Population of the Sacs And Foxes

Population of the Sacs and Foxes

In 1805 Lieutenant Zebulon Pike on behalf of the United States government made an expedition from St. Louis to the sources of the Mississippi River. He says that the Sacs had three villages, one at the head of the Des Moines Rapids, the second on a prairie about two miles from the Mississippi at Oquawka, and the third on Rock River about three miles from its mouth. The Foxes or Reynards also had three villages, one on the Illinois side above the Rock Island Rapids, one at Dubuque and one near Prairie du Chien. Pike estimated that the Sacs numbered 2,850 souls, of whom 1,400 were children, 750 women and 700 warriors. The Foxes numbered 1,750 of whom 400 were warriors, 850 children, 500 women. In 1825 the secretary of war estimated the entire number of Sacs and Foxes at 4,600, an increase of over one thousand in twenty years. In 1831, at the commencement of Indian hostilities preceding the Black Hawk War, there were twenty families of whom twelve were Sacs and eight were Foxes, and their total number is estimated to have been five thousand souls, this number including those living in Iowa and Missouri.

Sacs and Foxes in 1885

After their removal to Iowa, they by treaties in 1836 and 1842 ceded all their lands up to the Missouri River, and in June, 1885, these people were distributed as follows: On Sac and Fox Reservation in Iowa (Tama County) about 380; on Pottawatomie and Great Nemaha Agency Reservation, near the northeast corner of Kansas, the Sacs and Foxes of Missouri about 187; on Sac and Fox Reservation in Indian Territory, 457, and Mohoko’s band, wandering in the west, about 350-a total of 1,374. Almost all but the last named band are farmers and herders. The agent at Sac and Fox Agency, Iowa, writing in 1884, said: “For honesty and truthfulness our Indians stand above the average white man with the merchants with whom they deal. “Yet in spite of all attempts to civilize them, the Sacs and Foxes still live in rude huts like their ancestors, cooking their food at a fire made on the ground, the smoke escaping from an opening in the roof; sleeping on bunks of hoards arranged on the sides of their huts, wearing blankets, painting their faces, shaving and decorating their heads, as did their ancestors who lived at the old Rock River village. They lack thrift, industry and a spirit of progress. They still offer prayers and hold feasts before planting their crops, and another series of prayers and thanksgiving when their crops are gathered. Notwithstanding the efforts of Christian missionaries, holy or consecrated tobacco is still burned on certain occasions as incense, and as of yore they still have “Me-sham,” a something that profane eyes have never been allowed to see. The modern Sacs and Foxes, while quiet and peaceful, are averse to work and seem at their best visiting the neighboring towns, lounging about smoking, chatting and playing the white man’s game-cards.

The Sac and Fox Indians of Illinois 


Source: Historic Rock Island County, pub. Kramer & Company, Rock Island, Illinois, 1908

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