Native American Languages * Native American Cultures * What's new on our site today!

Native Languages of the Americas:
Mesquakie-Sauk (Sac and Fox)

Language: Mesquakie-Sauk is an Algonquian language spoken by about 800 Indians, mostly Fox, in the American Midwest. The two dialects, Mesquakie (spoken by the Meskwaki, or Fox) and Sauk (spoken by the Asakiwaki, or Sac), are mutually intelligible. Kickapoo is considered by some linguists to be another dialect of Mesquakie-Sauk, but though Kickapoo is certainly a closely related language, Meskwaki and Sauk speakers cannot readily understand it. Sauk, Fox, and Kickapoo are all polysynthetic languages with complex verb structures and fairly free word order, but unlike Kickapoo, Meskwaki-Sauk is not a tone language. Mesquakie-Sauk is a seriously endangered language today, due to most of its speakers being older and the Sac and Fox communities being so far-flung. Some teachers are trying to revitalize the language, particularly the Meskwaki dialect, before it is too late.

Sponsored Links

People: The Fox and Sac have been such closely associated allies that they are usually considered as a single tribe. They originally lived in Michigan (Saginaw Bay is named for the Sauk tribe), but multiple forced relocations left their descendants in Iowa, Kansas, and Oklahoma. There are about 4500 Sac and Fox Indians today.

History: The Fox and Sauk Indians have gone down in history as "warlike" people because of the Fox tribe's immediate hostility towards the French. This hostility was far from random, though--the Huron, armed with French weapons, had just finished driving the Fox from their lands in Michigan when the French themselves arrived, and the dispossessed Fox were not pleased with the newcomers. Two Fox Wars ensued; the Fox Indians were no Iroquois Confederacy, though, and could not hold their own against the larger and better-armed French. Usually the French were the least violent of the European invaders, but on this occasion, they resolved to wipe out the conquered Fox Indians, and pursued them across the country slaughtering any they could find. The only survivors were a group of no more than 500 Fox people who were sheltered by their near relatives the Sauk, and, though they had previously maintained good relations with the French, the Sauk tribe now found themselves under assault as well. Luckily for the Fox and Sauk, the various Native Americans allied with the French were starting to put more and more pressure on them to abandon their commitment to genocide, and the French eventually gave in and made reluctant peace with the Sac and Fox tribes. After the French departed North America, the Fox and Sauk Indians were relocated to Iowa, Kansas, and finally Oklahoma; one group of Sauk, under the warrior Black Hawk, refused to leave and fought the pyrrhic Black Hawk War, which ended with American soldiers wiping out the entire company as Black Hawk brought them in for surrender. Another group, mostly Fox, returned to Iowa, where the state government was willing to sell them land. This turned out to be good farmland, unlike anything available in Oklahoma, and the Meskwaki tribe in Iowa is a prosperous one today. The rest of the Fox and Sac Indians remained in Oklahoma, where they live together to this day.

Meskwaki-Sauk Language Resources
Sauk-Fox language samples, articles, and indexed links.

Sac and Fox Culture and History Directory
Related links about the Fox and Sauk tribes past and present.

Sac and Fox Indians Fact Sheet
Our answers to frequently asked questions about the Fox and Sauk Indians, their language and culture.

Fox and Sauk Legends
Introduction to Sac and Fox Indian mythology.

Mesquakie-Sauk Language Resources

Our Online Meskwaki Language Materials

Mesquakie-Sauk Vocabulary:
    List of vocabulary words in Mesquakie-Sauk, with comparison to words in other Algonquian languages.
Sac-Fox Pronunciation Guide:
    How to pronounce Meskwaki-Sauk words.
Meskwaki-Sauk Animal Words:
    Illustrated glossary of animal words in the Meskwaki-Sauk language.
Sac and Fox Body Parts:
    Online and printable worksheets showing parts of the body in the Meskwaki-Sauk language.
Meskwaki-Sauk Colors:
    Worksheet showing color words in the Meskwaki-Sauk language.
Sauk Numbers:
    Worksheet showing how to count in Mesquakie-Sauk.
Meskwaki-Sauk Animate Nouns:
    Lesson on Meskwaki-Sauk animate and inanimate nouns.
Meskwaki-Sauk Possession:
    Lesson on the use of Meskwaki-Sauk possessive prefixes.

Meskwaki-Sauk Dictionaries, Audio Tapes and Language Resources
Our organization earns a commission from any book bought through these links

Fox-English Lexicon:
    Fox-language dictionary for sale.
Let's All Talk Sauk:
    Audio tape course in the Sauk language.
Fox Texts:
    Mesquakie-language legends with English translation.
Native American Language Dictionaries:
    Meskwaki-Sauk and other American Indian dictionaries and language materials for sale.

Meskwaki-Sauk Language Lessons and Linguistic Descriptions

Fox Language:
    Fox language sample
Mesquakie Language * Mesquakie Phonology * Fox Indian Texts:
    Scanned-in Mesquakie Indian materials from the Rosetta Project.
House of Languages: Sauk-Fox-Kickapoo:
    Information about Kickapoo, Fox and Sauk language usage.
    Demographic information about Fox-Sauk from the Ethnologue of Languages
Sauk-Fox Language Tree:
    Theories about Mesquakie-Sauk's language relationships compiled by Linguist List.
Fox Language Structures:
    Sac and Fox linguistic profile and academic bibliography.

Meskwaki-Sauk Proper Nouns

Fox and Sac Placenames:
    American place names in the Fox and Sac language
Fox and Sac Placenames:
    American place names in Ojibwe, Algonquin, Menominee, and Meskwaki-Sauk.
Indian Animal Names:
    Our new fundraiser offering names for dogs and horses in Native American languages (including Meskwaki-Sauk).

Sponsored Links

Additional Resources, Links, and References

  La Lengua Sauk Fox:
  Article on the Meskwaki-Sauk language in Spanish. With a language map.
  Mesquakie-Sauk Language:
  Sac and Fox links.
  Sac and Fox Tribe:
  Sac and Fox Indian books.

Learn more about the Sac and Fox Indian tribe
Go back to the Indian tribes of North America
Go back to our American Indian websites for kids

Indian art * Indian village houses * Prairie Band Potawatomi * Miccosukee casino * Indian names

Would you like to sponsor our work on the Meskwaki-Sauk Indian language?

Native Languages of the Americas website © 1998-2020 * Contacts and FAQ page