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Ioway Cultural Institute : History


Note: See also the General History section for additional information on treaties.

The Treaty Process
Overview of Treaties Made Between the U.S. and the Iowa Tribe and Treaty Texts
Treaty of 1805
Treaty of 1815
Treaty of 1824
Treaty of 1825
Treaty of 1830
Treaty of 1836
Treaty of 1837
Treaty of 1838
Treaty of 1854
Treaty of 1861
The Final Chapter on Ioway Land Loss



"As usual the stronger tribes, particularly the Sacs, claimed more than their share, while the smaller tribes such as the Otos and Ioways claimed land on the basis of long term residence and the location of their ancient villages and the graves of their ancestors. Perhaps they considered reconquest of their lands, but they could not face such large tribes as the Sacs and the Sioux" (Martha Royce Blaine, in The Ioway Indians, 1995:150).


What Wach'emanyi said in 1836:

"...This reduction of their Tribe has been mainly caused by their association with, and strict adherence to their white fathers and brothers to keep their Treaties and the peace with all Nations. It is a notorious fact that they have stood like squaws, with their Bows unstrung, and scalping knives and Tomahawks buried; with the peace pipe in their hands until they have been killed and destroyed both by white and Red skins (although once the most powerful and warlike Indians on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, they have been cut off and reduced to nothing, a mere handful of that Nation that was once masters of the Land). No Indians of any other Tribe dare build his fire or make a moccasin track, between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers from the mouth of the Missouri, as high north as the head branch of the Calumet (Big Sioux), Upper Iowa and Des Moines Rivers, without first having obtained the consent of the Ioway Nation of Indians. In fact this Country was all theirs, and has been for hundreds of years. And this fact is susceptible of the clearest proof, even at this late day. Search at the mouth of the Upper Ioway River, (which has been the name of their Nation time out of mind) there see their dirt lodges or Houses, the Mounds and remains of which are all plain to be seen, even at this day, and even more, the Country which they have just claim to, is spotted in various places with their ancient Towns and Villages, the existence of which no Nation can deny. And even now their village on the Desmoines (Iowaville) is held and occupied by the Sacs -- which place the Ioways only left about 25 years ago, on search of Game on other parts of their land, but never intended to abandon their claim to the Same or the bones of their fathers, which are yet to be seen there -- and the Country has never been taken from them by Conquest..." (Wach'emani, Orator of the Ioway, 1836)

One of the BEST ways to understand Ioway history is by learning about the treaties and the steady loss of lands. We went from owning millions of acres in several states (centered in Iowa), to now only a couple of thousand acres, divided between Kansas-Nebraska and Oklahoma.

Like many American Indian peoples, the Iowa Tribe lost its lands through a series of treaties. Those treaties are also the legal basis for recognition of the Iowa Tribe as a federally-recognized tribe, and its relationship to the U.S. government.

There were 10 treaties between the Iowa Tribe and the U.S. Through these treaties, a portion of which were fraudulent, and all of which were pressured upon the Ioway under duress, the Ioway lost all of their ancestral homelands in about a 50-year period from 1809 to 1861.

The Treaty Process

The way the treaty process went was something like this (from the U.S. point of view)

  • 1. Establish a legal relationship with the tribe, and exclude it from similar relationships with other countries like Britain or France.
  • 2. Establish boundaries between tribes (there were rarely hard-and-fast boundaries between tribes), and try to stop intertribal warfare, much of which was caused by the migration west of tribes being pushed out of their lands by white settlements and wars further east.
  • 3. Once the tribal boundaries were fixed and relative peace was made, white squatters began to move in and occupy the best Indian farming areas and to hunt out the wild game.
  • 4. Once the best areas were taken by whites and game was scarce, conflicts between the tribes and the squatters was inevitable.
  • 5. Establish U.S. Military power and deal with the conflicts by removing the Indians to more distant lands. The Indians sometimes went willingly along at this point because the best areas and the game was taken by the whites. When they didn't go along, the U.S. Military would use the conflict to force a settlement and removal of the tribe to a more distant area, with promises that this would be the last time of removal.
  • 6. Begin the next phase with Step 3 (above), and repeat again and again...

