All posts by Darvin Graham

A note from Meskwaki Natural Resources

Buffalo Herd and Refuge Update


Buffalo Wildlife Herd


The Tribe currently has 47 buffalo and they have approximately 200 acres to graze (including forest). The current area is small for the number of buffalo that the Tribe manages. This causes the lands to be overgrazed and can lead to health issues for the buffalo herd. Due to the lack of forage, we are also forced to provide hay as a supplemental source of food for the buffalo in the winter months. MNR started working on a new management approach in 2016, which has and will lead to improved overall herd and land health. One major stage in this revitalization is completing the new buffalo wildlife refuge expansion, which will add approximately 60 acres to the current refuge.


This year we lost two buffalo, one in the winter and one in the last week. Due to the continuous wet growing season we experienced last year and confined refuge area, the herd contracted gut parasites. MNR staff treated the herd and worked with our local vet. The herd improved in health. This individual was not able to fully regain condition. As most animals do, she headed to water to pass. The recent passing was caused by an issue during labor. MNR has the upmost respect for all animals, especially the buffalo herd, and are treated with such.


Refuge Expansion


MNR is working to finalize the expansion of the buffalo wildlife refuge that was started in 2016. The above mentioned issues will be solved by implementing a new rotational grazing plan. Rotational grazing focuses on animals moving to different paddocks (i.e., locations) to graze for shorter time periods. Allowing the land a chance to heal and plants a chance to regrow with minimal disturbance. This helps mimic grazing patterns that would happen naturally if the buffalo were free to roam over the entire landscape.


Staff planted the expanded 60 acres to a native prairie mix consisting of 60 species of grasses and wildflowers; including sage, milkweed, mint and Echinacea. Many of these plants benefit both wildlife and people in their multiple uses. This area will be open to the community as an area free of potential chemicals to harvest plants.


MNR Staff will be working to finish fence construction around the expansion area this spring.  The fence line will be the same style as the existing fence. This style allows smaller animals such as deer to enter and exit the pasture but keeps the buffalo contained. We will have multiple gates throughout the fence line. When the buffalo do not have access to the area, we will keep the gates open to allow for better access to community members. We will have the gates open in the fall and winter when hunting and firewood collection is more common. The area will have space around the perimeter to drive to allow access even when the gates are closed. As always, access to inside the refuge area is available upon request. MNR has a loaner key program that allows access outside of operating hours.


For more information, please contact:


Jarrett Pfrimmer, MNR Director


Photos: Meskwaki Health Fair

Meskwaki Health Services’ annual “Spring Into Health” Fair took place on Thursday, April 11th at the Meskwaki Veteran’s Memorial Convention Center.


The room was full of booths sponsored by Tribal Operations departments, vendors, and area organizations. Door prizes were awarded, and a sizable crowd gathered to check out all of the different resources and information available to help the community live in healthy ways. The inflatable Rollin’ Colon exhibit was back again this year, sponsored by the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Health Board. Meskwaki Food Sovereignty Initiative also debuted a popular new activity at this year’s Health Fair. A bright orange “Fender Blender” Smoothie Bike sat near the middle of the room by the MFSI table and gave attendees an opportunity to use a stationary bicycle to power a small blender that turned out delicious tasting (and healthy) fruit smoothies. Thanks to all of the departments who participated and for the organizers who put the time and effort into making this year’s Health Fair another success.

Tribal Council Special Meeting Notice

Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa


NOTICE: There will be Special Tribal Council Meeting on Monday, April 15, 2019 at 5:00PM. The meeting will take place at the Tribal Chambers.

Enrolled Tribal Members are welcome and encouraged to attend.

