My essay "A Closing Circle: Musings on the Ioway Indians in Iowa" is in The Worlds Between Two Rivers: Perspectives on American Indians in Iowa (An Expanded Edition), Edited by Gretchen M. Bataille, David Mayer Gradwohl, and Charles L. P. Silet. The book is a revised expanded 2000 edition of milestone essays first prepared in 1971 and published in hardback form in 1978. It was prepared through a research group from Iowa State University, reportedly one of the first American Indian Studies courses in the U.S. Many of the authors of the essays were Native American; several have since passed away. The chapters in this revised edition include updates in the preface, resources/bibliography, and two new essays on NAGPRA and the Ioway tribe."Foster's essay underlines the sanctity of the Ioway's ancient burials here both in relationship to the tribe's traditional values and the identity of contemporary Ioway people today" (Gradwohl et al., p. 142). My essay gives an overview of the history of the Ioway in Iowa, from time immemorial until the expulsion during Indian Removal in the 1830s. I then talk about my own journey back to Iowa to learn and re-connect with our ancient homelands, in the process helping to connect others in my tribe with Iowa and its people.
Lance gives an overview of the book:
"For me, much of the most enjoyable time has been spent with my relative Pete Fee. He is the son of my grandmother's sister, and in the Ioway tradition, this makes him my Hinkayinye, "Little Father."
Years ago, Pete lived in northeast Iowa, near New Albin, where he met his wife Alana. He returned with her to Kansas, where they spent the next twenty years raising a family. In 1998, Alana moved back to New Albin to be near family and Pete followed. Pete and his family now live there, with horses, on land near the edge of town. In Pete's words, "The spirits of our ancestors are here. I can feel them all around me. I feel good when I come back."
Pete and I talk often, although now that I work for the National Park Service in Santa Fe, New Mexico, we do not get to see each other face-to-face as much as we used to during my days at Iowa State University when I would drive the five hours to Kansas for the powwow, a tribal election, or just to be with people I knew and trusted, and who knew and trusted me.
We talk now about this process which seems to have brought so many Ioway back to Iowa these last twenty years. It all seems part of a larger "something" that we cannot see clearly just now. We have talked about re-establishing a presence here in Iowa, somewhere where there is a lot, an acre, a patch of woods, or a spring. There we would once more make the sacred connection, re-establish the ancestral covenant.
We talk about this. We will see. The S'ageh, the Old People, our grandmothers and grandfathers sleeping out there on the bluffs, made that covenant. Even now, perhaps they are guiding their wayward grandchildren to fulfill it once more." (p. 147-148).
Pete no longer lives in Iowa; his daughter Nora married a Southern Ioway and moved down to Perkins, Oklahoma. Alana moved down there to be with Nora and her children. The house in Iowa was Alana's mother's, and when she passed away, the land passed out of their hands. Pete resists moving to Oklahoma. Now over 70 years old, he still works as a fulltime electrician, working seven days a week, 10 hours a day. He lives as a nomad, in the Kansas City motel during work periods, and roaming between the reservation in Kansas and the family's new home in Oklahoma. He resists moving to Oklahoma. He wants to spend his remaining years on the Iowa Reservation near Whitecloud, Kansas. But that's another story.
I worked for the National Park Service in New Mexico, and then in Alaska. I got married and moved to Hawaii. There I worked for a job that made a huge impact on me, in an agency tasked to be an advocate for Native Hawaiians. That is a book in itself; maybe someday I will write that one. Then, getting older myself, and wanting to be around my folks as they grow older, I returned to Montana. I teach parttime, and eke out a minimal living somehow. I don't own a car. I hope someday to save enough money to get a car, and go see Pete, and visit him at his little dream house where he will grow Indian corn, beans, and squash. I don't know what the future holds for us.
I do know that the Ioway connection to Iowa continues to grow. The latest chapter was the making of an award-winning
documentary about the Ioway in Iowa. I helped some, but it is amazing how this documentary has really grown into a
phenomenon... you should read about it... and see it... http://docublogger.typepad.com/ioway/
I was raised in Helena, Montana and graduated school here. I am the first one in my family to attend and graduate from college. I went to art school in Santa Fe. I couldn't decide between being a writer and an artist; I love both words and images. I am mixed-blood, enrolled...