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America’s War on Black Hawk 

In 1830, President Andrew Jackson and the US Congress passed the Indian Removal Act. This law codified the practice of forcibly removing American Indian communities from villages, farms and the land that they had nurtured for generations. 







Contested Treaty of Benjamin Henry Harrison. Tasked by President Jefferson to further American land claims, Harrison forces a dubious treaty upon members of the Sauk tribe who are not authorized to make agreements for their community.

General Winfield Scott and General Atkinson pursue Black Hawk and his ‘British Band’ of followers. Black Hawk returns with perhaps 1,200 followers; including elders, women and children. Despite attempts to surrender, to American troops, hundreds of Native Americans are killed by American militia and regular military forces.

USS Black Hawk. The US Navy renames a ship in honor of Black Hawk. The vessel serves in the Mississippi Squadron against Confederate forces.

Black Hawk Statue Erected. The first public commemoration in honor of Black Hawk, is unveiled in Rock Island, Il. The statue now resides in front of the John Hauberg Indian Museum.

Wisconsin Legislature formally apologizes to the Meskwaki and Sauk.. “Whereas Black Hawk responded to the suffering of his people by leading them back across the Mississippi in 1832 in the hopes of planting crops and restoring their villages.    Whereas this affair was tragically concluded on August 1-2 1832 when hundreds of unarmed men and women, children and elders were killed while crossing the Mississippi.  ….. Resolved by the assembly, that the members of the Wisconsin state assembly express their regret and sorrow for the conduct of territorial militia….”

General Gains and Black Hawk. Black Hawk, the daughter of Mat-ta-tas and others return to Saukenuk (today’s Rock Island, Illinois) and voice their opposition to being removed from their land and cornfields. General Gaines promises use of military force if they do not cross the Mississippi.


The Sac and Meskwaki (Fox) people continue their rich cultural heritage. Each community maintains visitor centers or museums. 

Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri

Sac and Fox Nation in Stroud, Oklahoma.

Meskwaki Nation and Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi In Iowa.

Native Land Digital - Map Your Treaty

Interested in learning about the original communities near your home? Plug your zip code into the interactive map in the link below. Visit this digital map project, led by Native Land Digital, whose mission is to create and foster conversations about the history of colonialism, Indigenous ways of knowing, and settler-Indigenous relations, through educational resources such as our map and Territory Acknowledgement Guide.


Today, the stories, cultures and legacy of the numerous communities that lived in the Midwest for thousands of years before European immigrants arrived are slowly becoming more discoverable. Small business owners who had named their products or companies after the Kickapoos or Winnebagos have decided to alter their branding to be more conscious of cultural appropriation. Universities and K–12 educators are working closer with First Nation communities to ensure that their history is part of the narrative taught in the classroom.

If someone were anxious to cross off items on their bucket list, it would be technically possible to travel the entire Black Hawk Trail in one intensive daylong drive. By beginning at Rock Island, Illinois, and driving through Stillman, Illinois, across Wisconsin from Fort Atkinson, coursing through Wisconsin Heights and up to Victory and the final battle of Bad Axe, a road trip can be completed in about ten hours. However, that trip would provide you with just a cursory windshield view of ubiquitous interstate scenes followed by rolling hills anxious to share their story.

This guide provides a local’s insight and tips in accessing sites researched and preserved in the old Northwest Territory. It builds on the work of generations of historians and archivists and, when possible, highlights the inspiration and strength the First Nations spread—and still advocate for.


Presented by Ben Strand at Hedberg Public Library in Janesville, WI. Learn how you can use Strand's book to find museums, wayside markers, and parks to discover more about Black Hawk and the final conflict east of the Mississippi River in 1832.

Abraham Lincoln statue, University of Wisconsin Whitewater, Whitewater, Wisconsin
Iowa County Courthouse, Dodgeville Wisconsin
Jefferson Marsh Wildlife Area Wisconsin


Ben Strand is available for virtual or in person author talks.  For bookings please contact:

Ben Strand

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