Friday, June 21, 2013

Chief Black Hawk and the Chicago Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks are currently playing in the NHL Stanley Cup Finals against the Boston Bruins. The series is tied at two games apiece; Game Five will take place tomorrow night at the United Center on Chicago's West Side.

Question: How did the Blackhawks get their name?

The Blackhawks' first owner was Frederic McLaughlin, who was a commander of the First World War 33rd Machine Gun Battalion of the 86th Infantry Division--it's nickname was the "Blackhawk Division." That division was named for the Sauk Indian chief Black Hawk.

Chief Black Hawk, in violation of an 1804 treaty, crossed the Mississippi River from what is now Iowa into northwestern Illinois in 1832 with members of various tribes that was dubbed the British Band--because they fought on the British side during the War of 1812. What resulted was the Black Hawk War, which was fought in Illinois and what is now Wisconsin.

Last week, on my way to Madison, I photographed this Wisconsin historical marker in Beloit.


The war lasted only a few months, Black Hawk and his Native American band were defeated and they returned to Iowa. The conflict is best known for one of its soldiers who never saw a battle--Abraham Lincoln.. Another future president, Zachary Taylor, and Lincoln's Confederate counterpart in the Civil War, Jefferson Davis, also served.

Lincoln was briefly stationed in Dixon, Illinois--which later gained fame as Ronald Reagan's hometown. So it's fitting that the only statue of Lincoln in military dress is in Dixon.


Passing through Dixon is the 400 mile-long Black Hawk Trail.


However, when driving anywhere in northwestern Illinois, eastern Iowa, and southwestern Wisconsin, you'll think you are on the trail. Many places and businesses utilize Black Hawk in their names. While Black Hawk lost the war, he achieved one lasting victory--this part of America is often referred to as the Black Hawk region.


Outside of Oregon, Illinois, at Lowden State Park, is the 125 foot tall Eternal Indian statue, a work of famed sculptor Lorado Taft. It's commonly known as the Black Hawk Statue.  (Photo courtesy of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.)


Closer to home--for me--on Easter Sunday these two flags flew in front of a home in Morton Grove.

Oh, one more thing--Go Chicago Blackhawks!

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