GREAT INDIAN CHIEF
LIFE AND ADVENTURES
CINCINNATI: APPLEGATE & COMPANY 43 MAIN STREET. 1854.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1843, BY GEORGE CONCLIN, In the Clerk's Office of the District of Ohio.
- Transcriber's Note: There are inconsistencies in the Index and in the spelling of tribal names. These have been left as originally printed. -
In presenting to the public the life and adventures of Black Hawk, some account of the Sac and Fox Indians—of Keokuk, their distinguished chief—and of the causes which led to the late contest between these tribes and the United States, was necessarily involved. The introduction of these collateral subjects, may possibly impart additional interest to this volume.
In speaking of the policy of the government towards the fragment of Sacs and Foxes, with whom Black Hawk was associated, it has been necessary to censure some of its acts, and to comment with freedom upon the official conduct of a few public officers.
The Indians are frequently denounced as faithless, ferocious and untameable. Without going into the inquiry, how far this charge is founded in truth, the question may be asked, has not the policy of our government contributed, essentially, to impart to them that character? Have we not more frequently met them in bad faith, than in a Christian spirit? and sustained our relations with them, more by the power of the sword than the law of kindness? In the inscrutable ways of Providence, the Indians are walking in ignorance and moral darkness. It is the solemn duty, and should be the highest glory of this nation, to bring them out of that condition, and elevate them in the scale of social and intellectual being. But, how is this duty performed? We gravely recognize them as an independent people, and treat them as vassals: We make solemn compacts with them, which we interpret as our interest dictates, but punish them if they follow the example: We admit their title to the land which they occupy, and at the same time literally compel them to sell it to us upon our own terms: We send agents and missionaries to reclaim them from the error of their ways—to bring them from the hunter to the pastoral life; and yet permit our citizens to debase them by spirituous liquors, and cheat them out of their property: We make war upon them without any adequate cause—pursue them without mercy—and put them to death, without regard to age, sex or condition: And, then deliberately proclaim to the world, that they are savages—cruel and untameable—degraded and faithless.
If the present volume shall, in any degree, contribute to awaken the public mind to a sense of the wrongs inflicted upon the Indians, and to arouse the Christian statesmen of this land, to the adoption of a more liberal, upright and benevolent course of policy towards them, something will have been gained to the cause of humanity and of national honor.
The author takes this opportunity of acknowledging his obligations to James Hall, Esq., for the valuable assistance received from him, in the preparation of this volume. In collecting the materials for that magnificent work, on which he is now engaged, "The History of the Indians of North America," this gentleman has become possessed of much interesting matter, in regard to the Sacs and Foxes, and especially the chief Keokuk; to all of which he has kindly permitted the author to have access.
Cincinnati, May, 1838.
Origin of the Sac and Fox Indians—Removal to Green Bay—Their subjugation of the Illini confederacy—Their attack upon St. Louis in 1779—Col. George Rogers Clark relieves the town—Governor Harrison's letter—Maj. Forsyth's account of the conquest of the Illini—Death of the Sac chief Pontiac—Sac and Fox village on Rock river—Description of the surrounding country—Civil polity of the Sacs and Foxes—Legend about their chiefs—Division of the tribes into families—Mode of burying their dead—Idea of a future state—Their account of the creation of the world—Marriages—Social relations—Music and musical instruments—Pike's visit to them in 1805—Population—Character for courage 13
Treaty with the Sac and Fox Indians in 1789—treaty and cession of land to the United States at St. Louis in 1804—Black Hawk's account of this treaty—Erection of Fort Madison—The British excite the Sac and Fox Indians to make war upon the United States—A party under Black Hawk join the British standard in 1812—Treaty at Portage des Sioux in 1815—Treaty of peace with Black Hawk and his band at same place in 1816—Treaty for part of their lands in Missouri in 1824—Treaty of Prairie des Chiens in 1825—Treaty for the mineral region in 1829—Treaty of peace in 1832, after the "Black Hawk war"—Present residence of the Sacs and Foxes 49
Birth of Black Hawk—Early adventures—Battles with the Osages and Cherokees—Death of his father—Interview with Lieutenant Pike—Attack upon Fort Madison—Joins the British in the late war—Marches to lake Erie—Returns home after the attack upon Fort Stephenson—Murder of his adopted son—Battle of the Sink-hole near Cap au Gris—Treaty of peace at Portage des Sioux in 1816 74
Building of Fort Armstrong—The good Spirit of Rock Island—Death of Black Hawk's children—Young Sac offers to die in place of his brother—Black Hawk's visit to Malden—Whipped by some whites—Whites settle at his village—Black Hawk's talk with Governor Coles and Judge Hall—Sale of the lands on Rock river—Indians ordered to remove—Agreement to remove for six thousand dollars—Memorial of the white settlers to Governor Reynolds—The Governor's letters to General Clark and General Gaines—The latter leaves Jefferson Barracks with six companies of the United States troops for Rock Island—His interview with Black Hawk—Calls upon the Governor of Illinois for militia—The Indians abandon their village—treaty of peace made with them—Official letters to the war department—Summary of the causes which brought on this disturbance—Black Hawk's attempt to form an alliance with other tribes 91
Keokuk's birth—Kills a Sioux when fifteen years old—Prevents the abandonment of the Sac village—Bold manoeuvre with the Sioux—Perils his life for the safety of his people—Speech to the Menominies at Prairie des Chiens—Called upon to lead his braves to join in the Black Hawk war—Allays the excitement of his people on this subject—Deposed from his post as head chief and a young man elected in his place—Re-established in power—Delivers up his nephew to the whites to be tried for murder—Letter to the Governor of Illinois—Council at Washington in 1837—Retorts upon the Sioux—His visit to Boston—His return home—His personal appearance—And his character as a war and peace chief 118
Murder of twenty-eight Menominies by the Foxes of Black Hawk's band—Naopope's visit to Malden—Black Hawk recrosses the Mississippi—General Atkinson orders him to return—Stillman's attack—Defeated by Black Hawk—His white flag fired upon—He sends out war parties upon the frontier—Attack upon Fort Buffalo—General Dodge's battle on the Wisconsin—Black Hawk and his band leave the Four Lakes and fly to the Mississippi—Pursued by General Atkinson—Black Hawk's flag of truce fired upon by the Captain of the Warrior—Twenty-three Indians killed 143
General Atkinson overtakes Black Hawk—Battle of the Bad Axe—Atkinson's official report—Incidents of the Battle—Capture of Black Hawk and the prophet—Naopope's statement to General Scott—General Scott and Governor Reynolds conclude a treaty with the Sacs, Foxes and Winnebagoes—Causes which led to the war—Motives for getting up Indian wars—First attack made by the Illinois militia—Report of the Secretary at War in regard to this campaign—General Macomb's letter to General Atkinson—Secretary Cass' statement of the causes which led to this war—Comments upon this statement, and its omissions pointed out 166
Black Hawk, Naopope, the Prophet and others confined at Jefferson Barracks—In April 1833 sent to Washington—Interview with the President—sent to Fortress Monroe—Their release—Visit the eastern cities—Return to the Mississippi—Conference at Rock island between Maj. Garland, Keokuk, Black Hawk and other chiefs—speeches of Keokuk, Pashshepaho and Black Hawk—Final discharge of the hostages—Their return to their families—Black Hawk's visit to Washington in 1837—His return—His personal appearance—Military talents—Intellectual and moral character 200
Black Hawk at the capture of Fort Erie—At the battle of the Thames—His account of the death of Tecumthe—His residence and mode of life after his last visit to the east—His Fourth of July speech at fort Madison—His death and burial 234
APPENDIX—Sketches of the Sioux 222 Colonization of the Indians 228 Indian Dancing Ceremonies 237 Sale of Whiskey to the Indians 245
SAUKEE AND MUSQUAKEE NATIONS,
USUALLY CALLED THE
SAC AND FOX INDIANS.
Origin of the Sac and Fox Indians—Removal to Green Bay—Their subjugation of the Illini confederacy—Their attack upon St. Louis in 1779—Col. George Rogers Clark relieves the town—Governor Harrison's letter—Maj. Forsyth's account of the conquest of the Illini—Death of the Sac chief Pontiac—Sac and Fox village on Rock river—Description of the surrounding country—Civil polity of the Sacs and Foxes—Legend about their chiefs—Division of the tribes into families—Mode of burying their dead—Idea of a future state—Their account of the creation of the world—Marriages—Social relations—Music and musical instruments—Pike's visit to them in 1805—Population—Character for courage.
The word Saukee, or O-sau-kee, now written Sauk or more commonly Sac, is derived from a compound in the Algonquin or Chippeway language, a-saw-we-kee, which means "yellow earth." Mus-qua-kee, the name of the Fox Indians, signifies "red earth." These two tribes have long resided together, and now constitute one people, although there are some internal regulations among them which tend to preserve a distinctive name and lineage. The chiefs, on ceremonial occasions, claim to be representatives of independent tribes, but this distinction is nominal. For many years past the principal chief of the Sacs, has been, in fact, the chief of the Foxes likewise. They are united in peace and war, speak the same language, claim the same territory, have similar manners and customs, and possess traditions which represent them as descended from the one common origin—the great Chippeway nation.
