AKA Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak (Black Sparrow Hawk)
Born: c. 1767
Birthplace: Saukenuk, IL
Location of death: Davis County, IA
Cause of death: Respiratory failure
Race or Ethnicity: American Aborigine
Sexual orientation: Straight
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Led Indian uprisings in Illinois and Wisconsin
Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak (Black Sparrow Hawk, or more commonly called Black Hawk) was a warrior of the Sauk tribe who first came to white people's attention when he led his people in brief battle against the pioneers in 1808. The whites maintained that four years earlier, in exchange for about $2,275.50, the Sauks had sold the federal government fifteen million acres of land in what is now Illinois, Missouri, and Wisconsin. Such a "contract" was indeed signed in St. Louis by a low-level Sauk elder named Quashquame in 1804, but there is little evidence that Quashquame represented the Sauk people in any meaningful way, or that he understood what he was asked to sign.
Black Hawk later aligned with British forces during the War of 1812, and fought under Tecumseh at the Battle of Frenchtown and sieges of Fort Meigs and Fort Stephenson. In 1816 Black Hawk signed a document effectively endorsing the 1804 Quashquame agreement, but he later said he was startled and furious to learn what he was purported to have endorsed. After repeated encroachment of more and more white settlers, the Sauk were ordered to relocate to Iowa in 1830, and two years later Black Hawk led a coalition of rebel Sauks, Kickapoos, and Mesquakies (Fox) in what is now called the Black Hawk War. Battles were fought in numerous locations across northern Illinois and southwestern Wisconsin, with the bloodiest confrontations at Wisconsin Heights on 21 July 1832 and near the town now called Victory, Wisconsin, on 1-2 August 1832. In this last battle, usually called the Bad Axe Massacre, Black Hawk waved a white flag of surrender when he saw that his army was vastly outnumbered, but the pursuing militia proceeded to kill about 175 of his 250 men.
He was briefly jailed at Fort Crawford in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, then brought to Washington DC to sign a settlement with President Andrew Jackson. Black Hawk lived the remainder of his life on farmland in Iowa, and made no further difficulties for the white men. After he died of respiratory illness in 1838, his remains were first displayed in the Governor's Mansion in Iowa, then buried near Iowaville, Iowa. His grave was soon robbed, and what was believed to be Black Hawk's corpse was next seen in Quincy, Illinois, where an entrepreneur boiled the remains down to a skeleton and offered glimpses of the warrior's bones as a tourist attraction. After Iowa officials demanded that the remains be returned to that state, the skeleton was relocated to a physician's office in Burlington, Iowa, and eventually moved into a museum in that town. The museum burned to the ground in 1855, destroying Black Hawk's remains and ending his posthumous travels. Contrary to popular legend, he was never formally Chief of his tribe. He is the namesake of Black Hawk County, in northeast Iowa.
Wife: Asshewaqua (Singing Bird, two daughters, three sons)
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