Tag Archives: Ioway

Living History Farms: Ioway Living Quarters

In addition to the food-drying stages, gardens, and, cooking areas, Ioway villages also had work areas, hide-scraping racks, pottery pits, and gardens, as well as housing for families. In this photo, you can see a traditional Ioway winter house in the background, with a hide-scraping rack on the left.


Housing for the Ioway varied by season and purpose. A buffalo hide chibóthraje, or teepee, was easy to take along during hunting expeditions. In the summer, a bark hut called náhachi was comfortably cool.

The winter house, called a chákirutha, was covered with four layers of cattail leaves, so it was really well insulated. The interior temperature would be about 50 degrees all winter long, so the Ioway winter home would actually be warmer than the early homes of most pioneers. Here are two interior views of the winter house—which seems quite comfortable. In the top photo, you can see baskets, a drum, and the stone fire pit that would be used to heat the hut during the winter.


The metal utensils shown below would have been added to Ioway tools when trading with the French began.



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Living History Farms: Ioway Food

In addition to the foods the Ioway grew, there were a lot of plants they gathered in the woods, such as mushrooms, nuts, and berries. In addition, the area had a lot of game, so deer, turkey, raccoon, elk, or turtle might turn up on the menu.

The Ioway had begun trading with French trappers and traders in 1676, which brought into their lives items made of metal and glass. Metal pots, like the one hanging over the fire, expanded their options for cooking. However, traditional wooden utensils were still used for eating and most food preparation.


The interpreter pointed out that meat and vegetables were often dried, in preparation for the winter. Corn in particular had to be dried, to make it possible to grind. There were drying racks, or stages, for the various different things to be dried, but the corn stage was considerably higher than the others. The interpreter noted that it had to be, to keep it away from the animals, because “the critters really love corn.”


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Living History Farms: Ioway Farming

Approaching through the woods, one comes first upon the Ioway Indian camp.


Like many Native Americans across North America, the Ioway Indians raised corn (maize), beans, and squash. Also like other Native American groups, it was the women who raised the crops. Men did the hunting and fought battles.

An enthusiastic interpreter related that corn was first planted in this area around ad 900-1000. She described the way corn, beans, and squash were grown together and pointed out the mounds nearby. By planting the seeds in mounds, it kept plants far enough apart, to keep the tall corn stalks from shading other plants nearby—the same reason corn is planted in rows today—to let sun reach the leaves. In this case, however, sun was needed for the squash and beans, as well, and not just the corn plants.


The first shoots of both corn and squash plants were pushing their way through the soil at the top of each of the mounds.


The Ioway grew flour corn, a corn variety with soft starch, which makes it easy to grind. The corn they grew was blue, and it was most commonly ground, mixed with water, formed into cakes, wrapped in cornhusks, and put in the fire. (Sounds a lot like tamales.)

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