Overview of Treaties Made Between the U.S. and the Iowa Tribe

For the complete text of each treaty, click on its link. The treaties as given here are taken from the 58th Congress, 2nd Session, Senate Document, No. 319: "Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties, V.II; Treaties 1904," by Charles J. Kapplee. As historical documents, spellings, usages, etc. have been retained. Some notes have been added by this author (Foster), notably variants and descriptions placed within brackets [ ].

1. Treaty of 1805
Establishment of U.S. power over territories formerly held by the French and others, through the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. The U.S. called this treaty at St. Louis to make peace between Sauk, Fox, Iowa, Arikara, Otoe, Missouris, and Sioux, and the Great and Little Osages. This was a preliminary step to removing eastern tribes to new lands west across the Mississippi (such as the Delaware, Miami, Potawatomi, and Kickapoo). Article 1 established peace and friendship. Article 2 established that no private revenge should occur, but instead negotiation, and if that didn't work out the U.S. would use authority to effect peace. The lead signer for the Iowa was Voi-Ri-Gran.

Lands ceded by Ioway: None (peace treaty)

Read the Treaty of 1805

2. Treaty of 1815
Established peace and friendship between the Iowa Tribe and the U.S. after the War of 1812, in which the Iowa fought on the side of Great Britain. A few Iowas remained loyal to the U.S. by joining the pro-American Otoe during the war. In 1809, the President had made Hard Heart (White Cloud I, father of White Cloud II) the chief. The Iowa chief loyal to the U.S. was Hard Heart (not No Heart), father of White Cloud II. The U.S. rewarded this loyalty by appointing/recognizing White Cloud as Head Chief of the Iowas, although the Iowa were traditionally led by a council of many clan chiefs/elders who held various offices to promote equality and a balance of power. This treaty put the Iowa under the power of the U.S.

Lands ceded by Ioway: None (peace treaty)

Read the Treaty of 1815

3. Treaty of 1824
The first cession of Ioway lands, held in Washington. The Ioway sold the northern half of the state of Missouri, except for the section later added to northwest Missouri as "the Platte Purchase." The Ioway were to move out of the sold part of Missouri after 1826. This treaty was signed by White Cloud and Great Walker (also known as Big Neck) which demonstrates the two factions of the Iowa Tribe. White Cloud was leader of the pro-American faction, while Great Walker led a band that resisted removal and the coming of settlers, especially during an incident in 1829. Great Walker's band was later called the "the Pouting Party" by American officials. Apparently Great Walker did not understand the terms and he refused to acknowledge the treaty, and stayed with his band in northern Missouri and southern Iowa until his death.

Lands ceded by Ioway: Northern Missouri, except for northwest Missouri (Platte Purchase area)

Read the Treaty of 1824

4. Treaty of 1825
The government begins its program to control the Indians west of the Mississippi with the first big-event treaty signed at Prairie du Chien, including over a thousand Sioux, Winnebago, Chippewa, Menominees, Illinois, Sac and Fox (Meskwaki) and Iowa. The main issue was on the fixing of tribal boundaries. A"No-Man's Land" called "the Neutral Zone" was created to separate the warring Sioux and Sac & Fox. The Iowas were to share the lands south of the line with the Sac & Fox. Since the Yanktonai Sioux were not there and were acknowledged by all to have an interest, a final decision could not be made, especially on the western boundary. Also other tribes like the Omaha and Otoe contested the western boundary.

Lands ceded by Ioway: None; Ioways were to remain south of boundary established between Sioux to the north and Sac and Fox to south (Iowa-Minnesota area)

Read the Treaty of 1825

5. Treaty of 1830
A second treaty was held at Prairie du Chien, because of incessant warring among the Sacs, Foxes (Meskwaki), Sioux, Iowa, Omaha, and Otoe over hunting grounds in western Iowa, Missouri, and Minnesota. The result was a coerced peace, and the cession of lands and establishment of expanded neutral zones, although no white settlers were allowed in ceded lands. The Iowa were to cede lands in western Iowa and Missouri, although the Iowa still retained their lands south of the the 1825 treaty line. However, the U.S. snuck in a provision that allowed the resettlement on these lands west of the Mississippi by tribes east of the Mississippi. In addition the Ioway were not supplied an interpreter and were unaware they had signed away their lands! Finally, a tract of land belonging to the Otoes in present-day Nebraska was bought and established for the mixed-blood descendants of the Otoe, Omaha, Santee, and Yankton Sioux, called "The Half-Breed Tract."

