Iowa Indian Chiefs and Leaders

Nacheninga (‘No-heart-of-fear’). The name of at least two prominent Iowa chiefs, commonly called No Heart, both noted for their sterling qualities and highly regarded by both their tribesmen and the whites. Nacheninga the elder died a short time before Catlin’s visit to the tribe in 1832, when he was succeeded by his son, who, however, was regarded as subordinate to Mahaskah the younger. The junior Nacheninga has been described as a fine specimen of his race physically, and as “the faithful husband of one wife.” His portrait was painted by Catlin in 1832. In behalf of the Iowa he signed the treaty of St Louis, Nov. 23, 1837, and in the same year visited Washington, where his portrait was painted for the War Department by Charles B. King, and is now preserved in the U. S. National Museum. Nacheninga was a signer also of the treaty of Great Nemaha agency, Neb., Oct. 19, 1838; the treaty of Washington, May 17, 1854, and that of Great Nemaha agency, Mar. 6, 1861. The name is variously spelled Nachewinga, Nan-cheening-a, Nau che-ning-ga, Non-che-ninga, Non-gee-ninga, and Notch ee-ning-a.
Consult Fulton, Red Men of Iowa, 124, 1882; Catlin, North American Indians, 11, 1844; Donaldson in National Museum Report for 1885, 1886.

Moanahonga (‘great walker’ ). An Iowa warrior, known to the whites as Big Neck, and called also by his people Winaugusconey (‘Man not afraid to travel’), because he was wont to take long trips alone, relying on his own prowess and prodigious strength. While he was of lowly birth he was exceedingly ambitious and contended for the honors and dignity for which his courage and address fitted him, but which his fellow tribesmen were loth to accord, wherefore he built a lodge apart from the rest and collected about him a band of admirers over whom he exercised the authority of chief. Gen. Clark induced him and Mahaskah to go to Washington in 1824 and there sign a treaty that purported to convey to the United States for an annual payment of $500 for 10 years the title of all the lands of the Iowa lying within the borders of Missouri. He did not understand the treaty, and after white settlers had taken possession of a considerable part of the Indian lands he set out in 1829 to visit St Louis for the purpose of making complaint to Gen. Clark. A party of whites encountered his company of 60 men, made them all intoxicated, and decamped with their horses, blankets, and provisions. When they recovered from their stupor one of them shot a hog to satisfy their hunger. This provoked the anger of the settlers, 60 of whom rode up and commanded the Indians to leave the country. Moanahonga then withdrew his camp about 15 miles beyond the state boundary, as he supposed. When the white party followed him he went out to meet there with his pipe in his mouth in sign of peace. As he extended his hand in greeting the borderers fired, killing his brother at his side, and an infant. The Indians flew to their arms and, inspired anew by the call for vengeance of Moanahonga’s sister, who was shot in the second volley, they drove the whites from the field, although these exceeded their fighting men two to one. The man who shot his sister Moanahonga burned at the stake. The U. S. troops were ordered out, and obtaining hostages from the Iowa returned to their barracks. Moanahonga and several others of his band were arrested and tried on a charge of murder, but were acquitted. He cultivated friendly relations with the whites after this, but always went with blackened face in sign of mourning, because, as he said, he had sold the bones of his ancestors. About 5 years afterward he fell in combat with a Sioux chief.

Neomonni (Rain-cloud). An Iowa chief, of inferior grade, during the early half of the 19th century. He claimed to have taken scalps from Kansa, Omaha, Missouri, Sioux, Osage, and Sauk Indians, and Catlin (Fourteen Iowa Indians, 3, 6, 1844), who writes his name “Newmon-ya, Walking rain,” says he was much more distinguished as a warrior than White Cloud (under whom he was third chief), one of the most remarkable and celebrated men of the Iowa tribe. Catlin gives Neomonni’s age, about 1843, as 54 years, and describes him as nearly 6½ feet tall. He was one of the 14 Iowa who visited England with Melody in 1843, Catlin, who painted his portrait, acting as interpreter. His name appears among the signers to the treaties of Prairie du Chien, Wis., July 15, 1830, as ” Niayoo Manie, Walking rain”; Ft Leavenworth, Kans., Sept. 17, 1836, as “Ne-o-mo-na, Raining cloud”; and St Louis, Mo., Nov. 23, 1837, as Ne-o-mon-ni. His portrait way also painted in Washington for the War Department by C. B. King, and is reproduced in McKenney and Hall, Ind. Tribes, II, 1853.

The books presented are for their historical value only and are not the opinions of the Webmasters of the site.   Handbook of American Indians, 1906

Index of Tribes or Nations


Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Discover more from Access Genealogy

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading

Scroll to Top