As Illinois gears up to celebrate its statehood, a question arises, who is telling the American Indian side of the story? Black Hawk will. Based on both Black Hawk’s autobiography and his family history, storyteller Brian “Fox” Ellis has created a dynamic performance that invites the audience to rethink the Illinois Story. This program is hosted by the Bishop Hill Heritage Association on Tuesday, November 13th at 7:00 pm at the Dairy Building in Bishop Hill, IL. It is a musical theatre production that explores American History unvarnished and promises to inspire a lively conversation.

Imagine sitting around a campfire with Black Hawk, Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kiuk-kiuk in his language, listening to the stories of creation and the legends of his grandfathers. Storyteller and historian Brian “Fox” Ellis begins the program with his family’s connection to the Trail of Tears and the forced removal of the Cherokee Nation from their ancestral homeland. Using this personal history and a deep knowledge of Native American history this intimate story builds a bridge, bringing the audience on a journey back into those dark days of American History with both humor and real insight, drawing strength from the resilience of the people. The audience is then lead down the path through time to an encounter with Black Hawk’s Band on the eve of the battle. Two-thirds of the show is drawn directly from Black Hawk’s Autobiography. Fox then becomes the reporter who transcribed and published Black Hawk’s life story. Weaving true history with folklore to create a tapestry of symbolic language he draws the audience into the world view of this respected leader of his people. There are traditional chants and drumming songs, including a chance for the audience to participate in a few social dances, celebrate the First Nations of Illinois, and see the world through Native eyes.

Brian “Fox” Ellis is a storyteller, author and historian. He is of Cherokee descent and strives to give voice to many of the characters left out of our history books. The performance is part of a state wide tour “Retracing Edwards Trace” with more than 20 performances across the state in the month of November, American Indian Heritage Month. The tour is funded by the Illinois Humanities Council and the Forgotten Illinois Grant. The event is free, but donations will be encouraged to offset expenses. Other sponsors include the Bishop Hill Heritage Association & The Twinflower Inn Bed and Breakfast. Please call 309 927-3899 or email for more details.