Both tribes originally resided upon the waters of the St. Lawrence. The Foxes removed first to the west, and established themselves in the region of Green Bay. Upon a river bearing their name, which empties into the head of this Bay, they suffered a signal defeat by a combined body of French and Indians, at a place, since known as La Butte de Mort, or the Hill of the Dead. Subsequently to this battle, they were joined by the Sacs, who having become involved in a war with the Iroquois or Six Nations, were also driven to the westward. They found their relatives, the Foxes, upon Green Bay, but so far reduced in numbers, by the attacks of other tribes, that they were no longer able to sustain themselves as an independent people. The union between these two tribes, which then took place, and continues to this day, was as much a matter of necessity as of feeling. The period of their migration from the St. Lawrence to the upper Lakes cannot be satisfactorily ascertained. La Hontan speaks of a Sac village on Fox river, as early as 1689; and Father Hennepin, in 1680, mentions the Ontagamies or Fox Indians, as residents on the bay of Puants, now Green Bay.
From this place, the Sauks and Foxes, crossed over to the eastern bank of the Mississippi, and combining with other tribes, began to act on the offensive. The period of this irruption from the north, it is not easy to determine. Major Thomas Forsyth, who resided for near twenty years among the Sauks and Foxes, in a manuscript account of those tribes, now before us, says:
"More than a century ago, all the country, commencing above Rock river, and running down the Mississippi to the mouth of the Ohio, up that river to the mouth of the Wabash, thence up that river to Fort Wayne, thence down the Miami of the Lake some distance, thence north to the St. Joseph's and Chicago; also the country lying south of the Des Moines, down perhaps, to the Mississippi, was inhabited by a numerous nation of Indians, who called themselves Linneway, and were called by others, Minneway, signifying "men." This great nation was divided into several bands, and inhabited different parts of this extensive region, as follows: The Michigamies, the country south of the Des Moines; the Cohakias that east of the present village of Cohokia in Illinois; the Kaskaskias that east of the town of that name; the Tamarois had their village nearly central between Cahokia and Kaskaskia; the Piankeshaws near Vincennes; the Weas up the Wabash; the Miamies on the head waters of the Miami of the Lakes, on St. Joseph's river and at Chicago. The Piankeshaws, Weas and Miamies, must at this time have hunted south towards and on the Ohio. The Peorias, another band of the same nation, lived and hunted on the Illinois river: The Mascos or Mascontins, called by the French gens des prairies, lived and hunted on the great prairies, between the Wabash and Illinois rivers. All these different bands of the Minneway nation, spoke the language of the present Miamies, and the whole considered themselves as one and the same people; yet from their local situation, and having no standard to go by, their language became broken up into different dialects. These Indians, the Minneways, were attacked by a general confederacy of other nations, such as the Sauks and Foxes, resident at Green Bay and on the Ouisconsin; the Sioux, whose frontiers extended south to the river des Moines: the Chippeways, Ottoways, and Potawatimies from the lakes, and also the Cherokees and Choctaws from the south. The war continued for a great many years and until that great nation the Minneways were destroyed, except a few Miamies and Weas on the Wabash, and a few who are scattered among strangers. Of the Kaskaskias, owing to their wars and their fondness for spiritous liquors, there now (1826) remain but thirty or forty souls;—of the Peorias near St. Genevieve ten or fifteen; of the Piankeshaws forty or fifty. The Miamies are the most numerous; a few years ago they consisted of about four hundred souls. There do not exist at the present day (1826) more than five hundred souls of the once great and powerful Minneway or Illini nation. These Indians, the Minneways, are said to have been very cruel to their prisoners, not unfrequently burning them. I have heard of a certain family among the Miamies who were called man-eaters, as they were accustomed to make a feast of human flesh when a prisoner was killed. For these enormities, the Sauks and Foxes, when they took any of the Minneways prisoners, gave them up to their women to be buffeted to death. They speak also of the Mascontins with abhorrence, on account of their cruelties. The Sauks and Foxes have a historical legend of a severe battle having been fought opposite the mouth of the Iowa river, about fifty or sixty miles above the mouth of Rock river. The Sauks and Foxes descended the Mississippi in canoes, and landing at the place above described, started east, towards the enemy: they had not gone far before they were attacked by a party of the Mascontins. The battle continued nearly all day; the Sauks and Foxes, for want of ammunition, finally gave way and fled to their canoes; the Mascontins pursued them and fought desperately, and left but few of the Sauks and Foxes to carry home the story of their defeat. Some forty or fifty years ago, the Sauks and Foxes attacked a small village of Peorias, about a mile below St. Louis and were there defeated. At a place on the Illinois river, called Little Rock, there were formerly killed by the Chippeways and Ottowas, a number of men, women and children of the Minneway nation. In 1800 the Kickapoos made a great slaughter of the Kaskaskia Indians. The Main-Pogue, or Potawatimie juggler, in 1801, killed a great many of the Piankeshaws on the Wabash."
The land on which St. Louis stands, as well as the surrounding country, was claimed by the Illini confederacy, which had acquiesced in the intrusion of the whites. This circumstance, it is supposed, led the northern confederacy to the attempt, which they made in 1779, to destroy the village of St. Louis, then occupied by the Spaniards. As the Sacs and Foxes were active participators in this attack, no apology is necessary for introducing the following graphic account of it, from the pen of Wilson Primm, Esqr. of St. Louis.
"In the mean time numerous bands of the Indians living on the lakes and the Mississippi—the Ojibeways, Menomonies, Winnebagoes, Sioux, Sacs, &c. together with a large number of Canadians, amounting in all to upwards of fourteen hundred, had assembled on the eastern shore of the Mississippi, a little above St. Louis, awaiting the sixth of May, the day fixed for the attack. The fifth of May was the feast of Corpus Christi, a day highly venerated by the inhabitants, who were all Catholics. Had the assault taken place then, it would have been fatal to them, for, after divine service, all the men, women and children had flocked to the prairie to gather strawberries, which were that season very abundant and fine. The town being left perfectly unguarded, could have been taken with ease, and the unsuspecting inhabitants, who were roaming about in search of fruit, have been massacred without resistance. Fortunately, however, a few only of the enemy had crossed the river and ambushed themselves in the prairie. The villagers, frequently came so near them, in the course of the day, that the Indians from their places of concealment, could have reached them with their hands. But they knew not how many of the whites were still remaining in the town, and in the absence of their co-adjutors, feared to attack, lest their preconcerted plan might be defeated."
On the sixth, the main body of the Indians crossed, and marched directly towards the fields, expecting to find the greater part of the villagers there; but in this they were disappointed, a few only having gone out to view their crops. These perceived the approach of the savage foe, and immediately commenced a retreat towards the town, the most of them taking the road that led to the upper gate, nearly through the mass of Indians, and followed by a shower of bullets. The firing alarmed those who were in town, and the cry "to arms! to arms!" was heard in every direction. They rushed towards the works and threw open the gates to their brethren. The Indians advanced slowly but steadily towards the town, and the inhabitants, though almost deprived of hope, by the vast superiority in number of the assailants, determined to defend themselves to the last.
"In expectation of an attack, Silvio Francisco Cartabona, a governmental officer, had gone to St. Genevieve for a company of militia to aid in defending the town, in case of necessity, and had at the beginning of the month returned with sixty men, who were quartered on the citizens. As soon as the attack commenced, however, neither Cartabona nor his men could be seen. Either through fear or treachery, they concealed themselves in a garret, and there remained until the Indians had retired. The assailed being deprived of a considerable force, by this shameful defection, were still resolute and determined. About fifteen men were posted at each gate; the rest were scattered along the line of defence, in the most advantageous manner.
"When within a proper distance, the Indians began an irregular fire, which was answered with showers of grape shot from the artillery. The firing, for a while, was warm; but the Indians perceived that all their efforts would be ineffectual on account of the intrenchments, and deterred by the cannon, to which they were unaccustomed, from making a nearer approach, suffered their zeal to abate, and deliberately retired. At this stage of affairs, the Lieutenant Governor made his appearance. The first intimation that he received of what was going on, was by the discharge of artillery, on the part of the inhabitants. He immediately ordered several pieces of cannon, which were posted in front of the government house, to be spiked and filled with sand, and went, or rather was rolled in a wheelbarrow, to the scene of action. In a very peremptory tone, he commanded the inhabitants to cease firing and return to their houses. Those posted at the lower gate, did not receive the order, and consequently kept their stations. The commandant perceived this and ordered a cannon to be fired at them. They had barely time to throw themselves on the ground, when the volley passed over them, and struck the wall, tearing a great part of it down. These proceedings, as well as the whole tenor of his conduct, since the first rumor of an attack, gave rise to suspicions very unfavorable to the Lieutenant Governor. It was bruited about, that he was the cause of the attack, that he was connected with the British, and that he had been bribed into a dereliction of duty, which, had not providence averted, would have doomed them to destruction. Under pretext of proving to them that there was no danger of an attack, he had a few days before it occurred, sold to the traders, all the ammunition belonging to the government; and they would have been left perfectly destitute and defenceless, had they not found, in a private house, eight barrels of powder, belonging to a trader, which they seized in the name of the King, upon the first alarm. Colonel George Rogers Clark, who was at this time at Kaskaskia, with a few men under his command, understanding that an attack was meditated on the town, offered all the assistance in his power, to aid in the defence. This offer was rejected by the Lieutenant Governor. All these circumstances gave birth to a strong aversion to the commandant, which evinces itself, at this day, in execrations of his character, whenever his name is mentioned to those who have known him. Representations of his conduct, together with a detailed account of the attack, were sent to New Orleans by a special messenger, and the result was that the Governor General appointed Mr. Francisco Cruzat, to the office of Lieutenant Governor.
