# Native Americans



An Iowa classic (and others) rebranded

Kurt Meyer writes a weekly column for the Nora Springs – Rockford Register, where this essay first appeared. He serves as chair of the executive committee (the equivalent of board chair) of Americans for Democratic Action, America’s most experienced liberal organization.

A product with deep Iowa connections recently reached the century mark: the ice cream treat now known as “Edy’s Pie”, which, until a year ago, was called Eskimo Pie.

An outgrowth of the George Floyd tragedy has been increased awareness of racial stereotypes that have existed for decades. Eskimo Pie’s owner sought to abandon a word considered derogatory by its association with non-Native colonizers who settled in the Arctic and used the term. Although some changes, like this one, happened recently, others have been under consideration for many years.

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Honor Thanksgiving spirit by respecting Indigenous people

Sometime during the fall of 1621, white European settlers at Plymouth held a harvest feast, attended by some Wampanoag, one of the Indigenous peoples living in the area. Almost everything else you learned about that “first Thanksgiving” was wrong.

The Pilgrims didn’t invite the Wampanoag to share their bounty. Some historians now believe the Native men came because they heard gunshots and assumed the settlement was under attack. (They had formed an alliance with the European settlers in the spring of 1621.) Another theory is that the warriors showed up “as a reminder that they controlled the land the Pilgrims were staying on and they vastly outnumbered their new European neighbors.”

According to Thanksgiving myths, the Pilgrims expressed gratitude for Wampanoag who taught them how to grow or find food in their new surroundings. In reality, “Their role in helping the Pilgrims survive by sharing resources and wisdom went unacknowledged that day, according to accounts of the toasts given by Pilgrim leaders.”

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: A tour of spring flowers in southeast Iowa

Elizabeth Marilla is a mental health worker, writer, picture taker, hiker, and mom living in rural southeast Iowa. Connect with her on instagram @iowa.underfoot. -promoted by Laura Belin

I was born and raised in Iowa, but moved away at 18 without having learned much of anything about the natural history of Iowa, the history of Euroamerican settler colonialism in Iowa, the history and modern day presence of Indigenous/Native communities in Iowa, many members of whom are among the most passionate protectors of Iowa’s natural resources. Remember, for example, the Meskwaki Nation’s early leadership fighting the portion of the Dakota Access Pipeline running through Iowa, long before broad public attention was drawn to the project.

While hiking this spring I noticed that many parks and preserves are named for or include plaques honoring the mostly white landowners who either sold or gifted the land to the public or the trust, but most feature no education about who was here before that. The Johnson County Conservation board has recently expressed willingness to initiate a project to support learning and unlearning around Iowa history at the sites they manage and on their website, which I hope will center Indigenous voices.

Many of the southeast Iowa sites pictured below are located on lands held by the Meskwaki and Sauk Nations at the time of Euroamerican colonial settlement, as is my own home. One very small way to initiate some learning might be to cross-reference your own map with this one, created by the Historic Indian Location Database project, when visiting Iowa parks and preserves.

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Tribal sovereignty and Elizabeth Warren's problem with her Cherokee heritage claim

Tom Witosky is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and was a longtime investigative reporter for the Des Moines Register. -promoted by Laura Belin

Much has been written about U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and her most recent apology about her Native American heritage claim.

The Massachusetts senator opened her presentation at last month’s Native American presidential forum in Sioux City by acknowledging that the controversy over her claims of Cherokee heritage had caused harm.

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