Life of Mà-ka-tai-me-she-kià-kiàk, or Black Hawk

An Autobiography

  • Author(s): Lofaro, Michael A.
  • Series:
  • Imprint: University of Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 2021-07-15
  • Status: Active
  • Available in Paper: Price $25.00 | Buy Now
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“Students of American and Native literature and history, life writing, and settler colonialism will make up the majority of the readership. Readers fascinated by Indians and the early history of Indiana, Illinois, and adjacent areas will find the autobiography essential.” —David Moltke-Hansen, editor of William Gilmore Simms’s Unfinished Civil War


Originally published in 1833, the autobiography of the Sauk war chief Black Hawk was the first memoir written by a Native American who was actively resisting US Indian removal policy. Donald Jackson edited the first scholarly version of this work—Black Hawk: An Autobiography—in 1955. Since then, the Life has become a classic and seminal text in the fields of Native American literature and studies, American history, literature, autobiography, and cultural studies.

This edition of Black Hawk’s 1833 autobiography includes explanatory, historical, and textual notes that significantly enrich the understanding of Black Hawk’s memoir, his life, and the Black Hawk War of 1832. The notes and a chronology make this key Native American text available to scholars in several new ways. Likewise, in its preface and critical essay, this edition moves beyond Jackson’s historical work to incorporate insights from numerous other disciplines that have since engaged the text. These investigations reflect the new developments in scholarship since 1955, suggest future possibilities for the crosscultural study of Black Hawk’s Life, and examine the continuity of his autobiography within Native American and other life-story traditions. This volume also includes the biographical continuation of Black Hawk’s Liferecounting subsequent events in his life until his death in 1838—written by J. B. Patterson for his 1882 reissued and expanded edition of the original autobiography.

Scholars of Native American literature and history and settler colonialism will find much to engage them in this remarkable new edition.

MICHAEL A. LOFARO is professor emeritus of American studies and literature at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He is the author or editor of seventeen books. He is also the general editor of the first five volumes of The Works of James Agee and general editor emeritus for the remaining six. Among his recent frontier publications are an edition of The Life and Adventures [or Sketches and Eccentricities] of Colonel David Crockett, of West Tennessee (2020) and Boone, Black Hawk, and Crockett in 1833: Unsettling the Mythic West (2019).