I am from Pontiac MI, originally. Pontiac is associated with the car and Chief Pontiac in my town. My friend says that the origin of Pontiac is a lake...I say that Chief Pontiac had the name first. Who's right...and also where did the name actually originate is what I really want to know.
Lord Glenelg
The chief is almost certainly the origin of the name. There's no question that the city was named for him and it's most likely the lake was too (or even the lake name coming from the city's).

Chief Pontiac was born in what is now Ohio on the Maumee River. That's a fair distance from the lake, so why would his parents name him after the lake (assuming that the lake was named that at the time)?

Pontiac was chief of the Ottawas. The Ottawas spoke a language belonging to the Algonquin language group. I believe pdLow would like to know if "pontiac" has some descriptive meaning in that language in addition to its use as a proper name. Can anyone find an Algonquin-English dictionary on-line?
Lewis Joplin II
I looked through several general American Indian books and came up zero on the meaning of his name. I cruised a few sites online but they were mostly encyclopedia articles.

Thank you to everyone who helped me out on the meaning of the word Pontiac. I did some research myself and came up with the same meaning...Thanks TO Everyone!
I'll dredge this up again. According to Virgil Vogel's 1986 "Indian Place Names in Michigan," the lake was named for the village which was named for the chief (as was written above.) There's disagreement on the meaning of the guy's name. "... bon or bwon means 'stopping,' and obwon means 'his stopping' or 'stopping it' or 'stopping him.' The meaning of diac or diag remains unexplained. Another source (Kelton) derived Pontiac from banitiyak, 'a stick planted in the ground to anchor (stop) a canoe.' Finally, Father Gagnieur gave the chief's name as Bwandiag, saying that bwan, appellation given to the Sioux, referred to a spit for roasting or boiling."
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