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Origins of Iowa


City of Iowa
City of Iowa

Archaeologists believe that the first Iowans appeared about 12,000 years ago. They were nomads who hunted large animals like the giant bison, woolly mammoth, caribou, and musk ox. These animals lived along the edge of the retreating glaciers that had covered much of North America. As the climate changed and these large animals either became extinct or retreated to cooler climates, the native peoples who remained gradually learned to gather seeds, berries, and roots from their surroundings. Eventually, in addition to their hunting, they learned to plant seeds and care for them with bone tools.

About 1,000 years ago peoples from the south began making their way north along the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Corn was their most important crop, as it became for nearly all Native American peoples in North America. What is called the Oneota culture in prehistoric Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri combined the annual hunts of the Plains native peoples with the agriculture of the Eastern Woodlands cultures.

These early farmers were the forerunners of the Iowa or Ioway and Oto peoples, who lived in Iowa in the 1600s when French and English fur traders first appeared in the region. During the next two centuries, new Native American groups entered Iowa as they were displaced by Native Americans to the east. These included the Omaha, Missouri, Dakota (Sioux), Winnebago, the Sac (Sauk) and Mesquaki (whom Europeans have called the Fox), Potawatomi, and Mascouten. At the time, Iowa was inhabited by the Illinois and Iowa tribes, who spoke a Siouan language. These peoples were later expelled from their ancestral domains by the Sac and Mesquaki, peoples of the Algonquian linguistic group, who were forced out of Michigan and Wisconsin in the early 18th century by other Native Americans. "Iowa" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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