tipi in iowa sunset landscape

Visit Iowa

Iowa is not just about corn fields and caucuses. It is a state that offers a blend of natural beauty and rich history.

And thousands of years ago, Iowa was home to ancient native tribes that cherished the land and its resources. Pre-European contact, the state was inhabited primarily by Siouan, Algonquian, and Chiwere tribes, which included the Ioway, Sauk, Meskwaki, and Otoe.

Iowa’s landscape is painted with stories of Native American ingenuity, resilience, and a deep connection to the earth.

Iowa has a rich history with cultural exchanges, unique tools and artifacts, and innovative tribal architecture. The indigenous people of this region have left an indelible mark on the present-day landscape that remains rich in captivating heritage sites, landmarks, and events.

As you embark on the following list of destinations and cultural events, you will journey through time for a glimpse into the lives of the remarkable First Americans who shaped Iowa’s history. The trail will lead you through a mesmerizing record of resilience, survival, and adaptation like no other.

So prepare to be enthralled as you delve into the wealth of Native American history preserved across this captivating state.


Meskwaki Cultural Center and Museum

The Meskwaki Cultural Center and Museum in Tama is a significant destination that offers visitors a unique opportunity to learn about the rich history, vibrant culture, and cherished traditions of the Meskwaki Nation.

Visitor learn crafting at the museum

As you explore this museum, you’ll have the chance to delve into the fascinating past of the Meskwaki people and gain a deeper understanding of their way of life. From engaging exhibits to informative displays, the museum showcases artifacts, artwork, photographs, and other items that shed light on various aspects of Meskwaki culture.

Whether you’re interested in history, anthropology, or simply want to appreciate the beauty of a different heritage, this cultural center and museum provides an enriching experience for all who visit.

State Historical Museum of Iowa

The State Historical Museum of Iowa, located in Des Moines, is a fascinating destination for history enthusiasts. This museum showcases the rich and diverse history of the state, including exhibits that delve into the Native American history of Iowa.

With regularly changing exhibits, it is always recommended to check their current offerings to ensure you don’t miss out on any captivating displays. Explore the State Historical Museum of Iowa to gain insights into the past and deepen your understanding of Iowa’s cultural heritage.

University of Iowa Museum of Natural History

The University of Iowa Museum of Natural History in Iowa City is a captivating destination that showcases the rich natural and cultural history of Iowa.

The museum provides visitors with an opportunity to explore the fascinating past of Native American tribes in the region, offering insights into their traditions, lifestyles, and contributions.

From artifacts and interactive displays to informative presentations, the museum educates and engages visitors of all ages. Whether you are interested in anthropology, archaeology, or simply want to explore the heritage of Iowa, this is a must-visit destination.

Putnam Museum and Science Center in Davenport

The Putnam Museum and Science Center in Davenport is a captivating destination that offers a unique blend of history, science, and culture. One of its notable attractions is the Hall of Mammals, which showcases an impressive collection of mammal specimens from around the world. Visitors can explore the fascinating diversity of species and learn about their habitats and behaviors.

Another highlight at the Putnam Museum is a remarkable habitat diorama that depicts a Sauk and Meskwaki Indian summer camp. This immersive exhibit provides a glimpse into the lives and traditions of these Native American tribes, allowing visitors to gain insights into their cultural practices and heritage.

Whether you’re interested in natural history or cultural exploration, the Putnam Museum and Science Center offers a rich experience for all ages. With its engaging exhibits and educational programs, it is sure to leave visitors with a deeper appreciation for the wonders of nature and human history.

Fossil & Prairie Park Preserve & Center

Fossil & Prairie Park Preserve & Center in Rockford combines the beauty of nature with a rich historical experience. As a nature preserve, it offers breathtaking landscapes and diverse ecosystems for visitors to explore and appreciate.

However, it doesn’t stop there. The center also houses intriguing exhibits that detail the fascinating Native American history that played a significant role in shaping the area.

Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures or an educational journey through time, this park preserve and center has something for everyone to enjoy.

Sanford Museum and Planetarium in Cherokee

Top-quality exhibits and a planetarium headline the Sanford Museum
Top-quality exhibits and a planetarium headline the Sanford Museum

The Sanford Museum and Planetarium in Cherokee offers a unique blend of archaeology, ethnology, and astronomy. One of the highlights of this museum is its section dedicated to archaeological and ethnological artifacts from the Plains and Woodland Indians.

Here, visitors can explore a large collection of artifacts that offers insights into the lives, traditions, and cultures of these indigenous groups. From ancient tools to pottery, clothing, and artwork, the museum highlights the history and heritage of these Native American communities.

The exhibits are thoughtfully curated to engage family members at all ages, making it a must-visit for those interested in Native American history. Additionally, the museum also features a planetarium where visitors can gaze at celestial wonders through educational shows and interactive displays.


Effigy Mounds National Monument

Uncover the wonders of Native American culture at Effigy Mounds National Monument in northeastern Iowa. Discover over 200 prehistoric mounds meticulously built by Native Americans, including intriguing animal-shaped effigies. Immerse yourself in the ancient heritage and marvel at the craftsmanship of these sacred structures.

Blood Run National Historic Landmark

Embark on a captivating journey through time at Blood Run National Historic Landmark. Delve into the fascinating history of the Oneota Indigenous culture as you explore this significant site along the Big Sioux River in Lyon County, Iowa. Gain insight into their vibrant village life and experience their profound spiritual rituals against the backdrop of stunning natural landscapes.

The Meskwaki Settlement

meskwaki indian settlement

Step into a living testament to Native American resilience and heritage at The Meskwaki Settlement, Iowa’s only non-reservation tribal land.

