Long before the creation of the car that bears the same name, Pontiac was the name that English settlers in North America gave to an Ottawa chief who fought against colonial advancement. His real name was Obwandiyag, and he led warriors from 18 First Nations in one of the most successful resistance efforts in North American history.
Obwandiyag led unifying efforts among Indigenous populations across the American Midwest to fight against colonial advancement by British and French forces. The resistance he cemented through an alliance of tribes from the Great Lakes down the Mississippi River in an effort to expel British oppression became know at Pontiac’s War (1763–1764).
Despite heightened tensions between British and Native forces, Obwandiyag negotiated a peace treaty with the British in 1766. He was a dynamic and sometimes controversial leader, which made him a target for enemies. In 1769, he was assassinated by stabbing in Peoria, Illinois and buried in St. Louis, Missouri.
Today, a plaque marks the final resting place of this important tribal leader, but it often goes unnoticed as it is fixed to the side of Stadium East parking garage in Downtown St. Louis, not far from Cardinals Stadium and the Gateway Arch.