Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chief Keokuk The Watchful Fox

Keokuk as painted by George Catlin

By Benjamin Drake.

Keokuk is a native of the Sac nation of Indians and was born near or upon Rock River in the northwestern part of what now constitutes the state of Illinois, about the year 1780. He is not a hereditary chief and consequently has risen to his present ele­vation by the force of talent and of enterprise. He began to manifest these qualities at a very early period of his life. While but a youth he performed an act, which placed him, as it were by brevet, in the ranks of manhood. In the first battle in which he engaged, he encountered and killed a Sioux warrior, with his spear, while on horseback; and as the Sioux are distinguished for their horseman­ship, this was looked upon as so great an achieve­ment, that a public feast was made in commemora­tion of it, by his tribe; and the youthful Keokuk, was forthwith admitted to all the rights and privi­leges of a Brave. It was further allowed, that ever afterward, on all public occasions, he might appear on horseback, even if the rest of the chiefs and braves were not mounted.

During the late war between the United States and Great Britain, and before Keokuk was entitled to take his seat in the councils of his nation, an ex­pedition was sent by our government, to destroy the Indian village at Peoria, on the Illinois river. A rumor reached the Sac village, in which he resided, that this expedition was also to attack the Sacs, and the whole tribe was thrown into consternation. The Indians were panic-stricken, and the council hastily determined to abandon their village. Keo­kuk happened to be standing near the council-lodge when this decision was made. It was no sooner announced than he boldly advanced to the door and requested admission. It was granted. He asked leave to speak, and permission was given him. He commenced by saying he had heard with deep regret, the decision of the council—that he himself was wholly opposed to flight, before an en­emy still distant, and whose strength was entirely unknown. He called the attention of the council to the importance of meeting the enemy in their approach—of harassing their progress—cutting them off in detail—of driving them back, or of nobly dying in defense of their country and their homes.


“Make me your leader," he boldly exclaimed; “let our young men follow me, and the pale-faces shall be driven back to their towns. Let the old men and the women, and all who are afraid to meet the white man, stay here, but let your braves go to battle." Such intrepid conduct, could not fail to produce its effect upon a race so excitable as the Indians. The warriors with one voice, declar­ed they were ready to follow Keokuk; and he was at once chosen to lead them against the enemy. It turned out, however, that the alarm was false, but the eloquence of Keokuk in the council, and his energy in preparing for the expedition placed him at once in the first rank of the braves.

