Black Hawk War

Black Hawk War, conflict between the Sac and Fox and the United States in 1832. After the War of 1812, whites settling the Illinois country exerted pressure on the Native Americans. A treaty of 1804, which had no real claim to validity, provided for removal of the Sac and Fox W of the Mississippi. A Native American leader, Black Hawk (1767–1838), who was born in the Sac village near the site of present Rock Island, Ill., and who had fought for the British in the War of 1812, denounced the treaty and resisted removal. Years of intermittent skirmishing followed. In 1831 the whites used force to impose a new treaty that compelled the Native Americans to retire from their lands. In Apr., 1832, Black Hawk, with some 400 braves and their families, returned to Illinois. Not receiving the support he expected, he admitted defeat, but when one of the peaceful emissaries he sent was shot down in cold blood, the outraged Black Hawk successfully attacked a larger white force, then retired into what is now Wisconsin. A large force of volunteers was gathered under Gen. Henry Atkinson. The last battle of the war took place on the Bad Axe River, where Black Hawk was attacked by these troops and a Sioux war party. Trapped, he displayed a white flag, but this was ignored and almost all of his band, including women and children, were wiped out. Black Hawk himself escaped, surrendered to the Winnebago, was turned over for imprisonment, and was released in 1833 to return to the pitiful remnant of his tribe and his family in Iowa. Lorado Taft's colossal statue (1911) near Oregon, Ill., has come to be known as the Black Hawk Monument.

See his autobiography (1833; ed. by D. Jackson, 1955); C. Cole, I Am a Man: The Indian Black Hawk (1938).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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