Origin and History
The Sauk (aka Sac) people (literally “yellow earth people”) are an Algonquian-speaking group of Native Americans. At the beginning of the 17th century, they migrated from the Upper Saint-Laurent River towards Saginaw Bay in Eastern Michigan. They were traditional allies of the Meskwaki People and were closely related to the Kickapoo People. These three peoples probably shared common ancestry.
In 1667, when they first met the French, the Sauk people inhabited the headwaters of the Wisconsin River, west of present-day Green Bay and numbered some 6,500.
From 1712 to 1716, the Sauk people fought along the Meskwaki People against the French and their allies in the First Fox War.
During the Second Fox War (1728-1733), the Sauk people (now some 4,000) granted sanctuary to the decimated Meskwaki People who had sought refuge among them. By the end of the war, these two allied peoples had been driven across the Mississippi River into Eastern Iowa by the French.
In 1769, the Sauk people allied themselves with other Native American peoples to fight the Illinois People and drive them out of their initial territory. They then moved southwards to this newly conquered territory.
In 1832, the Sauk People vainly fought against the Americans who had invaded their homeland.
After 1842, most Sauk families were relocated to Kansas and later in Oklahoma.
Role during the War
By July 20, 1757, during the French expedition against Fort William Henry, 33 Sauk warriors formed part of Marin’s Brigade. During that campaign, the Sauk warriors contracted smallpox and brought back the disease to their villages that winter. The ensuing smallpox epidemic forced many Native American peoples out of the war.
N. B.: We have been unable to find more descriptions of the dress of this Native American people that would distinguish them from other peoples. If you can suggest sources documenting such characteristics, please do not hesitate to contact us with your suggestions.
Sulzman, Lee: Sauk and Fox History
Waldman, Carl: Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes, Revised Edition, pp. 216-217
Wikipedia – Sauk people
N.B.: the section Role during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.