"As soon as it was ascertained that the Indians had retired from the neighborhood, the inhabitants proceeded to gather the dead, that lay scattered in all parts of the prairie. Seven were at first found and buried in one grave. Ten or twelve others, in the course of a fortnight, were discovered in the long grass that bordered the marshes. The acts of the Indians were accompanied by their characteristic ferocity. Some of their victims were horribly mangled. With the exception of one individual, the whites who accompanied the Indians, did not take part in the butcheries that were committed. A young man by the name of Calve, was found dead, his skull split open, and a tomahawk, on the blade of which was written the word Calve, sticking in his brain. He was supposed to have fallen by the hand of his uncle. Had those who discovered the Indians in the prairie, fled to the lower gate, they would have escaped; but the greater part of them took the road that led to the upper gate, through the very ranks of the enemy, and were thus exposed to the whole of their fire. About twenty persons, it is computed, met their death in endeavoring to get within the entrenchments. None of those within were injured, and none of the Indians were killed, at least none of them were found. Their object was not plunder, for they did not attempt, in their retreat, to take away with them any of the cattle or the horses that were in the prairie, and that they might have taken; nor did they attack any of the neighboring towns, where danger would have been less, and the prospect of success greater. The only object they had in view was the destruction of St. Louis; and this would seem to favor the idea that they were instigated by the English, and gives good ground, when connected with other circumstances, to believe that Leyba was their aider and abettor. * * * *
"A Mr. Chancellier had gone on the day of attack, to the prairie for strawberries, with his wife, two daughters and an American, the first that had ever been in the country, in a cart drawn by two horses. When they perceived the Indians, they immediately fled towards the town in the cart; Mr. Chancellier being seated before, and the American behind, in order to protect the women, who were in the middle. In their flight the American was mortally wounded. As he was falling out, Mr. Chancellier seized him and threw him into the midst of the women, exclaiming, "they shan't get the scalp of my American." He was at the same time struck by two balls, which broke his arm in as many places, above the elbow. His wife received a bullet through the middle of her hand, the elder daughter was shot through the shoulder, immediately above the breast, and the younger was struck on the forehead, but the ball glanced aside and merely stunned her. The moment Mr. Chancellier arrived at the gate, his horses dropped dead, pierced with a hundred wounds, but his family was saved."
Mr. Primm, the writer of this interesting narrative, has probably not been fully informed in regard to the extent of Colonel George Rogers Clark's participation in this affair. In a written memorandum now before us, made on the authority of his brother, General William Clark of St. Louis, who it is presumed has possession of his father's official papers, it is stated, in reference to this affair, that although the Spanish Governor could not be made to believe that an attack was intended, the principal inhabitants sent over an express to Colonel Clark, who was then at Kaskaskia with five hundred men, to come and protect them. He accordingly marched his force up opposite the town and encamped a little distance from the river. He did not send over any troops, but was to do so, in case of an attack; when it was actually made Colonel Clark crossed the river; and upon seeing the "long knives," as the Indians called his troops, they hastily retreated, having killed seventy-two or seventy-three of the Spaniards, before his arrival. This sudden appearance of Colonel Clark, upon the scene of action, explains the conduct of the Indians. So large a body of warriors, making a preconcerted attack, upon a town but badly protected, would not, it is thought, have given up the assault so suddenly and before they had lost a single man, unless alarmed by the presence of a superior force. On the supposition that Colonel Clark actually crossed the river with his troops, the flight of the Indians is easily explained. They were probably apprised of Colonel Clark's being at Kaskaskia, and his name was every where a terror to the Indians. As an evidence of this, a short time afterwards, he sent a detachment of one hundred and fifty men, as far up the country as Prairie des Chiens, and from thence across Rock and Illinois rivers and down to Kaskaskia, meeting with no molestation from the Indians, who were struck with terror at the boldness of the enterprise, saying that if so few dared to come, they "would fight like devils."
General William H. Harrison, long familiar with the North West Indians, in an official letter to the secretary at War, dated H.Q. Cincinnati, March 22d, 1814, giving an able view of the Indian tribes, makes the following remarks on the descent of this northern confederacy, upon the great Illini nation.
"The Miamies have their principal settlements on the forks of the Wabash, thirty miles from fort Wayne; and at Mississineway, thirty miles lower down. A band of them, under the name of Weas, have resided on the Wabash, sixty miles above Vincennes; and another under the Turtle, on Eel river, a branch of the Wabash, twenty miles north west of Fort Wayne. By an artifice of the Little Turtle, these three bands were passed on General Wayne as distinct tribes, and an annuity was granted to each. The Eel river and Weas however to this day call themselves Miamies, and are recognized as such by the Mississineway band. The Miamies, Maumees, or Tewicktovies are the undoubted proprietors of all that beautiful country which is watered by the Wabash and its branches; and there is as little doubt, that their claim extended as far east as the Sciota. They have no tradition of removing from any other quarter of the country; whereas all the neighboring tribes, the Piankeshaws excepted, who are a branch of the Miamies, are either intruders upon them, or have been permitted to settle in their country. The Wyandots emigrated first from Lake Ontario and subsequently from lake Huron, the Delawares from Pennsylvania and Maryland, the Shawanies from Georgia, the Kickapoos and Pottawatamies from the country between lake Michigan and the Mississippi, and the Ottawas and Chippeways, from the peninsula formed by lakes Michigan, Huron and St. Clair, and the strait connecting the latter with Erie. The claims of the Miamies were bounded on the north and west by those of the Illinois confederacy, consisting originally of five tribes, called Kaskaskias, Cahokias, Peorians, Michiganians, and Temorias speaking the Miami language, and no doubt branches of that nation.
"When I was first appointed governor of Indiana Territory, these once powerful tribes were reduced to about thirty warriors, of whom twenty five were Kaskaskias, four Peorians, and a single Michiganian. There was an individual lately alive at St. Louis, who saw the enumeration of them made by the Jesuits in 1745, making the number of their warriors four thousand. A furious war between them and the Sacs and Kickapoos reduced them to that miserable remnant, which had taken refuge amongst the white people of Kaskaskia and St. Genevieve. The Kickapoos had fixed their principal village at Peoria, upon the south bank of the Illinois river, whilst the Sacks remained masters of the country to the north."
These historical facts are interesting, as showing the manner in which the Sauks and Foxes obtained possession of the fertile plains of Illinois; and, as adding another to the many instances on record, in which hordes of northern invaders have overrun and subjugated the people of more southern regions. The causes are obvious for this descent of the Sauks and Foxes, upon their southern neighbors. They reached a more genial climate, a country where game was more abundant than in the region they left behind, and in which they could, with greater facility, raise their corn, beans and pumpkins. Other causes than these might have had their influence. The Illini confederacy may have provoked the descent of the northern tribes upon them. On this point, Lieutenant Pike in his travels to the sources of the Mississippi, has the following remark.
"By killing the celebrated Sauk chief, Pontiac, the Illinois, Cahokias, Kaskaskias and Peorias, kindled a war with the allied nations of the Sauks and Reynards, which has been the cause of the almost entire destruction of the former nations."
The death of Pontiac may have been the immediate exciting cause of the war, but it is more than probable that the love of conquest and the hope of obtaining a more fruitful and genial country, than is to be found upon the shore of the lakes, were the principal reasons which impelled the northern confederacy to the subjugation of the Illini.
The principal village of the Sacs and Foxes, for a long period of time, was on the north side of Rock river, near its junction with the Mississippi. It contained at one time upwards of sixty lodges, and was among the largest and most populous Indian villages on the continent. The country around it is fertile and picturesque, finely watered, and studded with groves and prairies. It is described in the following graphic manner, by a gentleman who travelled over it in 1829.
