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Spiritual Locations in Iowa: A Response to the Dakota Access Pipeline

Written by Lance Foster

The Iowa tribe, who are the people the state of Iowa was named for, also called the Ioway, have serious concerns that the survey was inadequate, as it focused only on archaeological sites, and did not survey for our sacred sites, places where the lightning touches the bluffs where cedars occur, which often have mounds nearby. Places where particular medicinal plants grew. We did build mounds into the historic period at Blood Run for example as a revitalization movement.

We are on record as having concerns that our spiritual locations and potential burial sites on bluffs would not be recognized, and that some spiritually significant places may not have any archaeological remains. Mahaska County was named after one of our chiefs. Bluffs, springs and medicinal plant sites are all highly significant sites that would not be recognized by a survey done only by archaeologists.

There are also places described in our traditions we have been looking for, such as a place where Trickster landed on earth when he was pushed from the Above World. It is as a sacred landscape, with all these features connected together, that has religious significance to us. And it is as a landscape with its springs, creeks and rivers, that the land provides life not only to Native peoples like the Iowa tribe, but to all people. Our chiefs told the government in our treaties that all this land was ours from ancient times, and even the rivers were named by us, often after an animal or plant found in great numbers there. Our word for water is "nyi" and it is also the word for life's breath, as you can see in the cold mornings when you pray and the steam of your breath rises to Wakanda.

Lance Foster, THPO

Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska

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