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The Indians of Iowa

Lance M. Foster

Publication Year: 2009

Many different Indian tribes have lived in Iowa, each existing as an independent nation with its own history, culture, language, and traditions. Some were residents before recorded time; some lived in Iowa for relatively short periods but played memorable roles in the state’s history; others visited Iowa mostly during hunting trips or times of war. Stimulating and informative, Lance Foster’s The Indians of Iowa is the only book for the general reader that covers the archaeology, history, and culture of all the different native nations that have called Iowa home from prehistory to the present.

Foster begins with a history of Lewis and Clark’s travels along the Missouri River adjacent to western Iowa. Next, he focuses on the tribes most connected to Iowa from prehistoric times to the present day: the Ioway, Meskwaki, Sauk, Omaha and Ponca, Otoe and Missouria, Pawnee and Arikara, Potawatomi, Illinois Confederacy, Santee and Yankton Sioux, and Winnebago. In between each tribal account, “closer look” essays provide details on Indian women in Iowa, traditional ways of life, Indian history and spirituality, languages and place-names, archaeology, arts and crafts, and houses and landscapes. Finally, Foster brings readers into the present with chapters called “Going to a Powwow,” “Do You Have Indian Blood?” and “Indians in Iowa Today.” The book ends with information about visiting Native American museums, historic sites, and communities in Iowa as well as tribal contacts and a selection of published and online resources.

The story of the Indians of Iowa is long and complicated. Illustrated with maps and stunning original art, Lance Foster’s absorbing, accessible overview of Iowa’s Indian tribes celebrates the rich native legacy of the Hawkeye State. It is essential reading for students, teachers, and everyone who calls Iowa home.

Published by: University of Iowa Press

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pp. xi-xii

First is my family, my clan, and my Ioway people, those still with us and those who have gone, with a special mention of my parents, Gary and Rita, and my grandparents, George N. and Esteline and George W. and Ava, and all my many elders and relatives as well as my siblings Garth, Bryan, Brandi, and Amber and their families and all my Ioway wodi, especially the Pete Fee family and the Robert and ...

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pp. xiii-xiv

... As a member of the Ioway tribe, an archaeologist, and a scholar of Native American studies, I chose to go to Iowa State University for my graduate studies in 1991. For the following six years, from 1991 to 1997, I lived in Ames, traveling throughout Iowa, meeting people, and learning about the past of my tribe and about the other nations that shared the Land between Two Rivers. ...

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pp. 1-5

Th e years 2004 to 2006 marked the bicentennial of Lewis and Clark’s journey up the Missouri River. One of their main tasks was to contact Indian tribes along the route. Though they did meet several of the native nations associated with Iowa, they did not meet any Indians who were then living in Iowa. For over a month on their upstream ...

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pp. 6-10

The Ioway are best known today as the tribe for whom the state of Iowa was named. They are oft en called the Ioway to help distinguish them from the state of Iowa. Tribal members use both Iowa and Ioway, although the legal names of both tribes today use “Iowa.” Th e Ioway language belongs to the Siouan family and is closely related to Otoe, Missouria, and Winnebago and more distantly related to Omaha and ...

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A Closer Look: Indian Women in Iowa

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pp. 11-12

Most books about Indians focus on the great warriors and chiefs. Th ere are many paintings of famous Indian men but very few of women like Raintchewaime, wife of Mahaska I, a head chief of the Ioway. In early writings women are rarely mentioned and oft en characterized as little more than drudges who did all the work while the ...

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pp. 13-16

The Meskwaki and the Sauk are two different tribes, but they are often spoken of as the Sac and Fox because of their historical alliance. Both nations were located in Wisconsin and Michigan before the 1700s. The Meskwaki are also known historically but erroneously as the Fox because the first Meskwaki met by the French were of the ...

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A Closer Look: Traditional Ways of Life

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pp. 17-20

The native nations of Iowa developed their ways of life in response to Iowa’s natural environment: its weather, seasons, animals, plants, and minerals. Iowa is in a transitional zone between the open plains of the west and the eastern woodlands; it is a mosaic of hardwood forests, tallgrass prairies, and wetlands. This resulted in tribal lifestyles ...

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pp. 21-24

There was no such tribe as the “Sac and Fox.” The Sauk and the Meskwaki (known also as the Fox) are two different tribes. They are often spoken of as the Sac and Fox because of their historical alliance, especially since the 1804 treaty that caused them to lose most of their lands. Both nations were located in Michigan and Wisconsin before ...

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A Closer Look: Indian History

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pp. 25-30

Indian knowledge of historical events dates back many hundreds, or possibly thousands, of years before the coming of white settlers. Before white settlement, native peoples passed along their history through spoken traditions or oral history. With the coming of white settlers, another dimension to history was added through the written word of explorers, military, traders, missionaries, and settlers. ...

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pp. 31-35

During their earliest migrations through Iowa, the ancestors of the Omaha and Ponca had not yet split into two separate peoples; thus they are considered together here. Their identities as separate tribes did not begin until their movement into South Dakota and Nebraska. According to some traditions, the ancestral Omaha-Ponca traveled ...

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A Closer Look: Native Spirituality

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pp. 36-39

Traditional Indian spirituality was closely tied to accepted norms within the family, clan, and tribe and was based upon connections to ancestors and traditional territory. Native spirituality was not concerned with converting others; it was specific within the group. Within one’s lineage, there was a strict covenant between the people, ...

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pp. 40-43

Originally, the Otoe and the Missouria were two distinct tribes. Decimation of the Missouria in the early 1800s caused them to join the Otoe. The name Otoe was historically derived from Wat’odatan, a name used by the related Missouria and Ioway to tease them because of an affair between an Otoe man and a Missouria woman. But the ...