"The Mississippi, which below its junction with the Missouri, is a troubled stream, meandering through low grounds, and margined by muddy banks, is here a clear and rapid river, flowing over beds of rock and gravel, and bordered by the most lovely shores. Nothing of the kind can be more attractive, than the scenery at the upper rapids. On the western shore, a series of slopes are seen, commencing at the gravelly margin of the water, and rising one above another, with a barely perceptible acclivity, for a considerable distance, until the back ground is terminated by a chain of beautifully rounded hills, over which trees are thinly scattered, as if planted to embellish the scene. This is the singular charm of prairie scenery. Although it is a wilderness, just as nature made it, the verdant carpet, the gracefully waving outline of the surface, the clumps and groves and scattered trees, give it the appearance of a noble park, boundless in extent, and adorned with exquisite taste. It is a wild but not a savage wild, that awes by its gloom. It is a gay and cheerful wilderness, winning by its social aspect as well as its variety and intrinsic gracefulness. The eastern shore is not less beautiful: a broad flat plain of rich alluvion, extending from the water's edge, is terminated by a range of wooded hills. A small collection of the lodges of the Saukies and Foxes stood on this plain when the writer last saw it, but their chief village was about three miles distant. In the front of the landscape, and presenting its most prominent feature, is Rock Island, on the southern point of which, elevated upon a parapet of rock, is Fort Armstrong. The region around is healthy and amazingly fruitful. The grape, the plum, the gooseberry and various other native fruits abound,—the wild honeysuckle gives its perfume to the air, and a thousand indigenous flowers mingle their diversified hues with the verdure of the plain. But all this fertility of soil and scenic beauty has produced no ameliorating effect upon the savages. The Sauks of Illinois, when first visited by the French missionaries were as they are now. They are still savages, as much so as the Osages, Comanches and Seminoles, and not superior to the wandering Chippeways."
The civil polity of these two tribes bears much resemblance to that of the north western Indians generally. The peace chiefs are partly elective and partly hereditary. The son succeeds the father by the assent of the tribe, if worthy of the office, and if not, a successor, of a more meritorious character, is chosen by them from some collateral branch of the family. There is a legend among them relating to the relative rank of their chiefs, which, although perhaps purely figurative, may not be uninteresting to the reader. They say that a great while ago, their fathers had a long lodge, in the centre of which were ranged four fires. By the first fire stood two chiefs, one on the right, who was called the great Bear, and one on the left, called the little Bear: these were the village or peace chiefs: they were the rulers of the band, and held the authority corresponding to that of the chief magistrate. At the second fire stood two chiefs: one on the right, called the great Fox, and one on the left, called the little Fox: these were the war chiefs or generals. At the third fire stood two warriors, who were called respectively the Wolf and the Owl. And at the other fire, two others who were the Eagle and the Tortoise. These four last named were not chiefs but braves of distinction, who held honorable places in the council, and were persons of influence in peace and in war. This lodge of four fires may have existed among these tribes. It is true that their chiefs remain as described in the legend.
The peace chief or head-man presides in council, and all important public acts are done in his name; but unless he be a man of popular talents and great energy of character his place confers more of honor than power. If a weak or irresolute man, although he nominally retain his authority, the war chiefs actually exercise it. It is very seldom that he acquires property, for he is expected to make feasts and presents, and is compelled to be hospitable and liberal as a means of sustaining his power among his people.
The office of war chief is never hereditary, but results from skill and intrepidity in battle, and is held so long as those qualities are successfully retained. It may readily be conceived that among such a race the war chiefs, having the braves and young men of the nation under their command, would generally maintain a controlling influence. The leading war chief is always better known than the principal peace chief, is often confounded with him, and still oftener exercises his authority.
The Sauks are, at the present time, divided into twelve families, and the Foxes into eight, each known by the name of some animal. Among the Sauks there is another division peculiar to it. The males are all classed in two parties or bands—one called Kish-ko-guis, or long hairs; the other Osh-cushis or braves, the former being considered something more than brave. In 1819 each party numbered about four hundred members, and in 1826, the number was increased to five hundred in each. The standard of the Kish-ko-guis or long hairs, is red, and that of the Osh-cushis or braves, blue. Every male child, soon after its birth, is marked with white or black paint, and is classed in one of these two parties, the mother being careful to apply the two colors alternately, so that if the number of males in a family be even, each band will receive an equal number of members, and the whole nation will thus be nearly equally divided into the two colors of black and white. These distinctive marks are permanently retained through life, and in painting themselves for any ceremonies or public occasions, those of one party use white, the others black paint, in addition to other colors which may suit their fancy. The reason of this singular custom is for the purpose of creating and keeping alive a spirit of emulation in the tribe. In their games, sham-battles and other pastimes, the whites and blacks are opposed to each other; and in war, each party is ambitious of bringing home a greater number of scalps than the other.
The chiefs have the management of public affairs, but as we have already seen are more or less influenced, especially in matters of war or peace, by the braves. In their councils, questions are not considered, generally, as decided, unless there be unanimity of opinion. Their laws are few and simple. Debts are but seldom contracted by them, and there is no mode of enforcing their collection. For redress of civil injuries, an appeal is usually made to some of the old men of the tribe, mutually selected by the parties concerned; and their decision is considered as binding. A murder among them is seldom punished capitally. The relatives of the deceased may take revenge in that way, but it is much more common to receive compensation in property. If the relatives cannot agree upon the amount of the compensation, the old men of the tribe interfere and settle it. The kinsfolk of the deceased say, that by killing the murderer, it will not bring the dead to life, and that it is better to take the customary presents, which often amount in value to a considerable sum. Occasionally the murderer arranges the whole matter, by marrying the widow of the man he has killed. There is but one offence that is considered of a national character, and that is of rare occurrence. It consists in aiding the enemies of the tribe, in times of war, and is punishable with death. A sentinel who has been placed on duty by a chief, but who neglects it, is publicly whipped by the women. The Sauks and Foxes have no established mode of declaring war. If injured by a neighboring tribe they wait a reasonable time for reparation to be made, and if it is not, they avail themselves of the first fitting opportunity of taking revenge. The young Indians manifest, at an early age, a love of war. They hear the old warriors recounting their exploits, and as the battle-field is the only road to distinction, they embrace the first chance of killing an enemy. When the question of going to war is under consideration, some one or a number of them, undertake to consult the Great Spirit by fasting and dreams. These latter are related by them in public, and often have their influence, being generally so interpreted as to inspire confidence in those who may join the war party. If a party is victorious in battle, the individual who killed the first enemy, leads them back, and on the way, if they have prisoners with them, it is not uncommon to kill those who are old. The young ones are generally adopted into the families of such as have lost relatives in the battle, or whose children have died a natural death. Upon the return of the victorious party to their village, a war dance is held round their captives by way of celebrating their triumph. Prisoners are sometimes held as slaves, and as such are bought and sold. If they go to war, which they are encouraged to do, and succeed in killing one of the enemy, the slave changes his name and from that time becomes a freeman. The Sauks and Foxes treat their prisoners with humanity, and if they succeed in getting to the village alive, they are safe, and their persons are held sacred. But one instance is known of their having burned a prisoner, and that was in a war with the Menominies, and in retaliation for a similar act, first committed by that tribe. The young Indians go to war generally between the age of seventeen and twenty, but sometimes as early as fifteen. Many of them at the age of forty and forty-five, look old and are broken down in their physical constitution, in consequence of the hardships which they have endured in war and the chase. In old age they are usually provided for, and live in peace at their villages. When one of them is sick, and thinks he is about to go to the land of spirits, he not unfrequently directs the manner in which he wishes to be buried, and his instructions are complied with. The Sauks and Foxes bury their dead in the ground, and have preferences for particular places of interment. The graves are not dug to any great depth, and a little bark from a tree is made to answer the purpose of a coffin. The body is usually carried to the grave by old women, who howl at intervals, during the ceremony, most piteously. Before closing the grave, one of the Indians present at the funeral will wave a stick or war-club, called "puc-ca waw-gun," saying in an audible voice, "I have killed many men in war, and I give their spirits to my dead friend who lies here, to serve him as slaves in the other world:" after which the grave is filled up with earth, and in a day or two a rude cabin or shed is made over it of rough boards or bark. If the deceased was a brave, a post is planted at the head of the grave, on which, in a rude manner, the number of scalps and prisoners he has taken in war, is represented by red paint. Upon the death of an adult, his property is usually distributed among his relatives, and his widow returns to her own family or nearest kinfolks. The widow is the principal mourner for the deceased and her grief seems to be sincere. Her countenance becomes dejected—she seldom smiles—clothes herself in rags, and with disheveled hair and spots of black paint on her cheeks, wanders about in a pensive mood, seldom shedding tears, except when alone in the woods. They generally cease mourning at the suggestion of some friend, wash, paint themselves red and put on their best clothes and ornaments. Some of the Sauks and Foxes entertain the opinion that the spirit of the deceased hovers about the village or lodge, for a few days, and then takes its flight to the land of repose. On its way, they suppose it passes over an extensive prairie, beyond which the woods appear like a blue cloud. Between this woodland and the prairie, there is a deep and rapid stream of water, across which there is a pole, kept in continual motion by the force of the current. This stream, the spirit must cross on the pole, and if it has belonged to a good person, it will get over safe and find all its good relations that have gone before it. In this woodland, game of all kinds is abundant, and there the spirits of the good live in everlasting happiness. If on the contrary, the spirit has belonged to a bad or wicked person in this world, it will fall off the pole into the stream, and the current will sweep it down to the land of evil spirits, where it will forever remain in poverty and misery. There is nothing very peculiar in the religious opinions of the Sauks and Foxes, to distinguish them from the aborigines of this country, generally. They believe in one Great and Good Spirit, who controls and governs all things, and in supernatural agents who are permitted to interfere in their concerns. They are of opinion that there is also a bad spirit, subordinate, however, to the great Manito, who is permitted to annoy and perplex the Indians, by means of bad medicines, by poisonous reptiles, and by killing their horses and sinking their canoes. All their misfortunes are attributed to the influence of this bad spirit, but they have some vague idea that it is in part permitted as a punishment for their bad deeds. They all believe in ghosts, and when they fancy that they have seen one, the friends of the deceased give a feast and hang up some clothing as an offering to appease the troubled spirit. So far as the ceremonials are concerned, the Sauks and Foxes may be called a religious people. They rarely pass any extraordinary cave, rock, hill or other object, with out leaving behind them some tobacco for the use of the spirit who they suppose lives there. They have some kind of prayers, consisting of words which they sing over in the evening and at sunrise in the morning.
