Black Hawk, oil painting by George Catlin, 1832; in the National Museum of American Art, —Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum (formerly National Museum of American Art), Washington, D.C.
(born 1767, Sauk Sautenuk, Va.died Oct. 3, 1838, village on the Des Moines River, Iowa, U.S.) Sauk Indian leader. Long antagonistic to whites, Black Hawk was driven into Iowa from Illinois in 1831. Defying the government orders to vacate villages along the Rock River in Illinois, he led a faction of Sauk and Fox Indians back across the Mississippi River the following year. This act led to the brief but tragic Black Hawk War of 1832. He himself survived the final battle, a massacre. The ruthlessness of the war so affected neighbouring Indian groups that by 1837 most had fled far west, leaving most of the Northwest Territory to white settlers.