History of Iowa

Native Indian Tribe

Names of the Iowa Indian Tribes
The Iowa, Miami, Ottawa, and Sioux tribes lived along the Mississippi River. The Omaha, Otoe, and Missouri tribes lived in the western part of the state. There are many famous Native American tribes who played a part in the history of the state and whose tribal territories and homelands are located in the present day state of Iowa. Some tribes adopted the woodland culture and others the Great Plains culture.

The woodland tribes were the Illinois, Iowa, Nez Perce, Pahodja, Pawnee, Winnebago, Missouri, Moingwena, Omaha, Oto, Ottawa, Peoria, Ponca, Potawatomi and the Winnebago (also known as the Ho-Chunk Nation). Other tribes included the Chippewa, Dakota Sioux, Fox and Sauk. By the 1850s, almost all of the original inhabitants of Iowa had been moved off their homelands to settlements further west.

Fast Facts about the History of Iowa Indians
The climate, land, history, environment and natural resources that were available to the indigenous Indian tribes in Iowa resulted in the adoption of the Woodlands culture and some adopted the Great Plains Indians culture.

  • Name of State: Iowa
  • Meaning of State name: The name of a tribe meaning “Sleepy Ones.”
  • Geography, Environment and Characteristics of the State of Iowa: Flat with a variety of areas including drift plains, hardwood forests, rugged hills and river valleys
  • Culture adopted by Iowa Indians: Woodlands cultural group and some adopted the Great Plains culture
  • Languages: Muskogean
  • Way of Life (Lifestyle): Hunters and Fishers
  • Types of housing, homes or shelters: Pit houses, tepees, tule-mat lodges

History Timeline of the Iowa Indians

  • 10,000 B.C.: Paleo-Indian Era (Stone Age culture) the earliest human inhabitants of America who lived in caves and were Nomadic hunters of large game including the Great Mammoth and giant bison.
  • 7000 BC: Archaic Period in which people built basic shelters and made stone weapons and stone tools
  • 1000 AD: Woodland period with permanent houses and farming
  • 1682: Rene-Robert Cavelier de La Salle (1643-1687) explored the region for France
  • 1712: The First French Fox War (1712–1716)
  • 1728: The Second Fox War (1728–1733), the Fox were reduced to 500 by French troops and Indian allies. The Fox tribe join the Sauk Tribe after defeat
  • 1764: Pontiac's Rebellion broke out in the Ohio River Valley. The Ottawa Chief Pontiac (1720-1769) to lead a rebellion of a number of tribes against the British
  • 1775: 1775 - 1783 - The American Revolution.
  • 1776: July 4, 1776 - United States Declaration of Independence
  • 803: The United States bought the Louisiana Territory from France for 15 million dollars for the land
  • 1804: Intoxicated Sauk Fox Indians tricked into signing a treaty giving away tribal lands
  • 1812: 1812 - 1815: The War of 1812 between U.S. and Great Britain, ended in a stalemate but confirmed America's Independence
  • 1830: Indian Removal Act
  • 1832: The "Black Hawk War" and the Fox Sauk tribe was forced to cede their land - see Black Hawk
  • 1832: Department of Indian Affairs established
  • 1846: The Potawatomi Cede land in western Iowa
  • 1851: The Sioux Cession removes the final Native American Indian claim to land in Iowa
  • 1861: 1861 - 1865: The American Civil War.
  • 1862: U.S. Congress passes Homestead Act opening the Great Plains to settlers
  • 1865: The surrender of Robert E. Lee on April 9 1865 signalled the end of the Confederacy
  • 1887: Dawes General Allotment Act passed by Congress leads to the break up of the large Indian Reservations and the sale of Indian lands to white settlers
  • 1969: All Indians declared citizens of U.S.
  • 1979: American Indian Religious Freedom Act was passed
Chief Pontiac
Black Hawk

History of Iowa Indians - Destruction and Decline
The history of the European invasion brought epidemic diseases such as tuberculosis, cholera, influenza, measles and smallpox. The Native Indians of Iowa had not developed immunities against these diseases resulting in huge losses in population. Exploitation including the leverage of taxes, enforced labor and enslavement were part of their history, taking their toll on the Iowa Indians.

History of Native Americans
Native Indian Tribes Index

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