The History of the Butterfly, Part 138: Poweshiek was a Money Chief

The Sauk and Meskwaki, prior to the years of Indian Removal, had a fairly structured society. Political events were handled in a council, and a small number of individuals held significant positions within the council. A number of these people were called “chiefs.” The position of chief was partially based on heredity (on the female side), and partially based on merit. Armstrong, 1887 has a fairly extensive description of the social order of the two tribes. Black Hawk and Keokuk were considered “war chiefs.” The positions they held were not hereditary, but were mostly based on abilities displayed in battles. Poweshiek was not a war chief nor was he entitled to be a chief by birth. He was a chief by default, because a number of the leaders—the chiefs and some warriors—of his village were killed in a massacre. As changing habits forced by relocation broke the social order of the tribes, a new type of chief emerged. The “money chief” was the individual within the tribe that the federal government negotiated with, and the person who received and was expected to disperse the “annuity” money. The Meskwaki money chiefs were Wapello and Poweshiek. The Sauk money chiefs were Keokuk and Appanoose. Money chiefs became powerful out of proportion to the tradition of their positions. The Governor of Iowa Territory, Robert Lucas met with some of the tribal leaders who requested that annuities be paid to individual families rather than to the money chiefs. Governor Lucas pushed that issue, but met resistance and was replaced by John Chambers before he could prevail. While the money chiefs became more powerful, there was resistance to and resentment of their power, artificially imposed from outside.


About the roused bear

Nature photographer from central Iowa.
This entry was posted in American Indians, Fox tribe, Keokuk, Meskwaki, oarisma poweshiek, Poweshiek, The History of the Butterfly and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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