Sac and Fox

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Sac and Fox

Sac and Fox, closely related Native Americans of the Algonquian branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). Sac and Fox culture was of the Eastern Woodlands area with some Plains-area traits (see under Natives, North American). For a long period they dwelt around Saginaw Bay in E Michigan, but in the early 17th cent. they were driven from this area by the allied Ottawa and Neutral groups. The Sac (also commonly written Sauk) and the Fox fled N across the Strait of Mackinac, then S into present Wisconsin. Thus in 1667, when visited by Father Claude Jean Allouez, they were settled around Green Bay in NE Wisconsin. They then numbered some 6,500.

The Sac were enterprising farmers but spent much time hunting and raiding, although they never developed a soldier society to the degree that the Fox did. The Fox were fierce warriors and constantly waged war with the Ojibwa. Together, the Sac and Fox fought wars against the Sioux and the Illinois, as well as the French. The French, harassed by the Fox, waged a war of extermination; by 1730 they had reduced the Fox to a mere handful. The remnants of the tribe incorporated with their long-standing allies, the Sac, and from that time the two tribes have been known collectively as the Sac and Fox.

After a war with the Illinois (c.1765), the Sac and Fox moved into Illinois territory. In 1804 a fraudulent treaty was extracted from them, and they were told to move west of the Mississippi. Most of them refused to go, but by 1831 they were induced to cross the river into Iowa. By 1832, however, they were back east of the river, attacking frontier settlements. This started the Black Hawk War. After that war they moved west, eventually settling on reservations in Iowa, Kansas, and Oklahoma. In 1990 there were about 4,775 Sac and Fox in the United States.

See W. T. Hagan, The Sac and Fox Indians (1958); F. O. Gearing, The Face of the Fox (1970).

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