Jerry Young Bear, Jr.

Meskwaki storyteller
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Jerry Young Bear was born on the Meskwaki settlement in Tama, Iowa. Raised by his parents as well as his aunts, uncles, and grandparents, he treasures the traditions and beliefs of his people and is actively involved in passing them on to younger members of the tribe. In particular, Young Bear loves to tell the stories he learned from his elders; these stories relate tribal values and instill respect for the earth, for animals, for the environment, and for people.

Meskwaki, literally “the Red Earth People,” are of Algonquin origin from the Eastern Woodland Culture area. Referred to by the French as "Les Renards" (the Foxes) as far back as 1666, tribal members have always identified themselves as “Meskwaki.” In 1735, they allied with the Sauk to fend off Europeans and other Indian tribes, and both tribes moved southward from Wisconsin into Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri. The US Government moved the Sauk and Meskwaki to a reservation in northeast Kansas in 1845, but some Meskwaki remained in Iowa. In 1857 the tribe purchased the first 80 acres in Tama County, and ten years later the U.S. Government finally began paying them annuities, which gave the Meskwaki a formal identity as the Sac and Fox of Iowa.

Contact: Jerry Young Bear, 641/484-3104, (for email, put “folklife” in the subject line)