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Chapter 2

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Ioway to Iowa

Irving Berdine Richman

published by
The State Historical Society of Iowa

The text is in the public domain.

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Chapter 4
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

 p41  Ioway the Unregarded

 p43  Jolliet and Marquette had greeted Ioway in the fulness of the suntide. With the tide beyond the turn they had faded seaward in their boats.

But just here a scrutinizing look — a look before and after. From the first the goal of France in America was the 'Western Sea', the 'Great Salt Sea', the 'Sea of Japan and China' — the Pacific Ocean. With China in his brain and a robe of celestial damask on his back, Jean Nicolet, courier for Samuel de Champlain, got in 1634‑1635 as far west as central Wisconsin and Illinois. Then had come Radisson and Groseilliers and Robert Cavelier de la Salle; and with La Salle came Father Louis Hennepin and, later, Le Sueur and Father Charlevoix.

As for Ioway, the point is that none of these explorers, unless perhaps Radisson,12 penetrated its horizons. Down and up, between 1673 and 1721, the Mississippi was traversed; but in the main Ioway was glanced at, disregarded, and passed by. Frenchmen — 'bearded faces yearning west' — penetrated Wisconsin and Illinois; even Minnesota and Missouri. Why not Ioway? Reason there was.

Unlike Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, and Minnesota,  p44 Ioway held forth no lure. It posed no riddle. Athwart its rolling reaches no Pekitanoui (as in Missouri) spake in darkness; no Ten Thousand Lakes (as in Minnesota) tangled mystery with light. To the early French, perplexed over the Western Sea and agonizing toward it, Ioway was negligible and as such they gave it room.

But if between the day of Nicolet and that of Charlevoix the white man disregarded Ioway, the Indian disregarded it scarcely less. He, too, in a sense, gave it room. Quitting Ioway in 1673 Jolliet and Marquette left behind them two tribes of the Illinois — the Peouarea, with whom they had lodged, and the Moingouena, of whom they had heard. Both tribes were of the outland: the lodge fires of the Illinois burned east of the Mississippi.

Then the Indians that historically may be called Iowan — the Ioways, the Foxes, the Sauks, the Sioux, the Mascoutins, to say naught of the Winnebagoes and the Potawatomi — these, too, in 1673 were dwellers in the outland: in the Dakotas, in Nebraska, in Minnesota, in Wisconsin. To them Ioway was but refuge, or at best a resort for war and game.

The Author's Note:

12 The Fourth Voyage of Radisson in the Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XI, p93; G. D. Scull's Voyages of Peter Esprit Radisson, 1652‑1684.

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Page updated: 1 Feb 11