Meskwaki History

How the Meskwaki Tribe and the Sauki Tribe became Three Separate "Sac & Fox" Tribes

1812 -1824

The Meskwaki (Fox) are concentrated along the Mississippi River Valley areas. The Sauki (Sac) are also along the Mississippi River but more to the south. Leaders of both tribes sign treaties as "Sac & Fox;" both tribes controlled a large stretch of the waterway and subsequently were identified as the "Sac & Fox of the Mississippi River." Then a group of mostly Sac Indians broke away from the larger Sac tribe and moved to northwest Missouri along the Missouri River Valley and in 1824 this break-away group signs a treaty independently ... receiving a separate identity as the "Sac & Fox of the Missouri River."


The Sacs and Foxes are forced inland as punishment for the Black Hawk War and to break the tribes' domination of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. The Fox are moved into central Iowa Territory, the Sac are moved into southern Iowa Territory and the other Sac group (the "Sac & Fox of the Missouri River") are moved to a reservation in the northeast Kansas Territory. The government refers to the Sacs and Foxes in the Iowa Territory as "The Sac & Fox of the Mississippi" in order to differentiate this group from the "Sac & Fox of the Missouri".


Wanting more land for settlers, the government forces a treaty to remove the "Sac & Fox of the Mississippi" from Iowa Territory to a reservation in east central Kansas Territory ... south of the reservation already occupied by the "Sac & Fox of the Missouri." However, only one-fifth of the Meskwaki (Fox) actually arrive at the new reservation; the rest are still hiding in Iowa or have taken refuge with other tribes. The Fox who go to Kansas occupy the west side of the reservation and the Sac occupy the east side. Following the removals, Iowa almost immediately becomes a State in 1846.

1846 -1869

The Meskwaki gradually return to Iowa before and after purchasing 80 acres of land in the state in 1857. The United States is embroiled in Civil War, 1861-1865. The people remaining at the second reservation are mostly Sauki and move to a new reservation in the new Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). The vacated reservation in central Kansas is opened up to white settlers. The reservation in northeast Kansas remains intact. This accounts for the three Sac and Fox tribes of today:

The Sac & Fox of the Mississippi in Iowa (primarily Meskwaki),

The Sac & Fox Nation of Oklahoma (remaining Sauki plus a few Meskwaki), and

The Sac & Fox of the Missouri in Kansas and Nebraska (the first group of Sauki who broke away in 1824).

Text provided by the Meskwaki Nation Historical Preservation Office.