Chief Mahaska

This article is about the chief of the Iowa tribe. For the Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) prophet also named "White Cloud," see Wabokieshiek.

Mahaska (archaic Ioway Maxúshga ; contemporary Maxúhga), or White Cloud, (1784 – 1834) was a chief of the Native American Iowa tribe. The English name Mahaska originates in the 1844 transcription "Mew-hew-she-kah" of the name of the "first chief of the nation" upon his visit with several other Ioways to London. This "first chief" would have to have been a descendant of the already deceased White Cloud. The transcription likely represents , in which the first vowel is raised due to the velar fricative, which in turn was heard as "h"; and the third vowel is likely epenthetic.

Mahaska became chief at an early age after killing several enemy Sioux to avenge his father’s death. He was later imprisoned in St. Louis, Missouri for killing a French trader, before he escaped and led a raid against the Osage. Afterward, he decided that his father’s death was finally avenged, so he laid down his arms and adopted the lifestyle of the white settlers, building a log home and farming. He refused to let his braves avenge the death of an Ioway chief named Crane at the hands of Omaha Indians in 1833, and when several Ioway killed six Omahas, Mahaska assisted in their arrest.

The next year one of the Ioway escaped from Fort Leavenworth and killed Mahaska.

Chief Mahaska became a symbol of the virtues of his native lifestyle and of the possibility of peace between natives and settlers.



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