His military reputation was, on another occasion, much increased, by the skill and promptness with which he met a sudden emergency on the battlefield. With a party of his braves, Keokuk was hunting in the country which lies between the residence of the Sacs and that of the Sioux, betwixt whom, for many years, a deadly hatred had ex­isted. Very unexpectedly, a party of the latter well mounted, came upon them. The Sacs were also on horseback, but their enemies being superior horsemen and fully equipped for war, had a decid­ed advantage. There was no covert from behind which the Sacs could fight, and flight was impos­sible. Keokuk's mode of defense was as novel as ingenious. He instantly formed his men into a compact circle, ordered them to dismount, and take shelter behind their horses, by which movement they were protected from the missiles of the Sioux, and at the same time placed under circumstances in which they could avail themselves of their supe­riority as marksmen. The Sioux, raising the war­-whoop, charged upon their entrenched foe with great fury, but were received with a fire so de­structive that they were compelled to fall back. The attack was repeated but with the same result. The horses could not be forced upon those whose guns were pouring forth volleys of fire and smoke; and after several unsuccessful attempts to break the line, the Sioux retreated with considerable loss.
At a subsequent period, during a cessation of hostilities between these tribes, the Sacs had gone to the prairies to hunt buffalo, leaving their village but slightly protected by braves. During the hunt Keokuk and his band, unexpectedly approached an encampment of a large number of Sioux, painted for war, and evidently on their way to attack his village. His own braves were widely scattered over the extensive plains, and could not be speedily gathered together. Possessing the spirit of a fearless and generous mind, he instantly resolved upon the bold expedient of throwing himself be­tween the impending danger and his people. Un­attended, he deliberately rode into the camp of his enemy. In the midst of their lodges rose the war-pole, and around it the Sioux were dancing, and partaking of those fierce excitements, by means of which the Indians usually prepare themselves for battle. It happened that revenge upon the Sacs constituted the burden of their songs, at the mo­ment of Keokuk's approach. He dashed into the midst of them and boldly demanded to see their chief “I have come," said he, “to let you know that there are traitors in your camp: they have told me that you are preparing to attack my village: I know they told me lies, for you could not, after smoking the pipe of peace, be so base as to murder my women and children in my absence. None but cowards would be guilty of such conduct." When the first feeling of amazement began to subside, the Sioux crowded around him in a manner evinc­ing a determination to seize his person, and they had already laid hold of his legs, when he added, in a loud voice, “I supposed they told me lies, but if what I have heard is true, then the Sacs are rea­dy for you." With a sudden effort, he dashed aside those who had seized him, plunged his spurs into his gallant horse, and rode off at full speed. Several guns were discharged at him, but fortunate­ly without effect: a number of the Sioux warriors instantly sprung upon their horses and pursued him but in vain. Keokuk, on horseback, was in his element; he made the woods resound with the war-whoop, and brandishing his tomahawk in de­fiance of his foes, soon left them far behind, and joined his little party of braves. His pursuers, fearful of some stratagem, gave up the pursuit, af­ter having followed him for some distance, and retired to their camp. Keokuk took immediate steps to call in his braves and speedily returned to protect his village. His enemies, however, finding themselves discovered, abandoned the contempla­ted attack and retraced their steps to their own country.

Keokuk and his son, by Charles Bird King
The eloquence of Keokuk and his sagacity in the civil affairs of his nation are, like his military tal­ents, of a high order. One or two cases in which these have been exhibited, are worthy of being re­torted. A few years since, some of his warriors fell in with a party of unarmed Menominies, at Prairie des Chiens, in sight of Fort Crawford, and murdered the whole of them. Justly incensed at this outrage, the Menominies prepared to take up arms against the Sacs and prevailed upon the Winnebagoes to join them. For the purpose of allaying the rising storm, the United States' agent, at Prairie des Chiens, General Street invited the sever­al parties to a council at that place for the purpose of adjusting the difficulty, without a resort to arms. They accordingly, out of respect to the agent, assem­bled at fort Crawford, but the Menominies refused, sternly, to hold any conference with the Sacs on the subject. Keokuk told the agent not to be discour­aged, for he would adjust the difficulty with them, before they separated, in spite of their prejudi­ces and their positive refusal to treat: He only ask­ed an opportunity of meeting them face to face in the council-lodge. The tribes were brought to­gether, but the Menominies persevered in their deter­mination to hold no conference with the Sacs. The negotiation proceeded, and a friendly feeling was re-established between the Winnebagoes and the Sacs. Keokuk then rose and with much deliberation, began his address to the Menominies. At first, they averted their faces or listened with looks of defiance. He had commenced his speech without smoking the pipe or shaking hands, which was a breach of etiquette; and, above all, he was the chief of a tribe that had inflicted upon them an injury, for which blood alone could atone. Under these discouraging circumstances, Keokuk proceed­ed, in his forcible, persuasive and impressive man­ner. Such was the touching character of his appeal, such the power of his eloquence, that the fea­tures of his enemies gradually relaxed; they listen­ed; they assented; and when he concluded by re­marking, proudly, but in a conciliating tone, “I came here to say that I am sorry for the impru­dence of my young men; I came to make peace; I now offer you the hand of Keokuk; who will refuse?" they rose one by one and accepted the proffer­ed grasp.

