Iowa – This Is The Place. Long before Europeans “discovered” the Heartland, Iowa was a Native-American word that had several different meanings. Let’s start Our Iowa Heritage journey by honoring those who came long before us, and explore the truest meaning of our state’s name IOWA.
Ancient Iowa – Exploring The Land. Archaeologists believe that the first inhabitants of what is now the state of Iowa were Paleo-Indians, the earliest ancestors of Native Americans. They occupied ice-free land during the time when the Des Moines lobe was covered by glaciers, up to 14,000 years ago. The earliest archaeological evidence of settlement, however, dates from about 8,500 years ago, with many different tribes, speaking various different languages inhabiting Iowa.
Honoring The Ioway Tribe Of Johnson County. Elders in the Ioway Tribe have said that before white people came, no other nation could put a moccasin inside the land between the Missouri River and Mississippi River without the Ioway knowing about it. Nearly 200 years after the 1838 treaty that forced the tribe from the state, the Ioway people once again have land in Iowa – seven acres in Johnson County! Read the full story as shared here from The Iowa City Press-Citizen.
Meskwaki People – True Native Iowans. At the time of the American Revolution, the Mississippi River Valley was lush prairie-land occupied by several Native American tribes: The Meskwaki (Fox), the Sauk, the Sioux, and the Ioway. Since Our Iowa Heritage website focuses primarily on eastern Iowa, here we give a tip of the hat to the Meskwaki people who migrated to the Iowa River Valley as white settlements began to emerge.
Preserving The Meskwaki Language of Iowa. Part of our great appreciation for the Meskwaki people includes doing all we can in helping preserve the rich heritage of this unique native people of Iowa. Hats off to Wayne Pushetonequa and his Meskwaki Language Preservation (MLP) team who are maintaining cultural identity through their dedicated efforts to revitalize the everyday use of the ancient Meskwaki language among native Iowans.
Black Hawk Of Saukenuk. So, very often, lost in the American story, is the epic adventure of the Sauk Tribal Chief – Black Hawk – and his amazing home of Saukenuk. Located in the Rock River Valley – directly across from today’s Davenport – this thriving city of 6,000 souls was one of the largest Native American communities in North America. Sadly, by the 1830’s, Black Hawk and his tribe were faced with starvation and needed Saukenuk to survive. The result was the Black Hawk War and an embarrassing black eye for the American westward movement.
Chief Poweshiek – The Roused Brown Bear. During a very volatile time in Iowa history (1830-1854), the Meskwaki Tribal Chief Poweshiek did a masterful job of maintaining peace yet never sacrificing his strong principles, believing that all men should live in freedom. Read the story behind this brave warrior who loved his people and cherished the Iowa River valley, the place we now call Johnson County, Iowa.
Coralville – Taming The Iowa River. Between 1841 and 1844, there were three dams and grist mills built in Johnson County. The third – built by the Iowa City Manufacturing Company – proved to be the most successful and was built on the historic limestone shores of the Iowa River where Coralville stands today. Take a big step back in time with us to 1777 B.C. and meet Coralville’s first pioneers – native people living alongside the Iowa River who evolved into the role of Iowa’s first farmers long before the white man ever came to America.
The Meskwaki People At The Turn Of The Century. In 1857, the Sauk & Fox Tribes – known today as the Meskwaki Nation – returned to a portion of their land here in Iowa. Originally purchasing 80 acres in Tama County, today the proud Meskwaki people own 7,054 acres of rich Iowa farm land, and are a beautiful and important part of the diverse culture we celebrate in the Hawkeye State. At the turn of the 20th century, a set of decorative penny postcards was produced by the tribe, and here on this page, we’d love to share 14 of these beauties with you.
Our Indigenous Land Acknowledgment. Here at Our Iowa Heritage, we want to fully acknowledge the historical records of this land we call Iowa. Learn more about our friends & neighbors – celebrating who they are and the contributions they have provided in the face of violence, oppression, and colonialism.