Their tradition in regard to the creation of the world, the deluge and the re-peopling of the earth, is a singular mixture of truth and fiction. If anterior in its origin, to the arrival of the whites on this continent, it presents matter of curious speculation. The following account of it, entitled the Cosmogony of the Saukee and Musquakee Indians, is taken from Doctor Galland's Chronicles of the North American Savages.
"In the beginning the Gods created every living being which was intended to have life upon the face of the whole earth; and then were formed every species of living animal. After this the gods also formed man, whom they perceived to be both cruel and foolish: they then put into man the heart of the best beast they had created; but they beheld that man still continued cruel and foolish. After this it came to pass that the Almighty took a piece of himself, of which he made a heart for the man; and when the man received it, he immediately became wise above every other animal on the earth.
"And it came to pass in the process of much time, that the earth produced its first fruits in abundance, and all the living beasts were greatly multiplied. The earth about this time, was also inhabited by an innumerable host of I-am-woi (giants) and gods. And the gods whose habitation is under the seas, made war upon We-suk-kah, (the chief god upon the earth) and leagued themselves with the I-am-woi upon the earth, against him. Nevertheless, they were still afraid of We-suk-kah and his immense host of gods; therefore they called a council upon the earth; and when they were assembled upon the earth, at the council, both the I-am-woi and the gods from under the seas, after much debate, and long consultation, they resolved to make a great feast upon the earth, and to invite We-suk-kah, that they might thus beguile him, and at the feast lay hands upon him and slay him.
"And when the council had appointed a delegate to visit We-suk-kah, and commanded him to invite We-suk-kah to the great feast, which they were preparing upon the earth for him; behold, the younger brother of We-suk-kah, was in the midst of the council, and being confused in the whole assembly, they said unto him, "Where is thy brother We-suk-kah." And he answering said unto them "I know not; am I my brother's keeper?" And the council perceiving that all their devices were known unto him, they were sorely vexed; therefore, with one accord, the whole assembly rushed violently upon him and slew him: and thus was slain the younger brother of We-suk-kah.
"Now when We-suk-kah had heard of the death of his younger brother, he was extremely sorrowful and wept aloud; and the gods whose habitations are above the clouds, heard the voice of his lamentations, and they leagued with him to avenge the blood of his brother. At this time the lower gods had fled from the face of the earth, to their own habitations under the seas; and the I-am-woi were thus forsaken, and left alone to defend themselves against We-suk-kah and his allies.
"Now the scene of battle, where We-suk-kah and his allies fought the I-am-woi, was in a flame of fire; and the whole race of the I-am-woi were destroyed with a great slaughter, that there was not one left upon the face of the whole earth. And when the gods under the sea, knew the dreadful fate of their allies, the I-am-woi, whom they had deserted, they were sore afraid and they cried aloud to Na-nam-a-keh (god of thunder) to come to their assistance. And Na-nam-a-keh heard their cry and accepted their request, and sent his subaltern, No-tah-tes-se-ah, (god of the wind) to Pa-poan-a-tesse-ah, (god of the cold) to invite him to come with all his dreadful host of frost, snow, hail, ice and north-wind, to their relief. When this destroying army came from the north, they smote the whole earth with frost, converting the waters of every river, lake, and sea into solid masses of ice, and covering the whole earth with an immense sheet of snow and hail. Thus perished all the first inhabitants of the earth both men, beasts and gods, except a few choice ones of each kind, which We-suk-kah preserved with himself upon the earth.
"And again it came to pass in the process of a long time, that the gods under the sea came forth again, upon the earth; and when they saw We-suk-kah, that he was almost alone on the earth, they rejoiced in assurance of being able to destroy him. But when they had exhausted every scheme, attempted every plan, and executed every effort to no effect, perceiving that all their councils and designs were well known to We-suk-kah as soon as they were formed, they became mad with despair, and resolved to destroy We-suk-kah, by spoiling forever the whole face of the earth, which they so much desired to inhabit. To this end, therefore, they retired to their former habitations under the sea and intreated Na-nam-a-keh (the god of thunder) to drown the whole earth with a flood.
"And Na-nam-a-keh again hearkened to their cries, and calling all the clouds to gather themselves together, they obeyed his voice and came; and when all the clouds were assembled, he commanded them and they poured down water upon the earth, a tremendous torrent, until the whole surface of the earth, even the tops of the highest mountains were covered with water. But it came to pass, when We-suk-kah saw the water coming upon the earth, he took some air, and made an o-pes-quie, (vessel, boat or shell) and getting into it himself, he took with him all sorts of living beasts, and man; and when the waters rose upon the earth the o-pes-quie was lifted up and floated upon the surface, until the tops of the highest mountains were covered with the flood. And when the o-pes-quie had remained for a long time upon the surface of the flood, We-suk-kah called one of the animals, which was with him in the o-pes-quie, and commanded it to go down through the water to the earth, to bring from thence some earth; and after many repeated efforts and with great difficulty, the animal at length returned, bringing in its mouth, some earth; of which, when We-suk-kah had received it, he formed this earth, and spread it forth upon the surface of the water; and went forth himself and all that were with him in the o-pes-quie, and occupied the dry land."
In the social or family relations of the Sauks and Foxes, it is considered the duty of the men to hunt and clothe their wives and children—to purchase arms and the implements of husbandry so far as they use them—to make canoes and assist in rowing them—to hunt and drive their horses, make saddles, &c. &c. The duties of the women, are to skin the game when brought home and prepare the skins for market, to cook, to make the camp, cut and carry wood, make moccasins, plant and gather the corn, beans and pumpkins, and do all the drudgery connected with the domestic affairs. It is the commonly received opinion among the whites that the female Indians are the slaves of their husbands. This is not literally true. The men seldom make their wives feel their authority: as a general rule among the Sauks and Foxes, they live happily together. The wives take the liberty of scolding their husbands, very frequently, and it is considered by both parties that every thing in the family, except the war and hunting implements, belongs to the wife, and she may do with it as she pleases. The men may each have two or three, or even more wives. They generally prefer to take sisters, as they agree better together in the same lodge: the eldest usually regulates all the domestic affairs of the family and has charge of the property belonging to it. The men turn off their wives and the latter leave their husbands whenever they become discontented. While living together, the women are generally faithful to their husbands. The daughters seldom leave their mothers until they are married, which usually occurs when they are about fourteen or fifteen years of age. The parents of an Indian girl are generally conciliated by presents from her lover, but they may insist upon servitude from him, which sometimes runs throughout one, two or three years. There is no particular marriage ceremony among them, beyond that of the contract between the parents or parties. A young Sauk lover is represented as a silly looking fellow, who can neither eat, drink or sleep—he appears to be deranged, and with all the pains he takes to conceal his passion, his malady is still apparent to his friends. The faithfulness of this sketch, will hardly be questioned, when the close analogy which it bears to a pale-faced lover, is recalled to mind. The Sauks and Foxes, when pinched with hunger, will eat almost any kind of meat, but prefer venison and bear's meat to all other; they never eat it unless cooked. They make much use of corn, beans and pumpkins, and annually raise considerable quantities. They are not fond of fish and seldom eat them if they can procure other kinds of food.
There are but three kinds of musical instruments used among these tribes. The drum, which is beat at their feasts, dances and games, the tambourin, and a kind of flageolet, made of cane or two pieces of soft wood hollowed out and fastened together with strips of leather. Their tunes are always on a flat key, have but few variations and are mostly of a melancholy character. According to Mr. Atwater, who visited those residing near Rock Island, in 1829, the Sacs and Foxes have "tunes evidently of French origin, and some songs of considerable length." "These Indians have among them, what answers to the Italian Improvisatori who make songs for particular occasions." The same writer says, "the Sauks and Foxes have a considerable number of songs, suited to a great many occasions in their own language." He further adds, "Among the Indians of the Upper Mississippi, the Sauks and Foxes are decidedly the best actors, and have the greatest variety of plays among them." In common with the Indian tribes generally, they have a variety of athletic games, in which both the men and women join. They are addicted to cards and other games of chance, and often bet very high.
