Living With and Loving the Iowa River
Since 1857, the Meskwaki Nation has been buying land in Tama County along the Iowa River to reestablish their homes, lost further downstream when they were displaced by settlers and US government action in the previous decade. By the time the Meskwaki had come to settle on the Iowa, they had had strong relationships with other rivers from the St. Lawrence to the Mississippi. Their history asserts their love of the Iowa River and their determination not to leave it.
The Meskwaki Nation now owns over eight thousand acres, mostly in Tama County on the Iowa, but also in Marshall and Palo Alto counties. The Meskwaki Department of Natural Resources’s (MNR) published mission asserts that the MNR “exists to preserve, conserve, and restore the natural resources of the Tribe so that they may uphold the sovereign rights of the Tribe, provide for future generations, strengthen the Meskwaki culture and protect Grandmother Earth.” They add, “MNR’s goal is to strengthen and expand the ties of all natural resource areas to the cultural and traditional knowledge of the community.” Weather monitoring, one of their functions, occurs in this context that ties them to other Meskwaki divisions such as Historic Preservation.
When the Iowa River floods the Meskwaki settlement, as it has done with increasing frequency and did in 2019, the nation can now appeal directly to the US government for aid with the understanding that cost-sharing will apply. In May of 2019 Meskwaki Natural Resources Director Jarrett Pfrimmer was pleased to share the news that the US had agreed to assist with flood recovery and mitigation on the settlement. “This partnership will not only provide financial assistance for the recovery efforts,” he explained, “but includes the opportunity to lessen future impacts on public infrastructure and resident housing as observed during the flood.”
Sources: on-line: Meskwaki Nation; Shannon Mitchell, “Fed. Emergency Management approves flood assistance for Meskwaki Settlement,” Meskwaki Nation, Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald, May 6, 2019.