Iowa (article from Native America in the Twentieth Century)
By Lance M. Foster
1994 (hardcover)/1996 (softcover)"Iowa." In Native America
in the Twentieth Century: An Encyclopedia. Pp. 276-277. Edited by Mary
B. Davis. New York and London: Garland Publishing, Inc. ©1994-1996
Lance M. Foster and Garland Publishing, Inc.
[Important Note: This article was first
published in 1994, and many of the facts on such things as population and
land ownership have changed. For the most recent figures available, check
the main Ioway.org pages on each of the two branches].
The Iowa call themselves "Ioway," or, in their
own language, Paxoje ("Dusty Noses"). The preferred usage
is "Iowa" for the legal tribal entities (the Iowa Tribe of Kansas
and Nebraska, and the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma), and "Ioway" for
the people themselves. The Ioway people are divided into two independent
groups: the Southern Ioway, in Oklahoma, and the Northern Ioway, in Kansas
and Nebraska. This split occurred soon after the Civil War, with one group
accepting individual allotment of lands near the Missouri River along the
Kansas-Nebraska border. The other group left for Indian Territory (now
Oklahoma) in the 1870s, in order to continue to live in the traditional
way on lands held in common.
The Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska (R.R. 1, Box 58A,
White Cloud, Kansas) is located on a 1,500acre reservation in the extreme
northeastern corner of Kansas (Brown and Doniphan Counties) and the extreme
southeastern corner of Nebraska (Richardson County). The Iowa Tribe of
Oklahoma (P.O. Box 190, Perkins, Oklahoma) does not have a federally recognized
reservation. After their move to Indian Territory in the 1870s, they were
eventually assigned a reservation there in 1883. After the Dawes Act of
1887, this reservation, which bordered unassigned lands, was opened to
white settlers as part of the 1889 Oklahoma Land Run.
The Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska is administered
by its Executive Committee and is located on a reservation near White Cloud,
Kansas. It is served by the Horton Indian Agency in Horton, Kansas, which
provides health and other services. The Iowa Tribe owns a tribal farm operation,
a dairy herd, a gas station, a fire station, a bingo operation, and a grain
processing business operating out of a leased mill in Craig, Missouri.
The approximately 1,500-acre reservation is checkerboarded with Indian
and non-Indian ownership, and reacquisition of the land base is seen as
a primary goal, as well as developing an infrastructure attractive to potential
employers. About 588 Ioway were reported to be living on or near the reservation
in 1993; many live in nearby towns in Kansas and Nebraska. The total enrollment
for the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska is reported at 2,089, although
blood quantum is often quite low.
Directed to accept a form of tribal government based on
a model provided by the federal government as part of the Indian Reorganization
Act of 1934, the Oklahoma Iowa finally ratified a Tribal Constitution delimited
by that model. The Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma is administered by its Business
Committee, located near Perkins, Oklahoma. It is served by the Shawnee
Indian Agency, in Shawnee, Oklahoma, but the tribe contracts with the Potawatomi
for health and food programs. The Iowa Tribe owns about 200 acres of scattered
land in trust as well as a bingo operation. Of 366 individuals on the tribal
roll, nine are listed as full-bloods. Blood quantum tends to be higher
than among the Kansas group, but the requirement was lowered to 1/16 around
1991. The Oklahoma loway live on about 1,300 acres of individually owned
land, much of which is surface-leased to non-Indians for grazing or farming.
Leasing provides some income, but most of the Ioway have jobs in nearby
towns. Fifty-two land owners gain some income from oil and gas leases.
As a member of the United Indian Nations of Oklahoma, the Iowa Tribe of
Oklahoma is currently fighting a toxic dump proposed by a subsidiary of
Amoco, which is to be located on burial grounds in Mercer County, Missouri.
The Iowa of Oklahoma shared in the almost $8 million land
claims judgment awarded to both groups of Ioway by the Indian Claims Commission
in the 1970s. Notable leaders of this century have included Marvin Franklin
of the Kansas Ioway, who was appointed as acting commissioner of Indian
affairs in 1973, and Chief David Tohee, Blaine Nawanoway Kent and Solomon
Nawanoway Kent of the Oklahoma Ioway.
Alanson Skinner visited the Oklahoma Ioway in 1914, and
both groups in 1922 and 1923. He collected for the Milwaukee Public Museum
and the Museum of the American Indian in New York; these two museums have
the best collections of Ioway material culture. Skinner's ethnographic
work provides the most complete data on traditional Ioway culture. It includes
Societies of the Iowa, Kansa, and Ponca Indians (1915), Medicine Ceremony
of the Menomini, Iowa, and Wahpeton Dakota (1920), "Traditions of
the Iowa Indians" (1925), and Ethnology of the Ioway Indians (1926).
Community life in both tribes is based on extended kinship
groups, with some use of the traditional clan system among the Oklahoma
Ioway, notably during funerals. Factionalism is present in both groups,
and limited interaction occurs between the Oklahoma and Kansas Ioway, except
for mutual visits in a few families. Each group sponsors an annual powwow,
and the Kansas Ioway also have a rodeo. Artwork tends to be individualized
and produced for in-group use, such as ribbonwork and beadwork used in
dance regalia. 
The Ioway language is grouped with Otoe and Missouria
as Chiwere, a Siouan language, and is closely related to Winnebago. It
is difficult to say how many speakers of the language are left; a few Northern
Ioway know mostly isolated words and phrases, and some Southern Ioway families
attempt to keep some limited use, especially if there are older members
in the family, or if they are trying to strengthen their identity as loway.
William Whitman described the language in "Descriptive Grammar of
the loway-Oto" (1947). A two volume primer, Iowa and Otoe Indian
Language (1977,1978), was developed by Lila-Wistrand-Robinson and Jimm
Garrett Good Tracks as part of the Christian Children's Fund American Indian
Project. Garrett Good Tracks has also edited a lexicon, Iowa-Otoe-Missouria
Language to English (1992), distributed by the Department of Linguistics
at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Almost all of the Ioway in Kansas and Oklahoma identify
themselves as Christians of various Catholic and Protestant denominations.
Some, even self-identified Christians, attend ceremonies such as funerals,
namings, Native American Church meetings (more popular earlier in the century),
sweats, and intertribal dances. Some Ioway, especially those living away
from their home communities, make friendships with members of other tribes
and join in their ceremonies. Several individuals and families are attempting
to redefine their identities as Ioway through the retention of the Ioway
language, the reinterpretation of remembered cultural elements, and the
borrowing of missing cultural elements from appropriate, similar models
in other tribes.
--Lance M. Foster
Anderson, Duane. "loway Ethnohistory: A Review, Part
II." Annals of Iowa, 3rd ser. 42 (1973): 41-59.
Blaine, Martha Royce. The Ioway Indians. Civilization
of the American Indian 151. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1979.
Herring, Joseph B. The Enduring Indians of Kansas.
Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1990.
Wedel, Mildred Mott. "Iowa." Handbook of
North American Indians. Vol. 13. Plains. Washington, DC: Smithsonian
Wright, Muriel H. A Guide to the Indian Tribes of Oklahoma.
Civilization of the American Indian 33. 1951. Norman: University of Oklahoma,
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