Touching the condition of these tribes in 1805, Lieutenant Pike, in his travels to the sources of the Mississippi, says, "The first nation of Indians whom we met with, were the Sauks, who principally reside in four villages. The first at the head of the rapids des Moyens, on the west shore, containing thirteen lodges. The second on a prairie on the east shore about sixty miles above. The third on the river De Roche [Rock river] about three miles from the entrance, and the last on the river Iowa. They hunt on the Mississippi and its confluent streams from the Illinois to the river Des Iowa; and on the plains west of them which border the Mississippi. They are so perfectly consolidated with the Reynards (the Foxes) that they can scarcely be termed a distinct nation; but recently there appears to be a schism between the two nations: the latter not approving of the insolence and ill-will, which has marked the conduct of the former towards the United States, on many late occurrences. They have for many years past made war (under the auspices of the Sioux) on the Santeaux, Osages and Missouries; but as recently a peace has been (through the influence of the United States) made between them and the nations of the Missouri, and by the same means between the Sioux and the Santeaux (their principal allies) it appears it would be by no means a difficult matter to induce them to make a general peace, and pay still greater attention to the cultivation of the earth: as they now raise a considerable quantity of corn, beans and melons. The character which they bear with their savage brethren, is, that they are much more to be dreaded for their deceit and inclination for stratagem, than for open courage.
"The Reynards reside in three villages. The first on the west side of the Mississippi six miles above the rapids of the river de Roche. The second about twelve miles in the rear of the lead mines, and the third on Turkey river, half a league from its entrance. They are engaged in the same wars, and have the same alliances as the Sauks, with whom they must be considered as indissoluble in war and peace. They hunt on both sides of the Mississippi, from the river Iowa (below the prairie des Chiens) to a river of that name, above said village. They raise a great quantity of corn, beans and melons; the former of those articles in such quantities, as to sell many hundred bushels per annum."
At this period, 1805, according to Lieutenant Pike, the total number of souls in the Sauk nation was 2850, of whom 1400 were children, seven hundred and fifty women, and seven hundred warriors. They resided in their villages and had about seven hundred stand of arms. Their trade was principally in deer skins, with some bear and a few otter, beaver and raccoon skins. The total number of the Foxes was 1750, of whom eight hundred and fifty were children, five hundred women and four hundred warriors, with about four hundred stand of arms. Their number of villages and their trade being the same with the Sauks.
Some further items of information about these tribes may be gleaned from the statistical view of the Indian nations furnished by Lewis and Clark's Expedition. It is there stated that the Saukee, or O-sau-kee, speak a primitive language, dwell principally in two villages, have about five hundred warriors and 2000 souls in the tribe, were at war with the Osage, Chippeway and Sioux. The Foxes or Ot-tar-gar-me, in the Saukee language, number not more than 1200 souls, and about three hundred warriors. These nations, the Sauks and Foxes, says Mr. Lewis, are so perfectly consolidated that they may in fact be considered as one nation only: "they are extremely friendly to the whites and seldom injure their traders; but they are the most implacable enemies to the Indian nations with whom they are at war; to them is justly attributed the almost entire destruction of the Missouries, the Illinois, the Cahokias, Kaskaskias, and Peorias."
In 1825, the Secretary at War, estimated the entire number of Sacs and Foxes at 4,600 souls, and in 1826, the warriors were supposed to amount to between twelve and fourteen hundred. Supposing these estimates to approximate the truth, it appears that during the twenty years between 1805 and 1825, these tribes had increased very considerably in numbers.
The traders generally and those who have had most intercourse with the Sauks and Foxes, speak of them as honest in their dealings, and feel safe among them, seldom locking their doors by day or night, and allowing them free ingress to their stores and houses. Their reputation for courage, it appears, does not stand quite so fair. Lieutenant Pike speaks of them as being more dreaded by their savage brethren for "their deceit and inclination for stratagem, than for their open courage." Major Thomas Forsyth, late U.S. agent among the Sacs and Foxes, calls them a dastardly and cowardly set of Indians. The correctness of these charges may be questioned. Mr. Schoolcraft, in speaking of the Foxes says, "the history of their migrations and wars, shows them to have been a restless and spirited people, erratic in their dispositions, having a great contempt for agriculture, and a predominant passion for war." He adds, "they still retain their ancient character, and are constantly embroiled in wars and disputes with their neighbors, the results of which show, that they have more courage in battle, than wisdom in council." In a report of the war department to the President, made by the secretary Mr. Cass, in 1832, the Sacs and Foxes are spoken of as being distinguished for their "daring spirit of adventure and for their natural courage."
The truth appears to be, that the Sacs and Foxes fought their way from the waters of the St. Lawrence to Green Bay, and after reaching that place, not only sustained themselves against hostile tribes, but were among the most active and courageous in the subjugation or rather extermination of the numerous and powerful Illini confederacy. They have had many wars, offensive and defensive, with the Sioux, the Pawnees, the Osages and other tribes, some of whom are ranked among the most fierce and ferocious warriors on the continent; and, it does not appear, that in these conflicts, running through a long period of years, they were found wanting in this greatest of savage virtues. In the late war with Great Britain, a party from the Sacs and Foxes, fought under the British standard as a matter of choice: and in the recent contest between a fragment of these tribes and the United States, although defeated and literally cut to pieces by an overwhelming force, it is very questionable whether their reputation as braves, would suffer by a comparison with that of their victors. It is believed that a careful review of their history, from the period when they first established themselves on the waters of the Mississippi, down to the present time, will lead the inquirer to the conclusion, that the Sacs and Foxes are truly a courageous people, shrewd, politic, and enterprising, with not more of ferocity and treachery of character, than is common among the tribes by whom they are surrounded.
Treaty with the Sac and Fox Indians in 1789—treaty and cession of land to the United States at St. Louis in 1804—Black Hawk's account of this treaty—Erection of Fort Madison—The British excite the Sac and Fox Indians to make war upon the United States—A party under Black Hawk join the British standard in 1812—Treaty at Portage des Sioux in 1815—Treaty of peace with Black Hawk and his band at same place in 1816—Treaty for part of their lands in Missouri in 1824—Treaty of Prairie des Chiens in 1825—Treaty for the mineral region in 1829—Treaty of peace in 1832, after the "Black Hawk war"—Present residence of the Sacs and Foxes.
The first treaty between the United States and the Sacs, was made at Fort Harmar, on the Muskingum river, on the 9th of January 1789. It was concluded by Arthur St. Clair, governor of the Territory north west of the Ohio, on the part of the United States, and the sachems and warriors of the Chippeway, Ottawa, Pottawatamie, Delaware, Wyandotte and Sac tribes of Indians. The object of this treaty seems to have been the confirmation of former treaties and the adjustment of boundary lines of previous cessions of land. By the fourteenth article of this treaty, it is provided, that the United States, "do also receive into their friendship and protection, the nations of the Pottawatamies, and Sacs; and do hereby establish a league of peace and amity between them respectively; and all the articles of this treaty, so far as they apply to these nations, are to be considered as made and concluded, in all and every part, expressly with them and each of them."
On the 27th of June 1804, the President, Mr. Jefferson, directed Governor William H. Harrison, to make a treaty with the Sacs, and obtain, if possible, cessions of land on both sides of the Illinois river, and to give them, in lieu thereof, an annual compensation. In November following, Governor Harrison concluded a treaty with the Sacs and Foxes, under his instructions. As this treaty has formed the basis of all the subsequent ones made with these tribes, and as its validity, has been disputed by some of the Sac nation, it is deemed expedient, to copy it entire, in this place, more especially as it will be matter of frequent reference in the subsequent pages of this work.
* * * * *
"Articles of a treaty, made at Saint Louis, in the district of Louisiana, between William Henry Harrison, governor of the Indiana Territory and of the district of Louisiana, superintendent of Indian affairs for the said territory and district, and commissioner plenipotentiary of the United States, for concluding any treaty, or treaties which may be found necessary with any of the north western tribes of Indians, of the one part; and the chiefs and head men of the united Sac and Fox tribes of the other part."
Article 1. The United States receive the united Sac and Fox tribes into their friendship and protection; and the said tribes agree to consider themselves under the protection of the United States, and of no other power whatsoever.
Art. 2. The general boundary line between the lands of the United States and of the said Indian tribes shall be as follows, viz: Beginning at a point on the Missouri river, opposite to the mouth of the Gasconade river; thence, in a direct course so as to strike the river Jeffreon, at the distance of thirty miles from its mouth, and down the said Jeffreon to the Mississippi; thence, up the Mississippi to the mouth of the Ouisconsin river, and up the same to a point which shall be thirty-six miles, in a direct line from the mouth of said river; thence, by a direct line to a point where the Fox river (a branch of the Illinois) leaves the small lake called Sakaegan; thence down the Fox river to the Illinois river, and down the same to the Mississippi. And the said tribes, for and in consideration of the friendship and protection of the United States, which is now extended to them, of the goods (to the value of two thousand, two hundred and thirty-four dollars and fifty cents) which are now delivered, and of the annuity hereinafter stipulated to be paid, do hereby cede and relinquish forever, to the United States, all the lands included within the above described boundary.
