French Indian Wars
The watercolor of a “Fox Warrior” was painted in Quebec in about 1730 and bears the following legend:
Fox Warrior. Feared by all nations for their valor and speed, capable
of going 25-30 leagues [60-72 miles] a day without any food other than plants
and leaves from the woods. There are about 400 to 500 men bearing arms divided
into three or four villages.
The Meskwaki resisted French colonial rule in the Fox Wars (1701-1742) and formed an alliance with the Sauk in 1735 to fend off Europeans and other Indian tribes. The warrior depicted was a courier captured by the Miami and sent to France, where he died in prison in 1732.
This earliest known depiction of a Meskwaki warrior shows a man with a shirt wrapped around his waist and a knife sheath around his neck. He is wearing a buffalo skullcap with a porcupine quilled feather stick at the top of his head. Source: Guerrier Renard Redoute Par Toutes Les Nations, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris (cliché 82C113155).
Click here to learn more about
the Fox Wars.
Black Hawk War
The Black Hawk War of 1832, started by a discontented band of Sacs, embroiled the Meskwaki in a struggle that ultimately led to the loss of ancestral homelands.
The United States officially combined the two tribes into a single group for treaty-making purposes, and a series of land cessions were used to break the tribes’ domination of the waterways.
The Meskwaki were moved into central Iowa in 1837, and the last parcel of Meskwaki land was relinquished in 1842.
The illustration shows Black Hawk and Sac and Fox who were captured and placed in chains. Source: George Catlin, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
World War II
Forty-six patriotic Meskwaki warriors served in the military during World War II, and the Robert Morgan Post 701 of the American Legion remains an active association at the Settlement. Eight Meskwaki men were code talkers who helped save many lives and are honored as national heroes. Click here to read about these men.
Some Meskwaki moved to the city to work in war industries, while others worked on railroads and at local factories in communities like Marshalltown. After the war, people moved more freely in and out of Settlement life, and diminishing wildlife brought an end to winter hunting camps in the surrounding area.
A newspaper article published in the Des Moines Register on October 11, 1942 described how the Meskwaki were scattered away from the Settlement during the war.
Meskwaki Warriors who served in the United States military
Click here to see a list of individuals in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force.