Fort Atkinson is Built

The U.S. government took control of Indian lands in 1820 in the area that became the state of Iowa.


Slowly, through a series of treaties, the Indian lands within the future Iowa border were brought under control of the United States Government. A strip of land in the northeastern part of the state was declared Neutral Ground, to separate the Sauk and Mesquakie from the hostile Sioux. In 1840 the Government forced the Winnebago Indians to live on the Neutral Ground, but because of the hostile tribes on either side, the Government felt it necessary to build Fort Atkinson there to protect the Winnebagos from the other tribes. Since Iowa was rich and fertile land and good water, agents at Fort Atkinson hoped to teach the Indians to be farmers and adapt to the white man’s culture. But the rich land also attracted the land hungry white settlers, who could see the Indian only as an obstacle to the process of civilization.


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