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(pioneer icon) 1924


As I have given throughout the Narrative of the Sauk War, the impressions we received from our own observation, or from information furnished us at the time, I think it but justice to Black Hawk and his party to insert, by way of Appendix, the following account, preserved among the manuscript writings of the late Thomas Forsyth, Esq., of St. Louis, who, after residing among the Indians many years as a trader, was, until the year 1830, the Agent of the Sauks and Foxes. The manuscript was written in 1832, while Black Hawk and his compatriots were in prison at Jefferson Barracks.

"The United States troops under the command of Major Stoddard arrived here,1 and took possession of this country in the month of February, 1804. In the spring of that year, a white person (a man or boy), was killed in Cuivre Settlement, by a Sauk Indian. Some time in the summer following, a party of United States troops were sent up to the Sauk village on Rocky river, and a demand made of the Sauk Chiefs for the murderer. The Sauk Chiefs did not hesitate a moment, but delivered him up to the commander of the troops, who brought him down and delivered him over to the civil authority in this place (St Louis).

"Some time in the ensuing autumn some Sauk and Fox Indians came to this place, and had a conversation with General Harrison (then Governor of Indiana Territory, and acting Governor of this State, then Territory of Louisiana), on the subject of liberating their relative, then in prison at this place for the above-mentioned murder.

"Quash-quame, a Sauk chief, who was the head man of this party, has repeatedly said, 'Mr. Pierre Choteau, Sen., came several times to my camp, offering that if I would sell the lands on the east side of the Mississippi river, Governor Harrison would liberate my relation, (meaning the Sauk Indian then in prison as above related), to which I at last agreed, and sold the lands from the mouth of the Illinois river up the Mississippi river as high as the mouth of Rocky river (now Rock river), and east to the ridge that divides the waters of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, but I never sold any more lands.' Quash-quame also said to Governor Edwards, Governor Clark and Mr. Auguste Chouteau, Commissioners appointed to treat with the Chippewas, Ottowas, and Pottowattamies of Illinois river, in the summer of 1816, for lands on the west side of Illinois river:

"'You white men may put on paper what you please, but again I tell you, I never sold any lands higher up the Mississippi than the mouth of Rocky river.'

"In the treaty first mentioned, the line commences opposite to the mouth of Gasconade river, and running in a direct line to the headwaters of Jefferson2 river thence down that river to the Mississippi river -- thence up the Mississippi river to the mouth of the Ouisconsin river -- thence up that river thirty-six miles -- thence in a direct line to a little lake in Fox river of Illinois, down Fox river to Illinois river, down Illinois river to its mouth, thence down the Mississippi river to the mouth of Missouri river, thence up that river to the place of beginning. See Treaty dated at St. Louis, 4th November, 1804.

"The Sauk and Fox nations were never consulted, nor had any hand in this Treaty, nor knew anything about it. It was made and signed by two Sauk chiefs, one Fox chief and one warrior.

"When the annuities were delivered to the Sauk and Fox nation of Indians, according to the treaty above referred to (amounting to $1,000 per annum), the Indians always thought they were presents, (as the annuity for the first twenty years was always paid in goods, sent on from Georgetown, District of Columbia, (and poor articles of merchandize they were, very often damaged and not suitable for Indians), until I, as their Agent, convinced them of the contrary, in the summer of 1818. When the Indians heard that the goods delivered to them were annuities for land, sold by them to the United States, they were astonished, and refused to accept of the goods, denying that they ever sold the lands as stated by me, their Agent. The Black Hawk in particular, who was present at the time, made a great noise about this land, and would never receive any part of the annuities from that time forward. He always denied the authority of Quash-quame and others to sell any part of their lands, and told the Indians not to receive any presents or annuities from any American -- otherwise their lands would be claimed at some future day.

"As the United States do insist, and retain the lands according to the Treaty of Nov. 4, 1804, why do they not fulfil their part of that Treaty as equity demands?

"The Sauk and Fox nations are allowed, aceording to that Treaty, 'to live and hunt on the lands so ceded, as long as the aforesaid lands belong to the United States.' In the spring of the year 1827, about twelve or fifteen families of squatters arrived and took possession of the Sauk village, near the mouth of the Rocky river. They immediately commenced destroying the Indians' bark boats. Some were burned, others were torn to pieces, and when the Indians arrived at the village, and found fault with the destruction of their property, they were beaten and abused by the Squatters.

