Iowa’s Meskwaki now part of national historic preservation program

TAMA — Iowa’s Meskwaki Nation is getting National Park Service assistance in preserving its artifacts and history.

Johnathon Buffalo, the tribe’s Historical Preservation Director, said before the agreement, the State of Iowa had primary responsibility on the Meskwaki settlement for preserving the tribe’s history. That responsibility now rest with the Meskwaki Tribal Council.

“We have been trying since, officially, 2014, I think,” Buffalo said. “We failed three times. This time, the tribe succeeded.”

An office is being set up to govern how Meskwaki artifacts, culture and history are handled. “It’s a very important job, you know,” Buffalo said. “And I think we will succeed.”

One of Buffalo’s first projects as an official Tribal Historical Officer will be hiring an archaeologist.

The Meskwaki Nation is now among the 222 tribes that are part of the Tribal Historic Preservation Program administered by the National Park Service. Historic Preservation Offices survey tribal lands, nominate properties for the National Register of Historic Places and host educational programs.

U.S. officials combined in the Sac and Fox tribes after the Black Hawk War in 1832 and they were transferred to land in Kansas, but some remained in Iowa. In 1856, Iowa lawmakers voted to let the tribal members remain in the state. A year later, the Meskwaki bought 80 acres of land in Tama County.