Oneota Archaeological Connections For Educators

Oneota Exhibit Poster
Oneota Archaeological Connections

Our state was named after the Ioway Indians, whose ancestors are known to archaeologists as the Oneota. Explore what University of Iowa archaeologists know about these communities of innovative farmers and hunters who lived in villages across Iowa from about A.D. 1000-1650. See incredible artifacts on display, and learn how archaeologists work with Iowans and descendent Native American tribes to make sure all places, people, and artifacts connected to archaeological sites are well-cared for and respected. 

Archaeology research can be described as digging, excavating, finding, studying, documenting and, more specifically, analyzing the past to discover and learn what life and past civilizations were like. To answer their research questions, archaeologists rely on historical records and ethnography as much as the scientific method and innovative technology. It is both science and the humanities! 

In archaeology, the Oneota are known for:

  • shell-tempered pottery
  • triangular arrowheads
  • catlinite pipes, tablets, and ornaments
  • large-scale corn agriculture 

The Oneota are ancestors of many Native American tribes who live in the Midwest today, including the Iowa (Ioway), Ho-Chunk (Winnebago), Ponca, Omaha, Otoe, and Missouria. The Office of the State Archaeologist partners with these tribes and others on matters related to archaeology, historic preservation, and respectful treatment of human remains.  

Exhibit Partners

The University of Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA) has been a research unit at the University since 1959. The OSA has also been a Mobile Museum management and development partner since 2014! OSA's mission is to develop, disseminate, and preserve knowledge of Iowa's human past through Midwestern and Plains archaeological research, scientific discovery, public stewardship, service, and education. Over the past five years alone, the OSA has conducted research and compliance projects in 90% of the state, and has traveled to more than three-quarters of Iowa counties for education and outreach events.

Extended Activities

Discovery Trunks

The University of Iowa Museum of Natural History, Old Capitol Museum and the Office of the State Archaeologist have created a series of Discovery Trunks that are available for educators. Topics covered in these trunks are especially well suited to complement exhibits in the 2017 Mobile Museum. These trunks are a bonanza of teaching materials that provide hands-on activities and lessons that fit core teaching goals related to geology and culture history. The trunks are designed to develop scientific, cultural, and historical literacy for students of all ages. They are available to educators, homeschool groups, parents working with local AEAs, libraries, nature centers, and others engaged in educational programing. Reserve a Discovery Trunk here!

Note, all archaeology trunks have a $25 reservation fee. They are available to check out for up to one month at a time. Shipping to their destination is free, and it is the responsibility of the receiving party to cover the costs of returning the trunk.

Suggested Reading

  • Indians of Iowa by Lance Foster. University of Iowa Press, 2009
  • Archaeologists Dig for Clues by Kate Duke. Harper Collins, 1997
  • Twelve Moons: A Year with the Sauk and Meskwaki, 1817-1818 by Tom Willcockson and Elizabeth Carvey. Citizens to Preserve Black Hawk Park Foundation, 2013


Old Capitol Museum

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