In the late contest between the United States and Black Hawk's band, Keokuk and a majority of the Sacs and Foxes, took no part. Black Hawk made several efforts to induce them to unite against the whites, which they were strongly inclined to do, not only from their love of war and of plunder but on account of the injustice with which very many of them believed they had been treated by the people of the United States. It required all of Keokuk's influence and moderation to prevent the whole nation from enlisting under the Black Hawk banner. He requested the agent of the American Government to send to his village, on the west side of the Mississippi, a white man who understood the Sac language, and who might bear witness to his, Keokuk's sincerity and faithfulness to the whites. Such a person was sent. The excitement raised by Black Hawk and the war in which he was engaged, continued to increase among Keokuk's people. “He stood on a mine, liable to be explo­ded by a single spark. He was in peril of being slain as the friend of the whites. He remained calm and unawed, ruling his turbulent little state with mildness and firmness, but at the constant risk of his life. One day, a new emissary arrived from Black Hawk's party. Whiskey was introduced in­to the camp, and Keokuk saw that the crisis was at hand. He warned the white man who was his guest, of the impending danger and advised him to conceal himself. A scene of tumult ensued.

The emissary spoke of blood that had been shod —of their relations being driven from their hunt­ing grounds—of recent insults—of injuries long in­flicted by the whites—hinted at the ready vengeance that might be taken on an exposed frontier—of de­fenseless cabins—and of rich booty. The desired effect was produced. The braves began to dance around the war pole, to paint and to give other evi­dences of a warlike character. Keokuk watched the rising storm and appeared to mingle in it. He drank and listened and apparently assented to all that was said. At length, his warriors called out to be led to battle, and he was asked to lead them. He arose and spoke with that power which had never failed him. He sympathized in their wrongs —their thirst for vengeance—he won their confi­dence by giving utterance to the passions by which they were moved and echoing back their own thoughts with a master spirit. He then considered my proposition to go to war, alluded to the power of the whites—the hopelessness of the contest: He told them he was their chief—that it was his duty to rule them as a father at home: to lead them to war if they determined to go. But in the propos­ed war, there was no middle course: The power of the United States was such, that unless they con­quered that great nation, they must perish; that he would lead them instantly against the whites on one condition, and that was, that they should first put all their women and children to death, and then resolve, that having crossed the Mississippi, they would never return, but perish among the graves of their fathers rather than yield them to the white-men This proposal, desperate as it was, presented the true issue: it calmed the disturbed passions of his people, the turmoil subsided, order was restored, and the authority of Keokuk, became for the time bung firmly re-established.'"

Black Hawk and his band have always been op­posed to Keokuk, and since the late war, which proved so disastrous to them, and into which they were plunged, in opposition to his counsel, they have looked upon him with increased aversion.

Keokuk leaving the Sioux encampment









They have made repeated efforts to destroy his influence with the remainder of the tribe, and owing to the monotony of his pacific rule, were, on one occasion, nearly successful. A spirit of discontent pervaded his people—they complained of the ex­tent of the power which he wielded—they needed excitement, and as his measures were all of a peaceful character, they sought it in a change of rulers. The matter was at length openly and for­mally discussed. The voice of the nation was taken, Keokuk was removed from his post of headman and a young chief placed in his stead. He made not the smallest opposition to this measure of his people but calmly awaited the result. When his young successor was chosen, Keokuk was the first to salute him with the title of Father. But the matter did not rest here. With great courtesy, he begged to accompany the new chief to the agent of the United States, then at Rock Island; and with profound respect, introduced him as his chief and his father—urged the agent to receive him as such, and solicited, as a personal favor, that the same re­gard that had ever been paid to him, by the whites, might be transferred to his worthy successor. The sequel may be readily inferred. The nation could not remain blind to the error they had committed. Keokuk as a private individual was still the first man among his people. His ready and noble ac­quiescence in their wishes won both their sympathy and admiration. He rose rapidly but silently to his former elevated station, while the young chief sunk as rapidly to his former obscurity.

