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State Historical Society of Iowa
Early Exploration and Settlement Graphic

Early Exploration and Settlement

At-Home Expedition Activities
   + Innovative Iowans Activity: Pack Your Wagon
   + Blood Run National Historic Landmark Walking Tour

   + Blood Run National Historic Landmark Word Search
   + Featured Videos Showcasing Blood Run and Sergeant Floyd Monument
   + Early Exploration and Settlement Crossword
   + Additional primary source sets, videos and more! 

The first people to live in what we now call Iowa may have arrived some 8,000-10,000 years ago. They lived along the edges of the receding glaciers and hunted large game animals. Gradually, groups began to plant and harvest gardens of corn, beans, pumpkins and squash and gather nuts, berries and fruits to supplement their meat supply. By around 1,200 C.E., corn had migrated along the Gulf Coast and up the Mississippi to tribes in the Upper Midwest who became known as the Oneota culture. 

In the late 1600s, European explorers began paddling up and down the Mississippi River, passing along Iowa's eastern border. The first two major expeditions were by Frenchmen. In 1673, Louis Jolliet led a crew down the Fox River from Lake Michigan. The crew included Father Marquette, a Catholic priest who kept a diary of the expedition. They crossed over to the Wisconsin River and sailed southwest into uncharted territory. The Marquette and Joliet expedition included the first Europeans to visit the land.

Explore the activities, videos and additional resources in this at-home expedition to discover more about the history of early exploration and settlement in Iowa. Also, learn about two featured national historic landmarks – Sergeant Floyd Monument and Blood Run – that have deep ties to this expedition theme. 

Pack Your Wagon

Have you ever packed all your belongings and moved to a new home or went on a long trip? This Innovative Iowans activity explores the Conestoga wagon, one of Iowa's earliest modes of transportation. Early Iowa settlers needed to pack everything they would need for long trips within these wagons.

Solve the Blood Run Word Search

Find the listed words hidden in the grid of letters in this Goldie's word search puzzle. The words in this puzzle are inspired by the history of Blood Run and the Oneota people. 

Follow the Blood Run National Historic Landmark Walking Tour

Take a self-guided walking tour along mowed trails to view protected burial mounds, village sites and other features of cultural interest. Blood Run, a State Historic Site, was originally home to a massive Oneota village that spanned 50 acres.

Virtually Tour the National Historic Landmarks

Watch videos of the two featured National Historic Landmarks with connections to early exploration and settlement. 
     + Blood Run National Historic Monument
     + Our State Parks - Blood Run Nature Area
     + Blood Run and the Burial Mounds
     + "Sgt. Floyd Day" at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center August 20, 2020
     + National Park Service: Sergeant Floyd Monument

Complete a Crossword

Use the Internet and other resources to complete this Goldie's Kids Club crossword. Learn about Lewis and Clark's expedition West and new terms related to early exploration and settlement of the land that is now the state of Iowa. 

Research with Primary Sources

Analyze primary source sets to view photographs, maps and more cataloging the history of Indigenous people - such as the Oneota - that lived on the land, as well as the westward movement of European-American settlers.
     + American Revolutionary War and Its Impact on the West
     + American Indians and Westward Expansion
     + American Indian Removal and Relocation

Watch Videos

View additional videos about the exploration and settlement of the land and stories of its people from the State Historical Society of Iowa and Iowa PBS.
     + Iowa History 101 Series: Inkpaduta in Iowa: Dakota Decline, Dispossession and Erasure
     + Iowa History 101 Series: Tales of the Territory
     + Iowa History 101 Series: Iowa's Native Nations
     + Lewis & Clark: A Journey of the Corps of Discovery - "A Beautiful New Territory"

Discover Additional Resources

Check out kid-friendly videos, articles and other resources about the national historic landmarks and the history of the exploration and settlement of Iowa. 
     Blood Run Site History
     + Elevating the Unique Heritage of Blood Run National Historic Landmark
     + Protecting Sacred Sites: Blood Run Faces Development Pressures (Indian Country Today)
     + Sioux City Louis & Clark Interpretive Center
     + The Goldfinch: Early Explorers
+ "The Iowa Pioneer Experience" (Iowa PBS)
     + Video: Pioneer Children (Iowa PBS)
     + Video: Interior of Settler Cabins (Iowa PBS)