Portrait of Black Hawk in 1833.Painted by Robert Sully.


There is so much history concerning Black Hawk and Rock Island County on the internet.. I think everybody in this wonderfully historic county(including myself) has heard it all. I am going to write instead of what happened to the great chief in his later life until his death.


Ma-Ka-Tia-me-she kia-kiak, Known as Black Hawk, was born in the main village, about three miles from junction of Rock river with the Mississippi, in tho year 1767 . His father name was Py-e-sa, or Pahaes, and grandfather was Na-na-ma-kee, or Thunderer. Black Hawk early distinquisherd himself as a warrior,and at age of fiftteen was permitted to paint and was ranked among braves. He was said to be very close to his mother.

About the year 1783 he went on an expedition against the enemies of his nation, the Osages, one of whem he killed and scalped and for this bravery he was permitted participate in the scalp dance Three or four years later after he, at the head of two hundred braves went on another expedition against the Osages, to avenge the murder of some women and children belonging to his own tribe. Meeting an equal number of Osages, warriors a fierce battle ensued. in which the latter tribe lost one-half their number, the Sac losimg only nineteen braves.

He next attacked the Cherokee for the same reason. In a terrible battle with them near the city of St. Louis, his father was killed and Black Hawk taking pocession of the "medicine bag" at once announced himself chief of the Sac nation, head of five hundred Sac and Foxes and one hundred Iowas.

After the War of 1812, the non-indian population of Illinois increased rapidly, a development that sharpened previous disputes about land ownership, especially in the region north of the Rock River, an area claimed by the close allies of the Sauk, the Fox These disputes culminated in the Black Hawk Warin 1832. Black Hawk led a band of Sauk who attempted to hold their previous lands, refusing to migrate west of the Mississippi River. Their struggle ended only a few months later, with Black Hawk in captivity and most of his followers dead.

On the 17th of August the captured Black Hawk was delivered to the Americans by two Winnebagoes. He was kept that fall and winter at Jefferson Barracks and in April, 1833, Black Hawk was neither imprisoned nor released, but was instead taken on a tour of major American cities in the spring of 1833, After that he was briefly held at Fortress Monroe untiil June 4.  With him during the tour were Keokuk and other members of the Sac and Fox tribes, Colonel George Davenport, Antoine LeClaire, and others.  Black Hawk spoke in front of several different groups and earned the respect and admiration of many who had believed that Indians were inarticulate savages.

After his release on June 4 he returned west, locating on a small reservation on the Des Moines River in Davis Count}, Iowa,

Upon his release, Black Hawk and his family—his wife Asshewaqua, his daughter Namequa and her husband, and his sons Nashashuk and Gamesett—settled on the Des Moines River . He had many visitors, who wanted to meet Black Hawk out of respect or curiosity.  Black Haw always made them all feel welcome. He was also invited to various celebrations and engagements: he spent the Fourth of July of 1838 in Burlington , Iowa , as the guest of honor. His speech, according to J. B. Patterson, included these words:

 “I am now old. I have looked upon the Mississippi since I have been a child. I love the Great river. I have dwelt upon its banks from the time I was an infant. I look upon it now. I shake hands with you, and as it is my wish, I hope you are my friends.”


At one time he was a large well built man in great physical shape but the people who knew him in southeastern Iowa knew him as a slight (125 lbs) frail bald man who dressed peculiarly wearing a fine broad cloth suit and a high silk hat. He always wore moccasins stating that he liked to feel the earth beneath his feet. He was known as a good family man. Most Indian chiefs had more than one wife, Black Hawk had but one.He was noted to be very intelligent and had impeccable manners. He also spoke very good English and had a very strong personality.

He was known to drink a great deal of whiskey but yet always walked stright and with grace.

His son Nashashuk was a large, well built young man measuring 5 ft 11 and 190 lbs. His daughter Namequa was known as a beautiful woman with light skin who was a very good dancer. His son Gameset was called Tom Black Hawk and known as a "Bad" Indian and hated the white man with a passion.

BlackHawk's wife was also a beautiful woman with light skin for an Indian and some thought that there was a bit of French in her blood. She was devoted to her husband and her family.

Nobody complained about him living so close to the "white man" and everyone reported that he was a good neighbor.

. The Autobiography of Black Hawk, incorporating his own accounts and comments from others, was published in 1833, The interpretor was Antoine LeClair and he took great care to interpret Black Hawks's words exactly as he spoke them. .

In September of 1838, on his way to Rock Island to collect his annuity from the government Black Hawk caught a severe cold which resulted in an attack of bilious fever and he died three days later on October 3.

Reminiscences of Black Hawk by People who knew him.

Burlington Iowa Hawkeye

March 24, 1907 

Submitted by the Webmaster, transcribed by Jessika Jones.

102906 BMK

Autobiography of MA-KA-TAI-ME-SHE-KIA-KIAK (Blackhawk) 1833 Burial Surrender Speech

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