Meskwaki History Timeline

First Contact to Present (Use scroll bar at right to view timeline and click on an image to learn more about an era.)











1524    French begin seeking Northwest Passage.

1530    Portuguese colonize Brazil.

1539-1542     Spanish adventurers explore Florida, Grand Canyon, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, eastern Kansas, and up the Mississippi River


1605   Santa Fe, New Mexico, founded.

1626    The Dutch buy the entire island of Manhattan for a reported $24.

1642    New Zealand "discovered"

1665    First documented meeting between French and Meskwaki.

            Meskwaki move their main village to Wolf River in Wisconsin during winter of 1665-1666.

            Caleb Cheeshat eaumuck, first North American Indian to get an A.B. degree at Harvard.

1666    Band of Meskwakis make trip to Montreal and are mistreated by French Soldiers.

1669-1670    Iroquois-Meskwaki war.

1671    The Chippewa destroy the last Meskwaki villages on the St. Croix and Chippewa Rivers.

1671-1677    War breaks out between Meskwaki and Sioux with raids between both tribes.

1673    Louis Joliet and Father Jacque Marquette are the first white men to set foot on Iowa soil.

             Meskwaki meet with Seneca and make peace with Iroquois.

1675-1676    Illinois begins raiding Meskwaki villages.

1682    Meskwaki-Chippewa war breaks out.

1684    French arrest and execute an Ottawa and Menominee for killing some Frenchmen.

1689    Imperial Wars begin.

1692    Salem, Massachusetts witch trials

1697    British and French sign peace treaty to end King William's War.



1701    End of Iroquois war.

1713    Queen Anne’s war ends.

1717    Pemmousa dies.

1718    Illinois territory is annexed to Louisiana.

1727    Quakers demand abolition of slavery.

1728    King Louis XV orders the complete destruction of the Meskwaki.








1733-1734    Rock River village is formed.

1735    French soldiers under Des Noyelles fight battle with Sac and Fox Indians near present Des Moines.

            Paul Revere is born.

1737    French grant a general pardon to the Meskwaki thus ending the "Fox Wars."

1741    Russian navigators arrive in California, via Alaska and Aleutian Islands.

1742    All of the Meskwaki prisoners finally released by the French. 

1743    French explorers reach Rocky Mountains.

1744    King George’s war begins in North America.

1754    French Indian war begins.

1757    The Battles of Fort William Henry take place (Meskwaki participate).

1759    French are defeated at the Battle of Quebec and the attack on Wolf at Montmorency falls.

1762    By a secret treaty, France cedes to Spain part of Louisiana west of the Mississippi; it is later known as the Louisiana Purchase.

1763    Imperial wars end after 74 years.

1764    Jesuits suppressed in France.

1766    Meskwaki and Sauk begin going to Santa Fe to trade or raid for Spanish horses.

1769    Pontiac is killed by an Illinois.

1773    Boston Tea Party.

1775    American Revolutionary war begins.

1778    James Cook "discovers" Hawaii, and is murdered the following year.

1779    Spain declares war on England.

1780   Meskwaki and Sauk join attack on St. Louis.

1785    Joseph Brant, a Mohawk, began forming a Confederacy of Great Northwest Tribes.

1788    Julien Dubuque, fur trader, obtains sanction from Indians to work lead mines; he settles near site of city now bearing his name.











1789    First U.S. Congress meets in New York; George Washington inaugurated as first President of the United States; New York first federal capital, followed by Philadelphia in 1790, and finally Washington, D.C. in 1800.

1789-1792     French Revolution.

1793    Sir Alexander MacKenzie, Scotsman, the first to cross Canada from coast to coast.

1793-1815    Rise and fall of Napoleon.


1800    The Osage make peace with the Spanish.

1803    United States purchases Louisiana, including present Iowa, from France for $15,000,000 with cancellation of certain debts.

              France renews war with Britian.

              Ohio becomes a state.

1804    Captain Meriwether Lewis and William Clark ascend to the Missouri River along what is now western Iowa.

              United States makes treaty at St. Louis with five representatives of Sac and Fox tribes for the cession of lands in Illinois.

1805    An estimated 8,000 Indians are living in Iowa; they include Sauk, Fox, Winnebago, Iowa, Sioux, Omaha, Oto, and Missouri.

1809    Annual fur trade in the Iowa country is valued at $60,000.

1812     The Americans declare war on Great Britain.

1813    Fort Madison is abandoned and burned in the War of 1812, after several Indian attacks led by Sauk and Fox leader Black Hawk.

