Iowa tribe of kansas and nebraska


The 1837 Chief No Heart map was presented to representatives of the US Government in an attempt to settle land disputes over Ioway homelands.

One of the best ways to understand Ioway history is to learn about our treaties and the steady loss of our lands.  Once, our Ioway homelands included millions of acres across several states, centered in Iowa. Now, the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska and the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma own just thousands of acres in Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.

Like many American Indian peoples, the Iowa Tribe lost its lands through a series of treaties. Those treaties are also the legal basis for recognition of the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska as a federally-recognized tribe, and its relationship to the U.S. government.


There were 9 treaties between the Iowa Tribe and the United States of America. Through these treaties, a portion of which were fraudulent, and all of which were pressured upon the Ioway under duress, the Ioway lost all of our ancestral homelands in approximately 50 years, from 1809 to 1861.


The Treaty Process

The way the treaty process went was something like this (from the U.S. point of view):

  • 1. Establish a legal relationship with the tribe, and exclude it from similar relationships with other countries like Britain or France.
  • 2. Establish boundaries between tribes (there were rarely hard-and-fast boundaries between tribes), and try to stop intertribal warfare, much of which was caused by the migration west of tribes being pushed out of their lands by white settlements and wars further east.
  • 3. Once the tribal boundaries were fixed and relative peace was made, white squatters began to move in and occupy the best Indian farming areas and to hunt out the wild game.
  • 4. Once the best areas were taken by whites and game was scarce, conflicts between the tribes and the squatters was inevitable.
  • 5. Establish U.S. Military power and deal with the conflicts by removing the Indians to more distant lands. The Indians sometimes went willingly along at this point because the best areas and the game were taken by the whites. When they didn’t go along, the U.S. Military would use the conflict to force a settlement and removal of the tribe to a more distant area, with promises that this would be the last time of removal.
  • 6. Begin the next phase with Step 3 (above), and repeat again and again…

Overview of the 9 Treaties Between the US and the Iowa Tribe

Established peace and friendship between the Iowa Tribe and the U.S. after the War of 1812, in which the Iowa fought on the side of Great Britain. A few Ioways remained loyal to the U.S. by joining the pro-American Otoe during the war. In 1809, the President made Hard Heart (White Cloud I, father of White Cloud II) the chief. The Iowa chief loyal to the U.S. was Hard Heart (not No Heart), father of White Cloud II. The U.S. rewarded this loyalty by appointing/recognizing White Cloud as Head Chief of the Ioways, although the Iowa were traditionally led by a council of many clan chiefs/elders who held various offices to promote equality and a balance of power. This treaty put the Iowa under the power of the U.S.

Lands ceded by Ioway: None (peace treaty)

The first cession of Ioway lands, held in Washington. The Ioway sold the northern half of the state of Missouri, except for the section later added to northwest Missouri as "the Platte Purchase." The Ioway were to move out of the sold part of Missouri after 1826. This treaty was signed by White Cloud and Great Walker (also known as Big Neck) which demonstrates the two factions of the Iowa Tribe. White Cloud was leader of the pro-American faction, while Great Walker led a band that resisted removal and the coming of settlers, especially during an incident in 1829. Great Walker's band was later called the "the Pouting Party" by American officials. Apparently Great Walker did not understand the terms and he refused to acknowledge the treaty, and stayed with his band in northern Missouri and southern Iowa until his death.

Lands ceded by Ioway: Northern Missouri, except for northwest Missouri (Platte Purchase area)

The government begins its program to control the Indians west of the Mississippi with the first big-event treaty signed at Prairie du Chien, including over a thousand Sioux, Winnebago, Chippewa, Menominees, Illinois, Sac and Fox (Meskwaki) and Iowa. The main issue was on the fixing of tribal boundaries. A"No-Man's Land" called "the Neutral Zone" was created to separate the warring Sioux and Sac & Fox. The Iowas were to share the lands south of the line with the Sac & Fox. Since the Yanktonai Sioux were not there and were acknowledged by all to have an interest, a final decision could not be made, especially on the western boundary. Also other tribes like the Omaha and Otoe contested the western boundary.

Lands ceded by Ioway: None; Ioways were to remain south of the boundary established between Sioux to the north and Sac and Fox to south (Iowa-Minnesota area)

A second treaty was held at Prairie du Chien, because of incessant warring among the Sacs, Foxes (Meskwaki), Sioux, Iowa, Omaha, and Otoe over hunting grounds in western Iowa, Missouri, and Minnesota. The result was a coerced peace, and the cession of lands and establishment of expanded neutral zones, although no white settlers were allowed in ceded lands. The Iowa were to cede lands in western Iowa and Missouri, although the Iowa still retained their lands south of the 1825 treaty line. However, the U.S. snuck in a provision that allowed the resettlement on these lands west of the Mississippi by tribes east of the Mississippi. In addition the Ioway were not supplied an interpreter and were unaware they had signed away their lands. Finally, a tract of land belonging to the Otoes in present-day Nebraska was bought and established for the mixed-blood descendants of the Otoe, Omaha, Santee, and Yankton Sioux, called "The Half-Breed Tract."

Lands ceded by Ioway: Lands in western Iowa and Missouri, though the Ioways were not supplied an interpreter and did not know they had signed away those lands. In addition the Nemaha Half-Breed Tract was established from lands in Nebraska purchased from the Otoes.

