Sauk Indians

Sauk Indians. From Osā’kiwŭg, meaning “people of the outlet, or people of the yellow earth.” Also called:

  • Hotǐ’nestakon’, Onondaga name.
  • Satoeronnon, Huron name.
  • Quatokeronon, Huron name.
  • Za’-ke, Santee and Yankton Dakota name.

Sauk Connections. The Sauk belonged to the Algonquian linguistic stock and the same subdivision as that embracing the Foxes and Kickapoo.

Sauk Location. On the upper part of Green Bay and lower course of Fox River. (See also Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Oklahoma.)

Sauk History. The earliest known home of the Sauk was about Saginaw Bay, Michigan, which still bears their name. Shortly before appearance of the Whites they were expelled from this country by the Ottawa and the Neutral Nation, and settled in the region above indicated where they remained for a considerable period. In (1796) found their chief villages on Wisconsin River. After the destruction of the Illinois they extended their territories over the Rock River district of northwestern Illinois.  In 1804 a band of Sauk wintering near St. Louis were induced to enter into a treaty ceding to the United States Government the Sauk territories in Illinois and Wisconsin, but this transaction created so much indignation among the rest of the tribe when it became known that the band who made treaty never returned to the rest and they have received independent recognition as the Missouri River Sauk. As the rest of the Sauk refused to move, other negotiations were entered into which were broken off in 1832 by the Indian outbreak known as the Black Hawk War. As a result of this struggle, the Sauk abandoned their country east of the Mississippi and sought refuge with the Foxes, already established in Iowa. In 1842 the Sauk, with the Foxes, ceded their lands in Iowa also in exchange for a tract in Kansas. About 1857-59, in the absence of the Foxes, the Sauk agreed to take up land in severalty and cede the remainder of this Kansas territory, and the Foxes, when they learned of this, returned to Iowa. In 1867 the Sauk ceded their lands in Kansas and removed to the Indian territory, and in 1889 they took up land in severalty and sold their surplus territories to the government.

Sauk Population. Mooney (1928) estimates that there were 3,500 Sauk in 1650. The principal early estimates of the Sauk are: in 1736, 750 persons; in 1759, 1,000; in 1766, 2,000; in 1783, 2,250; in 1810, 2,850; in 1825, 4,800; in 1834, 2,500. Michelson (1919) states, however, that the best was that of Lewis and Clark, which would make them about 2,000 in 1805. In 1885 there were 457 in Indian Territory, including a few Foxes, and 87 in southeastern Nebraska. The Indian Office Report for 1909 gives 536 (chiefly Sauk) in Oklahoma, and 87 (chiefly Sauk) in Kansas. The census of 1910 gives 347 in Oklahoma and 69 in Kansas, Sauk and Fox not being discriminated. It also records a number of individuals of both tribes scattered over nine other States. In 1923 the United States Report on Indian Affairs gave 673 in Oklahoma, and 93 in Kansas; total 766. The census of 1930 returned 887 Sauk and Fox, rather more than two-thirds being Sauk. In 1937 the United States Indian Office reported 126 “Sac and Fox” in Kansas and 861 in Oklahoma, principally Sauk.

Connection in which the Sauk have become noted. Whatever prominence the Sauk have attained they owed almost entirely to the war which, under Black Hawk, they sustained against the Whites. Their name is perpetuated in Sauk River, Minn.; Sauk County, Wis.; and places in these two States. In the form Sac, it has been applied to a county and its capital in Iowa, a river in Missouri, and a small place in Tennessee. There is a post village called Sauk in Skagit County, Wash.; a Sauk City in Sauk County, Wis.; a Saukville in Ozaukee County in the same State; Sauk Rapids in Benton County, Minn.; and in the same State but in Stearns County, Sauk Centre which has a reputation all its own.

Algonquian, Sac, Sauk,

Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 145. Washington DC: US Government Printing Office. 1953.

1 thought on “Sauk Indians”

  1. There is also a Sauk Village, Illlinois, which is not mentioned in the article with the list of other towns and places with the name of “Sauk”. It is in the very southern part of Cook County.

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