Little Bits of History

Black Hawk Down

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 3, 2015
Black Hawk

Black Hawk

October 3, 1838: Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak dies. His father, Pyesa, was the tribal medicine man for the Sauk people, an Algonquian language group of Native Americans who lived along the St. Lawrence River. They were driven out of their original territories by the Iroquois League and headed to modern day Michigan and settled around Saginaw Bay. They were neighbors with the Ojibwe and Ottawa people who called them Ozaagii which the French called Sac and the English called Sauk. Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak was born in 1767 and his name translates to “be a large black hawk” which is why we call him Black Hawk. He was born at Saukenuk, today Rock Island, Illinois. It was the summer lodging place of the tribe and during the winters, they moved across the Mississippi River to hunt and trap.

At age 15, Black Hawk went on his first raid and made his first kill. His success was limited until at age 19, he led 200 men in a successful raid against the Osage. He then joined his father in a raid against the Cherokee. His father was injured and as he died, he gave his medicine bundle to his son assuring Black Hawk an important role in the tribe. After suitable mourning, Black Hawk led more raiding or war parties against various enemies. His tribe did not have a civil leader or chiefs, but Black Hawk was a “war chief” (a more accurate designation would be war captain).

During the War of 1812, Black Hawk was a 45 year old leader who had about 200 men under his command. He supported the British in the hopes of driving back the settlers moving into lands he felt were unfairly obtained. The validity of the Treaty of St. Louis which Quashquame (the civil representative) signed had not been approved by the tribe and was therefore, according to their laws, invalid. The American settlers did not care. The Sauk and Fox tribes were moved west of the Mississippi regardless which meant Black Hawk’s birthplace was lost to the tribe. It was their sacred burial island as well as summer retreat.

Black Hawk led a war against the US which lasted from May to August 1832, which the Sauk lost. The doomed war led to defeat, but also to Black Hawk’s capture. He was held at St. Louis for eight months. He was then taken East to meet with President Andrew Jackson via a rather circuitous route which allowed him to see the vastly superior technology of the settlers. He was imprisoned for a few weeks and then returned along a different route. While in captivity, he dictated his life’s story to Antoine LeClaire. The autobiography was published in 1833 in Cincinnati, Ohio and became a best seller. He returned to Iowa and as he grew older attempted to reconcile with old enemies. He became ill in late September and died after a two week illness on this day. He was buried along the Des Moines River.

I found by that treaty, that all of the country east of the Mississippi, and south of Jefferson was ceded to the United States for one thousand dollars a year.

I could say much more respecting this treaty, but I will not at this time. It has been the origin of all our serious difficulties with the whites.

It has pleased the Great Spirit that I am here today— I have eaten with my white friends. The earth is our mother— we are now on it, with the Great spirit above us; it is good.

Rock River was a beautiful country. I liked my towns, my cornfields and the home of my people. I fought for it. It is now yours. Keep it as we did— it will produce you good crops. – all from Black Hawk

Also on this day: Captain Jack – In 1873, Captain Jack was executed.
Siegfried & Roy – In 2003, Roy Horn was critically injured by one of his tigers.
Treasure House – In 1955, Captain Kangaroo premiered.
Cease and Desist – In 1712, Rob Roy MacGregor had a warrant issued for his arrest.
State of Iraq – In 1932, Iraq was granted independence from Great Britain.

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  1. Black Hawk Down | The Fenn Diagrams said, on October 10, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    […] For the story of Black Hawk, click  —   Source: Black Hawk Down […]


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