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The Autobiography of Black Hawk by Black…

The Autobiography of Black Hawk (1834)

by Black Hawk, Brett Berry (Narrator)

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174868,238 (3.56)4
Title:The Autobiography of Black Hawk
Authors:Black Hawk (Author)
Other authors:Brett Berry (Narrator)
Info:Audible Inc., audiobook download edition, 3 hours and 34 minutes
Collections:Your library
Tags:In English language, non-fiction, autobiography, biography, native american autobiography, native american biography

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Black Hawk: An Autobiography by Black Hawk (1834)



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This short book—the full title of which is Autobiography of Ma-Ka-Tai-Me-She-Kia-Kiak, or Black Hawk, Embracing the Traditions of his Nation, Various Wars In Which He Has Been Engaged, and His Account of the Cause and General History of the Black Hawk War of 1832, His Surrender, and Travels Through the United States. Also Life, Death and Burial of the Old Chief, Together with a History of the Black Hawk War—was the first autobiography of an American Indian leader published in the United States and therefore something of a phenomenon when it appeared in 1833.
Black Hawk was born in 1767 on the Rock River in Illinois, as a member of the Sauk (Sac) tribe, which at that time populated lands east of the Mississippi River, in Illinois and Wisconsin. His reminiscences were edited by a local newspaper reporter, J. B. Patterson, and recount Black Hawk’s experiences with the French, the British, the American settlers, and other tribes.
What turned him against the Americans was an 1804 treaty, which an unauthorized group of Sauks signed, that unilaterally gave away their lands, providing American settlers the legal right (as if such niceties mattered) to appropriate them, and forcing the Indians to resettle to the west.
I found by that treaty, that all of the country east of the Mississippi, and south of Jeffreon [the Salt River in northern Missouri, a tributary of the Mississippi] was ceded to the United States for one thousand dollars a year. I will leave it to the people of the United States to say whether our nation was properly represented in this treaty? Or whether we received a fair compensation for the extent of country ceded by these four individuals?
Because of this opposition, Black Hawk fought with the British during the War of 1812. Twenty years later, when he was 65 years old and after a trail of broken promises, he led a band of Sauk warriors against settlers in Illinois and Wisconsin in the 1832 Black Hawk War.
Eventually, he was captured and gave up the warrior life. He traveled extensively in the United States on a government-sponsored tour, marveling at the size of the major cities, the railroads, the roads. In his attempts to negotiate with military leaders, provincial governors, and even the Great Father in Washington, he interacted personally with many of the leading politicians and military men of the day. President Andrew Jackson (a major character in Steve Inskeep’s recent book about another betrayal of the Indians) desired that Black Hawk and other chiefs see these sights, in order to convince them of the might of the United States.
Black Hawk provides his point of view quite clearly and compellingly. To no avail, of course. According to the University of Illinois Press, “Perhaps no Indian ever saw so much of American expansion or fought harder to prevent that expansion from driving his people to exile and death.” His prowess as a warrior chief is now honored by the U.S. military, which has named several ships after him, as well as the Black Hawk helicopter. ( )
1 vote Vicki_Weisfeld | Nov 3, 2015 |
“I explained to them the manner the British and Americans fought. Instead of stealing upon each other, and taking every advantage to kill the enemy and save their own people, as we do, (which, with us, is considered good policy in a war chief,) they marched out, in open daylight, and fight, regardless of the number of warriors they may lose! After the battle is over, they retire to feast, and drink wine, as if nothing had happened; after which, they make a statement in writing, of what they have done – each party claiming the victory! and neither giving an account of half the number that have been killed on their own side. They all fought like braves, but would not do to lead a war party with us. Our maxim is, “to kill the enemy and save our own men.” Those chiefs would do to paddle a canoe, but not to steer it.” (page 20)

Firsthand account from Black Hawk. Originally published in 1834.

Shines a light on many weaknesses of that time that still exist today:
Inability to see how actions affect others.
Projecting problems unto others in an unbalanced way.
Making oneself out to be the victim.
Unworthy entitlement to land ownership. ( )
  Michael.Bradham | Jan 28, 2015 |
Reading this served as a sort of coda to a history I read of the War of 1812. The resolution of that war began with the British proposing a Native American buffer state between themselves and the burgeoning United States that would have changed the face of the North American map forever. Black Hawk's dictated memoir is a sad portrait of what happened instead. Couched in politeness he outlines the travesties and injustices perpetrated against his people as they were sacrificed to Manifest Destiny.

This memoir was the first widespread perspective shared among whites from the native side and came directly on the heels of Black Hawk's famed tour of many US cities, but appears to have had little influence or at least none that extended to the political sphere. The destruction of the 500 Nations continued to be viewed as something inevitable, like a fad passing out of style rather than outright theft, racism and massacre. This memoir is not entirely noble either, however, ending on a sour note as Black Hawk outlines his opinion of what can be done to control the black slave population. Apparently he didn't see the parallels between another oppressed people and his own. ( )
  Cecrow | Nov 12, 2014 |
Black Hawk dictated his autobiography through amanuenses Antoine LeClair which was originally published in 1833. He was a Sauk leader and in his own words describes the conflict in 1832 as Americans came into the land east of the Mississippi and took the land away from his people. Black Hawk gives a good description of the Native American Culture as well as the trouble with trying to do business with the US government. Of course the citizens weren't admirable in their behavior either which was probably fear driven. It was interesting to learn about this area of Illinois and Wisconsin. ( )
  Kristelh | Nov 23, 2013 |
Audiobook from Audible. Black Hawk's story of duplicity by the US. While I assume he is disposed toward his own positive account of himself, he also acknowledges his errors at many points. Given the execrable conduct of the US government in its dealings with native people, I'll presume a reasonable degree of accuracy. Black Hawk is clear and even-handed, and I enjoyed reading this despite the sorrow provoked by its content. ( )
  OshoOsho | Mar 30, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Black Hawkprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Patterson, J.B.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Presents the transcribed autobiography of Black Hawk, a Sauk leader who struggled against white encroachment on his people's lands in western Illinois in the 1800s before his defeat at the Battle of Bad Axe in 1832, and includes a map of the Black Hawk War of the same year.… (more)

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