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Black Hawk
Understanding the Context
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Black Hawk
The treaty of 1804
The Context
War of 1812
Further troubles
The Black Hawk War
Black Hawk in Captivity
Black Hawk's Last Days
Mistreatment continues
Black Hawk References

Black Hawk was born in Saukenuk in 1767.

At this time, a number of Native American tribes occupied the area that is now called the American Midwest--the states of Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Missouri.

The Sauk occupied a number of villages on either side of the Mississippi River between the current cities of Keokuk and Davenport.  The Meskwaki, who spoke a similar language, had villages mostly on the west side of the river.  The biggest village around, with a population of several thousand, was Saukenuk.

 Europeans were present in small numbers--a few were settlers, but many were traders with the Indians.  France, Spain, England, and the United States all competed for the trade.  Some of the traders were official representatives of a government, but most were not.

 By this time, the international trade system had been going on for more than a century.   The international trade was mostly in furs and pelts, but the Indians also traded crops, maple sugar, lead, tallow, and a few other things in exchange for manufactured goods, cloth, whiskey, and other things they could not make easily.

Black Hawk was twelve or thirteen when the Americans burned down his village.  He was 36 at the time of the Louisiana Purchase.  He was 37 when the treaty that sold his village was signed.  He was 65 when he led his people back across the Mississippi in a failed attempt to retake the village.

In many of the biographies and historical accounts written about Black Hawk, it is often mentioned that he led the “British Band”—a group of mostly Sauk warriors who always sided with the British in conflicts with the United States.  Black Hawk’s primary rival, Keokuk, usually either stayed neutral or sided with the United States

But Keokuk was either a baby or not yet born when Saukenuk was burned down.

Black Hawk perceived the Americans as a threat and chose not to cooperate.