            Mexico declares itself independent.

1816    A Treaty is signed by Indians, including Black Hawk, ratifying Treaty of 1804.

1817    A Sioux and Meskwaki war breaks out in the disputed lands of northern Iowa.

            U.S. begins construction of Erie Canal between Buffalo and Albany (completed in 1825).

1818    Border between Canada and U.S. agreed upon (49th Parallel).

            Illinois becomes a state.

1820  The Sauk, Iowa, and Meskwaki begin a war against the Osage, Kansas, Omaha, Oto, and Missouri living along the Missouri River.

            Maine becomes a state.

            Missouri becomes a state (Missouri Compromise).

1822   The Americans begin to move into the Illinois land claimed by the Sauk and Meskwakis.

1823     Monroe Doctrine closes American continent to colonial settlements by European powers.

1824    Bureau of Indian Affairs established in the U.S. War Dept.

1825   Neutral line is established between Sioux, Sac, and Fox Indians.

          Erie Canal is completed, opening up the interior of the U.S. to export of natural resources through the Great Lakes and the Port of New York.

1828   A Treaty of Peace and Friendship is made between the Oto, Omaha, Kansas, Pawnee, Iowa, Sauk, Shawnee and Meskwaki.


1830s    Neutral Ground is established between Sioux, Sac, and Fox Indians.

              Sac and Fox complain settlers are plowing up gravesites.

1832     Black Hawk War

1833    Indian title to Black Hawk Purchase is transferred to United States Government; settlers are permitted to remain.

            Ottawa, Pottawattamie, and Chippewa Indians are given lands in what is now southwestern Iowa.

1834    Congress reorganizes Indian department as part of the Dept. of Interior.

1836    Territory of Wisconsin is established, including Iowa country.

             Sac and Fox Indians cede Keokuk’s Reserve to the United States.

             The Alamo, Texas wins independence from Mexico and becomes a Republic.

1837     Michigan becomes a state.

              Financial and economic panic in America (inflated land values, wildcat banking, paper speculation).

1838     Transatlantic steamer ships cross from London to New York in 15 days.

1840    Black Hawks remains stolen from his grave.

1841    Twenty-five Delawares on their way to visit the Sauk and Meskwaki are killed by Sioux in western Iowa.

1842    Sac and Fox Indians cede all remaining lands in Iowa, and agree to evacuate the State within three years.

             Wapello dies near the forks of the Skunk River.

1843    Sac and Fox Indians vacate lands east of line passing north and south through the Red Rocks in Marion County as of May 1st.

             During 1843 to 1844 winter the Meskwaki, under Poweshiek, return to the Iowa River valley.


1844     Morse's telegraph used for first time between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

1845    Sac and Fox Indians withdraw from Iowa.

1846    Pottawattamie Indians relinquish lands in western Iowa.

             Iowa becomes a state.

             In Iowa, Indian remains routinely unearthed and placed in museums.

             Famine in Ireland caused by failure of potato crop.

1847    A war party of Iowa, Sac, and Meskwaki attacked a Pawnee hunting party, taking 17 scalps.

            U.S. forces capture Mexico City; treaty ends Mexican-U.S. war; U.S. gets large sections of land including California.

            California Gold Rush.

1850s Sac and Fox graves looted at Kansas.

1852   Moses Keokuk leads a delegation to Washington D.C.

1853    A battle is fought between the Pawnee and Plains Indians and a Number of Cheyenne.

1854   Poweshiek, the principal chief of the Meskwaki, died from a broken neck caused from a fall from his pony’s back.


1856     Massacre of Potawatomi Creek, Kansas; slaveholders murdered by free-staters, located near the Sac & Fox Reservation in Kansas.

             Iowa passes law allowing Meskwaki to return or remain in Iowa.

1857    Spirit Lake Massacre; Sioux Indians kill 30 settlers.

             Small band of Sac and Fox Indians return; they are permitted to buy 80 acres of land in Tama County, Iowa but are not paid annuities.

1861    American Civil War begins. Union Army gets 100% of its lead from the 5 counties around Dubuque.

             Kansas becomes a state.

1862    Blockhouses are erected in northwestern Iowa for protection against the Sioux.

1864     Massacre of the Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians at Sand Creek, Colorado


1867     Annuities finally paid to those Meskwaki living in Tama County, Iowa.

             U.S. Government prohibits any further Sac & Fox refugees from trying to return to Iowa.

             Nebraska becomes a state.

