Difficulties with the Iowa

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My nation had now some difficulty with the Iowa. Our young men had repeatedly killed some of them, and the breaches had always been made up by giving presents to the relations of those killed. But the last council we had with them, we promised that in case any more of their people were killed ours, instead of presents, we would give up the person or persons, who had done the injury. We made this determination known to our people, but notwithstanding this, one of our young men killed an Iowa the following winter.

A party of our people were about starting for the Iowa village to give the young man up, and I agreed to accompany them. When we were ready to start, I called at the lodge for the young man to go with us. He was sick, but willing to go, but his brother, however, prevented him and insisted on going to die in his place, as he was unable to travel. We started, and on the seventh day arrived in sight of the Iowa village, and within a short distance of it we halted ad dismounted. We all bid farewell to our young brave, who entered the village singing his death song, and sat down on the square in the middle of the village. One of the Iowa chiefs came out to us. We told him that we had fulfilled our promise, that we had brought the brother of the young man who had killed one of his people–that he had volunteered to come in his place, in consequence of his brother being unable to travel from sickness. We had no further conversation but mounted our horses and rode off. As we started I cast my eye toward the village, and observed the Iowa coming out of their lodges with spears and war clubs. We took the backward trail and traveled until dark–then encamped and made a fire. We had not been there long before we heard the sound of homes coming toward us. We seized our arms, but instead of an enemy it was our young brave with two horses. He told me that after we had left him, they menaced him with death for some time–then gave him something to eat–smoked the pipe with him and made him a present of the two horses and some goods, and started him after us. When we arrived at on, village our people were much pleased, and for their noble and generous conduct on this occasion, not one of the Iowa people has been killed since by our nation.

That fall I visited Malden with several of my band, and was well treated by the agent of our British Father, who gave us a variety of presents. He also gave me a medal, and told me there never would be war between England and America again; but for my fidelity to the British, during the war that had terminated some time before, requested me to come with my band and get presents every year, as Colonel Dixon had promised me.

I returned and hunted that winter on the Two Rivers. The whites were now settling the country fast. I was out one day hunting in a bottom, and met three white men. They accused me of killing their hogs. I denied it, but they would not listen to me. One of them took my gun out of my hand and fired it off–then took out the flint, gave it back to me and commenced beating me with sticks, ordering me at the same time to be off. I was so much bruised that I could not sleep for several nights.

Some time after this occurrence, one of my camp cut a bee tree and carried the honey to his lodge. A party of white men soon followed him, and told him the bee tree was theirs, and that he had no right to cut it. He pointed to the honey and told them to take it. They were not satisfied with this, but took all the packs of skins that he had collected during the winter, to pay his trader and clothe his family with in the spring, and carried them off.

How could we like a people who treated us so unjustly? We determined to break up our camp for fear they would do worse, and when we joined our people in the spring a great many of them complained of similar treatment.

This summer our agent came to live at Rock Island. He treated us well and gave us good advice. I visited him and the trader very often during the summer, and for the first time heard talk of our having to leave our village. The trader, Colonel George Davenport, who spoke our language, explained to me the terms of the treaty that had been made, and said we would be obliged to leave the Illinois side of the Mississippi, and advised us to select a good place for our village and remove to it in the spring. He pointed out the difficulties we would have to encounter if we remained at our village on Rock river. He had great influence with the principal Fox chief, his adopted brother, Keokuk. He persuaded him to leave his village, go to the west side of the Mississippi and build another, which he did the spring following. Nothing was talked of but leaving our village. Keokuk had been persuaded to consent to go, and was using all his influence, backed by the war chief at Fort Armstrong and our agent and trader at Rock Island, to induce others to go with him. He sent the crier through our village, to inform our people that it was the wish of our Great Father that we should remove to the west side of the Mississippi, and recommended the Iowa river as a good place for the new village. He wished his party to make such arrangements, before they started on their winter’s hunt, an to preclude the necessity of their returning to the village in the spring.

The party opposed to removing called on me for my opinion. I gave it freely, and after questioning Quashquame about the sale of our lands, he assured me that he “never had consented to the sale of our village.” I now promised this party to be the leader, and raised the standard of opposition to Keokuk, with a full determination not to leave our village. I had an interview with Keokuk, to see if this difficulty could not be settled with our Great Father, and told him to propose to give any other land that our Great Father might choose, even our lead mines, to be peaceably permitted to keep the small point of land on which our village was situated. I was of the opinion that the white people had plenty of land and would never take our village from us. Keokuk promised to make an exchange if possible, and applied to our agent, and the great chief at St. Louis, who had charge of all the agents, for permission to go to Washington for that purpose.

This satisfied us for a time. We started to our hunting grounds with good hopes that something would be done for us. Doing the winter I received information that three families of whites had come to our village and destroyed some of our lodges, were making fences and dividing our cornfields for their own use. They were quarreling among themselves about their lines of division. I started immediately for Rock river, a distance of ten days’ travel, and on my arrival found the report true. I went to my lodge and saw a family occupying it. I wished to talk to them but they could not understand me. I then went to Rock Island; the agent being absent, I told the interpreter what I wanted to say to these people, viz: “Not to settle on our lands, nor trouble our fences, that there was plenty of land in the country for them to settle upon, and that they must leave our village, as we were coming back to it in the spring.” The interpreter wrote me a paper, I went back to the village and showed it to the intruders, but could not understand their reply. I presumed, however, that they would remove as I expected them to. I returned to Rock Island, passed the night there and had a long conversation with the trader. He advised me to give up and make my village with Keokuk on the Iowa river. I told him that I would not. The next morning I crossed the Mississippi on very bad ice, but the Great Spirit had made it strong, that I might pass over safe. I traveled three days farther to see the Winnebago sub-agent and converse with him about our difficulties. He gave no better news than the trader had done. I then started by way of Rock river, to see the Prophet, believing that he as a man of great knowledge. When we met, I explained to him everything as it was. He at once agreed that I was right, and advised me never to give up our village, for the whites to plow up the bones of our people. He said, that if we remained at our village, the whites would not trouble us, and advised me to get Keokuk, and the party that consented to go with him to the Iowa in the spring, to return and remain at our village.



MLA Source Citation:

Patterson, J. B.Black Hawk Indian WarExtracted from an Autobiography of Black Hawk or Ma-Ka-Tai-Me-She-Kia-Kiak, Self Published, 1882. AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 7 October 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/difficulties-with-the-iowa.htm - Last updated on Oct 25th, 2013


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