Sometime in 1832, five of the friendly Sacs be­longing to Keokuk's party, murdered a man by the name of Martin, in Warren County, Illinois. One of these proved to be a nephew of Keokuk, but by the orders of his uncle, he was seized and de­livered over to the civil authority of that state to be tried for the murder. The other four made their escape. Sometime afterward, Keokuk was called upon to deliver up the other four Sacs who had been concerned in the outrage that they also might be brought to justice. He replied that they were beyond his reach, but that he would call a council of his headmen and take, measures to give satisfac­tion to the whites. The council was held, and Keokuk stated the demand of their Great Father, the President; and that if satisfaction were not made to him, he feared, an army would be sent in­to their country, and that many troubles would overtake them Immediately four young warriors arm and offered to be surrendered up to the whites, and suffer death in place of the real offenders, to prevent their nation from incurring the dis­pleasure of the President. Keokuk, supposing that this would satisfy the demands of justice, delivered them up as the murderers and they were imprison­ed. Upon their trial, Keokuk was present, as a witness. In giving his testimony, he stated with honest simplicity, that the young men then arraigned in court, for the murder of Martin, were not the guilty ones, but they had agreed to die in place of the real murderers who could not be found. The prisoners were, as a matter of course, set at liberty.

Some months after the close of the "Black Hawk war," Keokuk was informed that reports were in circulation, in the state of Illinois, that the Indians were dissatisfied and preparing for fresh hostilities. He dictated a letter to the Governor upon the sub­ject, which was forwarded to him. It is in these words.

"Raccoon Fork of Des Moines River, Nov. 30, 1832.
"To the Great Chief of Illinois.

"MY FATHER:

"I have been told by a trader, that several of your village criers [editors] have been circulating bad news, informing the whites that the Indians are preparing for wax and that we are dissatisfied. My Father, you were present when the tomahawk was buried and assisted me to place it so deep, that it will never again be raised against your white children of Illinois.

"My Father, very few of that misguided band that entered Rock river last summer, remain You have humbled them by war, and have made, them friendly by your generous conduct to them after they were defeated.

"Myself and the greater part of the Sacs and Foxes, have firmly held you by the hand: We fol­lowed your advice and did as you told us. My Father, take pity on those of my nation that you forgave, and never mention the disasters of last summer. I wish them to be forgotten.

"I do not permit the criers of our village or camps to proclaim any bad news against the whites, not even the truth. Last fall an old man, a Fox, was hunting on an island, a short distance below Rock River for turkeys to carry to Fort Armstrong: he was killed by a white man. My Father, we passed it over: we have only spoken of it in whis­pers; our agent has not heard of it We wish to live in friendship with the whites; if a -white man comes to our camp or village, we give him a share of what we have to eel, a lodging if he wants it, and put him on the trail if he has lost it.

"My Father, advise the criers of your villages to tell the truth respecting us, and assist in strengthening the chain of friendship, that your children may treat us friendly when they meet us: and be assur­ed that we are friends, and have feelings as well as they have.

"My Father, this is all I have to say at present."

Keokuk, Chief of the Sac Nation."