1873    Meskwaki Black Wolf kills visiting Pawnee at the village. Case dropped.

1879   Standing Bear, a Ponca Indian, found by a U.S. court to be "Human" not "Animal."

1881    Sioux Crow Dog shot Spotted Tail a Sioux chief.

1882    U.S. court held that American Indian tribes retained an inherent attribute of tribal sovereignty.

1889    North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Washington become states.

1896    Iowa legislature voted to turn trusteeship and responsibility for the tribe over to the U.S. Department of Interior.

             Klondike Gold Rush.





1900   Y-Ta-Tah-Way (a Meskwaki Indian) v. Rebok, a landmark legal case establishing tribal autonomy and citizenship.

     All large game extinct in Iowa (buffalo, deer, and elk).

1901    Small pox epidemic breaks out and the federal government quarantines the Meskwaki Settlement for six months, burning all of the dwellings, clothes, and possessions of the tribe. Meskwaki turn to cloth as primary source of clothing due to absence of game skins.

1905   Settlement grows to 3,000 acres.

            State Historical Society of Iowa sponsors Duren H. Ward's expedition to the Settlement to study and document tribal history and culture.

1908     U.S. Secretary of the Interior assumes the role of trustee for tribal lands, the position orignally held by the governor of the state.

1913    First year of Pow wow.


1916    3rd annual Pow wow is held and makes $1,700.

1917    4th annual Pow wow makes $2,000.

1918    Lincoln Highway paved near Settlement.

           Worldwide influenza epidemic strikes; by 1920 nearly 22 million are dead.

1920  19th Amendment grants American women the right to vote.

1921    Attendance at 8th annual Pow wow drops but gate receipts are about $6,000.

1924    Indians are made citizens of the U.S. and are given the right to vote.

             The Meskwaki Pow Wow Association is formed and a Constitution is adopted.

1929     U.S. Stock Exchange collapses; world economic crisis begins.

1930s    During the Great Depression, Works Projects Administration (W. P. A.) and other government programs paid Meskwaki workers fifty cents a day to plant three stands of pine trees and other hardwoods as a conservation measure.

1933     Starvation in U.S.S.R. reaches disastrous proportions.

             Adolph Hitler appointed German Chancellor; the first concentration camps erected by Nazi Germany.

1934    Indian Reorganization Act.

1935    Over 35,000 people come to the 22nd annual Pow wow.

            President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs U.S. Social Security Act.

1937    Constitution and By-laws of the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa approved and newly elected Tribal Council governs.

             Canning factory established to preserve and share food.

1938    A Meskwaki skull, dug up in the 1860s, was sold as a “souvenir” to the Peabody Museum at Harvard University.

1941     The Stone House was built by Civilian Conservation Corps (C. C. C.), Indian Labor Division; building serves as community center.

1941-1945     Forty-six Meskwaki warriors serve in the military during World War II.

1943-1944    No Pow wow held because of World War II.

1948-1962     Sol Tax of the University of Chicago and his graduate students practice "action anthropology," working with and studying the tribe for his Fox Project and book, The Mesquakies of Iowa, 1953.

1960s  Tribal members are involved in reburials.

1965    50th annual Pow wow is held.

1971    Controversy over burial remains begins. American Indian Movement (AIM) takeover of museums and construction sites.

1973    Sac and Fox Tribal Council make policy statement that Indian remains should be reburied immediately and without ceremony or fanfare.

1978     Indian Child Welfare Act passed.

1979     Meskwaki Tribal Center built; serves as center for most governmental and social activities.


1980    The Presbyterian Church established by missionaries on land next to the Settlement closes after approximately 100 years.

1983    Sac and Fox Settlement School renamed (formerly Sac & Fox Day School) and opened under the administration of the tribe.

1987    Tribe began small bingo enterprise.

1990    Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) is enacted into law.

1992    Bingo expanded and tribal-operated casino and hotel complex built and opened.

1993    Tribal Council discusses NAGPRA and tribal role. Pass motion to appoint NAGPRA Coordinator.

1996    Tribal Council establishes the Historical Preservation Project.


2000     The Meskwaki own 7,054 acres of land in central Iowa, and tribal enrollment is at 1,163.

2001     New Meskwaki Settlement School opens for pre-kindergarten through eighth grade; offers training in language and culture and other programs geared to adults, talented and gifted students, and students with special needs.

2002-2003    Dispute over tribal leadership leads to closure of casino until new Tribal Council elected.

2004     Major expansion of casino complex begins.