Part of A Series: Route 66: Sufjan Stevens: Illinois
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Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois/Sufjan Stevens: Illinois Track One:The Black Hawk War, or, How to Demolish an Entire Civilization and Still Feel Good About Yourself in the Morning, or, We Apologize for the Inconvenience but You're Going to Have to Leave Now, or, 'I Have Fought the Big Knives and Will Continue to Fight Them Until They Are Off Our Lands!/Sufjan Stevens: Illinois Track TwoCome On! Feel the Illinoise! (Part I: The World's Columbian Exposition – Part II: Carl Sandburg Visits Me in a Dream)/Sufjan Stevens: Illinois Track ThreeJohn Wayne Gacy, Jr./Sufjan Stevens: Illinois Track FourJacksonville/Sufjan Stevens: Illinois Track FiveA Short Reprise for Mary Todd, Who Went Insane But for Very Good Reasons/Sufjan Stevens: Illinois Track Six
Decatur, or Round of Applause for Your Stepmother!" and Track Eight "One Last 'Whoo-Hoo!' for the Pullman/Sufjan Stevens: Illinois Track Seven
Casimir Pulaski Day/Sufjan Stevens: Illinois Track TenRock River Valley, Superman, Peoria and Drones/Sufjan Stevens: Illinois Tracks Eleven to FourteenWasps and Zombies/Sufjan Stevens: Illinois Tracks Fifteen to EighteenCelebrate The Few, Celebrate The New. It Can Only Start With You/Sufjan Stevens Illinois Tracks Nineteen to Twenty Two
The Black Hawk War, or, How to Demolish an Entire Civilization and Still Feel Good About Yourself in the Morning, or, We Apologize for the Inconvenience but You're Going to Have to Leave Now, or, 'I Have Fought the Big Knives and Will Continue to Fight Them Until They Are Off Our Lands!'" is one of the longest song title I can recall. The song itself is short. Here is a fan made video of it to enjoy:
I find the song to be to very reminiscent of Phillip Glass's Koyaanisqatsi: Life In The Balance.I also think Stevens is aware of the connection and making it intentionally. From our old friend Wikipededia:
According to Hopi Dictionary: Hopìikwa Lavàytutuveni, the Hopi word koyaanisqatsi (Hopi pronunciation: [kojɑːnisˈkɑtsi]) is defined as "life of moral corruption and turmoil" or "life out of balance" The prefix koyaanis– means "corrupted" or "chaotic", and the word qatsi means "life" or "existence" literally translating koyaanisqatsi as "chaotic life" The film also defines the word as "crazy life", "life in turmoil", "life disintegrating", and "a state of life that calls for another way of living"If you are not already familiar with Koyaanisqatsi: Life In The Balance, it is an amazing film.Here is a trailer for the film followed by a live performance of the peice at the Hollywood Bowl in 2009.
After that digression, back to the subject at hand. The Blackhawk war is described by Wikipedia as follows:
The Black Hawk War was a brief conflict fought in 1832 between the United States and Native Americans headed by Black Hawk, a Sauk leader. The war erupted soon after Black Hawk and a group of Sauks, Meskwakis, and Kickapoos known as the "British Band" crossed the Mississippi River into the U.S. state of Illinois in April 1832. Black Hawk's motives were ambiguous, but he was apparently hoping to avoid bloodshed while resettling on land that had been ceded to the United States in a disputed 1804 treaty.
American officials, convinced that the British Band was hostile, mobilized a frontier army. With few U.S. Army soldiers in the region, most American troops were part-time, poorly trained militiamen. Hostilities began on May 14, 1832, when the militia opened fire on a delegation from the Native Americans. Black Hawk responded by attacking the militia force, soundly thrashing them at the Battle of Stillman's Run. He led his band to a secure location in what is now southern Wisconsin. As U.S. forces pursued Black Hawk's band, Native Americans conducted raids against forts and settlements. Some Ho-Chunk and Potawatomi warriors with grievances against Americans took part in these raids, although most members of those tribes tried to avoid the conflict. The Menominee and Dakota tribes, already at odds with the Sauks and Meskwakis, supported the Americans.
Commanded by General Henry Atkinson, the U.S. troops tried to track down the British Band. Militia under Colonel Henry Dodge caught up with the British Band on July 21 and defeated them at the Battle of Wisconsin Heights. Black Hawk's band, weakened by hunger, death, and desertion, retreated towards the Mississippi. On August 2, American soldiers attacked the remnants of the British Band at the Battle of Bad Axe, killing or capturing most of them. Black Hawk and other leaders escaped, but later surrendered and were imprisoned for a year.
The Black Hawk War is now often remembered as the conflict that gave young Abraham Lincoln his brief military service. Other notable American participants included Winfield Scott, Zachary Taylor, and Jefferson Davis. The war gave impetus to the US policy of Indian removal, in which Native American tribes were pressured to sell their lands and move west of the Mississippi River.The perception of the Native Americans, who are the obvious speakers in the quotation marked title, was certainly an out of balance life, such as in the film I suspect Sufjan Stevens was paying tribute to. The desire to achieve balance was the driving force behind the attempted resettlement with flared up into the full scale conflict. I would go as far as to say that the notion of land ownership in general, likely was seen as a sign of life being out of balance to the Native Americans.
To be honest, I was unfamiliar with the Blackhawk war before beginning to write this post. In the course of my research I found a few videos worth sharing about that battle as well as about Lincolns place in it. I hope they can shed some enlightened background on the war.
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