Volume 1


Fourth Edition Printed by the Clio Press Iowa City, Iowa 1920
Copyright 1917 by Clarence Ray Aurner

Transcribed by Sharon Elijah, submitted April, 2013


The Indians loved their hunting grounds along the eastern side of the Mississippi River and Chief Black Hawk wished to stay in the land where he was born. But the white people would keep coming over the line between their land which the Indians had already given up and that which the redmen still claimed in Illinois. On the Illinois side of the big river were the corn lands of the Indian tribes and there the men and women and children had been allowed to live until trouble arose. Then a great war broke out which is known in history as Black Hawk�s War, because the chief led the Indian warriors.

When the bitter fight was ended the Indians were defeated, and of course, the government of the United States made them give up some more land. At that time a strip about fifty miles wide along the west side of the Mississippi river and all of it in Iowa were taken away from Black Hawk and his people. From a line running east and west in the northern part of Lee County, to a line running northeast from the corner of Bremer County, all of the land for fifty miles back from the Mississippi River, except a narrow strip along the Iowa River, was sold to the United States. But it was not a very high-priced sale of land, since the Indians were paid only about fourteen cents an acre for the six million acres.

The narrow piece which the Indians kept on both sides of the Iowa River was the hunting ground of a part of the tribes. Within the four hundred square miles which had been saved for the Indian hunters, and about twelve miles for the mouth of the Iowa River, was the village of Chief Keokuk who was one of the great leaders of his people.

The treaty between the Indians and the United States by which this land was bought was made in 1832. But white men were not allowed to come into this new place until in June 1833, unless they came in without letting the soldiers of the United States know where they settled. It was the duty of the soldiers to drive them out until the lawful time had come. A great many tried to enter before the crowd that was waiting to come in 1833; and a good many were driven out.

The Indians could not choose whether or not they would sell their lands. They knew that they must or there would probably be another war; and so they kept moving westward, always westward. In 1836 the narrow strip along the Iowa River which had protected the village of Keokuk was sold to the government of the United States for about eight cents an acre. Keokuk and his people moved away to other Indian lands farther west and beyond the strip fifty miles wide. But the very next year in 1837 another narrow slice along the edge of the first strip was bought. It contained a million and a quarter acres which the white men could buy from the United States for one dollar and twenty five cents an acre. Out of this rich land all the Indians must be gone by 1839.

Among these Indians and along the bank of the Iowa River was Poweshiek�s village. He moved up the stream and made another home; but before setting out on the journey the squaws of the tribe waited to bid farewell to their old home and their dead who were buried near by. There was a great moaning and wailing and chanting, for Indian women do not weep as white women do; and the white men who were near at that time have said that it was a sad departure. But even in their sorrow at leaving their dead they did not neglect the claims of friendship, for on the way to their new home they passed the house of their friend Patrick Smith and stopped to say good by to the baby of the family. Then they followed the trail taken by the ponies loaded with the packs of stuff for the camp.

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As they moved along toward the north and west, up the stream where they had hunted and fished for many years, they could see the first houses of a new town. And in the center of this town there was the foundation of a great building. Its walls would soon rise and the building would be called the Capitol of the Territory of Iowa. This building stood on a hill overlooking the river, along which they would journey to the new village and into land not yet claimed by white men.

Even today one may see the same hill and the same building by visiting the Old Capitol at Iowa City. There are not so many stately trees as in the day of Poweshiek�s departure; but perhaps one may think of his journey with all his people and their possessions as they, in 1839, passed out of sight of their old home, away from the new town and the building which showed that the Indian could rule no more in that part of Iowa.

There were some famous chiefs who were not to leave Iowa and their favorite hunting grounds; for Chief Wapello died and was buried in the county which bears his name. Black Hawk, too, was allowed to spend his remaining days in Iowa. But Keokuk and Poweshiek were pushed still further on until they had to give up all their lands in Iowa. They were sent off to a home in northeastern Kansas and all the tribes were soon to follow farther west.

As Poweshiek moved westward he seems to have left his name on the trail he made; for he is remembered in Poweshiek County and again in Poweshiek Township in Jasper county where, it is said, he made his last home in Iowa. There were other chiefs, like Mahaska for example, whose names have been kept in our State in some town or county. It would need many pages to tell of all of these, and if one studies a map of Iowa he will see where they are. An Indian name is quite easy to find.

By 1851 all the Indians who had claimed lands in Iowa had agreed to give them up to the United States. But the followers of Chief Poweshiek who had lived so long on the Iowa River did not like their new home in Kansas and became homesick. They did not forget their old hunting grounds; and they began to return in small groups to Iowa. For some time they lived in any way they could; for the United States government would not pay them the yearly allowance which had been promised for their lands unless they would go back to the new home in Kansas. But by and by it was seen that something must be done, and the homesick Indians were permitted to buy some land in Tama County near the Iowa River. At first they had only a few acres, but now there are about three thousand acres which belong to them. Hereafter they will have a home that no white man can take away.

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