The Sauk and Fox Tribes


The historic Sauk and Fox were well represented by a large delegation of 33 from Oklahoma and a smaller party of 16 from the band now living in Iowa. These two tribes, calling themselves respectively , 'Sagiwuk' and 'Muskwakiuk', are practically one people, speaking closely related dialects of one language and having been confederated from a very early period.


The Sauk and Fox were prominent in every Indian movement of the lake and upper Mississippi region from the beginning of the French and Indian war until their power was broken by the result of the Black-hawk war in 1832. Their territory lay on both sides of the Mississippi, in Iowa and northern Illinois, having the Potawatomi and Kickapoo on the east, the Winnebago and Dakota on the north, and the Iowa on the west. With all of these tribes, except the Dakota, they maintained a friendly chief of the Black-hawk war. Anamosa commemorates an heroic mother of the Sauk and Fox tribe who swam the Mississippi with her infant tied upon her back to escape a massacre in which nearly two hundred men and women, and children of the Sauk fell by the bullets of 1600 American troops. The younger daughter of Anamosa accompanied the delegation.


The Sauk have always been agricultural, and they wear the turban and characteristic moccasin of the eastern tribes. Their beaded work is especially beautiful, and like the Winnebago they weave fine mats of rushes with which they cover the framework and carpet the floors of their long, round-top wigwams. They brought with them enough of these mats to set up several wigwams, which are entirely different in shape and structure from the conical tipi of the plains tribes.


In person they are tall and strongly built, with faces indicating they hold fast their forms, legends, and complex social organization, and are today probably the most interesting study tribes of the whole existing Algonquian stock. They have a syllabic alphabet, apparently the work of some early French missionary, by means of which they keep up a correspondence with friends on their various scattered reservations. The two tribes now number together about 970, of whom 500 are in Oklahoma, nearly 400 in Iowa, and a small band in Kansas.


With the Sauk there came also several of the Potawatomi (Potowatmik), and four Iowa (Pahoche), the latter being a small Siouan tribe, now reduced to 260, formerly living, in alliance with the Sauk, in central Iowa, which derives its name from them.


To see more images from the Indian Congress, visit the Indian Congress Photo Gallery. This collection includes over 500 photographs of Native Americans, including portraits of individuals, group photos of families and photographs of various activities.

The library also has the original "Secretary's Report" from the TransMississippi Exposition. This document includes a section on the The Indian Congress by Mr. W. V. Cox, Secretary of the Government Exhibit Board. It also contains the Report of Captain Mercer, manager of the Indian Congress.

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