The Sac and Fox Indians of Illinois

The Sac and Fox Indians of Illinois

About 1722 northwestern Illinois became the home and the hunting ground of the Sacs and Foxes. The word “Ou-Sakis ” or “Sau-Kee,” now written Sac and Sauk, is derived from the compound word “A-Sau-we-Kee” signifying yellow earth, and “Mus-qua-Kee,” the original name of the Foxes, means red earth. The early French named this tribe, Renards and the Americans called them Foxes. These tribes originally lived on the St. Lawrence River near Quebec and Montreal. The Foxes were the first to migrate west. They settled along the river that bears their name and which empties into Green Bay. The Sacs after a long and bloody war with the Iroquois were driven from the St. Lawrence River westward. They were next engaged in war with the Wyandottes, and again were they compelled to hurry towards the setting sun, until at length they reached Green Bay on Lake Michigan, near where the Foxes had made their habitation. Here it seems both tribes were frequently attacked by other tribes of Indians, until at last they united, forming an offensive and defensive union, each however, retaining its tribal name. Through intermarriage and long residence they became substantially one people, an alliance lasting to this day. Both the Sacs and Foxes belong to the Algonquin family. At what time these two tribes came to Green Bay is not known. Marquette’s map of 1673 locates the Foxes on the Fox River between the present Green Bay and Lake Winnebago. Father Claude Allouez, when he established the mission of St. Francis Xavier in 1669, found them located near, and in 1672 he commenced preaching the gospel to them. Early in the eighteenth century they were driven from Green Bay and the Fox River by the Menominees, who were aided by the Ottawas, Chippewas and the French. The Sacs and Foxes made depredations on the French traders and exacted tribute from them, whereon the French commandant of the post at Green Bay took a party of his men in covered boats, and while distracting the attention of the Indians, opened fire on them from the water, at the same time that his Menominee allies attacked their village from the banks in the rear. Those who survived the slaughter removed to the Mississippi River. On arriving there they found that country inhabited by the Sauteaux, a branch of the Chippewa tribe. Upon these they commenced war, finally driving them out of the country, which they then took possession of and occupied. This was about 1722. These tribes next waged war upon the Mascoutins and in a battle opposite the mouth of the Iowa River defeated and almost exterminated this tribe. They then formed an alliance with the Pottawattomies, Menominees and Winnebagoes, and together attacked the Illinois and gradually drove these people further southward. The Sacs and Foxes have warred with the Sioux, the Pawnees, Osages and other Indians, and their record shows that they ranked among the fiercest and most warlike tribes. Drake said of them: “The Sacs and Foxes are a truly courageous people, shrewd, politic and enterprising, with not more of ferocity and treachery of character than is common among the tribes by whom they were surrounded.”

For more information on Sac and Fox Indians we highly suggest our readers view the extensive historical information provided by Access Genealogy online for all Native American Tribes. You can find the specific Sac and Fox information below:


 Rock County, Illinois Genealogy 


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

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