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The Sac & the Fox Nations of Iowa

The Sac, or Sauk, an Algonquin word meaning "yellow earth people" and the Fox, or Meskwaki, meaning "red earth people" originated in what is now Illinois and Wisconsin, but like most other nations were forced to move time and time again. Today the two tribes, which have been extremely close allies and friends since joining together in 1734 to fend off attacks from an alliance of the Ojibwe and the French, occupy three distinct reservations in Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma.

The Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa have a 3,200 acre parcelofland in central Iowa known as the Meskwaki Indian Settlement. This Iowa band of Sac & Fox numbering less than 1,000 individuals possess a flag of simple design, but complex meaning.

The flag is a simple bicolor of green over red. The bicolor, naturally, invokes the idea that these two nations have come together as one people.

The green symbolizes the concepts of life, peace, spring and represents the peace chief, one of the three members of the tribal authority.

The red stands for death, war, the autumn, a time when much of life fades away, and the war chief. In the olden days, when war was imminent, the tribal calumets, or peace pipes, would be stripped of their traditional white feathers and replaced by red feathers.

The peace chief is an hereditary title passed from father to son. His job was to settle disputes within the tribe and to be in charge of discussions at all council meetings. The war chief was selected whenever there was a military campaign, from amongst the bravest and most able of the tribe's warriors. He would be in charge of council meetings whenever war oriented topics were discussed. The third tribal leader, not symbolized in the flag, was the ceremonial leader or shaman. The shaman was the keeper of the religious rites and instructed others in the various rituals of the tribe.

Don Healy, Bisbee, Az 85603