Condition of the Iowa Indians in 1890

The Sac and Fox Indians in Iowa have resided in Tama County for 35 years or more. They originally resided in Iowa, near Dubuque, and at different points along both sides of the Mississippi River. In the year 1837 a treaty was made with them, and they left Iowa and went to Kansas. Later another treaty wits made, and they were moved from Kansas to Indian Territory. Of this band the Foxes returned to Iowa, where they purchased land, and where they have since lived. The Sacs and Foxes, though known on the record as one tribe, are two separate tribes: the Sacs and the Foxes. At the time of the Black Hawk war in Illinois the Sacs were driven across the river into Iowa to the home of the Foxes, where they received food and shelter and were finally allowed to settle. When the government treaty was made for the Iowa land it was made with the Sacs and Foxes of the Mississippi, and they have been so known ever since. The Foxes came into Iowa from the north. Prior to this they were found by the French about Green Bay, in Wisconsin, but before that they lived on the north shore of Lake Ontario.-W. B. Lesser, United States Indian agent.

Sac and Fox in 1890-The Sac and Fox Indians, June 30, 1885, were distributed as follows: on Sac and Fox reservation in Indian territory, under Keokuk, jr., 457; on Sac and Fox reservation in Iowa (Tama County), known as the Fox or Musquakie tribe of Indians, about 380; on Pottawatamie reservation, Kansas, the Sac and Fox of Missouri, about 87; Mo-ko-ko-ko’s band of Sac and Fox, wandering in Kansas, tributary to Sac and Fox agency, Indian territory, about 190; almost all civilized, farmers and herders.

In 1890 those in Iowa numbered 397, including 16 adopted Winnebagos; at Sac and Fox agency, Oklahoma, 515; Sac and Fox of Missouri, Nebraska, 77; total, 989. Black Hawk and Keokuk were farmers and chiefs of the Sac and Fox.

Sac and Fox of Iowa

Sac and Fox Chief and Son and Daughter
Sac and Fox Chief and Son and Daughter

Belonging to the tribe denominated as Sacs and Foxes of the Mississippi, these Indians claim to have no connection whatever with the Sacs and Foxes of Indian territory, whom they refused to join when they removed thither in 1869, and they are dissatisfied with the pro rata division of their tribal lands with those in Indian territory. They live on a rich tract of land in Tama County, Iowa, stretching along both sides of the Iowa River, consisting of 1,452 acres, which they purchased from the white settlers with their annuity money. Most of their land is well adapted to agricultural purposes, and two railroads, the Northwestern and the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul, cross the tract from east to west. In spite of these highly favorable circumstances and the superior moral character of this bawl of Indians, their progress toward civilization during the last 40 years has been very slow. Chiefs and leaders in the tribe still cling to old traditions and superstitions. Their hostility to schools has been so active that the attempt to establish one at the agency has thus far practically proved a failure. Quite a percentage of the young people can write their own language, and some read and write English. A general contempt for labor among the men leaves the farming to be mainly carried, on by women. Their implements are still primitive, though a gradual improvement is noted every year, and, though frequently producing a good crop, they are constantly liable to failure, owing to insufficient cultivation of their fields.

In their homes is found the most marked improvement, owing to the fact that the women are considerably more progressive than the men, generally industrious, careful and decent in their dress, and ambitious for better conditions of living.

Gradually these Indians are building new houses or rebuilding their old ones, those for summer consisting of posts about 8 feet high set firmly in the ground, with common inch boards nailed to the posts and the poles which are used for rafters, while the roof covering is of bark, or a matting made of reeds and bulrushes, neatly woven together. In the fall such a house is abandoned and its occupants retire near the timber skirting the hills to winter quarters in their tepee, a primitive dwelling, constructed of small poles set in the ground and the tops bent over in a hat-crown shape, covered with matting, except, for an opening left as a door, and one in the top serving the double purpose of admitting light and emitting smoke. The Indians furnish them scantily with the simplest conveniences. There are neither stoves, beds, nor other furniture, but a fire is built on the ground in the middle of the tepee, and around this, at the outer edge, is placed a bank of straw, covered with blankets, which serves equally for sitting, lounging, and sleeping.

The credit of the Sac and Fox tribe ranks very high, and their social and moral standing is excellent, the men being unusually free from vice, even that of drunkenness, while the women are exceptionally correct in their lives.

Consumption, is the common disease among them, but they are generally of fine physique, with healthy bodies, despite the fact that their number increases but slightly from year to year.

Total Indian Population As Of June 1, 1890

Total 457
Reservation Indians not taxed (not counted. in the general census) 397
Indians off reservations, self-supporting and taxed (counted in the general census) 60

a. The self-supporting Indians taxed are included in the general census. The results of the special Indian census to be added to the general census are:

Total 401
Reservation Indians, not taxed 397
Other persons with Indians, Not otherwise enumerated 4

Indian Population of Reservations

Sac and Fox agency: Sac and Fox Reservation,  Sac and Fox Tribe
Total: 397 Males 211; Females 180
Of this number 10 are Winnebagos, 9 males and 7 females (squatters).

The reservation is the property of this band of the Sac and Fox Indians in fee.

The civilized (self-supporting) Indians of Iowa, counted in the general census, number 60 (31 males and 29 females), and are distributed as follows:

Winneshiek County, 16; other counties (8 or less in each), 44.

Tribe, Stock, And Location Of The Indians In Iowa

Sac and Fox (Mississippi), Algonkian Stock on the Sac and Fox Reservation, Sac and Fox Agency
Winnebago, Siouan Stock, Sac and Fox Reservation, Sac and Fox Agency

Department of the Interior. Report on Indians Taxed and Indians not Taxed in the United States, Except Alaska at the Eleventh Census: 1890. Washington DC: Government Printing Office. 1894.

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