the great native american warrior black hawk -- 4/15/19

Today's selection -- from Black Hawk edited by Donald Jackson. The great Native American warrior Black Hawk (1767-1838) told of his victories in battle in an autobiography:

"Soon after [my fifteenth year], a leading chief of the Muscow nation came to our village for recruits to go to war against the Osages, our common enemy. I volunteered my services to go, as my father had joined him; and was proud to have an opportunity to prove to him that I was not an unworthy son, and that I had courage and bravery. It was not long before we met the enemy, when a battle immediately ensued. Standing by my father's side, I saw him kill his antagonist, and tear the scalp from his head. Fired with valor and ambition, I rushed furiously upon another, smote him to the earth with my tomahawk -- run my lance through his body -- took off his scalp, and returned in triumph to my father! He said nothing, but looked pleased. This was the first man I killed! The enemy's loss in this engagement having been great, they imme­diately retreated, which put an end to the war for the present. Our party then returned to our village, and danced over the scalps we had taken. This was the first time that I was permitted to join in a scalp-dance. ...

An illustration of Black Hawk, from History of the Indian Tribes of North America.

"[In my nineteenth year I succeeded] in re­cruiting two hundred efficient warriors, and took up the line of march early in the morning. In a few days we were in the enemy's country, and had not travelled far before we met an equal force to contend with. A general battle immediately commenced, al­though my braves were considerably fatigued by forced marches. Each party fought desperately. The enemy seemed unwilling to yield the ground, and we were determined to conquer or die! A large number of the Osages were killed, and many wounded, be­fore they commenced retreating. A band of warriors more brave, skilful, and efficient than mine, could not be found. In this engage­ment I killed five men and one squaw, and had the good fortune to take the scalps of all I struck, except one. The enemy's loss in this engagement was about one hundred men. Ours nineteen. We now returned to our village, well pleased with our success, and danced over the scalps we had taken." ...

"[Later], deter­mined on the final extermination of the Osages, for the injuries our nation and people had received from them, I commenced recruit­ing a strong force, immediately on my return, and started, in the third moon, with five hundred Sacs and Foxes, and one hundred Ioways, and marched against the enemy. We continued our march for several days before we came upon their trail, which was discovered late in the day. We encamped for the night; made an early start next morning, and before sun down, fell upon forty lodges, and killed all their inhabitants, except two squaws! whom I captured and made prisoners. During this attack I killed seven men and two boys, with my own hand."



Edited by Donald Jackson


Black Hawk


University of Illinois


Copyright 1955 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois


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