Lands ceded by Ioway: Lands in western Iowa and Missouri, though the Ioways were not supplied an interpreter and did not know they had signed away those lands. In addition the Nemaha Half-Breed Tract was established from lands in Nebraska purchased from the Otoes.

Read the Treaty of 1830

6. Treaty of 1836
This is the treaty also known as "The Platte Purchase." Under pressure by the illegal intrusion of white settlers on their remaining lands in Missouri, the Ioway and the Sac & Fox of the Missouri agree to relinquish these remaining lands and move across the Missouri to a new reservation in what is now Kansas-Nebraska: "the small strip of land on the south side of the Missouri river lying between the Kickapoo northern boundary line and the Great Nemahar [sic] , making 400 sections to be divided between the said Ioways and Missouri band of Sacks [sic] and Foxes of the Missouri, the lower half to the Sacks and Foxes and the upper half to the Ioways." Signed by White Cloud, No Heart, and others at Fort Leavenworth. They also expressed continued interest in old lands in Iowa and a desire to sell their interests there.

Lands ceded by the Ioway: The lands of the Platte Purchase, those lands in northwest Missouri where today we find St. Joseph among other cities. In addition the Ioways were assigned a reservation in Kansas, much larger than the one of today, with the first village on the mouth of the Wolf River. Within a year or so that village was abandoned and the greatest number living in family groups between Highland and Iowa Point.

Read the Treaty of 1836

7. Treaty of 1837
This treaty was held in Washington to try and settle the Ioway's differences with the Sacs over the ceded lands. No Heart disputed with Keokuk the ownership of the lands in Iowa and northern Missouri. No Heart produced a map showing the ancestral Ioway territory (see Maps section in the Library), and said the Sauk and Meskwaki were invited to hunt and take refuge, but were never were to take possession of Ioway lands. Walking Rain also said that the Ioways had named all the rivers and not the Sac & Fox nor the whites. Keokuk replied that the Sauk and Fox had won Ioway lands by conquest. The Ioways withdrew and refused to take part in the treaty. On their return home, disheartened and faced with the inevitable loss of their ancestral lands, the Ioway were finally convinced to sign by the superintendent of Indian affairs, ceding rights in western Iowa but refusing to cede lands in central or eastern Iowa. In early 1838, they added they would return to those lands and re-establish themselves in ancestral lands there.

Lands ceded by the Ioway: Lands in western Iowa

Read the Treaty of 1837

8. Treaty of 1838
This treaty was the last to relinquish ancestral lands. The lands were those in central and eastern Iowa occupied by the Sauk and Meskwaki (Fox), who had also agreed in 1837 to cede their interest in those lands. The Ioway finally agreed under pressure to cede all remaining interests in their homelands in Iowa and Missouri. The treaty was signed at the Great Nemaha Agency in Kansas by Frank Whitecloud (WC II), No Heart, Plum (Kongee), Mockshigatonah, and Senontiyah.

Lands ceded by the Ioway: All remaining lands in central and eastern Iowa, as well as claims to Missouri

Read the Treaty of 1838

9. Treaty of 1854
Faced with continuing corruption by officials and by white pressure o their lands, No Heart, Little Wolf, Wahmonaka, and Naggarash, and the Ioway agent and interpreter, went to Washington D.C. to make another land cession off their new reservation in Kansas. It turned out to be most of the new reservation, which only 18 years before was promised to be theirs forever. Some of the lands were assigned to the Sac & Fox, who had lost their original Kansas lands. Out of the remnants the Presbyterian Church and the interpreter got 800 acres. The money they got, $100,000, was either invested for them or put into the agricultural and educational programs. They also agreed to allow roads and railroads to be built through their lands. Corruption was rife, and agent Vanderslice (who was fond of disciplining the Ioways by flogging) defrauded his charges in many instances, such as a sale of their lands in 1871 at below market values to cronies and relatives...some of which was sold secretly and then back to him at a steal right after his term was over!

