In 1830.

Poweshiek’s name has been translated variously as “to dash the water off,” “he who shakes [something] off [himself],” and “roused bear.”

Who is Chief Poweshiek?

In the spring of 1830, when a delegation of the principal Meskwaki chief (Peamuska) and some of his warriors were massacred by a Sioux and Menominee war party while traveling to Prairie du Chien, Wis., for a peace conference, Poweshiek rose in power. The Dubuque village of Meskwakis was devastated by the deaths of most of their leaders, except for war chief Morgan who led those left to the Meskwaki village at present-day Davenport. When Morgan died, the Meskwaki council met to declare a new peace or civil chief. The rightful hereditary chief, a minor son of the slain leader, was considered too young to lead and the question of leadership was debated. Poweshiek’s sister related that she had a vision in which Poweshiek would be chosen as chief. Consequently, it was decided (1830) that Poweshiek, a member of the Brown Bear clan, should lead until the young man of the legitimate Black Bear clan could become chief.


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