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Black Hawk, The Watchman on the Wall
He'll Fight Your Battles for You!
His Indian name is Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak, or Black Sparrow Hawk, and he was born in 1767 at Saukenuk, the principle city of the Sauk tribe located along the Rock River. Black Hawk was born into the Thunder clan. He chose to have only one wife, As-she-we-qua, or Singing Bird, although in Sauk culture polygamy was the norm. Black Hawk and Singing Bird had five children - two girls and three boys.In the Spiritualist Churches, Black Hawk is considered a saint and served as an Indian Spirit Guide. In the Spiritualist tradition, anyone who is recognized as doing the work of the Creator is considered a saint, whether or not they have been officially canonized by the Catholic Church. To spiritualists, Black Hawk fights injustices and will come to your aid when called upon, even fighting battles you are too weak to fight for yourself.Black Hawk is growing in popularity within the growing conjure community on and offline. But just who is this popular Indian Spirit? Why are so many people drawn to him? Keep reading, and I'll tell you a little about him.
Who is Father Black Hawk?
Black Hawk was a famous leader and warrior of the Sauk American Indian Nation. Although he had inherited an important historic medicine bundle, he was not a hereditary civil chief of the Sauk; rather, he was an appointed war chief. During the War of 1812, Black Hawk fought on the side of the British. Later he led a band of Sauk and Fox warriors against settlers in Illinois and present-day Wisconsin in the 1832 Black Hawk War. After the war he was captured and taken to the eastern U.S. where he and other British Band leaders toured several cities. Black Hawk died in 1838 in what is now southeastern Iowa.
The Spiritualist churches of New Orleans honor the Native American spirit of Black Hawk. Black Hawk is considered a Voodoo Saint and is often included in ritual work wherein worshipers become possessed and gain the power to heal and prophesy. The Indian Spirit Guide has a big influence on Hoodoo and Voodoo today and can be seen on many hoodoo products such as Indian Spirit Incense and room spray by the E. Davis Company.
In the Native way, Black Hawk is an elder. Elders are revered and given the utmost respect. This is translated in hoodoo and spiritualism by calling him Father Black Hawk, though his given name in Mesquakie is Ka-Tai-Me-She-Kia-Kiak. Nobody can pronounce his given name so it is hoodooized into Father Black Hawk.Father Black Hawk is invoked, that is called into oneself, routinely by the bishops in the Spiritualist Churches in New Orleans. In some churches, his altar is that of a teepee with a plate of incense on the floor in the front. Most commonly he can be found atop a table flanked by St. Michael and Dr. Martin Luther King, or in a bucket of white sand. Black Hawk was born into the Thunder Clan and sometimes he wows his serviteurs by announcing his arrival with the loud clap of thunder.
Black Hawk's Bucket
There are different ways of setting up an altar to Black Hawk. The most common one among rootworkers is a bust of an Indian set in a bucket of sand or a combination of earths. The second type of altar is a two or three tiered altar. Three tiered altars are common in New Orleans but require considerable space.
Black Hawk's bucket is very similar to the New Orleans-style ancestral spirit pot reminiscent of the African Congo and the Nganga of Palo Mayombe. There are different kinds of spirit pots. For example, one type of spirit pot is created as a space for a particular Spirit to reside in a material vessel through which you interact with the Spirit. The Spirit lives in the pot via a magic contract with the worker and is sometimes restrained with chains or rope. The other type of spirit pot is the kind made as a place for a Spirit to visit when called upon. It is a place where the Spirit can manifest and work with you. The two types of Spirit pots are created in entirely different manners. The latter is the category in which Black Hawk's bucket falls. A mini altar is created specifically for him and no other Spirit will be allowed to manifest through his bucket and communication with any other Spirit through his bucket is prohibited.
Black Hawk's bucket is essentially a portal through which he sends the energies needed to help you with your requests. Likewise, it is a communication device - a sort of spiritual telephone as it were, through which you send your requests and offerings to him in the world of Spirit. Creating a bucket for Black Hawk gives him your express permission to influence your life directly and is a powerful means of developing a meaningful and strong relationship with him. Black Hawk's bucket is the embodiment of his Spirit in the physical realm. Once you prepare the basic bucket, you will be able to add things to it that relate to him. In fact, there are some basic things that go in his bucket such as a hatchet, a spear and an arrowhead. These function as the tools he will need to work for you in this realm. Everything you place in his bucket will affect the manner in which he is able to interact with you as well as the way he will navigate the physical realm.
Native American Fry Bread
Fry bread is a sacred food to many native peoples. It is found at every celebration, every feast, and nearly every meal. It is sold at Pow Wows and art shows and carnivals. It is said that fry bread will be consumed by Indian people until the earth is again pure.Frybread is a good offering to make for Black Hawk and Indian Spirit Guides in general. There is an art to making it, so if you have the opportunity to learn from a Native person, observe carefully.
