The Sauks and Foxes, like the Sioux, were a brave and warlike people.  From their earliest appearance in the Mississippi Valley their story is one of savage strife.  You remember how they resisted the advance of the French traders.  In the War of 1812 some of them fought with the British against the Americans, and their repeated attacks upon Fort Madison, you recall, forced the garrison to abandon this post.

The story is told that they swept aside the Iowa tribe in one heroic battle near the present site of Iowaville.  According to this story the Sauks and Foxes led by Pashepaho and Black Hawk set out to attack the Iowas.  They crept up within sight of the village of their enemy and lay in hiding.  Soon they saw that the Iowa braves were engaged in running races, and had left their weapons in the village.

One band of Sauks and Foxes led by Pashepaho rushed upon the defenseless Indians on the race course.  Another group under Black Hawk attacked the village.  The Iowa warriors fought bravely but soon were forced to yield.  They never recovered from this blow.

Many clashes took place in Iowa between the Sioux and the Sauks and Foxes.  War parties from one tribe or the other would dash into the country of their enemy, strike a sudden blow on some unsuspecting village or hunting party, an take as many scalps as they could.  Then they would hurry back into their own country to escape from the enemy.

According to Indian tradition one great battle between the Sioux and the Sauks and Foxes took place on a bluff south of the present city of Dubuque.  This bluff was nearly two hundred feet high and on the side next to the river was almost straight up and down.

On this occasion the Sioux, outnumbered, fled to the top of the bluff, and threw up a pile of logs and brush for protection.  The Sauks and Foxes waited until night, then under the cover of darkness crept up the hill.  They set fire to the brush, and as the Sioux warriors were exposed by the light, shot them down.

Then the Suaks and Foxes, waving their spears and tomahawks, rushed upon their foes.  The combat on the top of the bluff was short and terrible.  The Sioux, overpowered and cut off from escape, were driven to the brink of the cliff.  There they were bearen to death or hurled headlong on the rocks below.  Not one escaped.

At other times the Sioux were the victors.  And so the warfare continued.  Sometimes trouble arose over stolen horses, and sometimes a lone Indian was caught by a band of the enemy and killed.  More often the clashes occurred when the trails of hunting parties happened to cross.

In the summer of 1825 the government tried to get the Indians in Iowa as well as throughout all the Upper Mississippi Valley to bury the tomahawk.  All of the tribes in this region were invited to come to Prairie du Chien for a council.  William Clark of Missouri and Lewis Cass of Michigan represented the United States.

Indians came by the thousands and camped on the prairie, on islands in the Mississippi, and across on the Iowa shore where the town of McGregor is now located.

The Sauks and Foxes and the Iowas were the last to arrive.  They came up the Mississippi in a great fleet of some seventy canoes.  Many of the warriors had a long tuft of red horse hair tied at their elbows, and wore a necklace of grizzle-bear claws.  Except for a scalp lock their heads were shaved and painted.  They were practically naked.  Some carried long iron-shod lances; others were armed with clubs, guns, and knives.

When they landed they were greeted as friends by many Indians, but the Sioux stood apart scowling.  Keokuk stood like a prince, majestic and frowning.

The council was held near old Fort Crawford.  Clark and Cass with the Indian agents and their interpreters sat on a raised platform.  In front of them in a great semicircle sat the chiefs, and back of them the braves and warriors.  On the fringe of the crowd were the Indian women and boys and girls.  At one side sat the soldiers from the fort in their blue coats, white trousers, and high "tarbucket" caps.

Clark and Cass made speeches and the chiefs replied.  They they smoked the pipe of peace, and the white men gave the Indians presents of beef, bread, corn, salt, sugar, tobacco, and a little whisky.

After several days of discussion the Indians agreed not to go hunting on the lands of other tribes and to live at peace forever.

The Sioux in Iowa agreed to stay north of a line beginning at the mouth of the Upper Iowa River and extending across the state to the Big Sioux River and down that stream to the Missouri.  The Sauks and Foxes promised to stay south of this line.  Neither tribe, however, kept its promise very long.  Scarcely two years passed before the Sioux and the Sauks and Foxes were fighting again.

In the spring of 1830, after the Sauks and Foxes had killed some Sioux rivals near the Cedar River in Iowa, Joseph M. Street, the Indian agent, asked both groups to come to Prairie du Chien and settle their quarrel.  On the day the Sauks and Foxes planned to arrive, a Sioux war party went down the river about fifteen miles and lay in ambush.  After sunset the Sauks and Foxes arrived and prepared to camp for the night.  While they were unloading their canoes the Sioux jumped to their feet and with a horrible yell fell upon their victims.  Only one brave and a boy escaped.

After this another council was held in Prairie du Chien that same year, 1830, to put a stop to these feuds in Iowa.  This time a neutral zone forty miles wide was established between the Sioux and the Sauks and Foxes.  Surely a "Neutral Ground," as it was called, as wide as this would keep these Indians apart.  But even this failed.

In 1831 a war party of Sauks and Foxes, eager for revenge, went up the Mississippi.  From the bluffs opposite Prairie du Chien their spies saw a camp of Sioux almost under the guns of old Fort Crawford.  Waiting until night, the Sauks and Foxes stripped themselves of everything except the girdles holding their tomahawks and scalping knives.  Then they swam across the river.  Stealthily they crept up to the Sioux camp.  While their enemies lay asleep they killed seventeen chiefs and braves, besides some women and children.  Before the Sioux knew what had happened the Sauks and Foxes had escaped.  Crossing the river, they leaped into their canoes and returned to their villages in Iowa.

And so the warfare continued.  Sometimes the Sioux were victorious, at other times the Sauks and Foxes.  When the white settlers began to pour into Iowa after the Black Hawk War the clashes became less frequent.  The government, too, built forts in Iowa to keep the Indians at peace and to protect the settlers.  Fort Atkinson in the Neutral Ground, Fort Des Moines at the Raccoon Forks, Fort Croghan at Council Bluffs, and later Fort Dodge on the site of the present city of that name all helped to remind the Indian that he must live in peace.  Otherwise the soldiers of the white man would punish him.

Sometimes, even to-day, arrowheads, spearheads, and stone hatchets are found where the Indians long ago fought their battles in Iowa.


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