In the autumn of the year 1837, Keokuk and a party of his warriors made a visit to Washington City. Black Hawk was of the party having been taken along it is supposed by the politic Keokuk, lest in his absence, the restless spirit of the old man should create some new difficulties at home. We are indebted to a gentleman who happened to be at the capital at the time of this visit, for the following sketch of a council, held under the direction of the Secretary at War, Mr. Poinsett, for the laudable purpose of reconciling the long cherished feeling of hostility between the Sacs and Foxes, and the Sioux, a deputation of chiefs from this latter nation being also at the seat of government. The council was held in a church. The Indians were seated on a platform erected for the purpose, the spectators occupying the pews. The Secretary presenting the President was seated on the center of the platform, facing the audience—the Sioux on his right hand and the Sauks and Foxes on his left, forming a semicircle. “These hostile tribes pre­sented in their appearance a remarkable contrast. The Sioux tricked out in blue coats, epaulets, fur hats and various articles of finery, which had been presented to them, and which were now incongruous­ly worn in conjunction with portions of their own proper costume; while the Saukies and Foxes, with a commendable pride and good taste, wore their national dress, without any admixture, and were studiously painted according to their own notions of propriety. But the most striking object was Keokuk, who sat at the head of his delegation, on the extreme left, facing his mortal enemies the Sioux, who occupied the opposite side of the stage; having the audience upon his left side, and his own people on his right, and beyond them the Secretary at War. He sat grasping in his right hand the war banner, the symbol of his station as ruling chief. His person was erect and his eye fixed calmly but steadily upon the enemies of his people. On the floor, and leaning upon the knee of the chief, sat his son, a boy of nine or ten years old, whose fra­gile figure and innocent countenance, afforded a beautiful contrast with the athletic and warlike form and the intellectual though weather-beaten features of his father. The effect was in the highest degree picturesque and imposing. The council was opened by smoking the pipe, which was passed from mouth to mouth. The Secretary then briefly addressed both parties, in a conciliating strain, urg­ing them, in the name of their great father, the Pre­sident, to abandon those sanguinary wars, by means of which their race was becoming extinct, and to cultivate the arts, the thrift and industry of the white men. The Sioux spoke next. The orator, on rising first stepped forward, and shook hands with the Secretary, and then delivered his harangue in his own tongue, stopping at the end of each sen­tence, until it was rendered into English by the in­terpreter, who stood by his side, and into the Saukie language by the interpreter of that tribe. Another and another followed, all speaking vehemently and with much acrimony. The burthen of their harangue was the folly of addressing pacific language to the Sauks and Foxes, who were faith­less and in whom no confidence could be placed.

Keokuk as an old man
‘My father,’ said one of them, ‘you cannot make these people hear any good words unless you bore their ears with sticks.' We have often made peace with them,' said another speaker, an old man, who endeavored to be witty, ‘but they would never ob­serve any treaty. I would as soon think of making a treaty with that child,' pointing to Keokuk's little boy, as with a Saukie or Musquakee.' The Sioux were evidently gratified and excited by the sarcasm of their orators, while their opponents sat motion­less, their dark eyes flashing, but their features as composed and stolid, as if they did not understand that. disparaging language that was used. We re­marked a decided want of gracefulness in all these speakers. Each of them having shaken hands with the Secretary, who sat facing the audience, stood immediately before and near to him, with the inter­preter at his elbow, both having their backs to the spectators; and in this awkward position, speaking low and rapidly—but little of what they said could be heard except by the persons near them. Not so Keokuk. When it came to his turn to speak, he rose deliberately, advanced to the Secretary and having saluted him returned to his place, which being at the foot of the stage, and on one side of it, his face was not concealed from any of the several parties present. His interpreter stood beside him. The whole arrangement was judicious, and though apparently unstudied, showed the tact of an orator.

He stood erect, in an easy, but martial posture, with his robe thrown over his left shoulder and arm, leaving the rig& arm bare, to be used in ac­tion. His voice was firm, his enunciation remark­ably clear, distinct, and rapid. Those who have had the gratification of hearing a distinguished sen­ator from South Carolina, now in Congress, whose rapidity of utterance, concentration of thought and conciseness of language are alike peculiar to himself, may form some idea of the style of Keokuk, the latter adding, however, an attention to the graces of attitude and action, to which the former makes no pretension. He spoke with dignity but great animation, and some of his retorts were excellent. ‘They tell you,' said he, ‘that our ears must be bored with sticks, but, my Father, you could not penetrate their thick skulls in that way—it would require hot iron. They say they would as soon make peace with a child, as with us, they know better, for when they made war upon us they found us, men.' ‘They tell you that peace has of­ten been made and that we have broken it. How happens it then that so many of their braves have been slain in our country? I will tell yon—they invaded us; we never invaded them: none of my braves have been killed in their land. We have their scalps and can tell where we took them.

