The Memory of Chief Black Hawk
Following Black Hawk’s tour of the east, he was released and rejoined the Sauk on the Iowa River. There, he spent the remainder of his life, and on October 3rd, 1838 he passed away from illness.9 In his last years Black Hawk lived a calm life and reconciled with the white settlers and soldiers whom he had fought against. Black Hawk was even asked to speak at Fort Madison in 1838 where he said this:
"It has pleased the Great Spirit that I am here to-day — 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. I hope we are all friends here. A few summers ago I was fighting against you — I did wrong, perhaps; but that is past — it is buried — let it be forgotten. 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. I thank the Great Spirit that I am now friendly with my white brethren — we are here together — we have eaten together — we are friends — it is his wish and mine. I thank you for your friendship. I was once a great warrior — I am now poor. Keokuk has been the cause of my present situation — but do not attach blame to him. 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." 9
Black Hawk knew that his chance at reclaiming his homeland had passed, and that he would never again set foot in the land of his birth. He resisted the US Government for as long as he could. He revolted against the terrible treatment the Native Americans were receiving and fought to show the Americans that his people could not be swindled out of their homeland. Unfortunately, his strength and the strength of the men who fought with him was not strong enough to overcome the military might the USA had at its disposal. Black Hawk and his war are a perfect example of the kind of resistance shown to the US Government by the Native Americans. They did not concede and watch passively has their homelands were taken. Many saw the injustice and chose to fight to save their culture and their people. Since Black Hawk's War history has been scattered with other Native American wars showing the same resistance in the face of injustice that Black Hawk showed. The Native American peoples are strong and resilient and have continuously shown that. Black Hawk was just one of many leaders trying to defend their people and trying to save their way of life. The Native peoples of America have lost a lot over the course of US history, but without brave individuals like Black Hawk whom fought for his people and his home land, they may have lost even more. Leaders like Black Hawk showed his people that they were strong and that they could not be tricked by the government. By doing this he inspired a legacy that continues to this day.
Black Hawk was a formidable warrior to the US government and has been honored in many ways over the years. His namesake is seen widely in American culture and military. The Black Hawk Helicopter is a support helicopter in use by the US government. The 86th Infantry Division in WWI and WWII were named Black Hawk. The most known use of Black Hawk's name is probably the Chicago Blackhawks, whose founder was in the 86th Infantry Division1 and named the team in honor of the Sauk War Chief.