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Historic Diaries: Marsh, 1834

Poweshiek's Village

Editor's Note:

Rev. Marsh has just finished his overland trip from Davenport/Rock Island to the Red Cedar River (map) in order to see whether Powesheik would welcome having a missionary and school at his village.



Thurs [Aug] 28th


The old woman [with whose family they had stayed overnight] was a half breed. I inquired of them who made the river, etc. "Man-i-to-wuk" she replied. By this she meant the Great Spirit and We-suk-ka. Then said she again, made the men and all things. I inquired of her where W. was and she said she did not know.


Seeing some ears of corn, which had the husks carefully folded up and tied at the top hung up to dry, I inquired what they were for? They said that they were for the boys to eat during the winter after they had been fasting. Sometimes they said they fasted 6 days and after this they give them only the fourth part of an ear or four rows. I inquired why they fasted, they said that the Great Spirit would love them and make them good warriors. They had to do this on account of their enemies the Sioux. I inquired if they boys prayed while fasting they answered no for they had none to tell them to pray. I inquired if she ever prayed she said "no for she had never been taught and did not know how, but if some one should come and teach her she should then know how." I then asked them about settling down and having farms, etc. They replied they should like it but perhaps the chief would not.


After breakfast which they prepared, which was broiled corn and buffalo meat, we crossed the river which was above mid-side for the horses, and 25 or 30 rods in width, and rode about a mile to Pow-we-sheaks, a Fox village, which is beautifully situated near the banks of the Red Cedar river, and a large fine prairie stretches out to the West for a great distance.


This village consists of about 30 bark lodges, some perhaps 12 feet in length and others 40 or 50 and about 15 ft. high. Whole number of souls estimated at 4 hundred.


When I arrived at the head Chief's lodge they were preparing for a sacred feast. Having killed a buck, so according to custom a feast must be made. After the usual ceremonies were over we were presented with a bowl of boiled corn and venison and soon after this nearly a lodge full was invited in and the fat buck was soon eaten up.



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