Art. 3. In consideration of the cession and relinquishment of land made in the preceding article, the United States will deliver to the said tribes, at the town of St. Louis, or some other convenient place on the Mississippi, yearly and every year, goods suited to the circumstances of the Indians, of the value of one thousand dollars (six hundred of which are intended for the Sacs, and four hundred for the Foxes,) reckoning that value at the first cost of the goods in the city or place in the United States, where they shall be procured. And if the said tribes shall hereafter, at an annual delivery of the goods aforesaid, desire that a part of their annuity should be furnished in domestic animals, implements of husbandry, and other utensils, convenient for them, the same shall at the subsequent annual delivery, be furnished accordingly.
Art. 4. The United States will never interrupt the said tribes, in the possession of the lands which they rightfully claim; but will on the contrary, protect them in the quiet enjoyment of the same, against their own citizens, and against all other white persons, who may intrude upon them. And the said tribes do hereby engage, that they will never sell their land, or any part thereof, to any sovereign power but the United States; nor to the citizens or subjects of any other sovereign power, nor to the citizens of the United States.
Art. 5. Lest the friendship which is now established between the United States and the said Indian tribes, should be interrupted by the misconduct of individuals, it is hereby agreed, that for injuries done by individuals, no private revenge or retaliation shall take place; but, instead thereof, complaint shall be made by the party injured to the other; by the said tribes, or either of them, to the superintendent of Indian affairs, or one of his deputies; and by the superintendent, or other person appointed by the President, to the chiefs of the said tribes. And it shall be the duty of the said chiefs, upon complaint being made, as aforesaid, to deliver up the person, or persons, against whom the complaint is made, to the end that he, or they, may be punished agreeably to the laws of the state or territory where the offence may have been committed. And, in like manner, if any robbery, violence or murder shall be committed on any Indian, or Indians, belonging to the said tribes, or either of them, the person or persons so offending, shall be tried, and if found guilty, punished, in like manner as if the injury had been done to a white man. And it is further agreed, that the chiefs of the said tribes shall, to the utmost of their power, exert themselves to recover horses, or other property which may be stolen from any citizen or citizens of the United States by any individual or individuals of their tribes. And the property so recovered, shall be forthwith delivered to the superintendent, or other person authorized to receive it, that it may be restored to the proper owner. And in cases where the exertions of the chiefs shall be ineffectual in recovering the property stolen, as aforesaid, if sufficient proof can be obtained, that such property was actually stolen by any Indian, or Indians, belonging to the said tribes or either of them, the United States may deduct from the annuity of the said tribes, a sum equal to the value of the property which was stolen. And the United States hereby guaranty to any Indian or Indians, of the said tribes, a full indemnification for any horses, or other property, which may be stolen from them, by any of their citizens: Provided, that the property so stolen cannot be recovered, and that sufficient proof is produced that it was actually stolen by a citizen of the United States.
Art. 6. If any citizen of the United States, or any other white person, should form a settlement, upon the lands which are the property of the Sac and Fox tribes, upon complaint being made thereof, to the Superintendent, or other person having charge of the affairs of the Indians, such intruder shall forthwith be removed.
Art. 7. As long as the lands which are now ceded to the United States remain their property, the Indians belonging to the said tribes shall enjoy the privilege of living and hunting upon them.
Art. 8. As the laws of the United States regulating trade and intercourse with the Indian tribes, are already extended to the country inhabited by the Sacs and Foxes, and as it is provided by those laws, that no person shall reside, as a trader, in the Indian country, without a licence under the hand and seal of the Superintendent of Indian affairs, or other person appointed for the purpose by the President, the said tribes do promise and agree, that they will not suffer any trader to reside among them, without such licence, and that they will, from time to time, give notice to the Superintendent, or to the agent for their tribes, of all the traders that may be in their country.
Art. 9. In order to put a stop to the abuses and impositions which are practised upon the said tribes, by the private traders, the United States will, at a convenient time, establish a trading house, or factory, where the individuals of the said tribes can be supplied with goods at a more reasonable rate, than they have been accustomed to procure them.
Art. 10. In order to evince the sincerity of their friendship and affection for the United States, and a respectful deference for their advice, by an act which will not only be acceptable to them, but to the common father of all the nations of the earth, the said tribes do, hereby, promise and agree that they will put an end to the bloody war which has heretofore raged between their tribe and the Great and Little Osages. And for the purpose of burying the tomahawk, and renewing the friendly intercourse between themselves and the Osages, a meeting of their respective chiefs shall take place, at which, under the direction of the above named commissioner, or the agent of Indian affairs residing at St. Louis, an adjustment of all their differences shall be made, and peace established upon a firm and lasting basis.
Art. 11. As it is probable that the government of the United States will establish a military post at, or near the mouth of the Ouisconsin river, and as the land on the lower side of the river may not be suitable for that purpose, the said tribes hereby agree, that a fort may be built, either on the upper side of the Ouisconsin, or on the right bank of the Mississippi, as the one or the other may be found most convenient; and a tract of land not exceeding two miles square, shall be given for that purpose; and the said tribes do further agree, that they will at all times, allow to traders and other persons travelling through their country, under the authority of the United States, a free and safe passage for themselves and their property of every description; and that for such passage, they shall at no time, and on no account whatever, be subject to any toll or exaction.
Art. 12. This treaty shall take effect and be obligatory on the contracting parties, as soon as the same shall be ratified by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate of the United States.
In testimony whereof, the said William Henry Harrison, and the chiefs and head men of said Sac and Fox tribes, have hereunto set their hands and affixed their seals. Done at St. Louis, in the district of Louisiana, on the third day of November, one thousand, eight hundred and four, and of the independence of the United States the twenty-ninth.
It is agreed that nothing in this treaty contained shall affect the claim of any individual or individuals, who may have obtained grants of land from the Spanish government, and which are not included within the general boundary line, laid down in this treaty: Provided, that such grant have at any time been made known to the said tribes and recognized by them.
WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON. L.S. LAYOWVOIS, or Laiyuva, his X mark. L.S. PASHEPAHO, or the Stabber, his X mark. L.S. QUASHQUAME, or jumping fish, his X mark. L.S. OUTCHEQUAHA, or sun fish, his X mark. L.S. HASHEQUARHIQUA, or the bear, his X mark. L.S.
In presence of
William Prince, Secretary to the Commissioner. John Griffin, one of the Judges of the Indiana Territory. J. Bruff, Maj. Art'y. U.S. Amos Stoddard, Capt. corps of Artillerists. P. Choteau, Agent de la haute Louisiana, pour le department sauvage. Ch. Gratiot. Aug. Choteau. Vigo. S. Warrel, Lieut. U. States Artillery. D. Delaunay. Joseph Barren. } sworn H'polite Bolen, his X mark. } Interpreters.
On the 31st of December 1804, the President of the United States, submitted this treaty to the Senate for their advice and consent, and it was by that body duly ratified.
In a Life of Black Hawk, dictated by himself and written by J.B. Patterson, to which there is a certificate of authenticity appended from Antoine Le Clair. U.S. interpreter, for the Sacs and Foxes, under date of 16th October 1833, there is the following statement concerning the manner in which this treaty was made.
"Some moons after this young chief (Lieutenant Pike) descended the Mississippi, one of our people killed an American, and was confined, in the prison at St. Louis for the offence. We held a council at our village to see what could be done for him—which determined that Quash-qua-me, Pa-she-pa-ho, Ou-che-qua-ha, and Ha-she-quar-hi-qua, should go down to St. Louis, and see our American father, and do all they could to have our friend released; by paying for the person killed, thus covering the blood and satisfying the relations of the man murdered! This being the only means with us of saving a person who had killed another, and we then thought it was the same way with the whites.
"The party started with the good wishes of the whole nation, hoping they would accomplish the object of their mission. The relations of the prisoner blacked their faces and fasted, hoping the Great Spirit would take pity on them, and return the husband and the father to his wife and children.
"Quash-qua-me and party remained a long time absent. They at length returned and encamped a short distance below the village, but did not come up that day, nor did any person approach their camp. They appeared to be dressed in fine coats and had medals. From these circumstances, we were in hopes they had brought us good news. Early the next morning, the council lodge was crowded—Quash-qua-me and party came up, and gave us the following account of their mission.
"On their arrival at St. Louis, they met their American father, and explained to him their business, and urged the release of their friend. The American chief told them he wanted land, and they agreed to give him some on the west side of the Mississippi, and some on the Illinois side opposite the Jeffreon. When the business was all arranged, they expected to have their friend released to come home with them.—But about the time they were ready to start, their friend was led out of prison, who ran a short distance and was shot dead. This is all they could recollect of what was said and done. They had been drunk the greater part of the time they were in St. Louis.
