Heinz Dietrich Suppan is not only a history instructor at both Joliet Junior College and Marquette Academy in Ottawa, but he’s also one of the few experts on the Black Hawk War, which took place in what’s now LaSalle County and other areas in northern Illinois in 1832. His book, “Remember Indian Creek! In the Shadow of the Black Hawk War,” is the first book published in more than a century that details the local battle between the early American settlers and the Sauk and Fox tribes at Indian Creek.
Suppan said he first learned of the Black Hawk War after developing a one-semester local history class for his high school students years ago.
“As I began to research several topics regarding the past 200 years of Illinois history, I was attracted to the Black Hawk War and how the Sauk and Fox Indians were cheated out of their ancestral lands by an illegal treaty,” Suppan said.
His book details the hardships of the Black Hawk War, but more specifically, the Indian Creek Massacre – when the Sauk and Fox tribes surrendered their land peacefully, but U.S. militia troops opened fire on them, yelling “Remember Indian Creek!”
“I thought it was time to shed some light on these events and to take the defense of tribe leader Black Hawk for being unjustly accused of what happened at Indian Creek,” Suppan said.
Suppan’s book also outlines what happened after the devastating massacre at Indian Creek – including a kidnapping of two American sisters who were later returned to their families unharmed.
It took Suppan two years to research his book. He traveled to Indian Creek and many of the other historic sites of the Black Hawk War. Suppan also sorted through piles of research, and came across conflicting reports and statements. It took him a long time to compile an accurate account of what happened.
Suppan hopes his book will give local readers a deeper appreciation and understanding of what happened on local lands nearly 200 years ago.
“I want to encourage readers and students to look around them and see what historical events have taken place that have contributed to their lives today. It will also assist them in understanding and appreciating events that exist in the shadows of their current, modern-day lives,” Suppan said.
Suppan’s book can be purchased on Amazon.com, at the local Ottawa bookstore, “The Book Mouse.”