The French and Indian War (1754–1763) was simply the North American theater of the long outstanding conflicts between England and France that flared periodically throughout history. In this case, the North American conflict sparked what eventually became the Seven Years War, which would engulf all the European powers.
The French and Indian War stemmed from competing English and French claims to territory along the Ohio River Valley, the Appalachian Mountains region, and the area around modern-day Pittsburgh. The first battles were fought in the spring of 1754 by Virginia colonists led by George Washington, who demanded that the French vacate their settlements in the contested territory. When the French refused, Washington attacked. He won an initial skirmish but eventually had to abandon the fort he built and leave the territory after facing the main French army.
Over the next two years, the sides clashed periodically without officially declaring war against one another until the British finally did so in 1756. The Indians, feeling the squeeze from both English and French colonists, mostly sided with the French due, in part, to French leader Marquis de Vaudreuil-Cavagnal's willingness to work with the native peoples and learn their language and customs.