The Story of Iowa

The story of Iowa, “The Beautiful Land,” is as interesting as a fairy tale. In the first place no man knows how old it is. Thousands of years ago the sea covered our beautiful state; then came what geologists term the glacial period, and for a long time she lay buried beneath a mass of ice. When both sea and ice were gone, strange plants and animals sprang up, and thrived in tropical splendor. For it was then very warm. Centuries passed and with them came many changes. Slowly hills and valleys, rivers and lakes, trees and plants, such as we see today, were fashioned by Nature and the hand of Time. The land was ready to become the home of man.

The first people were probably like the Eskimos of today. We know very little about them, save that they were “a race of short, stout, flat-featured men and women.” After them came a people called the Mound Builders. Traces of them are found throughout the Mississippi Valley. You will read about them in history. They left their trail in many parts of Iowa, particularly along the Iowa and the Des Moines rivers. The mounds which they built are mostly on hilltops, or built up in the form of terraces. It is supposed that they were built for defense against the Indians, but no one really knows. Skeletons, stone weapons, pottery, and rude stone engravings are found in the mounds.

By and by the Algonquin Indians of the Atlantic Coast came westward. Iowa became one long battleground between this tribe and the Dakotas who drifted east from their stronghold in the Rockies. Between these two fierce bands the Mound Builders were either crushed or driven out. Some think they fled southward, and built new homes in Arizona and New Mexico. Anyhow they vanished, and the land was left in the hands of the Indians. The Dakotas or Sioux claimed what is now the -northern part of the state, and the Algonquin or the Sac and Foxe held the region from the mouth of the Upper Iowa into Missouri. They were bitter enemies, and each sought desperately to drive the other away. And no wonder, for Iowa was an ideal home for them. “On the hills and in the valleys were the deer; on the prairies the buffalo. The noble wild turkey dwelt in the woods, and the prairie chicken and ruffed grouse were on every side, in meadow and in thicket. The numerous lakes and streams furnished fish, and afforded passage for the bark canoes. The plum and grape were to be had for the picking. The hickory-nut and the hazel nut were plentiful, and maize waved in the field.”


White, Judy Wallis. The Story of Iowa.

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