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November 12: The Iowa


The Iowa, who call themselves Bah Kho-Je (People of the Grey Snow) were, as mentioned previously, once probably affiliated with the Ho-Chunk people originally living near the Great Lakes. Their name’s meaning probably refers to the face that the smoke from their fires turned the snow covering their homes grey. And once again, the French completely changed their name. Ironic that now it is hometown St. Louisans who mispronounce the area’s French names regularly, restoring a bit of balance to the universe.


For much of the time of recorded Iowa history, they lived within or close to the modern boundaries of the state of Iowa concentrated along the Des Moines River, at one point claiming parts of Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota. Their lands claims included the northwestern edge of the Diocese near Kirksville. Between 1824 and 1836, they too were forced to give up their lands to growing white settlement and reduced to a reservation on a narrow strip of land 10 miles wide and 20 miles long straddling the extreme eastern border between Kansas and Nebraska right next to Missouri. In 1883, the tribe split over conditions on the reservation. A separate reservation was created in now-Oklahoma near their old friends the Sauk and Fox. Those who remained in Kansas and Nebraska eventually became successful farmers. The Iowa of Oklahoma, however, were persuade accept the breaking up of their Oklahoma lands into individual allotments; their remaining land was opened to white settlement in a land run in 1890.

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