- 1 cup unbleached flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon powdered milk
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup water
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Preparation:Combine flour, salt, powdered milk, and baking powder into a large bowl.Add water and mix the dough until it starts to form one big clump.Rub a little oil into the palms of your hands. Begin mixing the dough, trying to get all the flour into the mixture to form a ball.Mix well, but do not knead it. The resulting dough should be pliable. Add a little flour to the outside of the dough so it is not sticky. Allow the dough to sit for about 5 to 10 minutes. Break off sections of the dough to form round balls about 4 inches in diameter. Using your floured hands, stretch the balls into flat discs about 5 to 7 inches wide. It works well to start by pinching the edges and turning clockwise, stretch a little, pinch turn and stretch until the disc is forms. Some folks find it easier to lay the dough on the counter and stretch and flatten. Add about an inch or vegetable oil in a frying pan (I prefer cast iron but any heavy duty pan will do) and heat until its ready. Indians don't test the temperature with a thermometer...instead we drop a little piece of dough in the oil to see if it is ready. It is ready when the dough begins to fry immediately. Take the formed dough and gently place it into the oil, being careful not to splatter the hot oil.Using a spatula or metal tongs, press down on the dough as it fries so the top is submersed into the hot oil.Sometimes big bubbles will form in the dough.., that's okay, just gently press it down into the oil. Fry until brown, and then flip over to fry the other side.Each side will take approximately 3 to 4 minutes to cook. Remove from the oil and place the cooked Fry Bread on a paper towel to absorb excess oil. Fry Bread is best when served immediately, though it can keep in the refrigerator and reheated for later.
In his own words...
FATHER BLACK HAWK(Ma-Ka-Tai-me-she-kia-Kiak) 1767 -1838“I am now an obscure member of a nation that formerly honored and respected my opinions. The pathway to glory is rough, and many gloomy hours obscure it. May the Great Spirit shed light on yours, and may you never experience the humility that the power of the American government has reduced me to, is the wish of him, who, in his native forests, was once as proud and bold as yourself. “~ Black Hawk
We can all be as brothers.
There is no need to fight with a war of words, or your weapons! For whether you are Indian, black or white, the sorrow you feel is the same. The love you feel is the same. Your children laugh and smile like all children..Is this not so? I am just an old Indian Spirit now, but I think some men forget these things." ~BLACK HAWK
Black Hawk by Appleton
Black Hawk's Bones
Black Hawk suffered many indignities when he was alive and trying to protect his people. Even after his death, he was treated as a commodity rather than a real human being. There are huge spiritual implications for desecrating his body after death; yet, this fact is never mentioned by those who reportedly work with him. Treating his body with a blatant disregard for his culture and religious beliefs makes me think that he may not be as readily available as an Indian Spirit Guide to just anyone as folks may think.It is said that Black Hawk was buried on James Jordan's farm near Iowaville. Unfortunately, he was not allowed to be laid to rest as a normal human being would be. Instead, his remains were sought to be put on display. The following tells the story of his remains as it was written in the New York Times, September 25, 1891. New York Times, September 25, 1891, Burlington, Iowa-The recent reunion at Lena, Ill., of the survivors of the battle at Kellog's Grove, in the Black Hawk War, brings up an interesting question as to where is the final resting place of the bones of the great Indian warrior.The Sac war chief Black Hawk has been dead for more than half a century. His body has been buried, stolen, and recovered, and his bones have been boiled and varnished and become the property, successively, of a Governor, a doctor, and the latter's surviving partner. Two or three stories of the fate of Black Hawk's bones have been told , but the one most generally accredited has consigned the relics to the flames that consumed the quarters of the Des Moines County Historical Society in 1853, on the site of the present North Main Street. Old residents are familiar with the tales of Black Hawk and his bones, but a white-haired and well-known citizen today gave a new version.Read more about Black Hawk's varnished bones.
Black Hawk's Grave
Prayer to the Indian Spirit
Black Hawk on Amazon
For people who want to get to know Black Hawk, you should first listen to his words. We are lucky in that we have pages about his life experiences and feelings in his autobiography, first published in 1834. Although some liberties were taken by the editor in the translation and much of the subtle nuance of the Indian worldview is missing, Black Hawk tells us what he likes and what he dislikes, how he feels about his people and about his adversaries. He talks about family, about being a father, about life as a warrior and what it is like to be betrayed and oppressed. There is little guesswork to working with him if we just listen. I strongly recommend anyone who wants to get to know Black Hawk to read his autobiography, as well as the books listed below.
Where to Find Information About Black Hawk
- Hoodoo Muse: BLACK HAWK'S VARNISHED BONES; THEY ARE BELIEVED TO BE LYING UNMARKED IN A POTTER'S FIEL
Hoodoo's most romanticized Indian Spirit, Black Sparrow Hawk, is honored and known by many. But how well do you really know Black Hawk? Was he a War Chief, or wasn't he? Did he get along with the American army or didn't he? How did he die? Should he
- Crossroads University Enrollment
Learn about Black Hawk, his life and how to properly honor and respect him in the southern conjure tradition. Crossroads University is dedicated to the education and preservation of indigenous healing systems, ethnopharmacology and folk remedies.
- The Art of Conjure: To Fire Up or Not to Fire Up, That is the Question
The popular practice of giving Black Hawk alcohol to "fire him up" is completely contrary to both Native American spiritual traditions, as well as Black Hawk's traditional belief system.
- What Came First, the Indian Chicken or the Hoodoo Egg? Exploring Native American Influences on South
A long time ago the Cherokees went to war against a giant monster. They killed him, brought his head home in triumph, and placed it upon the top of a cedar pole in front of the townhouse. The blood trickling down along the trunk colored the pole red
- Indian Spirit Hoodoo
One of the most striking aspects of Indian Spirit Hoodoo is its variability. Folk traditions are very idiosyncratic and based on each practitioner's regional, ethnic and familial context. There are no demarcating lines by which to define Hoodoo, much
is not afraid to weep, and she is not afraid to pray, even when she is not sure who she is praying to. ~ Black Hawk
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