Lands ceded by the Ioway: Most of the reservation assigned to them in the treaty of 1836, including the lands around Highland and Iowa Point. They removed just to the north, near Whitecloud.

In 1855, the Ioway, Otoe, Omaha, and Yankton mixed-bloods (white, Indian, and black) of the Great Nemaha Half-Breed Tract established just to the north of the Iowa Reservation in 1830, decided that they wanted to have their lands divided up and owned individually, which was done by 1860. This was the end of the Great Nemaha Half-Breed Tract in Nebraska. Some were absorbed into the general populace if they could pass for white, but many mixed-bloods went south to live with relatives on the Iowa Reservation.

Read the Treaty of 1854

10. Treaty of 1861 (The last treaty of the Ioway)
Both the Ioway and the Sac & Fox of the Missouri succumbed to pressure, and ceded more lands. The Sac & Fox ceded the lands they had been given in 1854, and the Ioways ceded the western part of their reservation for the Sac & Fox reserve (the present-day Sac & Fox Reservation in Nebraska). Signers of the treaty for the Ioways were No Heart, Naggarash, Mahee, Tohee, Tahrakee, Thuromony, and White Horse.

Lands ceded by the Ioway: The western half of their diminished reservation was ceded and assigned to the Sac and Fox. This arrangement is the one we see today, with the Ioway near Whitecloud, Kansas and the Sac and Fox at Reserve, Kansas. Both reserves have some portions in Nebraska.

Some of the more traditional Ioway families, disenchanted with the fraud and pressure to accept white ways, and the dominance of the desires of many mixed-bloods to allot the tribal lands in tracts that would belong to individuals, decided to move south to Indian Territory. There, they felt, they would return to the old traditional, communal way of life. This began to happen in 1878, and they first sought refuge with the Sac & Fox there, before they were eventually assigned a reservation by Executive Order.

Read the Treaty of 1861

A Bit on the Sac & Fox---
The Sac & Fox in Indian Territory were a different group from those of Kansas-Nebraska, and also different from the Sac & Fox in Iowa. The Sac & Fox in Kansas-Nebraska were primarily from the Sac & Fox of the Missouri (actually mostly Sauk), who had angered the other Sauk and Meskwaki by mistakenly selling lands in Iowa in the fraudulent Treaty of 1804. The Sauk & Fox (Sac & Fox of the Mississippi) in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) were primarily the Sauk descendants of Black Hawk's British Band who had fought against the Americans. The Sac & Fox of the Mississippi in Iowa were primarily the Meskwaki who had almost been destroyed in their wars in the 1700s against the French. Peaceful toward the Americans, the Meskwaki were allowed to stay in Iowa after 1855, when they sold their horses and bought their own lands in central Iowa, where they still are today.

The Final Chapter on Ioway Land Loss

The formation of the Iowa Reservation in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) was established by Presidential Executive Order in 1883, as home for the Southern Ioways, but unknown to them it had a provision that other tribes could be settled on their reservation.

In 1887, the northern Ioway lands on the Great Nemaha Reserve were allotted in severalty (indivial land holdings) (24 Stat. 367). The Dawes Severalty (Allotment) Act also was enacted in 1887. Both the northern and southern branches of the Ioway were allotted in 1890, further losing much of their land. Many reservations often look like checkerboards of white and Indian ownership because of the Dawes Act.

In 1891, the remaining tracts of southern Iowa lands that were not allotted were opened to the Oklahoma land rush, or Run of 1891. In 1895, some southern Ioway left the Perkins area to join the Otoe community near Red Rock.

Today, both the Iowa of Kansas-Nebraska and the Iowa of Oklahoma are trying to buy back as much of their former reservation lands as they can, using revenue from gaming.


Indian Treaties and Affairs

Kappler's Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties

The 1934 Indian Reorganization Act

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