"An Iowa Fugitive Slave Case--1850 [The Indians; Notes of the State Bank of Ohio]." The
Annals of Iowa 6 (1903), 45-45.
Available at: https://doi.org/10.17077/0003-4827.2906
In a newspaper brief, the 1850 Fort Des Moines Gazette (as reprinted in Annals of Iowa in 1903) provided insight into some of the specific challenges faced by the Dragoons in their work. In the situation described the Pottawattamie, an Indigenous people who held lands in Iowa through the middle-part of the 19th century, are under close guard by the Dragoons. Major Woods has provided the tribe with a deadline to remove to their newly assigned lands west of the Missouri River, however, the Pottawattamie hope to remain where they are until they can bring in their corn crop. The article states that the new lands have "no game and the soil is poor," a reality that undoubtedly necessitated the Pottawattamie bringing in their corn harvest to survive through the winter. Major Woods, however, provided a deadline that would not allow for the harvest to be completed, and instead focused on removing the tribe as soon as possible. Other individuals throughout the area fled, fearing violence, leaving their own crops and homesteads abandoned.
As struggles over sovereignty and autonomy, especially as they relate to access to land and natural resources, unfolded in the earliest years of Iowa's statehood, situations like this one often arose. The American government often focused on alleviating pressures between settlers and Indigenous peoples by setting firm time-tables for removal, despite common-sense realities like the Pottawattamie desire to bring in a vital crop necessary to their survival.
“Some difficulty is apprehended in removing the Indians camped on Skunk river. They are principally Iowas and Pottawattamies, about 600 or 800 in number, and have expressed their determination to remain where they are until fall. Their land lies west of the Missouri river, where there is no game and the soil is poor. Major Woods, with some 200 soldiers, dragoons and infantry, is camped near them awaiting the expiration of the time he gave them to remove, when if they do not go he has no discretion but to force them. Many of the settlers about there, fearing a collision between the troops and the Indians, have abandoned their houses and crops, and removed into the settlements. The Indians have put in some forty or fifty acres of corn which we are told looks well and they ask to stay until they can gather it, but the edict has gone forth that they must go.” From the Fort Des Moines Gazette July 26, 1850