*Meetings are held on a bi-weekly basis.
**Meeting dates/times are subject to change at the
discretion of the Tribal Chairman

Photos: University Club Visits Red Earth Gardens

On Wednesday, April 3 a group of 27 women from the University Club in Iowa City traveled to the Meskwaki Settlement to visit Red Earth Gardens. Red Earth Gardens Farm Production Manager Grant Shadden gave the group a tour of the farm and spoke about preparations that are currently underway to get the farm ready for planting season and about what is in store for Red Earth Gardens in 2019.


Photos: Meskwaki College and Career Fair

The Meskwaki Higher Education Program hosted their annual College and Career Fair at the Meskwaki Veteran’s Memorial Convention Center on Tuesday, April 2nd. Several colleges, area employers, and Tribal Operations Departments were on hand to speak to students and job seekers about potential career opportunities.


The Meskwaki College and Career Fair began in the Spring of 2017. The event is designed to help the community and young people learn about different occupations and the kind of education it may take to obtain a variety of positions. We help those interested in employment to ask questions of potential employers and to get a better understanding of the processes involved in interviews in order to become gainfully employed. We also partner with Iowa Works from Marshalltown, an organization that helps job seekers and employers get matched up at their offices. They have a good pulse on businesses in the area who are looking for employees. The combination of employers and educational institutions helps people to see the connections between education and a career path. This year, we had anticipated only 41 vendors but more came on the day of the event, for a total of 54 vendors. We also had about 150 people attend the event.

Following this year’s event, one of the things we learned from a participant was that they were told to “go online” to apply for a job. Knowing that this might not be as simple as it sounds, the Iowa Works staff and the Higher Education Department talked about offering computer kiosks available for anyone desiring to apply online at the Fair. This will be an added feature next year, so that people interested in work can keep moving forward to meet their goals.

Businesses thoroughly enjoy coming to this event. Neysa Hartzel from Iowa Works reports that the businesses who come to this event look forward to it every year. They are treated very well and enjoy the atmosphere that MBCH provides. They also appreciate getting to know one another throughout the day.

Young Bear Featured on Iowa Public Radio

Meskwaki poet Ray Young Bear was recently featured on the Talk of Iowa radio show that’s part of Iowa Public Radio (NPR). Young Bear spoke with host Charity Nebbe about some recent and soon to be published works as well as some of his background as a poet.

Young Bear’s essay titled “The Summer of 1969: Children of Speakthunder” along with three contemporary poems and two Meskwaki word-songs were just released by Tupelo Press as part of a paperback anthology titled “Native Voices: Indigenous American Poetry, Craft and Conversations”.

Additionally, he has two poems set to be published this month in the Iowa Review, a literary magazine produced three times each year by the University of Iowa. 2019 marks Young Bear’s third appearance in the U of I publication.

You can hear the radio interview on the Iowa Public Radio website or at the link below.


Young Bear also discussed his recent published works with the Toledo Chronicle for a feature that ran in their newspaper in mid-March.


Lastly, back in January of this year Young Bear was interviewed and featured in Belt Magazine, a literary-focused digital publication from Cleveland, OH.


Family Services to Host ICWA Community Discussion

UPDATE (4/19): The ICWA Meeting has been rescheduled for Thursday, April 25th. Time, location, and other details will remain the same.

Meskwaki Family Services will be hosting a community discussion on Thursday, April 25 regarding the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and it’s impacts on the Meskwaki community. The meeting will be at the Tribal Center from 5:00 to 8:00 PM and is open to all Meskwaki community members (enrolled and descendants). A meal will be served prior to the discussion beginning. #OCPHAWK #ICWA

For more details click on the video for a message from Meskwaki Family Services.

Photos: MYP 3×3 Youth Basketball Tournament

On Friday, March 22 the Meskwaki Youth Development Program hosted an all-day youth 3-on-3 basketball tournament.


Both Meskwaki Settlement School and South Tama County had the day off from school, which made for a great opportunity to bring community youth together to play some basketball around March Madness season. Teams ranged from elementary age up to high school and were divided into brackets to compete. Championship teams were awarded t-shirts and gift cards.