Another IAGenWeb Project


    Volumes have been written about the North American Indians - - their legends,  traditions and customs - - and the subject is practically inexhaustible.  In a history such as this it is not the design to enter into any extended account of the entire Indian race,  but to notice only those tribes whose history is intimately interwoven with the territory now comprising the State of Iowa, and especially the part of where the counties of Chickasaw and Howard are located.  These tribes were the Iowa,  Sac,  Fox,  Sioux,  Winnebago  and Potawatomi.


  Although the Iowa Indians were not the most numerous or the greatest importance historically,  they are first mentioned because it was this tribe that gave the Hawkeye State its name,  and they were probably the first Indians to establish themselves in the Iowa  counties of Chickasaw and Howard,  included in this history.

1690 First mentioned in history as living on the shores of  Lake Michigan, under a chief called Man-han-gaw. 

This tribe migrated no less than fifteen times.  Over a period of years they lived on the Rock River in Illinois, the valley of the Iowa River in Iowa,  Des Moines River valley, on to the Missouri River, then to the area of South Dakota,  and back to northwestern Iowa,  about Spirit Lake and headwaters of the Des Moines and Big Sioux rivers.

1700  After living on the Rock River in Illinois for several years the tribe left the Sacs and Foxes and wandered off westward in search of a new home.  Crossing the Mississippi River,  they turned southward and reached a high bluff near the mouth of the Iowa River.  Looking off over the beautiful valley spread out before them,  they halted,  exclaiming "Ioway! Ioway! which in their language means "This is the Place".

1700  As the Indians had no way of keeping time an accurate record of time,  the dates when the various places were occupied are somewhat problematical. In 1700 the Iowa Indians were living at the extreme head waters of the Des Moines River according to Le Sueur  on his expedition up the Mississippi river. He supplied them with firearms.

1800  White Cloud, one of the most noted chiefs of the Iowa Tribe,  claimed to be direct descendant of the great chief Man-han-gaw.

The Iowa tribe worshiped a Great Spirit and had a tradition of a great flood which destroyed all the animals and people except those who escaped in a great canoe. The Great Spirit then made a new man and a new woman from red clay,  and from this couple were descended all the Indian tribes.  Hawks and rattlesnakes were objects of veneration and were never killed by these Indians.

1824  Chief White Cloud and wife Rant-che-wai-me, was one of a party of chiefs that visited the Great White Father in Washington D.C.  Upon their return Rant-che-wai-me cautioned the women of her tribe against the vices and follies of their white sisters as she saw them in the national capital.

1825  The Iowa Indians ceded their interest in Iowa lands to the United States.


  These two tribes,  which at one time inhabited practically the entire State of Iowa,  are generally spoken of as one people, having formed an alliance for their mutual protection against their common enemies. According to their traditions they lived at a early date on the Atlantic coast,  in the vicinity of the present State of Rhode Island.

1640  Their earliest know habitat was in the lower peninsula of Michigan,  where they lived with the Potawatomi tribes.

1667  Father Allouez, one of the early Jesuit missionaries, writing of these Indians say:  "They are more savage than all the other peoples I have met;  they are a populous tribe, although they have no fixed dwelling place,  being wanderers and vagabonds in the forest."

1676  A village of 5,000 lived on the Fox River near Green Bay, Wisconsin.

1712  With an intense hatred for the French,  the Fox  Indians planned the attack of the French post at Detroit. The timely arrival of reinforcements saved the post and the Indians suffered an overwhelming defeat.

1730  The English and Dutch traders operating around the Great Lakes used the Fox Indians to make war on the French,  but after several defeats,  the Fox found shelter with the Sac Indians near Green Bay

1780  About 1780 or a few years before,  some of the Indians crossed the Mississippi River near the present City of Prairie du Chien and located near the present City of  Dubuque , Iowa.

1788  The Indians granted Julien Dubuque a concession  to work the lead mines and sold him part of the lands claimed by them. Before the close of the year Dubuque established the first white settlement in what now is the State of Iowa.


  The Black Hawk Indians were probably never in that portion of Iowa that comprised Chickasaw and Howard counties, but the tribe claimed the land in this section of the state.


  The northern tiers of counties including Chickasaw and Howard,  were frequently visited by roving bands of the Winnebago,  generally in groups of 50 to 100. They were not unfriendly to the whites, but their petty thievery caused the early settlers a great deal of annoyance.  It was not a difficult matter, however, to recover stolen articles,  as two or three cool-headed,  determined men who could  go into an encampment of  50 Winnebagoes  and recover their property without serious opposition. 

1846  The tribe was given a reservation near Mankato, Minn. where they lived until 1862 when they were removed to South Dakota.


 Last but by no means the least in importance in the history of Northern Iowa, were the Sioux Indians .

1640  Their original habitat was along the shores of the Lake of the Woods and the country north of the Great lakes.

1662  They had moved south to Mille Lacs in the area now part of the State of Minnesota.

1680 When Father Hennepin ascended the Mississippi River he found the  country  now comprising Minnesota and northern Iowa  inhabited  by Sioux Indians  whose numerical strength he estimated at about 40,000.


The Indian tribes in their hunting expeditions came into Northern Iowa,  but there is no evidence that they ever claimed a permanent residence in Chickasaw and Howard Counties.  The tribes resided in southern Minnesota and western parts of Iowa.


Pottawatomies, Winnebagoes, and Musguakies

These tribes are mentioned in an interview taken from some miscellaneous papers found by frequent contributer Leonard Granger. Its author is unknown.


Ref:  History of Chickasaw and Howard Counties, (1919) Vol. 1,   Part One, Chapter 3, Pages 77 to  89,

Pages Edited and  Transcribed by Lookup Person,  Leonard  Granger