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Meskwaki History Museum open on Settlement

August 26, 2011
By John Speer, Editor •
TAMA NEWS-HERALD- Just two months old and described in it’s “baby” stage by its director, the Meskwaki History Museum is now open on the Settlement west of Tama.

“We’re very proud” says Johnathan Buffalo, Historic Preservation director, of the long-sought museum. The central location to display the rich history of the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa - the Meskwakis - has been a goal for a number of years.

It came into reality when space adjacent to the Tribal Center in the 300 block of Meskwaki Road was made available in May, Buffalo said.

Since then, Buffalo and Stephanie Snow, Historical Preservation Department assistant, have been busy relocating their offices to the new location and readying displays. The Preservation Office had been housed in the Public Works Building.

The only historical displays previously were those in the lobby of the hotel at the Meskwaki Bingo•Casino complex and a small display in the Tribal Offices.

The location also will provide space for a library where documents and photographs will be cataloged. Buffalo said the library and photo archives are both in development. He said the photos are currently being placed in sleeves.

The museum proposal was part of the Iowa Great Places designation received by Tama County in 2010.

Buffalo said the Tribe had a small collection when he was hired originally as reparation director in 1993. Since then, the collection has been expanded.

“We treasure every inch of our culture,” Buffalo said. He explained something in the display which might have a market value of $5,000 is not of more significance than a $5 item to Tribal members.

“Some items have been repatriated and displayed, if we can use them,” Buffalo said. He said sacred objects held in a secure place and human remains are reburied.

He said groups of objects have been donated by Tribal members and some non-Indians as well. Another group of items were purchased at auction.

The museum space stated out as a day care center in the late 1970s according to Buffalo. In the mid-1980s it was being used as a primary school. After the new Meskwaki School was completed in 2002, the space was sued for a pharmacy and for CHR community health which were relocated to a new clinic a couple of years ago.

Buffalo said the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library at West Branch donated display cases and the Office of the State Archaeologist provided shelving. The museum also acquired metal cases from the Meskwaki Casino.

Article Photos

Stephanie Snow, Historical Preservation Department assistant, is shown with some of the displays at the new Meskwaki History Museum now open on the Settlement west of Tama. Items reflect the rich culture and heritage of the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa.
News-Herald/John Speer

Fact Box

What:Meskwaki History Museum
When: Open weekdays 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Group tours by appointment
Where: 300 block of Meskwaki Road, north of Sac and Fox Tribal Center main entrance - look for the red door.
More info: Contact the Museum by calling the Sac and Fox Tribal Center - 641-484-4678



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