For Educators
Curriculum Title:
Black Hawk War: Trouble within the Troops

In 1832, Black Hawk, a Fox and Sauk chief, brought 400 people from his tribe to reclaim their homeland along the Rock River after having lived in Iowa for a year.  White settlers were alarmed and nervous that the Native Americans would begin fighting.  Eventually, the militia was called in and fighting began.   During the summer of 1832, the American troops fought Black Hawk and his warriors in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.  In the end, hundreds of Black Hawk’s people were killed.  The Native Americans accepted relocation to Iowa and the battles ended.

Note:  Images are for educational purposes only.

Grade Level:
Sixth-Eighth Grade
Common Core: RH 7.1 and 7.2, and WHST 7.2 (for details visit

Illinois State History Standard: 14F Understand political systems, with an emphasis on the United States. Understand the development of United States political ideas and traditions.

District 427: Students will summarize the political issues of the United States from 1812 through 1820. Students will examine the importance of westward expansion and its political, economic, and social effects on the development of the nation.
Suggested Activity:
  1. Provide some background on the Black Hawk War.
  2. For a brief time,  American soldiers camped in the Coltonville Road area of Sycamore.  Attached is a short account of their time there.  The significance of this account is that these were some of the first white people in the area.  More interesting, the soldiers in this group all became rather important people in our nation’s history.  One can be intrigued about their argument and General Whiteside’s response. Read the excerpt with the class.  Students should underline 4-5 interesting things as they read.  When finished,  they could share what they underlined and explain why it’s interesting.  Then ask students to answer the questions on the “Trouble with the Troops” sheet.
  3. As the account is rather funny, students will draw comic strips depicting the story with their own added elements.
  4. Ask students to share their comic strips and explain their reasoning for their story line.
Suggested Assessment:

The comic strips can be the assessment.

Resources & Extensions:

The Black Hawk War Website has great background information, primary sources and pictures.

The Black Hawk War  by Frank E. Stevens

Black Hawk War Map (see downloads)