Engage with the vibrant Sac and Fox Tribe of Mississippi in Iowa/Meskwaki Nation as you explore historical sites, immerse yourself in rich cultural traditions, and visit the Meskwaki Cultural Center and Museum. Experience firsthand the deep connection between past and present.

Toolesboro Mounds National Historic Landmark

Travel back thousands of years to witness the legacy of Hopewell indigenous people at Toolesboro Mounds National Historic Landmark near Wapello, eastern Iowa. Marvel at the awe-inspiring burial mounds they constructed and gain a deeper understanding of their complex society, all while surrounded by serene natural beauty.

Gitchie Manitou State Preserve

Encounter an enchanting blend of nature and Native American history at Gitchie Manitou State Preserve in Iowa’s northwest corner. Explore burial mounds left behind by the Oneota culture while immersing yourself in breathtaking surroundings that once served as a Sioux Quartzite quarry. Experience reverence for both nature and heritage in this remarkable preserve.

Living History Farms in Urbandale

kids learn iowa agriculture at living history farms
Kids learn Iowa agriculture at Living History Farms

Journey into the past and embrace the Native American way of life at Living History Farms in Urbandale. Step foot on a re-created 1700 Ioway Indian Farm, where interactive exhibits and immersive experiences offer a glimpse into the daily routines, customs, and traditions of the Ioway people. Engage all your senses as you forge a deeper connection with their rich cultural heritage.


There are no federal Indian reservations in the state of Iowa. However, several tribes are based in or have historical ties to Iowa, including the Ioway, the Meskwaki (Sac & Fox), and the Sioux.

The Meskwaki Settlement, west of Tama, is land owned by the Meskwaki tribe and is not a reservation because the land was purchased by the tribe, not assigned to them by the federal government.


Meskwaki Powwow

One of the largest and most significant is the annual Meskwaki Powwow held in Tama, Iowa by the Meskwaki Nation.

Family-friendly entertainment drives the annual Meskwaki Pow Wow
Family-friendly entertainment drives the annual Meskwaki Pow Wow

This event, typically held in August, is a celebration of Meskwaki culture and features traditional music, dancing, food, and arts and crafts.

Tama Intertribal Pow Wow

The Tama Intertribal Pow Wow is a vibrant and culturally rich event held in Tama. It serves as a gathering place for numerous tribes, showcasing the diversity and traditions of Native American heritage.

The pow wow offers a captivating experience filled with traditional dancing, soulful singing, and engaging activities. Visitors have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the vibrant colors, intricate regalia, and rhythmic drumming that bring the pow wow to life.

Whether you are seeking to learn more about Native American culture or simply enjoy a day filled with cultural celebrations, the Tama Intertribal Pow Wow is an event that promises to leave a lasting impression on all who attend.

University of Iowa Powwow

The University of Iowa Powwow is an annual event organized by the Native American Student Association (NASA) at the University of Iowa. This vibrant gathering celebrates Native American culture through traditional dance, music, art, and food.

Held on campus, the powwow provides a unique opportunity for both the university community and visitors to immerse themselves in the rich traditions of Native American tribes. Attendees can witness mesmerizing dance performances, listen to captivating music, admire beautiful artworks, and savor delicious indigenous cuisine.

The University of Iowa Powwow offers a memorable experience that highlights the diversity and heritage of Native American cultures.

White Eagle Multicultural Pow Wow

Experience a vibrant tapestry woven with threads of storytelling, music, dance, and food at the White Eagle Multicultural Pow Wow. More than just a pow wow—it’s a powerful testament to harmony and shared humanity.

Held under the wide-open skies of Jester Park in Granger, Iowa, this gathering encourages enlightenment through diversity. It brings together Native Americans and friends from all four races in peaceful coexistence.

Drawing inspiration from Native American roots while embracing all cultures, this pow wow completes the sacred hoop of life by celebrating what makes every participant unique yet interconnected.

Participate in honoring White Eagle’s legacy—his passion for sharing stories from his rich cultural background and fostering understanding among different people. Like him, invest in a future filled with unity rather than discord—a world where future generations can freely learn about their heritage while respecting others.

It is evident that this beautiful state has much to offer for those with a passion for uncovering rich cultural heritage.

With its many museums, landmarks, and indigenous celebrations, Iowa allows you to explore the footsteps of its first inhabitants. You can experience their inspiring tales and traditions through unique events.

To make sure your trip to Iowa is a seamless and memorable experience, plan your logistics thoughtfully.

Iowa is home to several major airports, which include Des Moines International Airport (DSM), Eastern Iowa Airport (CID) in Cedar Rapids, Quad City International Airport (MLI) in Moline, and Eppley Airfield (OMA) in Omaha, Nebraska. These airports offer connections to many major US cities and serve as gateways for your Native American history exploration.

Choosing the right accommodation is also essential for your comfort and convenience while visiting Iowa’s storied sites. Depending on your preferred attractions, there are numerous hotels and motels available across the state to suit varying budgets. Many of these accommodations are a short drive away from landmarks, museums, and reservations, making it easier for you to immerse yourself in the Native American experience.

Finally, do not forget to familiarize yourself with the local customs and rules for visiting specific Native American sites. Some locations or events may require prior permission or special arrangements to be made. By being respectful and well-informed, your exploration of Iowa’s Native American history will undoubtedly be an unforgettable adventure.

We wish you a remarkable and enlightening journey through the ancestral lands of the Ioway, Sauk, Meskwaki, and Otoe people. May your Iowa experience captivate and enrich your soul as you discover the depth and diversity of the state’s incredible Native American legacy.