Council Convened

The war chief arrived and convened a council at the agency. Keokuk and Wapello were sent for, and with a number of their band were present.

The council house was opened and all were admitted, and myself and band were sent for to attend. When we arrived at the door singing a war song, and armed with lances, spears, war clubs, bows and arrows, as if going to battle, I halted and refused to enter, as I could see no necessity or propriety in having the room crowded with those who were already there. If the council was convened for us, why then have others in our room. The war chief having sent all out except Keokuk, Wapello and a few of their chiefs and braves, we entered the council in this warlike appearance, being desirous of showing the war chief that we were not afraid. He then rose and made a speech. He said:

“The president is very sorry to be put to the trouble and expense of sending so large a body of soldiers here to remove you from the lands you have long since ceded to the United States. Your Great Father has already warned you repeatedly, through your agent, to leave the country, and he is very sorry to find that you have disobeyed his orders. Your Great Father wishes you well, and asks nothing from you but what is reasonable and right. I hope you will consult your own interests, and leave the country you are occupying, and go to the other side of the Mississippi.”

I replied:

“We have never sold our country. We never received any annuities from our American father, and we are determined to hold on to our village.”

The war chief, apparently angry, rose and said

“Who is “Black Hawk”? Who is “Black Hawk”?”

I replied:

“I am a “Sac!” My forefather was a SAC! I and all the nations call me a SAC!!”

The war chief said:

“I came here neither to beg nor hire you to leave your village. My business is to remove you, peaceably if I can, forcibly if I must! I will now give you two days in which to remove, and if you do not cross the Mississippi by that time, I will adopt measures to force you away.”

I told him that I never would consent to leave my village and was determined not to leave it.

The council broke up and the war chief retired to his fort. I consulted the prophet again. He said he had been dreaming, and that the Great Spirit had directed that a woman, the daughter of Mattatas, the old chief of the village, should take a stick in her hand and go before the war chief, and tell him that she is the daughter of Mattatas, and that he had always been the white man’s friend. That he had fought their battles, been wounded in their service and had always spoken well of them, and she had never heard him say that he had sold their village. The whites are numerous, and can take it from us if they choose, but she hoped they would not be so unfriendly. If they were, he had one favor to ask; she wished her people to be allowed to remain long enough to gather their provisions now growing in their fields; that she was a woman and had worked hard to raise something to support her children. And now, if we are driven from our village without being allowed to save our corn, many of our little children must perish with hunger.

Accordingly Mattatas’ daughter was sent to the fort, accompanied by several of our young men and was admitted. She went before the war chief and told the story of the prophet. The war chief said that the president did not send him here to make treaties with the women, nor to hold council with them. That our young men most leave the fort, but she might remain if she wished.

All our plans were defeated. We must cross the river, or return to our village and await the coming of the war chief with his soldiers. We determined on the latter, but finding that our agent, interpreter, trader and Keokuk, were determined on breaking my ranks, and had induced several of my warriors to cross the Mississippi, I sent a deputation to the agent, at the request of my band, pledging myself to leave the county in the fall, provided permission was given us to remain, and secure our crop of corn then growing, as we would be in a starving situation if we were driven off without the means of subsistence.

The deputation returned with an answer from the war chief, “That no further time would be given than that specified, and if we were not then gone he would remove us.”

I directed my village crier to proclaim that my orders were, in the event of the war chief coming to our village to remove us, that not a gun should be fired or any resistance offered. . That if he determined to fight, for them to remain quietly in their lodges, and let him kill them if he chose.

I felt conscious that this great war chief would not hurt our people, and my object was not war. Had it been, we would have attacked and killed the war chief and his braves, when in council with us, as they were then completely in our power. But his manly conduct and soldierly deportment, his mild yet energetic manner, which proved his bravery, forbade it.

Black Hawk, Patterson, J. B., editor, Leclair, Atoine, interpreter  Autobiography of Black Hawk or Ma-Ka-Tai-Me-She-Kia-Kiak, Self Published by J. B. Patterson, 1882.

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