The Encyclopedia of North American Indians - Vol. 6

The Encyclopedia of North American Indians - Vol. 6

The Encyclopedia of North American Indians - Vol. 6

The Encyclopedia of North American Indians - Vol. 6



The Iowas, who call themselves Pahodje ([snow covered]), were located in Minnesota when they first made contact with French explorers in 1701. Before settling in Minnesota, the Iowas had left their original country, which was north of the Great Lakes, in Canada, to live near the mouth of Rock River in Illinois. They began migrating again before settling in Minnesota.

In 1815, the Iowas first entered into a treaty relationship with the United States government. In 1824, the Iowas ceded their lands in Missouri to the United States, and in 1836, they were assigned a reservation along the Missouri River in Kansas. There, they lived in comfortable houses and worked profitable farms.

When, like other tribes, they were forced to give up tribal lands and accept individual allotments of land, their lands in Kansas were ceded to the United States. They then headed for Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), where, in 1883, the government assigned them to a reservation. They were allotted lands in 1890 through the Severalty Act, and their surplus lands, lands that were not allotted to individuals of the Iowa Nation, were opened up for settlement.

In addition to farming the land, the Iowas were skilled in many areas that made them popular trading partners with other Indian nations and with non-Native settlers. The Iowas made pipes from the red pipestone in Minnesota and were excellent in dressing buffalo skins and other animal pelts. Trading with other Indian nations gave the Iowas an advantage when settlers began moving into the area. They could then trade with the settlers and of ten acted as trading mediators for other tribal nations. At the time their reservation was opened for settlement, almost all Iowas could read, write, and speak English, even though more than half their population was full-blood.

The Iowas were closely allied with the Sac and Fox, with whom they had migrated from their homeland north of the Great Lakes. When the Iowas were forced to settle in Indian Territory, they went to the Sac and Fox agency first. Today, many Iowas live in northeastern Kansas near the KansasNebraska state line.

The Iowa tribe became federally recognized in the late 1930s after adopting a constitution and bylaws. Although small in number, Iowas have managed to maintain much of their tribal customs and traditions throughout the invasion of settlers on their property.

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