Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Black Hawk  

Pen Name: 


Born: 1767 in the village of Saukenuk (Present-day Rock Island, Illinois)

Died: October 3, 1838 in Davis County, Iowa

-- Black Hawk on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Black Hawk was born in the village of Saukenuk on the Rock River, in present-day Rock Island.

Biographical and Professional Information

As a chief of the Sauk tribe, Black Hawk led the Sauk and Fox Indians in the Black Hawk War of 1832. The war was a revolt against government orders for Indians to vacate disputed tribal lands along the Rock River in northwestern Illinois. In 1833, he dictated his autobiography, which is considered a classic statement of his people's grievances. He earned a place in the History of Illinois literature with his eloquent autobiography, ''Life of Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak'' (1833), republished as ''Black Hawk: An Autobiography'' (1955).

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Life of Black Hawk, or Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak: Dictated by Himself (Penguin Classics)
ISBN: 0143105396

Penguin Classics. 2008

A rediscovered, defiant work of Native American literature, presented here on the 175th anniversary of its first publication

Upon its publication in 1833, this unflinching narrative by the vanquished Sauk leader Black Hawk was the first thoroughly adversarial account of frontier hostilities between white settlers and Native Americans. Black Hawk, a complex, contradictory figure, relates his life story and that of his people, who had been forced from western Illinois in what was known as the Black Hawk War. The first published account of a victim of the American war of extermination, this vivid portrait of Indian life stands as a tribute to the author and his extraordinary people, as well as an invaluable historical document.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.


Name engraved on the frieze of the Illinois State Library alongside other great Illinois literary figures, 1990