History of the Butterfly, Part 47: Setting the Scene

To understand Poweshiek, we need to understand how and where he grew up. 

We have a tendency to think of American Indians through the images that Hollywood has given us–mostly that of the plains Indians, traveling around, sleeping in tepees and hunting buffalo.  That image is wrong, at least for the Sauks and the Foxes.

Poweshiek was born either slightly before or slightly after 1800, (depending on which source you believe).  Poweshiek grew up in a village  were the city of Davenport now stands.  He lived in the smaller of a cluster of villages along the Mississippi River that included Saukenuk, the largest city in the central part of the continent.  Poweshiek’s village may have had an Indian name, but the names I have seen it called have been Morgan and Oshkosh, and then only in a couple of sources.

Global trade in animal skins–especially beaver pelts–had been going on for more than a century. 

The villages were at least partly cosmopolitan.  Two of the leaders–Keokuk and Morgan–were described as half breeds, having French fathers and native mothers.

Being on the Mississippi, the Sauk and Fox could control the trade routes.  They had plenty of fish and a significant amount of agriculture.  And the Fox (Meskawki) had lead mines.

And we wanted it.

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About the roused bear

Nature photographer from central Iowa.
This entry was posted in American Indians, Black Hawk, Fox tribe, Iowa History, Powasheek, The History of the Butterfly and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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