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  • Keokuk, Sac and Fox Chief

Keokuk, Sac and Fox Chief

5.00 LBS
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    Fine art LIMITED EDITION signed giclee - prices start at $185

    Each numbered print comes with a certificate of authenticity in your choice of high-quality watercolor paper or canvas. Paper prints are shipped rolled. Canvas prints have two finishing options: 1) Shipped rolled in a tube or 2) stretched and ready-to-hang with a gallery wrap finish. Your print will be shipped within 10 business days of purchase. Embellished giclees are only available as canvas, stretched, and ready-to-hang and take 8 to 10 weeks to complete. Read more about embellished giclees here.

    Learn more about Keokuk, Sac and Fox Chief

    This image was featured in my 2010 one-man show, Portraits of Honor.

    Keokuk was a powerful chief of the Sac and Fox peoples in the early 1800s. He was originally portrayed by George Catlin in 1830.

    Keokuk by George Catlin
    Original Keokuk by George Catlin


    George Catlin painted two portraits of Keokuk, one at full length holding his spear of office, and then a second, after a request from Keokuk to be painted on horseback.

    Ke-o-kuck came in with us, with about twenty of his principal men—he brought in all his costly wardrobe, that I might select for his portrait such as suited me best; but at once named (of his own accord) the one that was purely Indian. In that he paraded for several days, and in it I painted him at full length. He is a man of a great deal of pride, and makes truly a splendid appearance on his black horse. He owns the finest horse in the country, and is excessively vain of his appearance when mounted, and arrayed, himself and horse, in all their gear and trappings. He expressed a wish to see himself represented on horseback, and I painted him in that light. […] The horse that he rode was the best animal on the frontier; he gave the price at 300 dollars. It was beautifully caparisoned, and his scalps were attached to the bridle belts. -George Catlin, on painting Keokuk

    Background and History of Keokuk and the Sac and Fox Tribe:

    Keokuk (1767–1848) was a chief of the Sauk or Sac tribe in central North America noted for his policy of cooperation with the U.S. government which led to conflict with Black Hawk, who led part of their band into the Black Hawk War. Keokuk County, Iowa and the town of Keokuk, Iowa, where he is buried, are named for him. Keokuk was one of the most well-known Native American chiefs and of his time, and made several trips to Washington to meet with politicians and lawyers and argue for his people. He was respected by Americans and by his own people, and was known for his honor, character, and oratory skills.

    “Keokuk was of medium height, and somewhat stout, but graceful and commanding. His manners were dignified and his elocution vigorous and animated. His flow of language in speaking was rapid, clear and distinct, and there was an element of remarkable power in his well-modulated voice. He was a splendid horseman, owning the finest horse in the country, and was excessively vain of his appearance when mounted; he excelled also in dancing.” ~Martha J. Lamb, The Magazine of American history with notes and queries, Volume 22; 1889.

    Keokuk and the Black Hawk War:

    Keokuk was a young man when he became a member of the Sauk council and rose to power through ability and force of character. He was born about 1783, the son of a half-French mother and a Sac father. He gained prominence in the tribe through his skill at both war and diplomacy.

    Keokuk accepted the loss of land as inevitable in the face of the vast numbers of white soldiers and settlers coming west. He tried to preserve tribal land and to keep the peace. The conflict between elements of the Sauk and Fox tribes and the Americans, known as the Black Hawk War of 1832, was the result of a dispute over an 1804 treaty between the Sauk and Fox and the United States. In 1832 Sauk and Fox Indians under the leadership of Black Hawk left the Iowa territory and returned to their homes across the Mississippi River in northern Illinois.

    In response to Black Hawk’s action the Americans organized a force of federal troops along with militia companies from the states of Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri and the territories. After a series of battles in northern Illinois and Wisconsin, Black Hawk’s forces were finally defeated at the Battle of Bad Axe in present day Wisconsin.

    Keokuk remained loyal to the Americans who had made him their principal contact among the Sac and Fox people and rewarded him with gifts. He is the only Native American leader to have a bust in Washington, D.C. and has also appeared on US currency.

    Keokuk was a leading figure for the native tribes during the negotiations to end the war, which eventually ceded six million acres of land in what is now the state of Iowa. Two areas were held back as special awards. A four hundred square mile strip surrounding the village of Keokuk was given to the Sauk people as a reward for Keokuk’s neutrality during the conflict, however the Sauk did not keep the land for long. In 1845 Keokuk and the Sauk were relocated to Kansas, where Keokuk died of dysentery in 1848. Keokuk’s remains were removed to Keokuk, Iowa in 1883, which was named in honor of this great chief.

    Chief Keokuk meets the Chief of Keokuk

    Read my blog post about Keokuk, IA Chief of Police Thomas L. Crew and wife Cindy and how they added Keokuk, Sac and Fox Chief to their collection.

    Keokuk, Iowa Chief of Police Thomas L. Crew
    Keokuk, Iowa Chief of Police Thomas L. Crew


    Do you have questions about Keokuk, Sac and Fox Chief prints?

    Please contact me at James Ayers studios with any questions you might have.

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