Half-length turned slightly right; wearing buckskin shirt with fringed collar; red blanket draped over left shoulder and arm; beads and a miniature portrait on a black ribbin around neck; wide walnut frame with inner red and gold liners
Portrait of Black Hawk; slightly turned to right; wearing an open tan buckskin shirt with fringe on collar. Around his neck are strands of wampum beads, also a miniature attached to a black ribbon. His headdress and roach is made of red turkey beard and he is also wearing wampum earrings. Draped over left shoulder and left arm is a red blanket. Black Hawk was chief of the Sac and Fox Indian tribes at the time of the Black Hawk War in 1832.
In the spring of 1836 Sauk chief Ma-Ka-Tai-Me-She-Kia-Kiak (Black Hawk, 1767-1838) and about 1,000 men, women and children entered Illinois from the Iowa territory to reclaim land previously ceded to the United States in a disputed treaty. The occupation led to a three-month war, pitting some 500 warriors against about 3,000 Illinois militia and U.S. government troops. The defeat of Black Hawk and his followers established white control of the Great Lakes region. This portrait shows Black Hawk in traditional Sauk dress, with a feather headdress and clamshell wampum necklace. The medallion around his neck is typical of those presented by U.S. government officials to American Indians as treaty gifts; they usually bore images of U.S. presidents, but this one depicts an unknown man – perhaps a self-portrait of the artist Henderson.