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SAUK. The Sauks, or Sacs, originally spoke a Central Algonquian dialect and referred to themselves as asakiwaki, meaning "People of the Outlet." They left their central Michigan location for northern Wisconsin after Iroquois attacks in the mid-seventeenth century. The tribe first contacted the French in 1667 at Chequamegon Bay, Lake Superior. Population estimates fluctuated between several thousand after contact and several hundred during the 1800s. Closely related to the Foxes culturally and allied with them politically between 1733 and 1850, the Sauks nonetheless always maintained a distinctive tribal identity.

The Native enemies of the Sauks included the Iroquois, Illinois, Osages, and Siouxes. The Sauk maintained good relations with the French (until the Fox wars of 1712–1736) and the English but divided over supporting the United States. The most famous Sauk leaders included Keokuk, a tribal chief who curried favor with the United States, and Black Hawk, a rival war chief who led his faction during the disastrous Black Hawk War (1832).

The Sauks maintained numerous clans and distributed themselves into "moieties" (two complementary divisions of the tribal group). Traditional economic gender definitions found women engaged in agriculture and gathering, while men concentrated on hunting. After residing in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas, the majority of the Sauks settled in Oklahoma and lost most of their traditional culture. Today approximately 2,700 Sauks (Thâkîwâki) live in central Oklahoma as the Sac and Fox tribe.


Callender, Charles. "Sauk." In Handbook of North American Indians. Edited by William C. Sturtevant et al. Vol. 15: Northeast, edited by Bruce G. Trigger. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1978. This most useful and authoritative account was prepared by an anthropologist.

Hagan, William T. The Sac and Fox Indians. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1958. Reprint, 1980.

Jackson, Donald, ed. Black Hawk: An Autobiography. Urbana:

University of Illinois Press, 1955. Black Hawk's autobiography was first published in 1833 under the title Life of Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak.

Raymond E.Hauser

See alsoFox War andvol. 9:Life of Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kaikiak, or Black Hawk .

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The Sauk (Sac) lived around the upper part of Green Bay and the lower Fox River in northeastern Wisconsin, but moved over a large part of eastern Wisconsin and northwestern Illinois during the historic period. Most of the Sauk now live with the Fox on the Sac and Fox Indian Reservation in Tama, Iowa; the Sac and Fox Tribe of Missouri (living in Kansas and Nebraska) ; and the former Sac and Fox Indian Reservation in east-central Oklahoma. They speak an Algonkian language.

See Fox


Hagan, William T. (1958). The Sac and Fox Indians. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

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Sauk / sôk/ (also Sac) • n. (pl. same or Sauks) 1. a member of an American Indian people inhabiting parts of the central U.S. 2. the Algonquian language of this people. • adj. of or relating to this people or their language.