History, Tales, and Destinations in the Land of Ahs


Sac and Fox Indians

Bookmark and Share

From the earliest days of America, the Sac and Fox were nearly always mentioned together. Their Algonquian language was nearly identical, and they were probably of common origin. The Sac (also Sauk) called themselves Asakiwaki, meaning "people of the yellow earth" while the Fox called themselves Meskwaki meaning "people of the red earth".


From the country east of Lake Huron they were driven by wars with the French and with hostile tribes, to Wisconsin, where they settled at the confluence of Wolf and Fox Rivers. Again driven by the French, they settled on the Upper Wisconsin in 1761, numbering about 700 warriors. During the American Revolution, they were the firm friends of the English.


After several wars with the Illinois,  Missouri, and Osage Indians, the Sac expanded southward. By 1800 they controlled the upper Mississippi River between St. Louis, Missouri and Dubuque, Iowa.


The first treaty was held at St. Louis, Missouri on November 3, 1804, between the united tribes of Sac and Fox and the United States, with William Henry Harrison being Acting Commissioner on the part of the government.


Chief Keokuk, Sac & Fox

Chief Keokuk: Chief of the Sacs and Foxes, painted by

Charles Bird King, 1837




By the provisions of this treaty, the chiefs and head men of the tribes ceded to the United States, a large tract on both sides of the Mississippi River, including on the east lands in Illinois and Wisconsin, and on the west a portion of Iowa and Missouri, from the mouth of the Gasconade River northward. However, disagreements over accepting the treaty caused one Sac group to separate from the others and move south to the Missouri River. Known as the Missouri Band, they remained there until 1824 when they were removed to the northwest corner of the state.


On September 13-14, 1815, another treaty was held at Portage des Sioux (St. Charles County, Missouri), with the Sac and Fox then residing in Missouri, who confirmed, for their portion of the tribe, the treaty of 1804.


On May 13, 1816, a treaty was held with the Rock River Sac and Fox at St. Louis, also confirming the treaty of 1804. This treaty was signed by Chief Black Hawk, known as 'Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak' by his people. At the time the Black Hawk War broke out in 1832, the chief affirmed that, although he himself had "touched the quill" to this treaty, he was deceived by the agent, and knew not what he was signing, and that the treaty of 1804 was made by persons who had neither authority in the nation nor power to dispose of its lands.


On August 4, 1824, the Sac and Fox of Missouri ceded to the United States all the land "lying and being between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, and a line running from the Missouri River, at the entrance of the Kansas River, north 100 miles to northwest corner of the State of Missouri, and from there, east to the Mississippi River." For this cession each tribe received $1,000, and $500 in annuities for ten years.


In 1831, settlers began to occupy the village of Saukenuk (later becoming Rock Island, Illinois). Keokuk, the principal chief of the Fox, soon moved from Illinois to the west side of the Mississippi River, settling in southeast Iowa, followed by a large part of the two tribes, but Chief Black Hawk and his band refused to leave their village at Rock Island, contending that they had never sold their town. Early in 1832, a sizeable force of U.S. Soldiers and Illinois militiamen, arrived in the area, forcing Black Hawk to withdraw to the west side of the Mississippi River. However, on April 5, he led them back to the disputed territory after thinking he would get support from other Indian forces and British to the north.


Chief Black Hawk, Sac and Fox

Chief Black Hawk by  W. Greenough, 1838


The Black Hawk War started on April 6, when soldiers caught up with him near Rock River in northern Illinois. Although Black Hawk tried to surrender, one of his truce bearers was killed, and in the confusion the war began. The 15 week war would result in an estimated 70 settlers and soldiers, and up to 592 Native American deaths.  On August 2, during the Battle of Bad Ax, in Vernon County, Wisconsin,  Black Hawk and his forces were routed by United States troops under Colonel Zachary Taylor, and Illinois volunteers under Colonel Henry Dodge. Black Hawk was captured and the war ended. As a consequence of the war, the Sak were forced to surrender a large part of eastern Iowa by a treaty of July 15, 1830.


The Iowa and Missouri Sac and Fox were assigned, by treaty of September 17, 1836, "the small strip of land on the south side of the Missouri River, lying between the Kickapoo northern boundary line and the Grand Nemahaw River, and extending from the Missouri River back and westwardly with the Kickapoo line and the Grand Nemahaw River. The 400 sections were to be divided between the Ioway and Missouri Sac and Fox; the upper half to the Ioway, the lower half to the Sac and Fox."


This tract was partly in what is now Doniphan County, Kansas, and partly in Nebraska; the reservation of the Sac and Fox being in Kansas. Some Sac and Fox remained in Iowa until 1842 when they ceded their lands for a reserve in Kansas just south of present-day Topeka. However, many of them refused to leave Iowa.


Once in Kansas, major disagreements developed between the Sac and Fox, and some of the Fox Indians moved in with the Kickapoo tribe, but later left them for northern Mexico.


On May 18, 1854, the Kansas reservation was ceded to the United States, with the exception of 50 sections, of 640 acres each, in the western part of the reservation. 1861, the reservation was still further reduced in size. Despite the allotment, the Sac and Fox of Missouri retained a small reservation in Kansas and today their tribal headquarters located in Reserve, Kansas.


In the meantime, many of the Fox had left Kansas and returned to Iowa where they purchased land near Tama. In 1869, the remaining Sac and Fox sold their Kansas land and relocated to Oklahoma on a reservation in Potawatomi, Lincoln, and Payne Counties east of Oklahoma City. After allotment, most of this was released to whites in 1891.



Today, there are three federally recognized Sac and Fox tribes:


Sac and Fox Nation in Oklahoma - Comprised of nearly 3,500 people, the tribe continues to have a jurisdictional area in parts of Lincoln, Payne, and Pottawatomie Counties, with almost 1,000 acres. it operates its own housing authority in Shawnee, Oklahoma, as well as two casinos and more than a dozen smoke shops.


Sac & Fox Nation

Route 2

Box 246

Stroud, Oklahoma 74079



Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa - This group, who prefer to be called the Mesquaki, returned to their Iowa Lands and using their own money to purchase land, their  tribal holdings have grown to almost to more than 7,000 acres. The only federally recognized tribe in Iowa, they have about 1,300 members, many of whom live at the Mesquaki settlement near Tama, Iowa.


Meskwaki Nation

349 Meskwaki Road

Tama, Iowa


Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri in Kansas and Nebraska - Located in  southeastern Richardson County, Nebraska and northeastern Brown County, Kansas, the tribe has some 400 members. They operate a casino in Powhattan, Kansas and their tribal headquarters are located in Reserve, Kansas.

Sac & Fox Headquarters
Route 1, Box 60
Reserve, Kansas 66434

Compiled and edited by Kathy Weiser/Legends of Kansas, 2010, updated March, 2017.


Also See: Native American Legends (Legends of America)


From the Legends' General Store

Kansas PostcardsKansas Postcards - If you're like we are and can't get enough of Kansas, take a virtual tour through our many Kansas Postcards. Each one of these is unique and, in many cases, we have only one available, so don't wait. To see them all, click HERE!


  About Us      Contact Us       Article/Photo Use      Guestbook      Legends Of America      Links      Photo Blog      Site Map     Writing Credits  

Copyright 2009-Present, www.Legends of Kansas.com is a web property of Legends Of America