later moved to the prairie states. The Ottawa were from the Lake Huron and Bruce Peninsular area (Ontario/Michigan). Like the Lenape and Algonquin tribes, the Ojibwa were principle enemies of the Iroquois nation. They both fought on the side of France during the French and Indian War but later sided with Britain against America. The Ottawa fought during the revolutionary war and the Ojibwa in the war of 1812.
The Iroquois tribes proved to be the most complicated of the Indian tribes involved in the French and Indian War. Based mostly around New York State, the Iroquois Confederacy gained from colonial settlement and treaties as other tribes were pushed out. While few pro-British Iroquois fought in the war, the related Wyandot and Mohawk tribes did fight for the French.
The Catawba tribes were a Siouan people who lived in the Carolinas, but fought with many other tribes over the Ohio valley. The Catawba were forced into peace with the Iroquois in 1727 by the colonial government and again in 1744. The Catawba fought on the side of the British in the French and Indian War, but sided with the colonists during the revolutionary war later in the century. Both armies made use of their talents as scouts.
The Cherokee were historically from the Carolinas, Georgia and East Tennessee. While culturally distinct, they were part of the Iroquois linguistic family. The Cherokee initially fought alongside the British against the French. However, communication problems and cultural differences led to the Anglo-Cherokee War in 1760. In 1763 the British government tried to prevent colonists from encroaching into Cherokee land, but failed.
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