History of the Butterfly Part 7: Removal of Kiskekosh

A number of the histories of counties and cities in the state of Iowa have stories about Kishkekosh, but most are variations of the same three stories.  One describes Kishkekosh’s attentive but failed attempts at the table manners of sophisticated folks.  A second tells how he refuse to eat breakfast at a house (where he may have been an uninvited guest) because he had observed the lady of the house had not washed her hands prior to preparing the food.  A third mentions an occasion where white visitors were invited to dine at Kiskekosh’s village, where he joked with them and entertained them.  The visitors heard the sounds of dogs being killed for a meal.  The visitors were prepared a separate meal of venison, as the whites had a prejudice against eating canines.

All of those stories may have seemed more entertaining when they were written (which was probably 40-50 years after the Indian removal) than they seem now.

Some observed that Kishkekosh was not to be trusted, and that he was suspected in the murders of white settlers, although who was killed is never mentioned.  More than one account mentions that he was a “bad injun”.

I don’t know what happened to Kishkekosh after his removal from Iowa.  I assume he went with Keokuk’s group and stayed in Kansas.  He would have been significantly younger than either Keokuk or Poweshiek.

The last record I see of him, from The History of Jasper County is as follows:

“The Indians, who had reserved a strip off the west side of Jasper County, prepared to remove late in the Fall of 1845.  Kishkekosh and his braves, about twenty in all, had stored their heavy articles at Red Rock during the summer, not needing them while engaged in hunting.  Prior to starting west, they repaired to Red Rock and hired Mr. Mikesell to haul the goods to their camp.  That night they camped where Monroe now stands.  The weather was cold, and a heavy snow fell during the night.  The Indians huddled together as close as they could to keep warm, and on opening out in the morning a perfect cloud of steam arose.  Part of Mikesell’s oxen went astray during the night, and he followed them clear home, the snow still falling fast.  On returning, he found the Indians all bewildered as to the direction they should take, and it took the chief some time to ascertain the course, when the journey was resumed and the village reached that night.

Pasishamone and his band also frequented the Skunk in this county, and at the time of the removal of Kiskekosh, the former, with about all his braves, was at Agency City on a visit.  The women, children and old men went into camp four miles from Fort Des Moines to await their return, which was at the beginning of winter, when the band packed up and followed Kishkekosh and his followers.”

There is no longer a Kishkekosh County in Iowa.  There is a small prairie preserve named after him, however.

About the roused bear

Nature photographer from central Iowa.
This entry was posted in American Indians, Iowa History, Kishkekosh, Meskwaki, Mesquaki, Poweshiek, The History of the Butterfly, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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