All posts by Shannon Mitchell

Young Bear to be inducted into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame

To highlight women’s heritage and recognize strong women leaders, the Iowa Department of Human Rights through the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women (ICSW) recently announced their 2020 inductees into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame.

The Meskwaki Nation is proud to announce that Mary Young Bear has been selected as one of the four recipients who will be inducted into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame later this year.

According to ICSW’s press release, “Mary Elizabeth Young Bear (Tama, Iowa): Born with the Meskawki name of Bo na bi go, her contributions as an artist and art conservator, educator, cultural historian, civic leader and political activist, humanitarian, community leader and mentor inspire, empower, and motivate all those around her, especially young women and girls. Her pride is as a mother and grandmother with a family heritage of Iowa ancestry since the 1840s.”

Mary has worked at the Meskwaki Cultural Center and Museum as Art Conservator and Curator of textiles, beadwork, art, and a variety of regalia and artifacts since 2012. She has helped curate the largest collection of Meskwaki cultural objects in the world. Besides exhibit preparation and maintenance, Mary leads workshops to revitalize tribal arts, hosts academic symposiums, and teaches visitors from around the world or Iowans in local communities about tribal history.

Her artwork has been recognized by the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, Denver Art Museum, Dubuque Museum of Art, Art Educators of Iowa, State Historical Society of Iowa, Iowa Arts Council, Meskwaki Nation, and others – placing her among leading American artists.

Mary is a well-respected leader in many facets of community life. People of all ages, but especially young people, seek her wise counsel and look to her as a mentor. She sets the highest standards for herself and those around her, inspiring others to become resourceful achievers and creative problem solvers who contribute to the betterment of their community.

Mary’s accomplishments as humanitarian, artist, art conservator, curator, cultural historian, educator, school board member, civic leader, political activist, role model, traditional cook, homemaker, mother, and grandmother will garner long-term significance in preserving a lasting historical narrative for her. She is a leader deserving of this award for carrying on the cultural traditions of the Meskwaki people.

Each year, the ceremony is held near the date that women won the right to vote in the United States. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the inductees will be digitally awarded in lieu of an in person award presentation.

The Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame was established in 1975. 184 women have been given the prestigious award. Mary is the second Meskwaki woman to be inducted, with the first being Adeline Wanatee in 1993.


Coronavirus Emergency Relief Funding

There is a mailing going out to enrolled tribal members today with information and forms that need completed for Coronavirus emergency relief funding.
Enrolled adult members can come to the tribal center to turn in or fill out their forms and pick up their check starting Tuesday June 30th (tomorrow) from 8:30 to 4pm.   NO CHILDREN PLEASE.
Finance employees will be set up Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8:30 to 4pm each day. Friday they will be there from 9am to 2pm.
THIS IS NOT PER CAPITA. This is in addition to per capita.
If you cannot come to the tribal center, forms can be notarized and mailed. After your forms are received by the finance office your check will be mailed to you, with the address we have on file.
Adults need to bring a photo ID. Children do not need to be present. Parents and guardians can pick up their checks.
Masks are required. If you have a temperature of 100.4 you will not be admitted in the building.
If you are sick, please stay home!
Checks will be held until members can complete the paperwork.
With active cases on the settlement and the recent exposure at the adoption please follow physical distancing.
Expect a line and to wait. No children, please.
Thank you.

Water Over Road

An Important Message to the Meskwaki Nation Community:

There is currently water going over the road on Meskwaki Road (11:45 AM – Monday, June 22); specifically in the area of the cave, areas east of the cave and areas down on Battleground. Public Works crew will be in the area and signs will be posted.

Please drive with caution.


Thank you,

Meskwaki Public Works

Tribal Operations Opening Today With Limited Availability

  • Administrative buildings will reopen with limited access to non-employees. Community members seeking access to the Tribal Center, and to all Tribal buildings, will be required to enter through the front door only. Some buildings and services will remain closed for now including: the Senior Services Building, Museum and Cultural Center, Youth Department, Wellness Center, and Tribal Gym. These facilities will reopen during subsequent phases of the reopening.


  • Some facilities will be closed but utilized on an “as needed” and/or limited bases: Tribal Justice Center, Child Support Services, and Family Services. Any meetings with the staff will be by appointment only.


  • All visitors to any and all Tribal facilities will be required to wear a face mask and follow the one-way accesses into and out of the building(s). If you do not have a mask, one will be provided to you. Please follow signage and social distancing rules. Community members are encouraged to schedule appointments with the appropriate department before arriving to conduct business. Please call ahead. A staff directory is available by calling (641) 484-4678.
  • Because all social, community, recreational, leisure, and sporting gatherings and events of more than 10 people are still prohibited at all locations and venues on the Meskwaki Settlement, programming of live community events will not be scheduled by any Tribal Operations department unless approved by Tribal Council.


  • The playground and basketball court located on the Settlement will open for use. We want to emphasize to our Tribal citizens, especially our youth, the need to limit close contact with continued social distancing and other safeguards such as handwashing and disinfecting areas often to minimize the risk of spreading the virus while enjoying these and other outside activities.

Newest MNPD Member Sworn In

The Meskwaki Nation Police Department is pleased to welcome Officer Shaun Ash. Shaun was sworn in on Tuesday, June 9th, by Chairwoman Judith Bender in the presence of his wife, our new Executive Director, Lawrence SpottedBird, and members of his new MNPD family. Shaun is a certified peace officer with experience from the Marshalltown Police Department and jailer experience from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.

Shaun has his Bachelor of Arts in History from Coe College, which included Native American studies. Shaun is looking forward to learning more about the Meskwaki culture and history. Shaun is a very kind and community-oriented person. Please join us in welcoming Shaun to the Meskwaki Community!

See photos here!

Flooding Expected

After heavy rains covered much of central and eastern Iowa yesterday and continue in eastern Iowa today, a flash flood watch remains in effect for Tama County until 4 pm. The National Weather Service predicts up to 1-2 in of rain are possible, which will result in flooding of poorly drained and/or low-lying areas. Settlement residents, especially those who reside on the Iowa River floodplain such as those near Battleground Road and near smaller creeks prone to flash flooding, are advised to prepare accordingly. Heavy rain throughout the Iowa River Watershed will create greater flooding risk on the Iowa River. The National Weather Service predicts the Iowa River level will exceed the Action stage of 11.0 ft at Highway E49 on Thursday, and that the Minor flood stage of 12.5 ft will be approached, but not exceeded. The current forecast predicts the river will crest at 11.7 ft on Friday evening. Please see the attached map on the Meskwaki webpage for a view of expected flood extent and depths associated with a 12.0 ft Iowa River gauge height at the Highway E49 bridge. You may also track flood levels and forecasts from the National Weather Service from computer or smartphone at this link:​. 


Predicted floodwater extent and depth associated with a 12.0 ft river gauge height on the Iowa River at the County Highway E49 bridge on the Settlement. The darker the shade of blue, the deeper the water.