Iowa tribe

The Iowa (also spelled Ioway), also known as the Báxoje, are a Native American Siouan people. Their name has been said to come from ayuhwa ("asleep"), but they call themselves Báxoje (alternate spellings: pahotcha, Bah-kho-je) ("dusted faces" or "grey snow"). The translation "dusted faces" is a likely folk etymology, since the Ioway words use different consonants. It was common practice among early European explorers to get the names of tribes from other tribes. Thus, ayuhwa is not an Ioway word. The word Ioway comes from Dakotan ayuxbe via French aiouez; however, the Ioways are referred to by themselves and all neighboring tribes as Báxoje or a variant thereof.

The designation came to be applied to the state (Iowa) where they were once found in various locations (Iowa County, Iowa, Iowa River) within it. Together with the Missouri and the Otoe they are part of the Chiwere-speaking peoples, claiming the Ho-Chunks as their "grandfathers." Their estimated population of 1,100 (in 1760) dropped to 800 (in 1804), mainly caused by smallpox. In 1824, the Iowa were moved to reservations in Brown County, Kansas, and Richardson County, Nebraska. Some of them also live in the Iowa Trust Kensan Reservation, south of Perkins,Oklahoma. As of 1990, their population is roughly 1,500.

The Ioway Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska operates the Casino White Cloud at White Cloud, Kansas.


In 1760 the Iowa tribe population was roughly 1,100, but their numbers were reduced to 500 by 1900. In 1960 there were 100 in Kansas and 100 in Oklahoma. In 1980 their number increased back to 1,000 (of which only 20 spoke their native language), and since 1990 there were 1,700 people. According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, in 1995 there were 533 individuals living in the Iowa reservations of Kansas and 44 in Nebraska (Horton Agency), while 857 people individuals lived in the Oklahoma Iowa Tribe (Shawnee Agency), amounting to a total of 2,934 people. According to the 2000 census, there were 1,451 pure-blooded Iowa, 76 of mixed Indian descent, 688 of mixed-race descent and 43 of mixed-race and tribe descent, amounting to 2,258 people.


Their customs were similar to those of the other Siouan-speaking tribes of the Great Plains, like the Omaha, Ponca and Osage. They were a semi-nomadic people who hunted but also had an agricultural lifestyle similar to the tribes inhabiting the Eastern woods. They planted maize, manufactured Alum pipes and traded these along with furs with the French colonizers. They lived in oven-shaped houses covered with earth but also used the teepee during the hunting season or in their bellic incursions. Like the Osage or Kansa, they shaved their heads and decorated them with deer skin. Like the tribes of the Great Plains, they valued three feats during a battle: behaving valiantly, killing an enemy, and scalping him.


In prehistoric times the Iowa emigrated from north of the Great Lakes region to present-day Iowa. In the 16th century they moved from the Mississippi river to the Great Plains, and possibly then separated from the Ho-Chunk tribe. By the 18th century they settled in the Red Pipestone Quarry region (Minnesota), reaching by the 19th century the shores of the Platte River, where they were visited in 1804 by Lewis and Clark. There they engaged in commerce with the French and other local tribes, thanks to their advantageous situation regarding the Alum deposits.

Between 1820 and 1830 they ceded their Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri lands to the U.S. government and in 1821 were relocated in a reservation along the Kansas-Nebraska border, led by their chief Chief Mahaska (Mew-hew-she-kaw, "White Cloud"; archaic Ioway Maxúshga ; contemporary Maxúhga), surrendering finally the Little Platte territory, in Missouri, by 1824.

In 1836 they settled in a strip of land in Missouri, along with the Sauk and the Fox, but numerous discontent individuals marched to Oklahoma in 1838. Some 45 Iowa fought in the American Civil War in the Union Army, among them Chief James White Cloud, son of Mahaska. In 1861 two official reservations were created for the Iowa, in Nebraska and Kansas, but in 1883 a discontent group was taken to the Lincoln, Payne and Logan counties, in the Indian Territory, where they were aculturated and had their lands divided.

In 1988 Louis Deroin was chosen as chief of the Nebraska and Kansas Iowa. Diane Jobe is the tribal administrator of the Oklahoma Iowa.

Famous Iowa people


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