Before European settlers came to inhabit the Quad Cities, the confluence of rivers had attracted many varying cultures of indigenous peoples, who used the waterways and riverbanks for their settlements for thousands of years. At the time of European encounter, it was a home and principal trading place of the Sauk and Fox tribes of Native Americans. Saukenuk was the principal village of the Sauk tribe and birthplace of its 19th-century war chief, Black Hawk.
In 1832, Sauk chief Keokuk and General Winfield Scott signed a treaty in Davenport after the US defeated the Sauk and their allies in the Black Hawk War. The treaty resulted in the Native Americans’ ceding 6 million acres of land to the United States in exchange for a much smaller reservation elsewhere. Black Hawk State Historic Site in Rock Island preserves part of historic Saukenuk and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.