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A Closer Look: Languages and Place-Names

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pp. 44-46

There is no such thing as “the Indian language.” Each native nation had its own language. Some were similar, such as Potawatomi and Meskwaki or Dakota and Ioway. Others were totally different from each other, such as Pawnee and Omaha. ...

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pp. 47-50

The Pawnee and Arikara were part of the Caddoan peoples who in prehistoric times moved from the south and west, especially Nebraska, into Iowa, bringing with them their earthlodge house types, pottery making, and corn horticulture. In Iowa, they are associated with the archaeological cultures of Glenwood and the Coalescent ...

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A Closer Look: Archaeology in Iowa

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pp. 51-60

Iowans are usually most familiar with the native nations of Iowa through archaeology. Collections of artifacts found while farming are common. Arrowheads, knives, pottery fragments or shards, bannerstones, grinding stones . . . people enjoy these tangible pieces of a long-vanished way of life. Artifacts are important for the story they ...

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pp. 61-64

Because many Potawatomi names are preserved in place-names of southwest Iowa, the Potawatomi are one of the better-known tribes that lived in Iowa, even though they resided in the state for only about thirteen years. ...

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A Closer Look: Native Arts and Crafts

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pp. 65-67

Native art has been collected in Iowa for generations, since first contact when fur traders and the military bought clothing and curios. Th e Meskwaki became well known for their wooden bowls and spoons, their loom beadwork, and their handwoven yarn sashes. Since Pipestone was just over the border in Minnesota, travelers brought home to Iowa items, such as pipes and animal carvings, ...

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pp. 68-71

The Illinois lived in Iowa for only about thirteen years, but they are important in the state’s history because they were the first Indians noted in Iowa by white people, the French exploration party led by Marquette down the Mississippi River in 1673. The currently accepted view is that Marquette met the Peouarea or Peoria at the mouth of ...

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A Closer Look: Indian Houses and Landscapes

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pp. 72-73

Iowa’s tribes lived in large villages in the major river valleys during the warmer farming season from late spring to fall. Th e rivers were the major travel and trade routes, especially before the coming of the horse. Most of Iowa’s tribes used dugouts rather than bark canoes. ...

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pp. 74-82

Who are the Sioux? Early French explorers derived the name “Sioux” from the Algonquian word nadouessioux, meaning “snakes,” because the Sioux were oft en enemies of Algonquian-speakers like the Ojibwa. Th e use of “Sioux” varies widely even among Sioux people themselves. Indeed, no term in common use collectively describes all the people of the Great Sioux Nation: Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota. ...

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A Closer Look: The Spirit Lake Massacre

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pp. 83-84

Inkpaduta (1815–1882), a Wahpekute Santee Sioux, was the leader of the renegade band of about fifteen individuals involved in the Spirit Lake Massacre of 1857. He became the leader when his father, Wamdesapa, died in 1848. Th is small band was a disaffected group of tribal outlaws and castoff s from different Santee groups that the rest of the ...

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pp. 85-89

“Winnebago” was the name given to this tribe by Algonquian speaking tribes, neighbors of the Winnebago, who lived near Green Bay, Wisconsin. Winnebago, from winnepeko, means something like “Stinking Water,” referring to the fishy-smelling shores of Green Bay on Lake Michigan. ...

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A Closer Look: Going to a Powwow

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pp. 90

Going to a powwow is the best introduction for most people who want to learn more about Indian culture. Th ere are different styles of dancing, regalia, craft s to buy, goods to try like frybread or Indian tacos, and interesting people to meet. Common steps you may see, with their associated dancer regalia, include straight dance, fancy dance, grass dance, jingle dress, and gourd dance. ...

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pp. 91-95

Other tribes may have entered Iowa at one time or another, but they were not true residents of Iowa. Their historical significance is attached to homelands in other states. Some sought a temporary refuge, some came to fight and to raid the tribes that lived here, some came to hunt, and some visited resident tribes for short or extended periods. ...

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A Closer Look: Do You Have Indian Blood?

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pp. 96-98

Native American heritage forms part of every American’s identity in some way, historical, ancestral, and cultural, whether you actually have native blood or not. Th e encounter between the western and eastern hemispheres, for better or worse, made us what we are today. Many families tell stories about ancestors being “part Indian.” Some know the names of these ancestors, while others don’t have much ...

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pp. 99-101

A new people were born from the mixing of whites (usually French) and Indians. These people were historically called mixed-bloods or “half-breeds,” the latter now considered a derogatory term. Another term is the French “Métis,” which means “mixed,” most oft en applied to the French-Indian population of Canada and the Upper Missouri ...

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A Closer Look: Indians in Iowa Today

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pp. 102-109

Today, Indian people face a very different Iowa than they did in the past and the same daily challenges that everyone else does. However, as Indians, they face additional obstacles and issues. ...

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Places to Visit

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pp. 111-121

Iowa has dozens of sites associated with Native American history that the interested public can visit, from archaeological and historic sites to museums and casinos. The following is a list of some of the best-known, alphabetized by city or town. Addresses are accurate as of May 2009. In addition, the National Archives, Central Plains Region, http://www.archives.gov/central-plains/kansas-city, serving ...

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Tribal Contacts

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pp. 123-126

Only official tribal websites, when available, are given here; other websites with information on tribes can be found in the next section, Recommended Books and Websites. Addresses are accurate as of May 2009. ...

Recommended Books and Websites

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pp. 127-135


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pp. 137-145

E-ISBN-13: 9781587298837
E-ISBN-10: 158729883X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781587298172
Print-ISBN-10: 1587298171

Page Count: 164
Publication Year: 2009

Edition: paper