Black Hawk, a Sauk leader, was born in the year 1767 near Rock Island, Illinois. He was a warrior of the Sauk American Indian tribe. The Sauk tribe lived in the Midwestern portion of the United States.
Hoping to push white American settlers away from Sauk territory, the Sauk tribe fought on the side of the British during the war of 1812. At 45, he served as a war leader of a Sauk band of approximately 200 warriors as they fought against the U.S. Army.
The British depended on the assistance of various Native American tribes as the British were occupied with Napoleon in Europe and had limited troops to fight the Americans. It was Colonel Robert Dickson, an English fur trader, who commissioned Black Hawk with the rank of Brigadier General. Of course, this title meant little to the Sauk.
Black Hawk became discouraged with the many lives lost by both his men and the British due to their European attack methods. Therefore, Black Hawk quit the war and returned home. Journals found later by U. S. troops found that Black Hawk would return to fight with the British toward the end of the hostilities.
Following the War of 1812, most of the Native Americans who served as allies to the British were killed and the remainder captured or disbanded. Black Hawk was captured by the Americans and held at the Jefferson Barracks near St. Louis, Missouri. Black Hawk and his followers were soon released and the tribe returned to their villages, primarily in southeastern Iowa.
Upon his release, he would tell his story to an interpreter. His thoughts and words were published in 1833 by a newspaper in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The first Native American autobiography to be published in the United States, his book became an immediate bestseller and has gone through several editions.
Near the end of his life, Black Hawk tried to reconcile both with American settlers and with his Sauk rivals.
Records indicate that Black Hawk died in 1838 in what is now southeastern Iowa. He has been honored by an enduring legacy, his book and many other tributes.