"The Indians made complaint to me, as their Agent I wrote to Gen. Clark,3 stating to him from time to time what happened, and giving a minute detail of everything that passed between the whites (Squatters) and the Indians.

"The squatters insisted that the Indians should be removed from their village, saying that as soon as the land was brought into market they (the squatters) would buy it all. It became needless for me to show them the treaty, and the right the Indians had to remain on their lands. They tried every method to annoy the Indians, by shooting their dogs, claiming their horses; complaining that the Indians' horses broke into their cornfields -- selling them whiskey for the most trifling articles, contrary to the wishes and request of the chiefs, particularly the Black Hawk, who both solicited and threatened them on the subject, but all to no purpose.

"The President directed those lands to be sold at the Land Office, in Springfield, Illinois. Accordingly when the time came that they were to be offered for sale (in the Autumn of 1828), there were about twenty families of squatter at, and in the vicinity of the old Sauk village, most of whom attended the sale, and but one of them could purchase a quarter-section (if we except George Davenport, a trader who resides in Rocky Island). Therefore, all the land not sold, still belonged to the United States, and the Indians had still a right, by treaty, to hunt and live on those lands. This right, however, was not allowed them -- they must move off.

"In 1830, the principal chiefs, and others of the Sauk and Fox Indians who resided at the old village, near Rocky river, acquainted me that they would remove to their village on Ihoway river. These chiefs advised me to write to General Clarke, Superintendent of Indian Affairs at this place (St. Louis), to send up a few militia -- that the Black Hawk and his followers would then see that everything was in earnest, and they would remove to the west side of the Mississippi, to their own lands.

"The letter, as requested by the chiefs, was written and sent by me to General Clarke, but he did not think proper to answer it -- therefore everything remained as formerly, and, as a matter of course, Black Hawk and his party thought the whole matter of removing from the old village had blown over.

"In the Spring of 1831, the Black Hawk and his party were augmented by many Indians from Ihoway river. This augmentation of forces made the Black Hawk very proud, and he supposed nothing would be done about removing him and his party.

"General Gaines visited the Black Hawk and his party this season, with a force of regulars and militia, and compelled them to remove to the west side of the Mississippi river, on their own lands.

"When the Black Hawk and party re-crossed to the east side of the Mississippi river in 1832, they numbered three hundred and sixty-eight men. They were hampered with many women and children, and had no intention to make war. When attacked by General Stillman's detachment, they defended themselves like men, and I would ask, who would not do so, likewise? Thus the war commenced.  *  *  *  *

"The Indians had been defeated, dispersed, and some of the principal chiefs are now in prison and in chains, at Jefferson Barracks.  *  *  *  *

"It is very well known, by all who know the Black Hawk, that he has always been considered a friend to the whites. Often has he taken into his lodge the wearied white man, given him good food to eat, and a good blanket to sleep on before the fire. Many a good meal has the Prophet given to people travelling past his village, and very many stray horses has he recovered from the Indians, and restored to their rightful owners, without asking asking any recompense whatever.  *  *

"What right have we to tell any people, "You shall not cross the Mississippi river on any pretext whatever?" When the Sauk and Fox Indians wish to cross the Mississippi, to visit their relations among the Pottawattamies, of Fox river, Illinois, they are prevented by us, because we have the power!"

I omit, in the extracts I have made, the old gentleman's occasional comments upon the powers that dictated, and the forces which carried on the warfare of this unhappy Summer. There is every reason to believe that had his suggestions been listened to, and had he continued the Agent of the Sauks and Foxes, a sad record might have been spared. I mean the untimely fate of the unfortunate M. St. Vrain, who, a comparative stranger to his people, was murdered by them, in their exasperated fury, at Kellogg's Grove, soon after the commencement of the campaign.

1 St. Louis, Mo.

2 There is no such river in this country, therefore this treaty is null and void -- of no effect in law or equity. Such was the opinion of the late Gov. Howard. (T. F.)

3 Superintendent of Indian Affairs at St. Louis. (Ed.)

Mrs. John H. Kenzie, Wau-Bun, the "Early Day" in the Northwest. Chicago : D. B. Cooke & Co., 1857. p.491-498.
From the Memorial Library Department of Special Collections, University of Wisconsin-Madison.