Iowas of Oklahoma


We Are the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma

As indigenous people, we are the center of a Sovereign Nation with inherent powers of self-government recognized as such by treaties and legislation. In the Ioway language we are called Ba-kho-je [Grey Snow].  The oral history relates how our villages in the winter were covered with fire-smoked gray snow.  The Old People have told our original homeland was beyond the great water where the sun rises reddening the land.  The state of Iowa takes its name from the Iowa tribe.

In the earliest historical period of 1600, the Ioways, descendants of the Oneota, were in the area of the Red Pipestone Quarry in southwestern Minnesota.  In 1730 they were found living in villages in the Lake Okoboji and Spirit Lake Region of Northwest Iowa.  They moved south to the vicinity of Council Bluffs, Iowa.  In the middle of the 18th century, part of them moved up the Des Moines River.  The remainder established themselves on the Grand and Platte Rivers in Missouri.  In treaties, they ceded their claims to lands in Missouri, Iowa, and Minnesota.  The Treaty of 1836 assigned part of them to a reservation along the Great Nemaha River in Nebraska and Kansas.  Later part of the Ioways moved to Indian Territory in Oklahoma.  The original Iowa Reservation in Oklahoma was established by Executive Order dated August 15, 1883.  The Iowa Nation was now divided into two tribes.  The Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma are the Southern Iowas, and the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska are the northern Iowas.

The way of life within the Ioway people has survived by a deep spirituality and strength that enabled them to conceive in their own way and on their own ground how to sustain hardship, injustice, and confront the historical changes forced upon them.