Sac (people)

Sac (people)

The Sauks or Sacs (oθaakiiwaki in their own language or Ozaagii(-wag) in Ojibwe from where their French and English names are derived) are a group of Native Americans of the Eastern Woodlands culture group.

Clan system

Originally, the Sac were governed by a patrilineal clans system. Clans which continue are: Fish, Ocean/Sea, Thunder, Bear, Fox, Potato, Deer, Beaver, Snow, and Wolf. The tribe was governed by a council of sacred clan chiefs, a war chief, the head of families, and the warriors. Chiefs fell into three categories: civil, war, and ceremonial, but only the civil chief was hereditary. The other two chiefs were determined by demonstrating their ability or their spiritual power. This traditional manner of selecting historic clan chiefs and governing themselves was at first forcibly replaced by United States appointees of the Sac and Fox Agency and now by constitutional government patterned after the American form.

Early history

The Sac may have had their original territory along the St. Lawrence River. However, migration patterns of other tribes drove them to Michigan around Saginaw Bay. Due to the yellow clay soils found around Saginaw Bay, their self-designation became "Oθaakiiwaki" which is often interpreted to mean "yellow-earth". The Ojibwe and Ottawa name for the tribe is "Ozaagii", meaning "Those at the Outlet", whence they were known by the French as "Sac" or by the English as "Sauk". With the Anishinaabe expansion and Hurons attempts at gaining regional stability, the Sac were driven by the Hurons armed with French weapons. They then occupied territory in parts of what are now northern Illinois and Wisconsin.

Their closely allied tribe, the Fox, were noted for their hostility towards the French and fought two Fox Wars in the early 18th century. After the second war, the Sac sheltered the remaining Fox in their camp and were subject to French attack themselves. The Sac continued moving west to Iowa and Kansas. There were two crucial leaders of the Sac at this time. Keokuk accepted the loss of land (at first, east of the Mississippi) as inevitable in the face of vast numbers of white soldiers and settlers. He tried to preserve peacefully whatever remnant of tribal land he could. Having failed to receive supplies on credit as their embassy just returned from Washington expected, Black Hawk wanted to fight, saying his people were "forced into war by being deceived." ["Autobiography of Black Hawk or Ma-Ka-Tai-Me-She-Kia-Kiak", by J. B. Patterson, 1882 [] ] The refusal of the band of mainly Sac under Black Hawk in 1832 to accept the continued loss of lands (in western Illinois, this time) led to their reduction in importance at the hands of General Edmund P. Gaines in the Blackhawk War. About this time, one group of Sac moved into Missouri and later to Kansas and Nebraska. The larger group of Sac moved into reservations in Oklahoma in 1869 where they merged with the Fox as the Sac and Fox Nation. A smaller number returned from Oklahoma (or did not go) and became the Mesquakie tribe in Iowa.

As of 2006 the Sac and Fox communities in existence are:
*Sac & Fox Nation of Missouri in Kansas and Nebraska
*Sac & Fox Nation, Oklahoma
*Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa


The Sac speak an Algonquian language, now called Sauk language, which is a dialect of the same language spoken by the Meskwaki, and very closely related to that of the Kickapoo. Their language is now almost extinct. Supposedly, the now extinct Mascouten language was also related to the Sauk language.

Geographical names

Lake Osakis in west-central Minnesota, the Sauk River, which flows from Lake Osakis, and the towns of Osakis, Sauk Centre, and Sauk Rapids all received their names as a result of an historical association with a small group of Sauks who, having been banished from their tribe for murder, made camp on the shores of Lake Osakis. According to Ojibwa oral tradition, these five Sauks were massacred by local Dakota Indians in the late 18th century.cite book| last =Upham| first =Warren| authorlink =Warren Upham| title =Minnesota Place Names, A Geographical Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition| publisher =Minnesota Historical Society| date =2001| location =Saint Paul, Minnesota| pages =pp. 53| isbn =0-87351-396-7]

Other places with "Sauk" references include Prairie du Sac, Sauk City, Saukville and Sauk County in Wisconsin, Sac City and Sac County in Iowa, Sac Townships in Iowa and Missouri, Sauk Village, Illinois, Le Sauk and Little Sauk Townships in Minnesota, and Sauk Prairie and Sauk Valley Townships in North Dakota. The name of the city of Saginaw, Michigan is believed to mean "where the Sauk were" in the Ojibwe language. The cities of Dixon, Sterling, and the surrounding area in Illinois call themselves the Sauk Valley. Sauk Trail is the name of a winding road in Illinois south of Chicago, said to follow an old Indian trail.

Notable people

*Black Hawk


ee also

*African-Native Americans
*Algonquian languages
*Fox (Native American)
*Sac and Fox Nation
*Native Americans in the United States
*Native American tribes
*Native American tribes in Nebraska
*One Drop Rule

External links

* [ Sac and Fox of Oklahoma]
* [ General information to Sac and Fox]

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