History of Meskwaki available on new CD-ROM

For immediate release August 7, 2006


Contact: Jeff Morgan, Jeff.Morgan@iowa.gov, (515) 281-3858

(DES MOINES) – Sometimes referred to as the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa, the Meskwaki Nation has adapted, survived and thrived over the centuries.

Now, the story of the Meskwaki is available on Meskwaki History, a new interactive CD-ROM created by the State Historical Society of Iowa in collaboration with tribal historians. The CD-ROMs cost $19.95 each and are available at SHSI’s Iowa City office, 402 Iowa Avenue, Iowa City, Iowa 52240 or by calling 319-335-3916.

“The State Historical Society of Iowa has one of the richest and most distinctive collections of materials on the Meskwaki nation in the world,” said Mary Bennett, special collections coordinator. “Previous methods for presenting information on the tribe have typically been through books, media documentaries or museum exhibitions. This CD creates a virtual library for anyone to use in a variety of settings.”

SHSI partnered with tribal historians, Johnathan Lantz Buffalo and Dawn Suzanne Wannatee, to create the new educational tool as a primary and secondary source about Meskwaki history. Chockfull of information, the CD contains 1,230 pages of text and documents; 357 images or photographs; 13 film clips; 8 audio segments; 12 historical maps; artifact images from SHSI collections; documents such as treaties, census records and tribal constitution; examples of Meskwaki language; history and archaeology information; extensive bibliography of literature relating to the tribe; a timeline and lesson plans.

“As a learning tool, Meskwaki History promotes greater awareness and celebration of tribal heritage while creating a better understanding of the contributions of the Meskwaki,” Bennett said. “This sampler brings to the public photographs, audio clips, movies, documents, maps and artifacts from the collections of the State Historical Society of Iowa or the Historical Preservation Office of the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa.”

Meskwaki History offers information in the following subject areas:

Anthology: Selected writings about the Meskwaki, including observations about the tribe from 1532 to present. Besides the observations, Johnathan L. Buffalo writes about baseball, horses, lacrosse games, tribal community patterns, the Stone House, the treaty of 1842, the South Farm property, and the powwow through the years. The CD also includes unpublished papers on William Jones and education as well as articles published by SHSI.

Artifacts: Artifacts from the collections of SHSI are displayed in this section, including beadwork, bows and arrows, breechcloths, wooden spoons and bowls, yarn sashes, bandolier charm bags, ribbon appliqué, eagle feather fan, necklaces, pictograph, kettle hooks and other tools.

Audio: Sound recordings of the Meskwaki language, lectures and presentations on Meskwaki history, and other audio selections can be heard in this section.

Census: Census records document the presence of the tribe in Iowa, including a rare census from about 1840. The federal census records are from 1888, 1910, 1915, 1920, 1934, and 1937 – the census used to determine tribal enrollment today. There is also a list of Meskwaki living at the Settlement in 1905.

Culture: There are major sub-categories within this section, such as History, Settlement, Clothing, Education, Flag, Food Sources (hunting, gathering, and agriculture), Medicine, Music, Powwow, Recreation and Games, Trade, Transportation and Warriors.

Documents: Primary source documents, including the 1857 deed for the land the Meskwaki purchased in Tama County and the Constitution adopted in 1937. Also contains treaties for 1804, 1815, 1822, 1824, 1830, 1832, 1836, 1837, 1840, 1842, 1859 and 1867.

Education: History of the Meskwaki struggle for self-determination in education and photos of the old Sac and Fox School at the Settlement.

Housing: Explanations of how a wickiup was constructed and the use of native plants for construction materials including cattail mats and bulrush mats.

Language: Excerpts from The Autobiography of a Fox Woman and They Who Chased the Bear offer both the Meskwaki words and the English language translation. Listen to audio recording of the spoken words for numbers, weather and other terms. The Meskwaki alphabet and a list of commonly used phrases and words also appear here.

Maps: A selection of North American maps from the 1600s and 1700s show where the Meskwaki lived and the various names used for the tribe. Maps also show land cessions forced by treaty agreements and the land acquisition pattern at the Settlement in Tama County.

Movies: Excerpts from 16mm films made by Monroe P. Killy in 1948 show a woman making fry bread, women playing a konono game and powwow dancers. Also movie footage shot by others who visited the powwow in the 1940s and later.

Photographs: Significant collections of historical images appear here, including the work of Duren H. Ward, Monroe P. Killy, Josephine Wallace, Robert Campagna and Joan Liffring-Zug Bourret. Photographs show scenes at the Settlement, powwow celebrations and portraits of individuals.

Timeline: A timeline of key events in Meskwaki history is accompanied by historical images.

Bibliography: A detailed bibliography of literature on the Sac and Fox of the Mississippi in Iowa.

Lessons: Goals for the project, standards for teaching history, lesson plans and glossary to assist educators and students using Meskwaki History.

Meskwaki History was created with support from SHSI, the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

A division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, the State Historical Society of Iowa is a trustee of Iowa’s historical legacy and an advocate for understanding Iowa’s past. It identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages and provides access to Iowa’s historical resources. Its dual mission of preservation and education serves Iowans of all ages, conducts and stimulates research, disseminates information, and encourages and supports historical preservation and education efforts of others throughout the state. Please visit www.iowahistory.org or call 515-281-5111 for more information.


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