During the early 1760s, Neolin, a spiritual leader of the Lenape (Delaware), gained favor among many American Indian peoples in the Ohio Country. Dismayed by American Indians' gradual reliance on British and French manufactured goods, Neolin called for the region's American Indians to revive more traditional cultural, social and technological 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 traditional customs, he said, Keesh-she-la-mil-lang-up, the Master of Life, would not allow them to enter heaven. American 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. Pontiac agreed with Neolin that American Indian peoples needed to end their reliance on Europeans and unite together against British settlers. But he refused to give up muskets. Pontiac believed that there was little hope for the American Indians in defending their already encroached-upon lands if they returned to more traditional means of fighting. In February 1765, Neolin urged his fellow American Indians to end an uprising that later came to be called Pontiac's Rebellion. According to Neolin, the Master of Life had ordered the American Indians to lay down their arms.
In the early 1800s, Tenskwatawa, the Shawnee also known as "the Prophet", spread a message of traditional revivalism 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.