Ioway tribe story comes full circle on film

Posted Online: March 14, 2013, 12:18 pm
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By Jonathan Turner,
Three weeks after their premiere in Iowa City, two documentaries that tell more of the story of the Ioway Native American tribe will be shown this weekend in the Quad-Cities.

On Feb. 23, Kelly and Tammy Rundle of Moline-based Fourth Wall Films (producers of the Emmy-nominated documentary "Country School: One Room, One Nation" and the award-winning "Lost Nation: The Ioway") screened their new 50-minute documentaries "Lost Nation: The Ioway 2 & 3" at the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History. The Q-C premiere will be at Black Hawk State Historic Site in Rock Island on Saturday, and the Putnam Museum Giant Screen Theater in Davenport on Sunday.

Last month's event attracted 100 members of the Ioway tribe, mainly from Oklahoma, and two Iowa state senators who welcomed them.

"It was an amazing evening. We were presented with a gift from the Iowa tribe of Oklahoma. It was symbolic of friendship and our work on the documentaries," Mrs. Rundle recently said. "Everybody that attended was pretty emotional afterwards."

The first film (released in 2007) begins in 1824 as two leaders of the tribe travel to Washington, D.C., to sign a treaty giving up a large portion of tribal land for settlement. The event split the Ioway nation and led to its expulsion from the land, which became the state of Iowa. The film focuses on the tribe from 1700 to 1837, when leader White Cloud was assassinated.

The second film begins in 1837, and the last one ends with the American Indian movement of the 1970s, when tribes regained their sovereignty, their history and culture, Mr. Rundle said.

The 19th-century goal of the U.S. government was "to disband all the tribes, have Indians just be part of American culture," he said. "Thanks to the American Indian movement, a stop was put to that."

When the Ioway were forcibly removed from their ancestral homeland in 1837 to a reservation on the border of Nebraska and northeast Kansas, Ioway leader White Cloud (The Younger) believed his people must relocate to survive. But intermarriage, broken treaties and the end of communal living led to a split in 1878 and the establishment of a second Ioway tribe in Oklahoma.

Both tribes endured hardship and challenges to their traditions and culture to achieve successful land claims and self-determination in the 1970s, according to the films.

"I believe all the tribes had their trail of tears," Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma Tribal Elder Joyce Big Soldier-Miller said in a release about the new film. "They all suffered -- all those Indians who made those treks away from their former homelands."

"It's always good to look at the past and remember that it does affect the future," said Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska tribal member Reuben Ironhorse-Kent. "The ancestors did the best they could with what they had."

In the two new documentaries (filmed across 10 states), Ioway elders and tribal members join other Native scholars, historians, archaeologists and anthropologists to tell the dramatic and true story of the small tribe that once claimed territory between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers from Pipestone, Minn., to St. Louis.

The tribe's original lands encompassed 70,000 square miles, and when forced to move, its initial reservation was 200 square miles, Mr. Rundle said. "Everything about American Indian policy had to do with taking the land. That was the objective," he said.

In the 1970s, Americans became aware of thepoverty and struggles Native Americans were facing, Mrs. Rundle said. "We wanted with these films to put the Ioway in the bigger picture of what was going on with all Native Americans at that time -- through their voices, their eyes."

"Their story is universal for a lot of small tribes," said Mr. Rundle, who noted the current population of the northern tribe is 3,500, and is 750 in Oklahoma. Just a few Ioway descendants live in Iowa, in the Cedar Rapids area, he said.

One of Mrs. Rundle's favorite segments was following current tribal members to a boarding school in Nebraska, where their mother attended. There, Indians werepunished if they spoke their native language.

"It was an emotional thing for them to be there," Mrs. Rundle said of the filming. "It really was a place where, I think the loss of culture really sped up."

An Ioway descendant now attending Northern Oklahoma College wrote on the film's Facebook page: "It's been a great success from our eyes and as a young person it has made me even prouder of who I am and where I come from. I'm very happy with what has been taken place over the weekend and for true friends of our family."

"I hope this can show other people about the history of the great state of Iowa and we can be recognized as original people of these lands," Shayla Miller wrote.

"Ioway 2 & 3" will continue screening throughout the U.S. and the two films will be released on a single DVD in April, including an alternative soundtrack in the nearly extinct Ioway language. Broadcasts on Midwestern PBS stations are slated for later this year, beginning with WQPT-PBS. For more information, visit

If you go

-- What: "Lost Nation: The Ioway 2 & 3," followed by Q & A with the filmmakers and other film participants
-- When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday (Rock Island) and 6:30 p.m. Sunday (Davenport).
-- Where: Black Hawk State Historic Site, Watch Tower Lodge, 1510 46th Ave., Rock Island, and Putnam Museum National Geographic Giant Screen Theater, 1717 W. 12th St., Davenport.
-- Admission: Free on Saturday, and $7 per person Sunday, available at the Putnam box office.



Local events heading

  Today is Thursday, July 31, the 212th day of 2014. There are 153 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: A corps of surgeons now occupies the new hospital quarters at the Garrison Hospital on the Rock Island Arsenal. A fence has been installed to enclose the prison hospital.
1889 -- 125 years ago: B. Winter has let a contract to Christ Schreiner for a two story brick building with a double store front on the south side of 3rd Avenue just west of 17th Street. The estimated cost was $4,500.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Germany sent simultaneous ultimatums to Russia and France, demanding that Russia suspend mobilization within 12 hours and demanding that France inform Germany within 18 hours. In the case of war between Germany and Russia, France would remain neutral.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Civil service offices at the post office and the Rock Island Arsenal were swamped as more than 700 youths sought 15 machinist apprenticeships at the Arsenal.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Last night, American Legion Post 246 in Moline figuratively handed over the trousers to a female ex-Marine and petticoat rule began. Olga Swanson, of Moline, was installed as the first woman commander of the post .
1989 -- 25 years ago: The Illinois Quad City Civic Center captured the excitement and interest of a convention of auditorium managers this weekend in Reno, Nev. Bill Adams, civic center authority chairman, said the 10,000-seat arena planned for downtown Moline has caught the eye of construction firms, suppliers, management teams and concession groups.

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