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NATIVE AMERICAN FLAGS

The Sac & Fox of Oklahoma

The seal (seal provided by the Sac & Fox Tribal Library) of the largest of the three Sac & Fox tribes in the United States acts as tribute to two of the great members of their nation; the great warrior and leader, Black Sparrow Hawk and the athlete Jim Thorpe. The seal bears a black and white representation of a black sparrow hawk bearing a shield on its chest. The use of the colors black and white refer to the two social classes into which the tribe is divided, the Oskacla and the Kiskoa (Juanita Goodreau, Library Asst., letter dated Jan. 6, 1995). That shield contains emblems of the four nations with which the Sac & Fox had alliances; Spain, France, Britain and the United States.

Above the hawk emblem are five Olympic rings recalling the great Sac athlete Jim Thorpe, considered one of the finest athletes of all times. Above that is a black ribbon arcing overhead reaching to the tips of the hawks wings. On that ribbon appears the name "Ma Kai Tai Me She Kiakiak" or "Black Sparrow Hawk" ("The Sac & Fox Emblem, pamphlet, undated).

Black Sparrow Hawk, or simply Black Hawk, opposed the forced eviction of his Sac people from their lands straddling the Mississippi River at the village of Saukenuk, now Rock Island, IL. After several years of evading the military, the clash came in 1832 when Black Hawk aided by the shaman, Winnebago Prophet, rallied the Sac, the Fox, the Winnebago, the Kickapoo, and the Potawatomi to his cause. Black Hawk led this alliance in a desperate but losing war throughout Illinois and Wisconsin. The allied tribes finally tried to surrender but government troops fired on them while they approached under a white flag of truce. The Indians sought to escape by fleeing into and swimming across the Mississippi river but the military continued firing at the swimming, retreating Indians, killing over three hundred in the massacre.

As a great warrior, Black Hawk is honored as a man of principle and honesty who cared for what was right for his people. Jim Thorpe in his own life had to overcome adversity to achieve greatness, had it taken away from him, yet continued on, never giving up. These two men are great ideals for the Sac & Fox to emulate and honor on their seal and flag.

The background color of the flag has been seen in two versions. One with a white background, the other employing a light silver-gray color.

Don Healy, Bisbee, Az 85603