Native American Heritage Month: Historical Photos of the Meskwaki

November is Native American Heritage Month, and our post for today features two sets of photos from within larger manuscript collections that offer glimpses of Meskwaki life from late 19th and early 20th century Iowa.

It bears mentioning that, while we are always seeking to diversify our collections, Iowa State University is not, and by its very nature will never be, the best resource for learning about Native American people’s histories and cultures — even those directly adjacent to us. This is because Native American nations keep their own records. If, therefore, you want to learn more about the Meskwaki Nation, which is located in Tama County, about an hour’s drive from ISU, I strongly recommend that you go directly to the source by visiting their website, their cultural center and museum, and/or by getting in touch with the museum’s historic preservation staff (contact information at the bottom of the linked page). They will be able to tell you more about themselves than our archives, or even coursework in ISU’s excellent American Indian Studies Program (AISP), ever could.

I also want to point out that the photographs in this post are, to the best of my knowledge, the creation of white, European-American photographers, who were outsiders to the Meskwaki culture. This is significant because it suggests that what we are actually seeing in these photos is (sometimes obvious, but always decidedly one-sided) documentation of encounters between two very different cultures, rather than internal elements or perspectives of Meskwaki life. It does not, at least in my opinion, make the images any less interesting or historically valuable; it is simply important context to bear in mind, particularly as our collections do not contain the counterpart, which would be documentation of such interactions that centers a Meskwaki point-of-view.

1897

These photos are among the oldest I know of in our collections that contain glimpses of people from what was then, at least to English-speakers, known as the “Sauk and Fox” tribe. The images are contained in a 6″ x 8″ photo album, which documents rural life in central Iowa at the end of the 19th century, though it is unclear who the creator was or why so much of the album remains empty.

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MS-0714. Iowa Photograph Album. Album cover.

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MS-0714. Iowa Photograph Album. Last page in album, identifying the manufacturer.

I have scanned the relevant page spread in its entirety but will zoom in on the three individual images, as well. Each is a black-and-white, thumbnail-sized picture inserted into a photograph sleeve with four-windows and then captioned and dated by hand.

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MS-0714. Iowa Photograph Album.

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MS-0714. Iowa Photograph Album.

According to an Encyclopedia Brittanica article, THE Black Hawk (Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kai-kaik), a Sauk warrior famed for leading three allied Iowa tribes (Sauk, Meskwaki, and Kickapoo) through the 1832 “Black Hawk War” against the U.S. government, died in 1838. This means that the man pictured above must be another, younger leader who went, or at least was know to local Anglo settlers, by the same name.

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MS-0714. Iowa Photograph Album.

It is too bad that the photographer neglected to ask and/or recall these individuals’ names. It is, unfortunately, also not clear whether any of them had consented to be photographed. The fact that they are walking away from the camera suggests that they did not.

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MS-0714. Iowa Photograph Album.

Although these individuals are identified as being “from Tama Reservation,” it is not entirely clear whether they would have belonged to the Meskwaki Nation as it currently defines itself. “Sauk and Fox” seems to have been a catch-all term designated by the U.S. government for at least two distinct tribes, which it sought to forcibly relocated to Kansas in the decades following the Black Hawk War. The Meskwaki have never referred to themselves internally as the “Fox”; this is an anglicization of a name conferred on the tribe by French fur trappers more than a century before. The “reservation” in Tama county, where a number chose to remain and/or return, was also not technically a government reservation, as the Meskwaki had purchased this land for themselves in 1857.

 

1931

These pictures were taken at an annual Powwow festival, which, according to the Meskwaki website, is typically held in either August or September and modeled after a traditional harvest-time social event known as the “Green Corn Dance.” Photographer Walter Rosene, best known for his prolific local bird photography, featured in the Avian Archives of Iowa Online, took these pictures, presumably while attending a Meskwaki Powwow with family or friends.

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MS-0598, Box 17, Folder 5. Meskwaki Powwow.

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MS-0598, Box 17, Folder 5. Meskwaki Powwow. The kids posing for this photo afford us an excellent view of their fancy outfits. The little one on the left, though, looks like he’s ready to scamper off to re-join the festivities!

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MS-0598, Box 17, Folder 5. Meskwaki Powwow. It is unclear whether this photo was taken at the Powwow or sometime before or after. There is no additional information on the back, but I am guessing that the people in this photo were all spectators. I personally also find the symmetry and contrasts interesting — for example, the plaid in both the little white girl’s dress and in the Meskwaki woman’s shawl, and the way the woman and children in the foreground are the only ones both not wearing hats and seemingly absorbed in something other than Rosene’s camera.

I did locate photos within a few more collections, all of them RS collections, which is more of what I typically work with. But I realized belatedly that the boxes I needed from each of these are stored off-site and that I wouldn’t have time to request them. Perhaps they will become their own blog post someday.

 

 


Manuscripts Miscellany: Old-time Campaign Photograph

In this season of political campaigning, especially here in Iowa, my attention was caught recently by a photograph I came across while looking through the Walter M. Rosene papers, MS-0589. Rosene was a birder, and most of his photographs are of birds, nests, and landscapes through which he traveled to go bird watching. So, I was surprised to see a photograph of a politician, addressing a crowd from the back of a train car:

Kansas Governor Alf Landon won the Republican Party’s nomination for president in 1936. He was running against Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who had been in office for one term at this point. Roosevelt won with a landslide victory. But before that, Governor Landon made a campaign stop in Boone, Iowa, speaking from the platform of a train car. He was engaging in a whistle stop campaign, making brief speeches at a number of small towns along a train route. Judging by the crowd of people in the photograph, Iowans were as engaged in politics in the 1930s as they are today.


