Black Hawk, or Makataimeshekiakiak as he was known to his Sauk tribesmen, was born near Rock Island
During the War of 1812, Black Hawk fought for the British under the leadership of the famous Shawnee Chief Tecumseh.
After Tecumseh was killed in the Battle of the Thames in 1813, Black Hawk continued to anguish over the unfairness of the treaty of St. Louis, in which Sauk and Fox tribes relinquished their claim to all lands east of the Mississippi River.
By 1832, Black Hawk had enlisted 200 warriors and their families and led them back across the Great River precipitating the Black Hawk War. The tribe's slaughter at the hands of General Henry Atkinson and the Illinois militia at Bad Axe River in Wisconsin in August of that same year and subsequent capture of Black Hawk, who was deserted by the Winnebago, led to the end of the War.