The name of the Native Indian in the picture is Black Hawk or Múk-a-tah-mish-o-káh-kaik, Black Hawk, Prominent Sac Chief, Sauk and Fox tribe. The picture of him raises different points of interest which increase knowledge and understanding of Native Indian tribes:
- What materials have been used to make the clothes / headdress?
- What ornaments or decorations are being worn?
- What items or accessories is he holding?
- What image does the picture convey? Intimidating or friendly?
- Can you identify the group or the region the Native Indian belongs to?
The title we have given the picture reflects the name of the tribe, for ease of identification.
Description of the Picture
The artist of this painting, George Catlin, wrote the following to accompany this picture:
“Black Hawk is the man to whom I have alluded, as the leader of the ‘Black Hawk war’ who was defeated by General Atkinson, and held a prisoner of war, and sent through Washington and other Eastern cities, with a number of others, to be gazed at.
“This man, whose name has carried a sort of terror through the country where it has been sounded, has been distinguished as a speaker or counselor rather than as a warrior; and I believe it has been pretty generally admitted that ‘Nahpope’ and the ‘Prophet’ were, in fact, the instigators of the war, and either of them with much higher claims for the name of warrior than Black Hawk ever had.
“When I painted this chief, he was dressed in a plain suit of buckskin, with a string of wampum in his ears and on his neck, and held in his hand his medicine-bag, which was the skin of a black hawk, from which he had taken his name, and the tail of which made him a fan, which he was almost constantly using.”
The Manners, Customs and Conditions of the North American Indians (1832 - 1839)
by George Catlin