Chief Black Hawk

Chief Black Hawk Portrait

Chief Black Hawk

Chief Black Hawk, or Makataimeshekiakiak, was born in 1767 in Saukenuk, Quebec, British America, now Saukenuk, Illinois. He was the son of a war chief and upon turning 15 started fighting in Native American conflicts with the Chippewa, Osage, Cascadia, and Cherokee. He killed his first man in a raid on the Osage tribe. This act showed he was a strong warrior, and over the next twenty years he continued to show his valor and became a deeply respected War Chief. He became a War Chief when his father died in a fight with the Cherokee. When his father died, Black Hawk inherited his father’s medicine bag, becoming an official War Chief.2

Chief Black hawk had a very strained relationship with Americans. He learned that much of the Sauk Land had been sold to the Americans by three Chiefs of his tribe who had no authority to do so. Most of the money these men were paid was used to buy whiskey, and they were said to be very intoxicated when signing the treaty.5 This infuriated Chief Black Hawk and led him to never accept the treaty. The construction of Fort Madison on the Mississippi River on Sauk territory led to further anger from Chief Black Hawk, and he shifted his focus to combating Americans rather than other Native American tribes.

From a young age, Black Hawk was a strong warrior, and his strength led him to becoming a War Chief. His anger towards the US Government began at a young age and events like the signing of the 1804 Treaty angered him further. He was strongly devoted to his Native American culture and way of life and would defend it through combat if necessary. Black Hawk was always resistant to the tricks that the Government tried to use to take his homeland away. This resistance to government would be shown even more strongly in the future.

Chief Black Hawk