During the early 1760s, Neolin, a spiritual leader of the Delaware Indians, gained favor among many native societies in the Ohio Country. Dismayed by the Indians' reliance on English and French manufactured goods, Neolin called for the natives to adopt more traditional Indian practices. Rather than using the musket to hunt and fight, Neolin encouraged his followers to use the traditional bow and arrow instead. He also demanded that his followers forsake alcohol. By turning their backs on their native customs, he said, Keesh-she-la-mil-lang-up, the Master of Life, would not allow them to enter heaven. Indians must return to their traditional ways if they hoped to receive the Master of Life's blessing and to succeed against the English settlers traveling into the Ohio Country at the end of the French and Indian War.
Many scholars believe that Neolin's message greatly influenced Pontiac, a leader of the Ottawa Indians. Pontiac agreed with Neolin that native tribes needed to end their reliance on Europeans and unite together against English settlers. But he refused to give up muskets. Pontiac believed that there was little hope for the Indians if they returned to more traditional means of fighting. In February 1765, Neolin urged his fellow Native Americans to end an uprising that later came to be called Pontiac's Rebellion. According to Neolin, the Master of Life had ordered the Indians to lay down their arms.
In the early 1800s, Tenskwatawa, the Shawnee Prophet, spread a message similar to Neolin's across the Ohio country once again.
- Barrett, Carole, Harvey Markowitz, and R. Kent Rasmussen, eds. American Indian Biographies. Pasadena, CA: Salem Press, 2005.
- Hurt, R. Douglas. The Ohio Frontier: Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996.