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Ioway Cultural Institute : Genealogy

Overview of Iowa and Otoe Genealogy

Ioway heritage is a real rich mixture of not only Ioway blood, but also Otoe, Omaha, Missouri, and other tribes, as well as Ma'unke (whiteman) especially French.

Originally the Iowa (or Ioway; the two terms are interchangeable) and Otoe (or Oto) were part of the same moundbuilder Indian nation of the upper Mississippi, along with the Missouri (Missouria) and Winnebago (Hochunk; Hocak). The original nation split up by the 1600s into their historical identities as Iowa, Otoe, Missouri, etc.

The Iowa, Oto, and Missouri homelands were in Iowa, southern Minnesota, and northern Missouri. By the mid-1700s, the Otoe had moved to Nebraska. After disasterous wars, the remaining Missouri joined the Otoe in Nebraska by the early 1800s. The Iowa remained in Iowa and northern Missouri until 1836, when they were removed to a new reservation in Kansas. Some Iowa eventually moved to Oklahoma. All of the Otoe moved to Oklahoma.

As small tribes, the Iowa and Otoe-Missouria intermarried a lot with other tribes, like the Sauk and Meskwaki (or Sac and Fox), as well as with French traders and American farmers. The mixed-bloods for a time had their own reservation in Nebraska, called the Nemaha Reservation. That was dissolved in the 1860s and the mixed-bloods moved down to the Iowa reservation in Kansas to rejoin fullblood families there. All were allotted individual family lands on the reservation there. Because the lands along the Missouri and Nemaha were rich, many white men married Indian women to get their lands. Today, Iowa descendants run the gamut in appearance from fair skin, blond hair and blue eyes, to looking full-on Indian with black hair. Many more Otoe retained their Indian appearance.

Because the Iowa and Otoe-Missouria were the same people originally, and because the two tribes have also intermarried over the centuries, we will include resources for both tribes. Tribes are political entities, while families and clans are kinship-based entities.

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