The Illinois and Michigan Canal, 1827–1911
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives

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May 11, 1834

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Black Hawk was an elder leader of a group of Sauk Indians who had long encamped near current day Rock Island in northwestern Illinois. Confrontations between the Sauk and an increasing number of white settlers squatting on the public lands of the area escalated when in April of 1832 Black Hawk and his people decamped and headed up the Rock River for Winnebago country. His goal became one of uniting his tribe with the Winnebago, Potawatomi, and other regional tribes in resisting the increasing dominance of the white settlers. In this endeavor he failed. A series of skirmishes between federal troops reinforced by the state militia and the Sauk was labeled the Black Hawk War by the white press. Indian resistance ended on August 3, 1832 at the Battle of Bad Axe, midway between Prairie du Chien and La Crosse in present day Wisconsin. There most of the remaining Sauk were cut down by overwhelming white forces. Black Hawk himself later was captured and imprisoned but following an interview with President Jackson he was relocated to Iowa where the remainder of his tribe had been collected.

The Indian Creek Massacre in La Salle County was an incident of the Black Hawk War. On May 20, 1832 at a farm house twelve miles north of Ottawa four white families were staying together for mutual protection. Forty Indian warriors attacked unexpectedly and killed and mutilated sixteen men, women, and children. Two sisters, Rachel and Sylvia Hall, were kidnapped but after twenty-three days in captivity they were ransomed by an Indian agent. This isolated massacre was instrumental in incorrectly convincing the white settlers that a large scale organized Indian uprising was imminent. In recognition of the hardships and sufferings the Hall sisters had endured, the General Assembly passed a law in 1833 which provided each eighty acres of canal lands other than those situated in the town of Chicago.

Points to Consider

Why was Rachel Munson being granted eighty acres of canal lands in 1834? Was this a just compensation for what she had gone through?
Why was this land selected by her and her husband after their marriage?
Why had "Hostile Indians" captured her?
Describe the circumstances of Native Americans in Illinois in 1834.

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