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The name Iowa is derived from an Indian word meaning: "this is the place" or "the beautiful land".
To learn how to get started with American Indian research, find research facilities, and American Indian websites click here.
Various field offices of the Bureau of Indian Affairs -- superintendencies, agencies, Indian schools, and others --created records of births, marriages, deaths, adoptions, censuses, schools, land allotments, probates, and other miscellaneous records. Many of these records are available only at the originating office, if that office is still operating. Some of the original records have been transferred to the National Archives or to its regional archives. The Family History Library in Salt Lake City has microfilm copies of some of these records.
Tribes and Bands of Iowa
Many of these tribes or bands lived in or had only minimal association with the area now known as Iowa. Some of them are only mentioned in treaties as parties to the cession of land in Iowa to the federal government.
The following list of American Indians who have lived in Iowa has been compiled from Hodge's Handbook of American Indians... and from Swanton's The Indian Tribes of North America. Some may simply be variant spellings for the same tribe.
From the mid-1800s, the official policy of the United States government toward the American Indian was to confine each tribe to a specific parcel of land called a reservation. Agencies were established on or near each reservation. A government representative, usually called an agent (or superintendent) was assigned to each agency. Their duties included maintaining the peace, making payments to the Native Americans based on the stipulations of the treaties with each tribe, and providing a means of communication between the native population and the federal government.
Sometimes, a single agency had jurisdiction over more than one reservation. And sometimes, if the tribal population and land area required it, an agency may have included sub-agencies.
The boundaries of reservations, over time, have changed. Usually, that means the reservations have been reduced in size. Sometimes, especially during the later policy of "termination," the official status of reservations was ended altogether.
The following list of reservations has been compiled from the National Atlas of the United States of America, the Omni Gazetteer of the United States of America, and other sources. Those reservations named in bold are current federally-recognized reservations, with their associated agency and tribe(s). Others have historically been associated with the state or are not currently recognized by the federal government.
- Keokuk Reservation (or Keokuk Reserve) -- a small reserve for the Sac and Fox Indians, 1832-1836, following the Black Hawk War, after which they were removed to later reservations.
- Sac and Fox Reservation-- established in 1867 -- Federal reservation located in Tama County, Iowa, under the jurisdiction of the Sac & Fox Agency. Tribe: Sac and Fox (also known as Mesquakie).
- Omaha Reservation -- primarily located in the southern part of Thurston County, Nebraska, but a portion extends into Monona County, Iowa. See Indians of Nebraska for additional information.
- Winnebago Reservation -- mostly located in Thurston County, Nebraska but there is a small segment in Woodbury County, Iowa, just east of the Missouri River. See Indians of Nebraska for additional information.
Agencies and subagencies were created as administrative offices of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and its predecessors. Their purpose was (and is) to manage Indian affairs with the tribes, to enforce policies, and to assist in maintaining the peace. The names and location of these agencies may have changed, but their purpose remained basically the same. Many of the records of genealogical value were created by these offices.
The following list of agencies that have operated or now exist in Iowa has been compiled from Hill's Office of Indian Affairs..., Hill's Guide to Records in the National Archives Relating to American Indians, and others.
- Council Bluffs Subagency
- Great Lakes Agency
- Raccoon River Agency
- Sac and Fox Agency
- Sac and Fox Field Office
- Tama Agency
- Turkey River Subagency 1842-1846
- Upper Missouri Agency
- Winnebago Agency
In the early 1800s, a tract of land was set aside by the federal government in Lee County, Iowa for the descendants of French fur trappers and other Europeans who had inter-married with Native Americans. These individuals were called "half-breeds." Thus the tract of land came to be known as the "Half-Breed Tract." Similar tracts were established in Nebraska, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
Indian Health Facilities
Records of the Indian Tribes of Iowa may be found in the National Archives or in the Regional Archives of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Lenexa, Kansas.
The primary records holders are the originating offices of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and of the respective tribes. Some of those records have been transferred to the National Archives or its Regional Archives. Some original and/or microcopied records have been collected by universities, historical societies, museums, and individuals.
Family History Library
Many Indian records have been microfilmed and copies are housed at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. To find American Indian records in the Family History Library Catalog look in the Subject Search under the name of the tribe, such as:
For further information on American Indians, see:
Iowa History Reference Guide Pages 22–31 list books and articles about the various American Indian tribes, agents, treaties, and the half-breed tract in Iowa.
You can also look in the Locality Search in the Family History Library Catalog under:
- IOWA - NATIVE RACES
- IOWA, [COUNTY]- NATIVE RACES
- French Expedition Against The Sac And Fox Indians In The Iowa Country by State Historical Society of Iowa - 1914 page 245; addresses the relationship between the French and the Sac and Fox Tribes for the years 1734 -1735.
- ↑ Hodge, Frederick Webb. Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Washington D.C.:Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin #30 1907. Available online.
- ↑ Swanton John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin #145 Available online.
- ↑ National Atlas of the United States of America -- Federal Lands and Indian Reservations Available online.
- ↑ Isaacs. Katherine M., editor. Omni Gazetteer of the United States of America. U.S. Data Sourcebook, Volume 11 Appendices, Bureau of Indian Affairs List of American Indian Reservations, Appendix E, Indian Reservations. Omnigraphics, Inc., 1991.(Family History Library book 973 E5)
- ↑ Hill, Edward E. The Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-1880: Historical Sketches, Clearwater Publishing Co., Inc. 1974. (Family History Library book 970.1 H551o.)
- ↑ Hill, Edward E. (comp.). Guide to Records in the National Archives of the United States Relating to American Indians. Washington DC: National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration, 1981. (FHL book 970.1 H551g.)
- ↑ Petersen, William John. Iowa History Reference Guide. Iowa City, Iowa: State Historical Society of Iowa, 1952. (FHL book 977.7 A3p; computer number 241027.) This bibliography includes sections about American Indians, immigration, land, government, courts, military, schools, churches, businesses, history, and biographies. It is arranged by subject and has an index.
- "Accompanying Pamphlet for Microcopy 1011", National Archives Microfilm Publications, Appendix.
- American Indians: A Select Catalog of National Archives Microfilm Publications. Washington DC: National Archives Trust Fund Board, National Archives and Records Administration, 1998.
- Hill, Edward E. (comp.). Guide to Records in the National Archives of the United States Relating to American Indians. Washington DC: National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration, 1981.
- Hill, Edward E. The Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-1880: Historical Sketches. New York, New York: Clearwater Publishing Company, Inc., 1974.
- Historical Sketches for Jurisdictional and Subject Headings Used for the Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-1880. National Archives Microcopy T1105.
- Hodge, Frederick Webb. Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Washington D.C.:Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin #30 1907. Available online.
- Isaacs. Katherine M., editor. Omni Gazetteer of the United States of America. U.S. Data Sourcebook, Volume 11 Appendices, Bureau of Indian Affairs List of American Indian Reservations, Appendix E, Indian Reservations. Omnigraphics, Inc., 1991.
- National Atlas of the United States of America -- Federal Lands and Indian Reservations Available online.
- Preliminary Inventory No. 163: Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Washington DC: National Archives and Records Services. Available online
- Swanton John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin #145 Available online.
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