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Historic Diaries: Black Hawk War

Black Hawk as a Neighbor

Editor's Note:

All white settlers were not as ill-disposed toward Indians as the militia we have met so far. This recollection is by someone who settled close to Black Hawk. near Burlington, Iowa, after the war. Here the Sauk and Fox lived alongside white farmers, like the author of this account, Elder Reed. Although proponents of Indian Removal Policy argued that whites and Native Americans could not possibly live together, many pioneers' stories, like this one, show that assumption was untrue.

After he [Black Hawk] had been made comfortable, my wife gave him a half a mince pie and some coffee and he ate this with relish. When he was through he got ready to go on after having thanked her for the food and complimenting it by saying, "heap good." He said that his squaw [his wife] would be waiting and watching for him and so he set off. Black Hawk was always a good man to his family.

After that we saw Black Hawk and his family very much. We were neighbors, only a mile distance between my cabin and his wick-a-up. I must say, too, that Black Hawk and his family were good neighbors. We did not think anything of associating with Indians in those days; there were so many of them, they were as common as white folks today. We were not a bit afraid of them, either; we accepted them as a matter of course and got along fine.

The fact that Black Hawk had been a great warrior and had gone on the warpath never bothered us. I don't recollect now that we ever thought much about it. Black Hawk was meek and peaceable in those days when I knew him.

[Source: Reminiscences of Black Hawk, by people who knew him, March 24, 1907.]

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