This article evaluates the role of indigenous Catholicism in the so-called Pontiac's War (1763–66), revealing that Catholic Indian communities at points recently occupied by the British refrained from hostilities. The argument supplements, but does not supplant, evaluations of indigenous Catholicism and Catholic kinship networks that bound eighteenth-century trading communities across the Great Lakes region. Those networks—strong, widespread, and highly important—were also thin: their spiritual practices and faith commitments did not in the 1760s deeply penetrate most Great Lakes Indian communities. The St. Joseph Potawatomis, who would form communities in the nineteenth century that would accurately be known as the “Catholic Potawatomis,” raise an interesting case, for at the outbreak of Pontiac's War they quickly attacked the local British garrison, and they periodically raided British Detroit even after the war had ended elsewhere. This article evaluates their legendary eighteenth-century Catholicism, finding little evidence for the existence of a Catholic Potawatomi community in the St. Joseph River Valley in the 1760s. Far from an exception to the rule of indigenous Catholic opposition to attacks on local British garrisons, they validate it.
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Gregory Evans Dowd; Indigenous Catholicism and St. Joseph Potawatomi Resistance in “Pontiac's War,” 1763–1766. Ethnohistory 1 January 2016; 63 (1): 143–166. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00141801-3325454
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