“As we have given the palm to Keokuk, at this meeting, we must in justice to the Sioux, mention an eloquent reply, made by one of the same party, on a different day. The Secretary at War met the Sioux delegation in council to treat for the purchase of some of their territory. A certain sum of money being offered them for the land, they demanded a greater price. They were then told that the Ameri­cans were a great people, who would not traffic with them like a trader—that the President had satisfied himself as to the value of the territory, and offered them the full price. Big Thunder, a son of the Little Crow, replied that the Sioux were a great nation, and could not, like a trader, ask a price and then take less: and, then to illustrate the equality of dignity, between the high contracting parties, he used a figure, which struck us as eminently beauti­ful—‘the children of our white parent are very many, they possess all the country from the rising of the sun to noon-day—the Sioux are very many, the land is all theirs from the noon-day to the setting sun.' "

After leaving Washington City, Keokuk, attend­ed by his wife and son, four chiefs of the united Sac and Fox tribes, and several warriors among whom were Black Hawk and his son, proceeded as far north as Boston, and attracted in all the ci­ties through which they passed great attention. They were met in Boston, with distinguished honors, being received by Governor Everett on behalf of the state, and the mayor, on behalf of the city. The ceremony of receiving the Indians occurred on the 30th of October, and no public spectacle in the history of Boston, ever assem­bled so great a number of its citizens. Between the hours of ten and twelve, the chiefs held a levee in Faneuil Hall, for the visits of the ladies, exclusively, an immense concourse of whom, thronged the old "cradle of liberty" to look up­on the stranger guests. At 2 o'clock, P. M. the chiefs were escorted by the Lancers to the State House, which was filled with ladies, the mem­bers of the legislature, the civil authorities, &c. Governor Everett, first addressed the audience, by giving them a brief account of the different tribes represented by the Indian chiefs then present. Then turning to the Indians, he said,

“Chiefs and warriors of the united Sac and Fox tribes, you are welcome to our hall of council. You have come a far way from your homes in the west to visit your white brethren. We are glad to take you by the hand. We have heard before of the Sacs and Foxes—our travelers have told us the names of their great men and chiefs. We are glad to see them with our own eyes.

"We are called the Massachusetts. It is the name of the red men who once lived here. In former times the red man's wigwam stood on these fields, and his council fires were kindled on this spot.

"When our fathers came over the great waters, they were a small band. The red man stood on the rock by the seaside, and looked at them. He might have pushed them into the water and drown­ed them; but he took hold of their hands and said, welcome, white man. Our fathers were hungry, and the red man gave them corn and venison. Our fathers were cold, and the red man spread his blan­ket over them and made them warm.

“We are now grown great and powerful, but we remember the kindness of the red man to our fathers.

"Brothers, our faces are pale and yours are red, but our hearts are alike. The Great Spirit has made his children of different complexions, but he loves them all.

"Brothers, you dwell between the Mississippi and the Missouri—they are mighty streams. They have great arms—one stretches out to the east and the other away west to the Rocky Mountains. But they make one river and they run together into the sea.

"Brothers, we dwell in the east and you in the far west, but we are one family, of many branches but one head.

"Brothers, as you passed through the hall below, you stopped to look at the great image of our fa­ther Washington. It is a cold stone and cannot speak to you. But our great father Washington loved his red children and bade us love them also. He is dead but his words have made a great print in our hearts, like the step of a strong buffalo on the clay in the prairies.

"My brother, (addressing Keokuk) I perceive by your side your young child sitting in the council hall with you. May the Great Spirit preserve the life of your son. May he grow up by your side like the tender sapling by the side of the mighty oak. May you long flourish both together, and when the mighty oak is fallen in the forest, may the young tree take its place, and spread out its branch­es over the tribe.

