Sac and Fox Treaties

Sac and Fox Treaties

The first recognition by our government of the Sacs and Foxes was in the treaty made at Ft. Harmar, January 9, 1789, which guaranteed: “The individuals of said nations shall be at liberty to hunt within the territory ceded to the United States, without hindrance or molestation, so long as they demean them-selves peaceably and offer no injury or annoyance to any of the subjects or citizens of the said United States.” In 1804 William Henry Harrison, governor of Indiana Territory, and afterwards President of the United States, was instructed by President Jefferson to institute negotiations with the Sacs and Foxes to purchase their lands. At this time, Black Hawk had risen to the position of war chief of the Sac tribe. Four chiefs or headmen of the Sacs and two chiefs of the Foxes went to St. Louis, and November 3, 1804, made a treaty with Govern-or Harrison. By this treaty the Indians ceded all their lands, comprising the eastern third of the present State of Missouri and the territory lying between the Wisconsin River on the north, the Fox River of Illinois on the east, the Illinois on the southeast, and the Mississippi on the west, in all fifty million acres. For this grant the United States guaranteed to the Indians “friendship and protection,” paid them $2,234.50 in goods, and guaranteed them goods each year there-after to the amount of $1,000, $600 of which was to be paid to the Sacs and $400 to the Foxes. By this treaty it was provided in Article 7: “As long as the lands which are now ceded to the United States remain their property, the Indians belonging to the said tribes shall enjoy the privilege of living and hunting upon them.” This article in the treaty caused much trouble between the government and the Sacs and Foxes, and was the main cause of the Black Hawk War. Black Hawk was not present at its making, and always denied the right of the headmen of the Sac tribe to sign such a treaty for his people. In the spring of 1804 a white person (a man or boy) was killed in Cuivre settlement by a Sauk (Sac) Indian. A party of United States troops was sent from St. Louis to the Rock River village to demand the murderer. The Sacs surrendered and delivered him to the soldiers and he was conveyed to St. Louis and turned over to the civil authorities. During the latter part of October, 1804, Quashquame, one of the Sac chiefs, together with others of his tribe and some of the Foxes, went to St. Louis to try and secure the release of the Sac murderer who was a relative of Quash-quame. It is an Indian custom and usage that if one Indian kills another, the matter is generally compromised with the murdered man’s relatives for a property consideration, as Black Hawk said: “The only means with us for saving a person who killed another was by paying for the person killed, thus covering the blood and satisfying the relatives of the murdered man,” and the Sacs believed that by the giving of ponies and peltries to the whites they could secure the Indian’s release. Thomas Forsyth, for many years an Indian trader, and from 1816 until 1830 the agent of the Sacs and Foxes, in a manuscript written in 1832 says of this matter: “Quash-quame, a Sauk chief, who was the headman of this party, has repeatedly said, `Mr. Pierre Choteau, Sen., came several times to my camp, offering that if I would sell the lands on the east side of the Mississippi River, Governor Harrison would liberate my relation (meaning the Sauk Indian then in prison as above related), to which I at last agreed, and sold the lands from the mouth of the Illinois River up the Mississippi River as high as the mouth of Rocky River (now Rock River), and east to the ridge that divides the waters of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, and I never sold any more lands.’ Quash-quame also said to Governor Edwards, Governor Clark and Mr. Auguste Chouteau, commissioners appointed to treat with the Chippewas, Ottawas and Pottawattomies of Illinois River, in the summer of 1816, for lands on the west side of Illinois River, `You white men may put on paper what you please, but again I tell you, I never sold my lands higher up the Mississippi than the mouth of Rock River.'” It is claimed that the Indians were drunk most of the time they were in St. Louis, a thing not unlikely. Forsyth said the Indians always believed the annuities they received, were presents, and when he in 181.8 informed them it was a part of the purchase price of their lands, “they were astonished, and refused to accept of the goods, denying that they ever sold the lands as stated by me, their agent. The Black Hawk in particular, who was present at the time, made a great noise about this land, and would never receive any part of the annuities from that time forward.” When it became known that certain chiefs and headmen had without authority sold their lands, Quash-quame and his companions were degraded from their ranks, Tiama, the son-in-law of Quash-quame, being elected to his father-in-law’s place. In 1815 a part of the Sacs and Foxes had migrated to the Missouri River; and September 13, 1815, these Indians sent representatives to the Portage des Sioux, where each tribe made a separate treaty with the government, agreeing to ratify the treaty of November 3, 1804, and to remain separate from, and render no assistance to, the Sacs and Foxes then living on Rock River. On the 13th day of May, 1816, another treaty was entered into at St. Louis. This treaty was between the “Sacs of Rock River” and the government. It reaffirmed the treaty of 1804 and all other contracts heretofore made between the parties. To this treaty is attached the mark of Ma-Ka-tai-me-She-Kia-Kiak, or “Black Sparrow Hawk,” as Black Hawk was also called. Yet Black Hawk said in 1832: “Here, for the first time, I touched the goose quill to the treaty not knowing, however, that by the act I consented to give away my village. Had they explained to me I should have opposed it and never would have signed their treaty as my recent conduct will clearly prove.”

See: Black Hawk Forced to Sign the Treaty

In the treaty of 1804 the government had agreed, in order to put a stop to the abuses and impositions practiced upon the Indians by private traders, to establish a trading house or factory where these Indians could be supplied with goods cheaper and better than from private traders. This the government concluded it was best not to continue, and a new treaty was made by which the United States paid the Indians $1,000 to be relieved from this obligation. Black Hawk signed this treaty. Another treaty was made August 4, 1824, which reaffirmed and recognized all former treaties. Each treaty left the Sacs and Foxes with less land and fewer rights. For years there had existed a bitter feeling between the Sioux and the Sacs and Foxes, and August 19, 1825, William Clark and Lewis Case on behalf of the government assembled these tribes, together with the Chippewas, Menominees, Winnebagoes, Iowas, Ottawas and Pottawattomies at Prairie du Chien, and entered into a treaty whose object was to end the wars between these nations. In this treaty it was agreed that the United States should run a boundary line between the Sioux and the Sacs and Foxes. It seems that this treaty proved unsatisfactory to the Indians, for July 30, 1830, another treaty was entered into at Prairie du Chien in which the Sacs and Foxes ceded to the United States a tract of land twenty miles in width lying south of the line established by the treaty of August 19, 1825. The Sioux also ceded a strip twenty miles wide along the north line of said boundary. This forty mile strip was neutral territory, open to all for hunting and fishing, and was along the Iowa River.


The Sac and Fox Indians of Illinois 


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

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