"This is all myself or nation knew of the treaty of 1804. It has been explained to me since. I find by that treaty, all our country east of the Mississippi, and south of the Jeffreon was ceded to the United States for one thousand dollars a year! I will leave it to the people of the United States to say, whether our nation was properly represented in this treaty? or whether we received a fair compensation for the extent of country ceded by those four individuals. I could say much more about this treaty but I will not at this time. It has been the origin of all our difficulties." p. 27.
The power among the Indian tribes of this country to sell their lands, has always been considered as vested in the chiefs. They, however, are accustomed to consult the whole nation, and, possibly, it may be necessary, in all cases, that its assent should be obtained. It has not been the practice of our government, it is believed, in its negotiations with the Indians, to institute particular enquiries for the purpose of ascertaining, how far the chiefs were authorized to act by their people. A number of treaties have been formed, at different times, in which the chiefs must have acted under the general authority with which they are clothed on this point; the circumstances of the case being such, as to have precluded all opportunity of their ascertaining the sense of the tribes, after the negotiations had been commenced.
In the case under consideration, notwithstanding the statement of Black Hawk, there was every reason, especially on the part of the Commissioner, for believing, that the chiefs who signed the treaty, were fully authorized to act. In the first place, Government, in its instructions to the Commissioner, to make a purchase of lands, of the Sacs and Foxes, had given as a reason for it, that it was a matter of complaint, on the part of these two tribes, that they were not, like their neighbors, receiving an annuity from the United States. They owned a very large extent of territory, and had, comparatively, but a limited population. It was natural that they should wish to dispose of some portion of it, for the purpose of receiving an annual supply of goods and money. In the second place, five chiefs of the Sacs and Foxes, united in the treaty, one of them, Pah-she-pa-ho, being at the time the great head-chief of the Sac nation. It is admitted by Black Hawk that a council had been held by these two tribes, and that Pah-she-pa-ho and his associates had been authorized to visit St. Louis to purchase the release of a prisoner. It is probable that the sale of a part of their territory may have been agreed upon by this council. In the third place, there must have been a prevailing opinion in St. Louis, that these chiefs were authorized to act in the case. The treaty was publicly made, and a number of high-minded and honorable men, are parties to it, in the character of commissioner, secretary, and witnesses. Among them are several officers of the army; the first governor of the territory of Louisiana; and Pierre Chouteau, at that time Agent for the Sac and Fox Indians, and well acquainted with them. These circumstances forbid the idea of the treaty having been formed under circumstances in which there were not satisfactory reasons for believing, that the Indians, parties to it were fully authorized to act.
Black Hawk is mistaken in some things about this treaty, and it may be that he has been misinformed in regard to the authority of his chiefs to make this sale of their lands. He says, for instance, that the treaty was made some moons after the return of Lieutenant Pike from the sources of the Mississippi; when in fact Pike did not leave St. Louis upon his expedition, until the 9th of August 1805, nearly a year after the date of the treaty. Again, he says, it was made by four of the chiefs. The treaty is signed by five. But admitting that the deputation of chiefs transcended their authority in the sale of the lands, made at that time, it would seem that the Sacs and Foxes acquiesced in it. They never disavowed the treaty, but have regularly received their annuity, and, on more than one occasion, have recognized it, as binding. Even Black Hawk and his band, made this recognition, in the treaty of peace which they signed with the United States, at Portage des Sioux, in 1816.
It may be questioned, however, whether good faith towards the Indians and a due regard to national honor, do not make it expedient that our government should invariably hold its treaties with them, in their own country, and in the midst of the tribe owning the lands proposed to be purchased. In such case, the assent of all the Indians might be obtained, and the charge of having formed a fraudulent treaty, with unauthorized individuals, could never be raised. The peculiar relation subsisting between the government of the United States and the Indian tribes, within its territory, demands on on the part of the former, great delicacy of action, liberality and perfect good faith. By such a course, alone, can our national honor be preserved untarnished.
Subsequently to the treaty of 1804, the erection by the government of the United States, of Fort Madison on the Mississippi, above the Des Moines rapids, gave some dissatisfaction to the Sacs and Foxes. This was increased by the British agents and traders, who instigated them to resist the encroachments of the Americans, now beginning to press upon their hunting grounds. Of this interference on the part of the British, with the Indians, there can be no doubt. Governor Harrison in a letter to the secretary of war, dated Vincennes, July 15th, 1810, says, "a considerable number of the Sacs went some time since to see the British superintendent, and on the first instant, more passed Chicago, for the same destination." General Clark, under date of St. Louis, July 20th, 1810, says, in writing to the same department, "One hundred and fifty Sacs are on a visit to the British agent by invitation, and a smaller party on a visit to the island of St. Joseph, in lake Huron." John Johnson, Esq. the Indian agent, at Fort Wayne, under date of August 7th, 1810, says, to the secretary at war, "About one hundred Saukees have returned from the British agent, who supplied them liberally with every thing they stood in need of. The party received forty-seven rifles, and a number of fusils with plenty of powder and lead."
McKee, Dixon, and Girty were open and active agents in exciting the Indians to attack the American frontiers. They held frequent talks with them and supplied them liberally with goods and munitions of war. In 1811, there being a strong probability of a war with Great Britain, a deputation of the Sauks and Foxes, visited Washington city, to see the President, by whom they were told that in the event of a war taking place with England, their great father did not wish them to interfere on either side, but to remain neutral: He did not want their assistance but desired them to hunt and support their families and live in peace. Immediately after the war of 1812, the Sacs and Foxes, with whom, as with Indians generally, war is the great business of life, felt that they ought, as a matter of course, to take sides with one party or the other, and went to St. Louis, to offer their services to the United States agent, to fight against the British; but the offer was declined, on the ground that the government of the United States had resolved not to employ the Indians in that capacity. The machinations of the British, were successfully continued. The Sacs and Foxes divided upon the question of taking up arms against the United States. A part of them claimed the protection of the American government and received it; a part joined the British standard, Black Hawk among the number, and fought against the Americans until the peace of 1815. The number of warriors who joined the British is supposed to have been about two hundred, and they have ever since been known as the "British Band," at the head of which has been "General Black Hawk."
On the 14th September, 1815, William Clark, Ninian Edwards and Auguste Choteau, commissioners on behalf of the United States, concluded a treaty with the chiefs and warriors of the Fox tribe, by which all injuries and acts of hostility, committed by either party during the late war, were to be forgiven, and peace and friendship established between the two nations. The fourth article of the treaty contains a recognition of the former treaty in these words. "The said Fox tribe or nation do hereby, assent to, recognize, re-establish and confirm the treaty of St. Louis, which was concluded on the 3rd of November, 1804, to the full extent of their interest in the same, as well as all other contracts and agreements between the parties." This treaty was made at Portage des Sioux.
On the 13th of September, 1815, the same commissioners, at the same place, concluded a treaty of peace and friendship with the chiefs and warriors of that part of Sac nation of Indians residing on the Mississippi river. The first article recognizes the treaty of 1804 in the following words. "The undersigned chiefs and warriors for themselves and that portion of the Sacs which they represent, do hereby assent to the treaty between the United States of America and the united tribes of Sacs and Foxes, which was concluded at St. Louis on the third of November 1804; and they moreover promise to do all in their power to re-establish and enforce the same." There is a further provision that they will remain distinct and separate from the Sacs of Rock river, giving them no assistance whatever, until peace shall be established between them and the United States. The Sacs on Rock river were that part of the tribe which had been engaged in the late war, and who now declined making a treaty with the United States, and continued, although officially notified of the peace, to commit occasional depredations on the frontiers; and, it was not until the following spring that hostilities on their part actually ceased.
On the 13th of May, 1816, the same commissioners effected a treaty with the chiefs and warriors of the Sacs of Rock river, and the adjacent country. The first article of this treaty provides, that, "The Sacs of Rock river and the adjacent country, do hereby unconditionally assent to, recognize, re-establish and confirm the treaty between the United States of America and the united tribes of Sacs and Foxes, which was concluded at St. Louis on the 3d November 1804, as well as all other contracts and agreements, heretofore made between the Sac tribe and the United States." Under the 9th article of the treaty of Ghent, concluded 24th December 1814, between the United States and Great Britain, it was stipulated, that each party should put an end to Indian hostilities within their respective territory, and place the tribes on the same footing upon which they stood before the war. Under this provision, the second article of the treaty with the Sacs of Rock river, stipulated that they are placed upon the same footing which they occupied before the late war, upon the single condition of their restoring the property stolen by them, from the whites, subsequent to their notification that peace had been made between the United States and Great Britain.
Under the 9th article of the treaty of 1804, the United States agreed to establish a trading-house to supply the Sacs and Foxes with goods at a more reasonable rate than they had been accustomed to procure them. On the third of September 1822, Maj. Thomas Forsyth, the U.S. Indian agent, made a treaty at Fort Armstrong, with the chiefs, warriors and head men of the Sacs and Foxes, by which, in consideration of the sum of one thousand dollars, they forever released the United States from all obligation contained in said ninth article of the treaty of 1804.