This treaty is also known as "The Platte Purchase." Under pressure by the illegal intrusion of white settlers on their remaining lands in Missouri, the Ioway and the Sac & Fox of the Missouri agree to relinquish these remaining lands and move across the Missouri to a new reservation in what is now Kansas-Nebraska: "the small strip of land on the south side of the Missouri river lying between the Kickapoo northern boundary line and the Great Nemahar [sic], making 400 sections to be divided between the said Ioways and Missouri band of Sacks [sic] and Foxes of the Missouri, the lower half to the Sacks and Foxes and the upper half to the Ioways." Signed by White Cloud, No Heart, and others at Fort Leavenworth. They also expressed continued interest in old lands in Iowa and a desire to sell their interests there.

Lands ceded by the Ioway: The lands of the Platte Purchase, those lands in northwest Missouri where today we find St. Joseph among other cities. In addition the Ioways were assigned a reservation in Kansas, much larger than the one of today, with the first village on the mouth of the Wolf River. Within a year or so that village was abandoned and the greatest number living in family groups between Highland and Iowa Point.

This treaty was held in Washington to try and settle the Ioway's differences with the Sacs over the ceded lands. No Heart disputed with Keokuk the ownership of the lands in Iowa and northern Missouri. No Heart produced a map showing the ancestral Ioway territory and said the Sauk and Meskwaki were invited to hunt and take refuge, but were never were to take possession of Ioway lands. Walking Rain also said that the Ioways had named all the rivers and not the Sac & Fox nor the whites. Keokuk replied that the Sauk and Fox had won Ioway lands by conquest. The Ioways withdrew and refused to take part in the treaty. On their return home, disheartened and faced with the inevitable loss of their ancestral lands, the Ioway were finally convinced to sign by the superintendent of Indian affairs, ceding rights in western Iowa but refusing to cede lands in central or eastern Iowa. In early 1838, they added they would return to those lands and re-establish themselves in ancestral lands there.

Lands ceded by the Ioway: Lands in western Iowa

This treaty was the last to relinquish ancestral lands. The lands were those in central and eastern Iowa occupied by the Sauk and Meskwaki (Fox), who had also agreed in 1837 to cede their interest in those lands. The Ioway finally agreed under pressure to cede all remaining interests in their homelands in Iowa and Missouri. The treaty was signed at the Great Nemaha Agency in Kansas by Frank Whitecloud (WC II), No Heart, Plum (Kongee), Mockshigatonah, and Senontiyah.

Lands ceded by the Ioway: All remaining lands in central and eastern Iowa, as well as claims to Missouri

Faced with continuing corruption by officials and by white pressure of their lands, No Heart, Little Wolf, Wahmonaka, and Naggarash, and the Ioway agent and interpreter, went to Washington D.C. to make another land cession off their new reservation in Kansas. It turned out to be most of the new reservation, which only 18 years before was promised to be theirs forever. Some of the lands were assigned to the Sac & Fox, who had lost their original Kansas lands. Out of the remnants the Presbyterian Church and the interpreter got 800 acres. The money they got, $100,000, was either invested for them or put into the agricultural and educational programs. They also agreed to allow roads and railroads to be built through their lands. Corruption was rife, and agent Vanderslice (who was fond of disciplining the Ioways by flogging) defrauded his charges in many instances, such as a sale of their lands in 1871 at below market values to cronies and relatives, some of which was sold secretly and then back to him at a steal right after his term was over.

Lands ceded by the Ioway: Most of the reservation assigned to them in the treaty of 1836, including the lands around Highland and Iowa Point. They removed just to the north, near Whitecloud.

Both the Ioway and the Sac & Fox of the Missouri succumbed to pressure, and ceded more lands. The Sac & Fox ceded the lands they had been given in 1854, and the Ioways ceded the western part of their reservation for the Sac & Fox reserve (the present-day Sac & Fox Reservation in Nebraska). Signers of the treaty for the Ioways were No Heart, Naggarash, Mahee, Tohee, Tahrakee, Thuromony, and White Horse.

Lands ceded by the Ioway: The western half of their diminished reservation was ceded and assigned to the Sac and Fox. This arrangement is the one we see today, with the Ioway near Whitecloud, Kansas and the Sac and Fox at Reserve, Kansas. Both reserves have some portions in Nebraska.


Some of the more traditional Ioway families, disenchanted with the fraud and pressure to accept white ways, and the dominance of the desires of many mixed-bloods to allot the tribal lands in tracts that would belong to individuals, decided to move south to Indian Territory. There, they felt, they would return to the old traditional, communal way of life. This began to happen in 1878, and they first sought refuge with the Sac & Fox there, before they were eventually assigned a reservation by Executive Order.

The Final Chapter on Ioway Land Loss

The formation of the Iowa Reservation in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) was established by Presidential Executive Order in 1883, as home for the Southern Ioways, but unknown to them it had a provision that other tribes could be settled on their reservation.


In 1887, the northern Ioway lands on the Great Nemaha Reserve were allotted in severalty (individual land holdings) (24 Stat. 367). The Dawes Severalty (Allotment) Act was also enacted in 1887. Both the northern and southern branches of the Ioway were allotted in 1890, further losing much of their land. Many reservations often look like checkerboards of white and Indian ownership because of the Dawes Act.


In 1891, the remaining tracts of southern Iowa lands that were not allotted were opened to the Oklahoma land rush, or Run of 1891. In 1895, some southern Ioway left the Perkins area to join the Otoe community near Red Rock.


Today, both the Iowa of Kansas-Nebraska and the Iowa of Oklahoma are trying to buy back as much of their former reservation lands as they can, using revenue from tribal enterprises.

Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska Reservation 2024
Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma 
Reservation 2024
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