Rare Books Highlights: Biblio Vault of Horrors!

Illustration of blonde woman with mouth open in a scream.

Oh, the horror!

Gaze–if you dare–on these images of spineless and dismembered books uncovered in our vault.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you…

Broken spines, missing spines, and detached boards

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This one has been stabbed…

This one makes me cry: laminated title page:

Please don’t do this to your books! The adhesive is acidic (see the browning effect?), and it is basically impossible to remove the lamination without destroying the book.

Remember, be kind to books, and they may last for hundreds of years!

 


#TBT Dairy Month

Tomorrow kicks off Dairy Month, and today’s #Throwback Thursday post includes links to posts of Dairy Months past.

Iowa State Dairy circa 1905 (University Photographs, box 639).

Here are some prior posts we’ve done to celebrate Dairy Month:

Fun Facts

  • A cow is more valuable for its milk, cheese, butter, and yogurt than for its beef.
  • All 50 states have dairy farms.
  • Dairy is the 5th largest agricultural business in Iowa.
  • 99% of the ~1,400 dairy farms in Iowa are family-owned.
  • Dairy Month started out as National Milk Month in 1937, to promote drinking milk of course.
Black-and-white photo of a man (presumably a student) sitting on a stool, wearing overalls, work shirt, and cap milking a cow a red and white spotted cows. The pair are flanked by cows on either side.

Undated photograph (University Photographs RS 9/13 Food Technology).

Check out how ISU Extension and Outreach are celebrating Dairy Month.

References for Fun Facts:

“Celebrate Dairy Month in June”  by Iowa State University Extension & Outreach 

Dairy Month media kit by the International Dairy Foods Association


#Flashback Friday – Iowa State vs. Iowa

Tomorrow is the Iowa State vs. Iowa football game. Wednesday’s post detailed the history behind the rivalry. Today’s Flashback Friday photograph is of an Iowa versus Iowa State football game in Ames at Clyde Williams Field.

Photograph of an Iowa versus Iowa State football game in Ames at Clyde Williams Field.

Drop by our reading room to look at more football photographs in our University Photograph collection. We’re open Monday-Friday from 9-5.




#TBT Forestry

Forestry Student, 1916

Student with pine cones, presumably at Forestry Camp, 1916 RS 09/14, Box 718

Earth Day is coming this Saturday, and we are celebrating with some pictures from the Department of Forestry camp records.  Forestry is currently part of the Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, but was part of the Department of Horticulture and Forestry at the time the photos were taken.

Forestry Summer Camp, 1916

Forestry Summer Camp, Glacier National Park, Montana, 1916 RS 9/14, Box 718

Pictures from the Forestry department are a perfect fit for Earth Day.  According to the Iowa State University Forestry website, “The forestry curriculum offers courses dealing with the management of forest ecosystems for multiple benefits including biodiversity, recreation, water, wilderness, wildlife, and wood and fiber. Conservation and preservation of natural resources are emphasized.”

To learn more about forestry camp, please visit this blog post.  Enjoy these photos from over 100 years ago, and have a Happy Earth Day!


National Ag Day 2017

black-and-white photograph, young woman on tractor in field.

Extension photograph from University Photographs

Today is National Ag Day 2017. National Ag Day is organized by the Agriculture Council of America (ACA), you can check them out on their Facebook page. ACA is a nonprofit organization composed of leaders in the agricultural, food and fiber community. The ACA was founded in 1973, and their mission is:

To educate all American’s about the importance of American Agriculture.

In celebration of National Ag Day, check out some of our agricultural collections.

4-H boys and girls posing with their sheep

Extension photograph from University Photographs

Drop in some time to do some research. Our reading room is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


#TBT Putting the “Can” in “Canning”

Did you know it’s National Canned Food Month? Canned food may not be the most glamorous of edibles, but the canning process can be deceptively tricky (exploding fruit, anyone?). There are countless guides on how to can various foods on the internet, including these from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Educating the public on canning procedures is nothing new for Extension – they were giving demonstrations on that 90 years ago! Below are some photos from such demonstrations:

Process of canning beans, 1928. University Photographs, RS 16/3/F, Box 1368.

Process of canning beans, 1928. University Photographs, RS 16/3/F, Box 1368.

Canning demonstration, 1938. University Photographs, RS 16/3/F, Box 1396.

Canning demonstration, 1938. University Photographs, RS 16/3/F, Box 1369.

Canned meat from a canning demonstration, 1934. University Photographs, RS 16/3/F, Box 1369.

Canned meat from a canning demonstration, 1934. University Photographs, RS 16/3/F, Box 1369.

Canned vegetables from a canning demonstration, 1938. University Photographs, RS 16/3/F, box 1369.

Canned vegetables from a canning demonstration, 1938. University Photographs, RS 16/3/F, Box 1369.

Want to learn more about canning? The Gertrude L. Sunderlin Papers contain studies on canning dating back to the 1920s. We also have a wealth of Extension publications, some of which may contain tips on canning and recipes. Stop by sometime!