"Brothers, I make you a short talk, and bid you welcome once more to our council hall."
Keokuk rose first in reply, and shaking hands with the Governor and others near to him, spoke with fine emphasis and much earnest and graceful gesticulation, holding his staff, which he frequently shifted from hand to hand.

“Keokuk and his chiefs are very much gratified that they have had the pleasure of shaking hands with the head man or governor of this great state, and also with all the men that surround him.

“You well say, brother, that the Great Spirit has made both of us, though your color is white and mine is red; but he made your heart and mine the same. The only difference I find is, he made you speak one language, and I another. He made the same sky above our heads for both. He gave us hands to take each other by, and eyes to see each other. I wish to take all present by the hand,—to shake hands with all my white brethren.

“I am very happy to say, before I die, that I have been in the great house where my fathers and your fathers used to speak together as we do now. And hope the Great Spirit is pleased with this sight; and will long continue to keep friendship between the white and red men. I hope that now, in this presence, he sees us; and hears our hearts proffer friendship to each other; and that he will aid us in what we are now engaged in.

“My remarks are short and this is what I say to you. I take my friends all by the hand, and wish the Great Spirit to give them all a blessing."

Several other chiefs spoke, and after them, Black Hawk made a short address. To these several speeches, the governor replied collectively. Presents were then distributed among them by the governor. Keokuk received a splendid sword and brace of pistols; his son, Musanwont, a handsome little ri­fle: The head chiefs received long swords and the others short ones. Black Hawk was also presented with a brace of pistols and a sword. When this ceremony had ended, the Indians repaired to the common in front of the capitol, and there, in the presence of some thirty thousand spectators, exhib­ited themselves in a war dance, for about half an hour; and from thence returned to their lodging.

Throughout the whole of his visit to Boston, Keokuk preserved his grave and dignified manners, winning the respect and admiration of all who had an opportunity of coming in contact with him. Upon his return to the west, he spent a few hours in Cincinnati and was visited by a great number of persons. We had the pleasure of taking him by the hand, and of making some inquiries in re­gard to his character, of those who were personally acquainted with him.

In person, Keokuk, is stout, graceful and com­manding, with fine features and an intelligent coun­tenance. His broad expanded chest and muscular limbs denote activity and physical power; and he is known to excel in dancing, horsemanship, and all athletic exercises. He has acquired considerable property and lives in princely style. He is fond of traveling and makes frequent visits of state to the Osages, the Ottaways, the Omahas and the Winne­hagoes. On these occasions, he is uniformly mounted on a fine horse, clad in a showy robe wrought by his six wives, equipped with his rifle, pipe, tom­ahawk, and war-club. He is usually attended in these excursions by forty or fifty of his young men, well mounted and handsomely dressed. A man precedes the party to announce his approach to the tribe he is about to honor with a visit; and such is his popularity, that his reception is generally in a style corresponding with the state in which he moves. These visits are most frequently made in autumn and are enlivened by hunting, feasting, dancing, horse racing and various athletic games, in all of which Keokuk takes an active part. He moves, it is supposed, in more savage magnificence, than any other Indian chief upon the continent.

In point of intellect, integrity of character, and the capacity for governing others, he is supposed to have no superior among the Indians: Bold, coura­geous, and skillful in war—mild, firm and politic in peace: He has great enterprise and active impulses, with a freshness and enthusiasm of feeling, which might readily lead him astray, but for his quick perception of human character, his uncommon pru­dence and his calm, sound judgment. At an early period of his life he became the chief warrior of his tribe, and by his superior talents, eloquence, and intelligence, really directed the civil affairs of his nation for many years, while they were nomi­nally conducted in the name of the hereditary peace chief. Such is Keokuk, the Watchful Fox, who prides himself upon being the friend of the white man.

From The Life And Time of Black Hawk, published in 1838.

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