History of the Ioway

We are best known today as the tribe for whom the state of Iowa was named. We are often called the Ioway to help distinguish us from the state of Iowa. Tribal members use both Iowa and Ioway, although the legal name used today is "Iowa."


By the time white settlers first entered Iowa in the mid 1800s, the we moved our villages into northern Missouri, due to pressure and incessant warfare in Iowa between the Sioux in the northern and western parts of the state and the Sauk and Meskwaki in the southern and eastern parts of the state.


Archaeologists call the sites of the ancestral Ioway Oneota, after one the names for the Upper Iowa River, where such sites were first located. Other closely related tribes such as Otoe, Missouri, Winnebago, and Omaha also participated in the Oneota culture. This connection is supported by tribal traditions and linguistic studies,which assert that all those tribes were once one people. The Oneota are most identified with certain types of pottery but also with the use of pipestone, copper, and small triangular arrowheads. They were guardians of the pipestone quarry in Minnesota until about 1700.


We are closely related by language and culture to the Sioux, but conflict over territory in northern Iowa and southern Minnesota began in the 1600s as a domino effect of the Beaver Wars and conflicts over the fur trade in the east. We accommodated settlement in eastern Iowa by Meskwaki by 1730, after wars with the French. Then the Meskwaki-Sauk alliance against the Sioux pulled the us into intense inter tribal wars from 1720 to 1845.


During the series of treaties between 1804 and 1838, in order to defend their claims against those of other tribes like the Sauk, Meskwaki, and Sioux, we showed maps we had made that located ancestral villages in Iowa. The most famous of these maps was presented by Chief No Heart in connection with the treaty of 1837. Although No Heart's map showed clearly the antiquity of our villages along most of Iowa's major rivers, the United States decided in favor of the claims of the more numerous and powerful Sioux, Sauk, and Meskwaki.


During the early 1800s, we continued to hunt in the inter tribal hunting grounds in western Iowa, along with the Sioux, Omaha, Otoe, Pawnee, and others. Successive treaties made the us and others surrender title to those western Iowa lands.


In 1836, we signed the Platte Purchase Treaty that moved us by 1837 to this reservation in what was then Indian Country. In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, drawing a line across the Iowa Reservation, which is how we became known as the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska. 

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3345 B Thrasher Rd. White Cloud, KS 66094

Phone: 785-595-3258